There’s a rule in AP Style, the grammar hand guide for news writing, that states journalists should type out the words for numbers nine and under and use numerals for 10 and over.
When it comes to death tolls, I rarely get to spell out numbers. Last weekend, in less than 24 hours, two mass shootings left a total of 31 people dead.
Mass shooting, a blood-stained coupling of words, is defined as an attack resulting in three or more deaths.
Back in November 2018, I wrote a column on the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh. I hoped something would change before I felt compelled to write another one of these columns, but nothing has.
On Saturday Aug. 3, 22 people died while shopping at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. In early morning hours the following Sunday, nine others died while enjoying their weekend in Dayton, Ohio. Additionally, according to Time Magazine, 26 Texans and 27 Ohioans were injured.
In the amount of time it takes my fingers to move from key to key, two people across the country from each other decided to end lives. I hesitate to move over s-h-o-o-t in a way these attackers and those who came before them never did when pulling the trigger.
“Over the previous months, other mass shootings have rocked the nation––from Sebring, Fla., to Gilroy, Calif,” Alejandro De La Garza reported Time Magazine. “In 2019 alone, at least 62 people have been killed in mass shootings.”
Texas and Ohio each immediately set up victim assistance hotlines and people are eagerly donating blood, water and other materials. Most of the stories I see are remembering the victims rather than giving spotlight to the shooter. With each mass shooting, Americans rally together and that is great, but we shouldn’t have to rely solely on each other. We should be able to rely on our nation’s leaders, too.
According to the Guardian, in February the House passed a bill that would require background checks on anyone wishing to purchase a firearm. According to NPR, the House then passed a bill extending the review period for background checks. However, the Senate still hasn’t taken up either and laws can’t be enacted unless both the House and Senate give consent.
With each attack and lack of response from lawmakers, it becomes more difficult to stay positive about the future of our country. I question whether legislators have the bravery to reform our laws, to admit they need to do something to remedy this epidemic. Gun reform isn’t about denying amendment rights, but rather making sure that everyone who purchases a gun legally has the right intentions.
We cannot keep living this way, and as powerful and heartfelt as praying for those hurt by mass shootings is, that isn’t enough to stop bullets. America’s history with mass shootings is evidence enough.
Mother Jones, a reader-supported investigative news organization, compiled a list of all the American mass shootings since 1982.
In just the last five years, 364 Americans have died and 729 have been injured because of mass shootings. In Pennsylvania, there have been four mass shootings: at a hotel bar (State College, January 24, 2019), synagogue (Pittsburgh, October 27, 2018), carwash (Melcroft, January 28, 2018) and supermarket (Tunkhannock, June 7, 2017). In total, these shootings resulted in 21 deaths and eight injuries.
As a kid, I only heard the phrase “pinpoint the nearest exit” when I went to the movie theater. Now it plays in my mind every time I enter a building.
The day-to-day American lifestyle is under attack. Physical safety and, equally as important, a mindset of safety is being threatened. But we all know this. We live it every day and, with each mass shooting, another aspect of daily life becomes a target. From supermarkets and bustling streets to places of worship and schools, we could be in danger anywhere.
Until the law makes it more difficult for evil people to legally buy weapons, we’re left to wonder when it’ll be our turn to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.