I’ve Grown Up With Mass Shootings: A Letter from the Editor

Breaking news notification I know all too well

Jessica Baskerville, editor in chief

   On January 23, there was a mass shooting at Marshall High School in Kentucky. The shooter was a 15-year-old boy. According to the New York Times, the shooting was the 11th school shooting in 2018 as of January 22nd.

   When I saw it on the news that morning, my reaction was minimal. I listened to what the reporters had to say, sighed, and carried on with getting ready for school.

   Many people (on my Twitter feed, for example) weren’t even aware the shooting had happened until the day after. For some reason, that angered me. Knowing that such a traumatic event had happened and seeing that quite of few people didn’t know about it had rattled me.

   I’ve grown up around mass shootings. There are many that I don’t remember, like the Virginia Tech shooting and the D.C. Beltway Sniper. The first shooting that I do remember was the shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012. As a 12-year-old, I could fully understand what was happening, but I didn’t understand why. I didn’t understand how someone could do that. I couldn’t bare the thought of my brother, who was in elementary school at the time, being the victim of something like that.

   The 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME church in Charleston also hit close to home, as my family and I have attended an AME church in Downtown Richmond since we moved to the area. After the shooting, my church decided to allocate funds to pay for a police officer to sit through our services.

   The shooting that has really stuck with me, however, was the shooting in 2016 in Orlando (the shooting that was only the deadliest U.S. mass shooting for a little over a year). The fact that someone went into a club where people were just trying to have fun and brutally murdered all of those innocent people broke my heart. I sat motionless for hours just thinking about it, not being able to do anything else, and I came to the conclusion that every place is supposed to be a safe space.

   I would be lying if I said that I didn’t live in constant paranoia about a shooting breaking out. I think about what I would do if a shooting were to occur anywhere that I go: at my job, in the hallways, at a restaurant, at the grocery store, at the park. The day after the Kentucky shooting, I was walking through the commons to get to a class, and I kept looking around. There were groups of kids everywhere, laughing and chatting before [the seven hours of school]. Everyone looked so carefree, in their element. I couldn’t help but think about how quickly things could change and how instantly all hell could break loose.

   The thing that I can’t fully grasp is how our legislators, the people that we elected to keep the best interest of the people in the forefront of their minds, just don’t seem to care.This isn’t even simply about party lines anymore, it’s about basic human decency. Regardless of whether or not you want universal healthcare, or whether or not you think that the military should have more government funding, or whether or not you believe that there should be more gun control, no one wants that phone call. No one wants to get a call from someone saying that someone they love has been shot and injured or killed in a mass shooting. No one wants to see the picture of their loved one appear on the TV screen as a victim of such heartless violence. Someone who they may have kissed goodbye just this morning, not even thinking about how that could actually be a final goodbye.

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