One weekend, two mass shootings, absolutely no signs of change. That’s it, that’s the subject line.
20 years ago, I was in grade nine when 13 people were murdered at Columbine High School. Eight days later, a 14-year-old gunman entered a high school in Taber, Alberta - a school in a very small town I had visited a year before as a part of a band exchange - and opened fire, killing one. It was later revealed that the gunman’s family believed the shooter “snapped” when he watched coverage of Columbine. I remember feeling scared and angry and sad and helpless, not understanding how something like that could happen at a school.
Two decades later, we’ve had mass shootings in universities, yoga studios, bars, a garlic festival, synagogues, churches, bowling alleys, video game competitions, rock concerts, music festivals, art events, workplaces, the list goes on. There have been SO many mass shootings in the US, at such a frequent rate, that in reading this list of mass shootings, I realized that I’d forgotten mass shootings that happened near me IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS. THAT is how often they happen, and how numb / in denial I’ve become.
Meanwhile, white male nationalism and abhorrent racial and sexist ideologies have gone from being passed around via photocopied screed, or festering in the dark corners of the internet, to being spouted by the man who was supposedly elected to represent all of us (HA lol).
And now we’ve had two mass shootings in 24 hours, one perpetrated by a white nationalist targeting Hispanics. And every time something like this happens, I wonder whether this is the time something might change. Whether this is the moment that this country looks at itself and goes “oh my god, how did we get here?” Is this the day that we emerge from our fever dream and recognize that this terror we live in is of our own making, and something we can change?
When I visited Israel a few years ago, I entered a shopping mall in Tel Aviv and was spooked by the metal detectors and security. There was a moment when I was on the bottom floor of the mall where I had a wave of panic hit my chest because I realized I didn’t know how I’d get out of the building if I had to. I remember thinking how awful it must be to have to worry about whether you will live or die going about your daily errands. It seemed so foreign to me.
Now, I think about means of egress when I enter a building. My chest has tightened in savasana thinking about the Tallahasse yoga studio shooting. I’ve seen our amazing synagogue childhood educators do a live shooter drill by teaching young children how to run and hide from the “Zombies.” I’ve avoided going to music festivals. I’ve started - both consciously and not - making choices in my day-to-day life based on whether or not I think I might get shot.
I don’t have children. But all I can think about today is how my friends who do have children have to talk to their kids. How they have to explain to their kids that not only are there bad people in this world, but that the right of those bad people to own machines of war capable of murdering many in seconds is protected more than the right to shop or worship or dance or play or be for the rest of us. And that the President of the United States stokes a hatred of others, or them, or both.
But while there isn’t much of a hopeful ending we can land on here, there are small ways you can channel that fear and anger and despair into something, ANYTHING, that might change our current state of dread.
Donate to organizations who fight the gun lobby
Pick a flippable Senate seat and volunteer for the Democrat candidate
If you live in a district represented by a gun lobby-supporting politician, call/text/mail/send carrier pigeons and let them know how you will work to elect someone who cares more for people than firearms in 2020
If you hear or read anyone in your social circles spouting hate, call them on it. Speak up to show that that sort of rhetoric is unacceptable in your life.
Be kind to each other.