No one can predict when or where the next American mass shooting will happen, but we know it will and we’re all scared
Americans went to bed Saturday with news still breaking from a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that left 20 people dead and 26 injured. Then they woke up Sunday morning to breaking news from a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, where nine more people were killed and 27 more injured. Those were the 250th and 251st mass shootings to happen in the U.S. so far this year. This year. They happen so frequently, and our lawmakers refuse to do anything to protect us from them. It leaves us with the knowledge that another shooting will happen, but we don’t know when or where — or if we’ll be part of it this time.
People are tweeting about the new kind of anxiety they feel every time they go into crowded or public spaces and are forced to think about the possibility that someone could open fire at any moment. Not only are the tweets heartbreaking, but they’re relatable, because these are thoughts that every American now confronts.
Whenever I'm in a public space, I think about what would happen if a mass shooting broke out. It's a constant, low-level anxiety that follows me everywhere. I wonder if it's just me. I don't think it is.
— Geraldine (@everywhereist) August 3, 2019
DUDE. It’s at the point where I don’t feel safe anywhere man. 2 mass shooting in one day? Something has to happen. https://t.co/MD2iO8lD6m
— JG ✞ (@JGardner__) August 4, 2019
After today, I don’t think I’m ever going to feel comfortable or safe going anywhere
— Daniella (@dannieovo) August 4, 2019
How fucked is it that there’s a feature on Facebook that allows you to mark yourself safe from a mass shooting. I- pic.twitter.com/mmpEY2o906
— scuba steve (@forrfoxxsake) August 3, 2019
Some people are sharing the ways they plan out their routes and behavior so they’ll know how best to escape if they do hear gunshots.
Every Sunday I have a spot I HAVE to sit at in church. I’m insistent on it because it’s my best route to exits Incase someone comes in and opens fire. Ive tried to convince myself to stop doing this. 2 mass shootings in 24 hrs. What a nightmare we are living in.
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) August 4, 2019
sometimes when i go to big public places i always get scared a shooting may happen and I’ll always like scan the area and plan in my head if one does happen then and what to do
— sɪɴᴄᴇʀᴇʟʏ, ᴍᴇ ♥ (@bdwaybenji) August 5, 2019
Ever since my son was born and we go to a store, I plan out where we would hide if someone started shooting. I don't even question if that's insane anymore.— Jessica (@mydogmybff) August 4, 2019
the fact that i can’t fucking go anywhere without making a mental escape plan in case there is a shooting is no way to live
— ber (@amber_joglar) August 4, 2019
Oh, and according to this person’s therapist, this is apparently just normal now.
My husband was so worried that I was calculating exit strategies whenever I entered public buildings that he asked me to go to therapy. The therapist told me, "oh honey, you're fine. You're being proactive and aware. That's how it has to be now."— NecroMomicon (@JesDKArt) August 3, 2019
I was at a music festival this weekend, and when I planned out the outfits I wanted to wear, I didn’t choose things that were cute or good for the weather. I chose clothes I could easily run and climb in, in case we’d have to quickly escape the crowd. When we sat on the hill to see each band, the first thing I did was scan the area and figure out the fastest way to get out if we needed to. And it didn’t even feel abnormal to do that. It’s just a habit now, any time I’m in a crowd or at an event. It’s always on our minds because it has to be. This is a real danger we face in America.
It’s just our reality now. It’s not like, after 251 mass shootings in the first eight months of this year, they’ll stop. The next one is coming. And any one of us could be in the place where it occurs. We all have to live with that fear.
The worst part is that we actually don’t have to live like this. The U.S. has rates of gun violence that are absolutely unparalleled in the rest of the developed world — higher than any Middle Eastern country and higher than most Sub-Saharan African countries. We have the entire world as proof that gun control works, but our legislators and our people bury their heads in the sand and refuse to follow the example that all other developed nations on the planet have set. These aren’t unavoidable tragedies. Our fear doesn’t have to be just part of living in this country. We can do better, but we won’t. When will enough be enough?