Two Too Many

*Trigger warning- details surrounding former and recent mass shootings are present in this article and maybe unsettling to some readers. Proceed with caution.*

On Nov. 14, an active shooter took the lives of two students and injured three more (as reported by NBC) at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear. This violent attack took place roughly one year after the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks, taking place on Nov. 7 and killing 12 people. The Saugus attack took place just one week after the Borderline anniversary and will be the 366th mass shooting this year (as reported by CBS) in 2019. For us locals, or anyone else previously affected by gun violence, this second shooting is two too many and is already one too many for the people affected in Santa Clarita. 

I can still remember the night of Nov. 7, 2018, clearly; I stayed up through the night texting and calling all of my classmates making sure they were okay and alive. Students ran up and down the halls of my dorm, loud knocks pounding on every door asking who was home, to see who made it back and who did not. 

We said never again. We said that Borderline would be the last one, as we all sat crowded around dorm room TVs. I told myself, as I grieved and cried through the nights of November, that I would never have to deal with this great of a tragedy again and that I just had to heal from that one; it wouldn’t get any worse. 

This year, I spent the morning of Nov. 14 texting and calling all of my loved ones in Santa Clarita to make sure they were okay and alive, and that their kids were okay and alive. I watched the NBC4 news reports in the middle of my Film/TV class, attempting to get word on the situation and stepping out of the classroom to answer phone calls and texts as I received them. 

We were all surprised when the shooting happened in Thousand Oaks, as it was formerly the 3rd safest city in the country (according to CBSLA) and because we had never seen violence like it so close to home. I was just as surprised when I found out another city I called home once to have been touched by gun violence, with Santa Clarita ranking as the 9th safest city in California (as reported by Santa Clarita’s Economic Development Division) and being known as one of the protected places to raise a family in the country. 

This article isn’t to put one act of violence into comparison with another, as both are grave beyond words. In fact, I was hoping I never would have had to write an article detailing two acts of mass violence, each close in location and time to one another. However, as the number of mass shootings continue to rise, shooting stories have become normalized in the media; so normalized that during the same day of the Saugus shooting Twitter trending topics stopped showing “Saugus High School” and started showing “Taylor Swift.” 

Since when did so many mass shootings become normal? Since when did every single person I know (from both my hometown and college town) become so well acquainted with mass violence? In an interview, a Saugus high school senior said that he felt very prepared during the emergency because “with the amount [shootings have] been happening so much you’ve got to think, is it going to happen at my school...I wasn’t surprised” (recorded in an interview by ABC7). 

While preparedness is nice, and vital, who allowed this level of normalcy to become acceptable? 

Although a year after Borderline, I still have not come up with the perfect solution to erase such tragedies, I can confidently say that pretending shootings don’t happen, “thoughts and prayers”, and tweets from our legislators have done absolutely nothing to stop these acts of violence from happening. We need conversation, activism, change, and increased kindness to each other. We need action and leadership, and we can’t wait any longer for it to show up on its own. 

To my friends and family in Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks stands in solidarity with you. Please continue to lean on each other, as it is the only way through. 

Two Novembers now, for me and many others, have become tainted with grief and anguish over the deaths of those due to gun violence. There have now been two years of frantic phone calls, and two years of our two eyes glued to the television watching it all unfold, but most importantly there are two sets of parents that will now never see their child again, and that should be enough. 

Remembering The Fallen: (photo courtesy of the author, located at the Borderline Bar&Grill Memorial).