Statistically speaking, it’s only a matter of time.
Perhaps the next victim will be my mother, a teacher, or my sister, a student.
After all, these sorts of things happen all the time in school.
Maybe it will be my brother, since he works in a mall, another popular target.
Or my other brother, as he’s walking to class one day, just like it happened in Charlotte, North Carolina, in April.
Maybe it will be my father, who works in an office attached to a manufacturing plant, just like Aurora, Illinois.
Or maybe it will happen as he walks the family dog in the park.
Maybe my grandmother, who frequents grocery stores and Walmarts, and who visits hospitals monthly for my uncle.
Or even me, in some public place I hoped was safe.
Movie theaters, grocery stores, schools, parks, hospitals; almost every type of public place is stained with the blood of a mass shooting.
Maybe a shooting didn’t happen in that exact location, but it happened in a place just like it.
I’m sick to my stomach with the honest fear that one day I’ll watch the news and see a location too close to home.
I’m scared to watch TV with my heart pounding, desperately trying to reach someone who was too close.
I stay up at night imagining my loved ones doing the same thing for me one day.
For now, shootings happen far away. Ohio, California, Texas, Florida, too far for me to know anybody. Far enough away for me but too close for someone else.
How many people have to lose someone they love for it to matter, for something to finally change?
It’s shameful. It should not take losing someone you love to realize that things are wrong. Losing one person is too much, losing innocent children is too much. We’ve seen too much for too long.
But we all forget and move on with our lives until it happens again.
We grow numb to the violence around us.
We feel helpless, victims to the statistical knowledge that if these shootings continue, and nothing is done to stop them, one day we’ll be one of them.
I understand there are accidents and oversights, and I understand there’s a Second Amendment that was written centuries before automatic weapons.
But shouldn’t we at least try?
What do we have to lose at this point by doing something? Does it outweigh all that we’ve already lost?
Maybe one day it will happen somewhere important enough for it to matter to someone able to make a change.
I hope NRA officials sleep well at night knowing their profits matter more than the lives of innocents.
At Festival ISU, I walked past a booth teaching students how to bandage a gunshot wound.
I looked away, angry that this is the world we all live in.
I regret having done that, it’s information I know I’ll need later.
After all, it’s only a matter of time.