Two different perspectives on mass shootings

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Mehuli:

Fear.

Something that controls us and affects our daily actions. Carefully judging our activities so that there’s no danger of getting hurt.

Worry.

Something that tugs at us in the back of our brain and makes us think of the worst possible situation. Lying awake at night thinking, “What if?”

Both of these emotions guide us in what we say or do. We have them, whether we like it or not. They can control our lives; they are the result of hearing about the many dangers surrounding us, such as the 385 mass shootings in the U.S. as of Dec. 1, 2019. According to CBS News, there have been more mass shootings than days this year. Being so openly exposed to this danger changes the way we think and function.

The Sandy Hook Promise, an organization formed in the aftermath of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut, released a video Sept. 18 that turns a seemingly ordinary, back-to-school commercial into a dark message meant to inspire fear and unsettlement.

In the beginning, the video takes the form of a typical, cheery back-to-school video, where students advertise some “essential” products. But slowly, it transforms into something else entirely, showing the students running and using their “essential” supplies to protect themselves from a school shooter (using their new sneakers to run away, their new scissors as weapons, etc.). The final scene is a girl advertising her new phone while hiding in the bathroom and texting her mom, “I love you.” 

Gun control has been a political debate over the past few years, but this video hit me in a different way. Instead of being infuriated at the lack of gun control, I was simply scared. It reminded me of how scary the situation would actually be. I am always worried for my major grade essays and my quizzes and tests that come and go, but this is a constant lingering fear in the back of my mind.

What if I’m next?

Sure, anxiety about assignments comes and goes, but this is the one that never leaves me. Even when I’m not thinking about it, it’s still there. When I’m walking to class, I’m looking for the nearest exit, getting ready to drop my backpack and run if I need to. I rush to every class, not wanting to be open in the hall for too long. I think about how effective my backpack would be as a weapon, I think about running and never stopping until I’m safe, I flinch at every loud noise.

I don’t think I’m the only one. Children nowadays are constantly on edge, worried about their ordinary day of school.

Gun safety is simply a moral issue. It’s sick that U.S. citizens take more pride in bearing arms than the safety of humanity. It’s sick that children, like me, have this nagging thought in the back of their mind, it’s sick that children need to have an escape plan.

By the end of this one-minute video, I was sobbing. Not just because I felt sad for the kids in the video, but also because I felt sad for myself and the kids around me that can relate to this. Even though gun control is improving, with Walmart taking guns outside of stores and the reduction in producing guns, there will still be collateral damage. And it angers me to my core that we will be the collateral damage.

How much more is this going to take before this changes? How many more children have to die before society sets its morals straight? 

 

Joy:

Our lives, full of chaos and events and emotion, are nothing more than a fallen number in statistics. Human beings, shot dead by the bare hands of an individual, are treated like they’re mind-numbingly worthless and empty.

But the bottom truth of the matter is that I’m still scared. Even if I’m just a sentence on a clickbait news article, a sparing thought on a newspaper piece, or another number counting upwards in mass shootings statistics, I’m still so terrified.

Like Mehuli, I, too, used to search for different ways to escape a classroom, to leave and run quickly and where I could hide in the case of a school shooter. Fear would consume every part of my body, making my hands shaky, my eyes unsteady and my head blurry. 

Even now, my thoughts linger on how quickly life can really disappear.

In response to this shared feeling, Eugene Lee Yang released a video under the YouTube channel BuzzFeedVideo titled “Me & Mass Shootings” June 23, 2016. In it, he covers the extent of which mass shootings have affected his life, the 100+ mass shootings that have happened in his lifetime despite only being 30 by the time that the video was released, and how terrified and scared he has felt since then.

Everything he’s felt mirrors my exact thoughts towards mass shootings.

It reminded me of all the times in freshman year I spent waiting, watching and worrying.

It reminded me of the days that we spent crouched in a crowded classroom, clasping each others hands as we waited for the lockdown drill to tell us that it was all fake.

It reminded me of my father, who, as a young Chinese boy, had never had to go through what I had to go through, and my sister, who was horrified to realize that my middle school practiced school shooter drills monthly.

This is why it is so surprising to me to see people deny that we have a gun problem. What other country has three mass shootings in a single week? We have had 283 total mass shootings in the past year, with an average of 10.6 people dying from firearm related deaths out of 100,000 people.

The fact that my friends and I have discussed this multiple times is symptomatic of a whole. Sometimes it feels like we’re children with nothing we can do. We are but mindless beings who can do almost nothing in response to one of the greatest threats to our existence.

So, the question here lies with us. What can we do to stop this?

Spreading awareness, learning safety protocols, and implementing basic procedures can help immensely. I’m sure there is not a single person in this school that isn’t scared of mass shootings, yet there is a multitude of us that don’t know what to do if presented with a school safety situation.

The ball’s in our court now, and we need to start taking action before fear and worry consumes the entire student body. We are all worth more than a sentence or two, and we are all human beings worth more than dying. It’s time for us to prove that we’re not just going to be another statistic.