LIVING IN THE U.S. MEANS LIVING WITH MASS SHOOTINGS

In Bangladesh, there are severe floods. Almost every monsoon season, roughly 20 percent of the country is covered in water. Hundreds of lives are lost every year. In 1998, 1,000 people were killed and 30 million lost their homes.  

In the Philippines, there are typhoons. About 20 strike every year and many people die. In 2012, more than 700 were killed by Typhoon Bopha. About 5,000 died during Typhoon Thelma in 1991.  

In the United States, there are mass shootings. In the last year, there have been nine mass shootings, defined by the FBI as a single incident in which four or more people are killed. Eighty-one people died in those shootings, including the 12 that were killed this Monday at Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard and the 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook elementary school who were shot last December. It’s hard to say how many have been injured.

It seems a little silly to compare floods and typhoons with shootings, which are entirely man-made. But in the United States these events are happening in the normal course of life, like the recent floods in Colorado or tornadoes in the South and Midwest.  

Mass shootings happen in other countries too. But it’s worse here. In the United States, there are 314 million people, and 300 million guns. In Louisiana, it’s legal to have a gun in church.  

I don’t write this to be a downer or because I think there’s a solution. But living in DC this week it’s on my mind. Since Sandy Hook, I’ve come to accept that these kinds of killings will be a reality for the rest of my life and probably my daughter’s life too. I don’t think there’s anything that can be done about them. All you can do is expect them and prepare for what you’d do if you were in the situation. Like a fire drill. They’re inevitable. You can only hope they don’t happen to you or to the people you love.