When Will It Stop?

I’m having a hard time figuring out the best way to approach this post. I can’t not write about it. It’s a bit different than what I usually write about… But I can’t not write about it.

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Monday, July 20, marked three years since the Aurora, CO, movie theater shooting in 2012. On Thursday, July 23, 2015, (yes – yesterday) the jury reached a verdict in the first sentencing phase of the Aurora shooter’s trial.

Less than three hours later, a terrorist opened fire in a movie theater in Lafayette, LA, killing three people and wounding seven others (as of 12:30 a.m.). He then killed himself.

My first thoughts were immediate fear – the same reaction I had when I head of the 2012 theater shooting. I spend a lot of time in movie theaters, and it feels like an invasion to a space that I consider to be a kind of second home.

But then my next reaction is always a more intense fear. This can happen anywhere.

On August 5, 2012, (the same summer of the Aurora shooting and, coincidentally, my birthday) a terrorist opened fire at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, WI – a suburb of Milwaukee, not too far from my hometown.

Disgust. Fear. Anger. Disbelief.

What’s wrong with people? When will it stop? When will we see change?

Two and a half months later on October 21, 2012, another mass shooting. This time, at a salon + spa in Brookfield, WI – a little over three miles from my home. (It could be argued that this shouldn’t be included among the others mentioned since domestic violence was the killer’s motive, but it was still a mass shooting).

And only two months after that, the unthinkable happened at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I cannot begin to fathom why anyone would resort to such senseless violence. I truly try to see the good in everything, but we live in such a disturbing age. There’s no doubt about that.

It’s sickening that nothing has changed in the years since the Aurora shooting. It’s even more sickening when you consider that nothing’s changed since Chattanooga. Or Charleston. Or Sandy Hook. Or Virginia Tech. Or Columbine.

As of 10:45 p.m. last night, Col. Michael Edmonson of the Louisiana State Police said, “There’s nothing to believe that there was any kind of motive.” Of course there isn’t. Other than to terrorize innocent people just trying to live their lives.

There were over 100 moviegoers in the theater when gunfire began. They went to the movies to be entertained. To be with friends. To laugh. To cry. To do anything but fall victim to the unimaginable.

I feel sad to write this, but I somehow know this won’t be the last mass shooting before anything is changed. More innocent lives will be lost and added to the sickening tally. How many more shootings need to happen before we see change?

I, personally, don’t have the solution to this disturbing trend. What I do know? Guns are central to each and every one of these sickening tragedies. And more often than not, mental illness is a major factor in the killers’ lives.

So what can we do? Pray and send positive vibes to those who are suffering from these senseless acts.

What else can we do? Demand change. Demand action.

The same conversations happen each. and. every. time. something like this occurs. There’s never any progress.

We need change. We need action.

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For more information on recent U.S. mass shootings, see this in-depth investigation from Mother Jones.

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My thoughts and prayers are with the families and victims of all senseless tragedy. May we find peace soon.

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