Commentary: Personalizing Mass Shootings

Commentary: Personalizing Mass Shootings

8:15pm Jun 24, 2016
Radio 101 commentator, Cayla Clements says a gun scare at her school made recent mass shootings feel more real.
Lopa Shah

Radio 101 commentator, Cayla Clements, witnessed a fight two years ago at her school, Reynolds High in Winston-Salem. Cayla believed it was just another fight, but she and other students received a phone call from the principal that changed her perceptions of mass shootings.

The prerecorded call warned that one of the boys involved in the fight had threatened to bring a gun to school the next day and shoot the place up. The message stated the boy's parents had been notified and he wouldn't be at school the following day.

When the students returned to school in the morning, there were more police than usual and lots of gossip about why the police were there. Cayla says, "It was the first time I felt unsafe at school."

Cayla recalls receiving a news alert about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon a year later. She remembers looking at the alert half-heartedly, not processing that another school shooting had happend. Whe she finally did, Cayla says she was angry at herself and society, because mass shootings aren't shocking anymore.

She was upset when she woke to the news of the Pulse nightclub shooting. Her sister's college friend has frequented the club. He wasn't there on the day of the shooting, but he could have been. Cayla says "This shooting and the gun scare at Reynolds made me value life more, because they weren’t isolated from my little bubble of friends and family."

Cayla says she's angry at the NRA and pro-gun politicians. She feels they continue to make excuses for mass shootings. She notes that America has a different reaction to guns than other countries do. Following the shootings in San Bernardino, California, James Cook of the BBC reported, "Just another day in the United States of America. Another day of gunfire, panic and fear.”

America isn't the only country to experience that panic and fear, though. Cayla read about a mass shooting in Australia which killed 35 people. Popular outrage fueled stricter gun control laws and a massive gun buyback. Two  decades have passed, and Australia hasn't had a mass shooting since. Cayla believes America should follow Australia's example.

Cayla says, "Before the gun threat at my school, it was easy to think mass shootings happen to other people. The shootings in Oregon, San Bernadino, and Orlando made me realize firearms will be a danger until we pass more comprehensive laws."