On March 22, 2021, 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa opened fire in a King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colorado, killing 10 people.
This has rocked the nation hard, especially since citizens had barely gotten back up on their feet from the Atlanta spa shootings, which killed eight women, the three Virginia Beach shootings in which two people were killed, one of them killed due to an officer-involved shooting and eight others were injured. Another incident occurred in Philadelphia, where seven people were shot, three of them in critical condition as of March 27.
In the span of 13 days, there have been 6 separate shootings that included more than one victim. What does this say about the United States?
This will lead into, what do people have to say about the shootings? How has this affected those both in Colorado and here in Iowa?
“It felt a bit like I’d been doused in cold water…I remember this floating, soaked in cold water feeling while looking for more information and trying to make sure friends who lived in the area were okay,” Rhiannon Bunny, 26, of Livermore, Colorado said when asked about her reaction when the news first broke of the shooting.
Rhiannon, a former student of Columbine High School, said she understands the pain of a shooting. She had attended Columbine “long after the tragedy” but it was still “a huge part of our school culture while I was there.”
This shows the impact of shootings now and the impact that shootings from years ago still have, especially on communities.
Rhiannon said she feels “disgust and disappointment that we still aren’t able to take any kind of substantive action to prevent tragedies like [Boulder]” and she is “sick of hearing that now isn’t the time to fight for political change.”
She said, “It hurts that so many mass shootings have happened in Colorado in my lifetime. I’m tired of it.” She ended, expressing the disgust she previously stated.
Her brother, Tristyn Bunny, 21, of Littleton, Colorado, said, “This is going to sound callous, but annoyed.”
Tristyn stated when asked about his reaction towards the shooting, “All I felt was ‘another shooting.’”
The siblings’ contrasting reactions show a spectrum of reactions toward mass shootings in the United States: Upset and Annoyance. Both sides show care but in different ways.
“I’ve become emotionally numb to these shootings. I still care insofar as wanting them to stop obviously,” Tristyn continued, “but this has been shown to be America’s normal my entire life.”
Kirkwood Community College students have also felt the effect of the recent shootings.
“I felt my heart sink in the worst way possible…it felt too soon…it felt unreal,” Kourtney Wampole, 21, of Cedar Rapids, said when asked about her reaction to the shooting. “I just cannot believe this continues to happen in our country but I can’t say that I’m surprised,” she continued, falling in between that spectrum of care between upset and annoyance.
Along with the question of their feelings towards the Boulder shooting, I also asked whether steps should be taken toward gun reform. “I firmly believe common sense gun legislation needs to be enacted,” Rhiannon Bunny responded when asked if the Boulder shooting was another tragic reason for gun reform.
“I’m not for an outright ban but we need greater regulation for guns,” Tristyn said in response to the same question.
“I am in complete support of gun reform of any kind,” Wampole said. “If we do not act now, these incidents that could’ve been prevented will continue to happen.”
When asked about civilian access to semi-automatic weapons, Tristyn responded, “I would prefer the need for some kind of license to an outright ban but at this point I just think something needs to be done.”
Kourtney added, “I truly believe there is little to no reason for a citizen to have access to semi-automatic guns.”
All three expressed the sentiment that the gun violence we see in the U.S. is not normal, and we should see to it that it doesn’t become so normalized that we do nothing about it.
This still leads to the question of what can students do when a place goes into an Active Shooter lockdown. The Department of Homeland Security suggests three things: Evacuate, Hide or Take Action.
With Evacuation, students should have an escape plan, leave behind belongings, help others if possible, guide others away from the active shooter’s location and call for help when they are safe.
DHS stresses that, if someone doesn’t want to evacuate, do not try to convince them to do so. Evacuate, even if others won’t.
Hiding should be the second option if evacuating is not possible. When it comes to a hiding place, pick somewhere out of the shooter’s view that provides protection if shots are fired and does not corner or limit the ability to evacuate.
To prevent a shooter from entering the room, lock the door and create a blockade with cabinets, tables, desks or any other heavy furniture in the room you are in. When hiding, be sure to have cell phones turned off and remain quiet.
If both hiding and evacuation are not possible, remain calm, dial emergency services to alert the police of the shooter’s location, and if unable to speak, leave the line open for the dispatcher.
When taking action, know that this is a last resort, do not actively seek out the shooter. When taking action, be sure to be as aggressive as possible; throw things and use improvised weapons like scissors, pencils, textbooks. And when proceeding with these actions do not hesitate, commit to your actions.
In Iowa, some may express worry for the possibility of a mass shooting, especially recently with the push for the relaxation of gun policies. There have been seven mass shootings in the past decade, with five deaths and 27 injuries, according to the Center for American Progress.
Even though Iowa has a small number of mass shootings compared to our neighboring states, students should still be prepared if it does happen.
“There is much more that state leaders can do to protect community safety,” according to the Center for American Progress.
Image courtesy of Tony Webster, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.