Dear 14-year-old Me,
I don’t know how to tell you this. It breaks my heart to do it. But it’s not getting better.
All those zombie shooter games you play? Maybe it will prepare you for the day you’re forced to hold a gun. I know you don’t want to. It’s a good thing you did, that one time. We made a good choice. To know how it feels. To get over the fear. To be ready.
You are so much older now. I can still see you, sitting on that high school football field. Some of your classmates are running track, but you still don’t know their names and you’re afraid they’ll see you run like a clown, so you sat with the bookbags and started homework. It’s hot, but then again it’s Florida – it’s always hot. Fall term just started, but there was another bomb threat. So you are out here while they scour the hallways with bomb-sniffing dogs and you get out of class again for what is probably nothing but someone wanting to not be in class so they called it in. But they always take it seriously, because the world isn’t numb yet. No one is numb yet.
So keep playing those games. You love them, and by now, it’s one of the few forms of stress relief that still works. Congress has stopped blaming video games for gun violence – that argument lost out. Now they’re on to TikTok and trans people and whatever foreign country they want us to hate this week. Don’t worry, you’ll find out about those things. You’ll honestly start to become numb. I can see you rolling your eyes now.
“Numb?” you’ll ask, “How can we be numb? We shouldn’t be numb to things like that!”
But we are, my darling. We are.
So numb and tired and ready to give in. Maybe we are an empath, or just too stressed, or whatever term someone wants to label it. But the fact is that numbness is what everyone is becoming because it’s a mode of survival in the United States of 2023.
I wish I could reach you now. I wish I could scream back at you, “Fight. Fight as hard and as loud as you can right now. Stop it now. Stop the bombs and the guns and the violence. Pass the laws now, while you still have a chance to stop this. Make them see. Make it happen before Congress and our governments become so focused on whether the Republicans or Democrats get to take credit that they stop caring if we actually survive to see them get the damn thing done.”
Rage against that dying light, my darling. Rage hard.
I love you,
The following are key statistics on gun violence in the United States:
- From the 1999 Columbine High School shooting to the March 27, 2023, Covenant School Shooting, the United States has lost 175 children to school shootings.
- As of March 28, 2023, the total number of gun-related deaths between 2013 and 2023 totals over 10,013 – including at least 60 children aged 0-11 and 348 teenagers aged 12-17. Over half were suicides. (Source.)
- Active shooter incidents have dramatically increased over the last 20 years, from 3 in 2000 to 40 in 2020. (Source.)
- 8 of every 10 murders in 2020 involved a firearm. (Source.)
- The United States is one of the top six producers of gun-related deaths in the world for 2016. Notably, the U.S. ranked second highest worldwide in suicides linked to guns. (Source.)
- The United States now averages one mass shooting per day.
Here are five things you can do right now to help stop gun violence.
- Contact your elected representatives and demand that they support and advocate for effective gun violence prevention legislation. Call your U.S. Senators and Representative via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and tell them that you SUPPORT a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
- Join a local gun violence prevention organization. Visit States United to Prevent Gun Violence, the national umbrella organization for state gun violence prevention organizations to find a group in your state.
- Learn about the actions we can take as communities, states, and a country. We recommend these factsheets to get started and the work by Giffords Law Center.
- Support National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2, 2023. Learn more here.