The shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007 is probably the first mass shooting I really vividly remember. I remember the horror and fear I felt and this immense sadness I had for people I had never met. I remember wearing ribbons for the victims and buying wristbands where proceeds went to victims' families. It was a big deal. In the past 9 years since Virginia Tech, I've lost count of the number of shootings that have occurred all over the country in schools, movie theaters and now a night club. I don't have any ribbons or wristbands for these people but my heart grows heavier each time, not only for the innocent lives lost, but the fact that my horror and fear has slowly but surely lessened with each shooting. Is it because I care less and less each time? I really don't think that's the case. But there is a part of me that recognizes the numbness I have towards hearing about another shooting. Isn't that insane? Another shooting. Because one or two isn't horrifying enough. But this is the truth. Mass shootings in the United States have become commonplace and ordinary news. We hear about them on the morning news alongside traffic and weather reports. "High of 85 and armed gunman enters movie theater killing 5 injuring 20. Accident on 35 and shooter enters Target killing 3 injuring 15."* Obviously I am in no way trying to make light of any shooting that has ever occurred in the United States in the past nine years, but simply want to draw attention to the fact that it shouldn't be normal to hear about a shooting and not feel anything. It shouldn't be a weekly news topic. Why am I not shaken to the core and brought to tears by every single shooting, large or small that occurs? Why do I feel so guilty when I hear about a shooting and literally feel a moment of sadness for the lives lost and then continue with my day? We all react to tragedy differently. There are some of you who have shed tears for every life lost and family affected by a mass shooting and some of you who feel more than a moment of sadness, horror and grief and have trouble continuing your day. I understand that. But I know I am not the only one who feels this numbness. It's not that we don't care. Of course, of course, of course we care. But we live in a country where in some states it is easier to obtain a gun than birth control. Where an individual who has been questioned by the FBI for possible terorrist ties can legally obtain a weapon and murder 50 innocent people and wound 53 more. We live in a country where you can buy an assault rifle. An assault rifle?? Why on earth does anyone who isn't in the military need an assault rifle? The lives and safety of other people will always be more important than any individual's need to own a gun. Period. The end.
This is not meant to offend anyone. It is not meant to make light of a terrible, senseless and horrifying act of hatred. I wrote this because I am tired. I am tired of hearing about shootings as frequently as I hear about car accidents and heat waves. I am tired of feeling numb to an act of violence that should shock and scare me as much the Virginia Tech shooting did when I was fourteen years old. It is times like these when I feel small in the world and know that my thoughts mean very little and do even less towards changing the way our country runs. I'm not telling you who to vote for. I'm not fighting for a political party or condemning one. I am simply stating that things need to change when it comes to manners of civilians obtaining weapons. It shouldn't be as easy as it is. People shouldn't be murdered in this country by gun violence as often as they have been in the past nine years. Something is wrong and something needs to change.
My heart breaks for the families who have lost loved ones due to the horrors that happened in Orlando. Again, I feel small and my words feel even smaller, but you are in my prayers. You are in my thoughts. How much more terror, hate and sorrow must our country endure before we change? I truly don't know if it can endure much more. For now all I can do is write this and if anything, lighten the heaviness of my heart and even more importantly, continue to love. Even in this chaotic, scary, ever-changing world love has been the one thing that we can always offer and choose. And so I will end this simply by urging you to love and pray or hope for peace and change.
*events listed are fictional and did not actually occur but were written for dramatic purpose and are not meant to make light of mass shootings that have actually occurred in the United States