Life is made up of cycles: the water cycle, the life cycle, the grief cycle and the mass shooting cycle. Cycles repeat themselves over and over, but some, like the mass shooting cycle must be interrupted.
It may not be a common term, but we are all too familiar with the steps of the mass shooting cycle.
The Event: Most recently, a man carrying an AR-15 style assault rifle barged into the Tree of Life synagogue in the heavily Jewish-influenced Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill and opened fire.
The Aftermath: Counting the bodies, arresting the suspect and mourning the lives lost. Eleven dead—three women and eight men—all key members of the synagogue. The assailant, Robert Bowers, charged with 29 criminal charges. The 10 families sitting shiva this week, grieving and remembering the lives of their loved ones with the community.
The Call to Action: After each shooting, the community, the country and the world vow to never let another mass shooting occur. They claim they will never forget, offering prayers and the promise to vote for politicians who advocate for stricter gun laws.
The Forgetting: As the weeks go by, we resume our routines and our initial shock subsides. The community will continue to suffer from the aftermath of the shooting, but the rest of the world moves on. A year from now, someone will bring up the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and you might say, “Oh yeah. I forgot about that one.”
We need to break the mass shooting cycle because our lives are at stake. These shootings have become normalized, but our neglect to take action should not. According to the Washington Post, seven mass shootings in which four or more people were killed unrelated to gang disputes or robberies occured in 2018, while 50 years ago there was only one.
We should not ask, “Again?” when there is a mass shooting. We should ask, “Why did it happen? And why haven’t we stopped this by now?” Then, we should take steps towards reform and change.
When the PA system crackles and the assistant principal announces a lockdown drill, our first reaction is the possibility of death. And what would happen if there was an intruder? Would the shooter be deterred by the dark, seemingly empty classrooms? Or would they know, growing up in the era of school shootings, that the strewn chairs and backpacks in the classroom means that the children are hiding in the closet? Locked doors won’t be enough to protect my life, I need legislation.
The only way to end the cycle is by voting. Don’t just vote, but mindfully vote. Spend time researching each candidate and ensuring that they believe in stricter gun restrictions.
Last Saturday afternoon, I drove past Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood while listening to my friend describe the bulletproof windows and cameras on each lamppost. I noticed the police cars and added Jewish Federation Security in front of the synagogue. The next day, I went to Park Synagogue in Pepper Pike, greeted the police officer and later heard about how we, too, have bulletproof windows and cameras.
I felt horrified; has gun violence escalated so rapidly that there are police and bulletproof windows shielding people from the outside, as if expecting for a shooting to occur? But then I remembered the security guards stationed in the high school, the metal detectors at museums and airports, the Stop the Bleed campaign that teaches individuals how to keep blood from oozing out from a gunshot wound. I realize we have already reached that point where mass shootings has become a part of the culture. Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by security measures to prevent mass shootings, instead of passing laws to inhibit them from happening.
No one should be afraid to go to a temple, church, mosque, school or work. No one should be worried that their loved ones might be shot. No one should be targeted because of their beliefs or background. No one should be able to walk into a store a buy a weapon that can easily murder innocent people.
Everyone should feel safe. Everyone should be able to wake up in the morning without the fear of survival. Everyone should feel safe to embrace their identity and receive acceptance Everyone who can should exercise their right to vote.
They say history repeats itself, but this mass shooting cycle needs to stop.
Next Tuesday, don’t assume that your vote doesn’t matter or that someone else will vote for you. Apathy is not the answer. Every vote counts and only together can we stop mass shootings.
The mass shooting cycle is in motion once again. We’ve experienced the event, we’re sorting out the aftermath, and this is your call to action. Please do not forget.
Before you vote, do your research to ensure that the politicians elected into office will support effective gun restrictions. Learn about the Ohio governor race and attorney general race to stop this cycle of mass shootings.