I remember the very moment I heard the words “deadliest mass shooting.” In fact, I remember all three instances where the words flashed across my television screen, and made an appearance on my social media feed. Virginia Tech. The Pulse Nightclub. The Las Vegas Strip. Not my home. Not my neighborhood. Not my school. Not my nightclub. All places comfortably distant from my safe warm bed. Distant enough that a few tweets, and a day of half-hearted grief was enough. A fair price to pay as a social media follower, a news-watcher, and more importantly a fellow human being. Then it’s over. The wave of angry tweets settles. The voices that “send prayers” quiet down. And we all move on. We mark the day in our history books, and wait fearfully for the next time. Hopeful that this next time isn’t finally the day that it is our home, our neighborhood, our school, or our night club.
This is the mentality we’ve all seemed to adopt. Some might consider this apathy, others might consider it a coping strategy. With the world, quite literally, in flames around us, perhaps this is the only reasonable way to deal with such insurmountable tragedy. But today, today is the day where a shooting is no longer miles away from my nice warm bed—but only a brief five minutes away. As I type this, the sound of police reports making note of buildings I’ve had classes in and naming streets I drive down every day, fills the background. I know, in this very moment, that this my time to feel the grief of having my school, my neighborhood, my city, terrorized by gun violence. And though the ignorant part of me thought this day would never come, it is no longer a distant thought. It is right now.
Though every shooting has stirred a rather incorrigible rage in me, I am ashamed to admit that it was not until this moment, these very minutes of my school being terrorized, that stirred a rage I will not let settle. I refuse to only memorialize the victim for the polite number of days, and let the anger that encourages change, die with them. I will not attempt to resurrect this passion and this fire later on for the next shooting, or the next life lost. Instead, this is my promise to stay in a state of ever-blazing passion and fury for those victims of gun violence. And I am suggesting you, too, make the same promise.
Do not wait until it is your friends, your classmates, and your neighbors at risk, like I did, to take a stance. Stand up now, so you never have to experience the anxiety of sitting in a room just a few miles from an active shooter. Stand up for policy. Stand up for safety. And whatever you do, do not let your thoughts and prayers dissipate when the media coverage does.
Editor’s Note: All articles for Her Campus at the University of Utah are the opinions and beliefs of the writers and do not reflect Her Campus at the University of Utah, the University of Utah or Her Campus as an international magazine.