On Dec. 14, 2012, Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six employees a mile away from my high school, Newtown High School, in Newtown, Connecticut. During that time, my school was in lockdown for more than two hours, and I was filled with confusion and fear that turned to tears and frustration.
For a while I didn’t know how to cope with what happened. Though I wasn’t personally affected, I mourned for my community, for my classmates and for my home.
I couldn’t understand why someone could be filled with so much hatred they would take their pain out on others — I still don’t.
It took some time to get through the pain my community felt, to learn how to smile again in a world with so much darkness and hate. I still think about that day often, more so when I go home.
I would never wish this kind of tragedy — this branding — on anyone’s community.
But mass shootings like this repeat themselves again and again, with Charleston and now with Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, which left 10 dead and seven wounded.
The saddest part is, we’ve become immune to it.
Since Sandy Hook, there have been 142 school shootings — 45 of those this year alone. This does not include mass shootings outside of schools and the other gun-related incidents that happen daily.
Honestly, I don’t know what to do about it. What can I do? My friends and community members have started organizations, and they have marched down to Washington, D.C., pleading and begging for change in mental health and gun control.
But nothing has really happened. Not a single federal gun law has been passed.
We move on for a moment, until it happens again, then again and again. Life goes on and mass shootings have become normal in this country, which just isn’t OK.
The United States has become so accustomed to hearing about shooting after shooting that Oregon was barely even trending on social media because people are used to it. Our numbness might be more disturbing than the shooting itself.
But we continue to do nothing.
I understand the support for the Second Amendment and our right to protect ourselves, but the United States’ obsession with guns is out of control.
I have been told that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and that apparently more guns could have prevented Sandy Hook from happening. Even Oregon Sheriff John Hamlin sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden demanding no new gun laws after Sandy Hook.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, U.S. citizens are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed countries. We are afraid of terrorists such as ISIS when the real danger is in our own country.
If other countries have figured how to live without excessive gun ownership and still be safe, why can’t we?
Mental health plays a huge role in these mass shootings, which is why background checks are so necessary. But with so many guns around, it’s hard to control who has access to them, and that scares me.
After Sandy Hook, we were told continuously by our principal, “Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world.” And maybe we did. We became “Newtown Strong,” believed that “love always wins” and overcame the pain as a community.
But it’s not right that other communities continue to go through this as well, and that we’re letting it happen.
My heart and prayers continue to go out to Umpqua Community College. And to the next town. And to the next.