I was a freshman in high school when the Sandy Hook school shooting took place in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012. The news was shocking and heartbreaking.
How could someone go into an elementary school and kill 20 children? The idea of shootings taking place in such public places baffled me.
But as time went on, more mass shootings were taking place all over the country. A shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina; The PULSE nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida; a shooting in a conference hall in San Bernardino, California and a shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas, just to name a few out of many.
They were happening one after the other and in the consecutive six years since Sandy Hook happened, there has always been one that has shocked, saddened and angered large portions of the population.
The repetitive nature of mass shootings in this country has become exhaustive, draining and a patchwork in the quilt of the United States. The prevalence of gun violence in the U.S. is being noticed internationally.
In an Aug. 28 article on Vox, German Lopez wrote, “Out of the world’s 251,000 gun deaths every year, there’s a group of six countries that make up more than half of those deaths — and the United States is in it.”
The list includes Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala, countries with weaker economies and criminal justice systems, in comparison to the United States. The U.S.’ total number of gun deaths totals 37,200, second to Brazil with 43,200.
The most recent shooting took place at Chicago’s Mercy Hospital on Nov. 19, where three people were fatally shot.
A hospital should seemingly be the last place where a shooting takes place but as the list of public spaces where shootings are taking place continues to grow, anywhere people gather is a target.
A church, supermarket, nightclub, school, movie theater, video game tournament and a synagogue are just a few of the places that have been targeted.
Head Resident Assistant Ella Levasalmi said she isn’t surprised when she sees that another shooting has happened.
“I feel like I’ve become a little numb to seeing it on the news and that’s definitely not what I should feel,” Levasalmi said.
She’s not alone.
This reaction is referred to as compassion fatigue. Charles Figley, a psychologist, and director of the Tulane University Traumatology Institute said in a Nov. 9 article for NPR, “Thinking too much about traumatic events, whether it’s a refugee crisis on the other side of the world or a school shooting in our own country, can make people too anxious or depressed to function in their daily lives.”
As a resident assistant in Kent Hall, Levasalmi said she thinks about the possibility for an active shooter situation to happen on campus.
“When I see something in the news about another shooting, I go in my head and I think about what would I do if I was in that situation and sometimes randomly a thought will pop into my mind about what if something were to happen in the place where I was?”
She said an active shooter training, that is run by University Police, is offered for those work in Residence Life and she plans to take it.
In the wake of the Borderline Bar shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, on Nov. 7, I found myself thinking of the college students in the bar that night enjoying a night out. As a college student, that reality was too close for comfort.
The past six years of continuous gun violence have felt increasingly too close to comfort. As each public space becomes a target, it’s as if a ring of security around us is shrinking with each occurrence and surely one day that ring will entirely disappear.