When Mass Shootings Are Common News, You Aren’t Safe Anywhere [Opinion]

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People are watching news coverage on Thursday with grim faces, listening to reports of 12 people gunned down in Thousand Oaks, California. Survivors are staring at cameras with stunned expressions. Here, it’s supposed to be safe. Here, there aren’t supposed to be mass shootings.

But we now live in a time when mass shootings can happen any time, anywhere. According to CNN, the Thousand Oaks shooting is the fourth “soft target” to be destroyed by violence in the last two weeks.

On October 24, people who were shopping at a grocery store heard bullets ring out in a quiet, upper-middle class neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky. Two of them died. Three days later, on October 27, people attending services at a Pittsburgh synagogue became victims of a mass shooter. There were 11 people killed in that event.

Two women died at a yoga studio on November 2, and on Wednesday night, 12 people inside a country and western bar were targeted by a masked shooter in Thousand Oaks, California.

A grocery store, a place of worship, a yoga studio, and a bar. People in these places were going on about their normal business, doing regular things. Anyone you know may be at any one of these places at any given time. Your kids. Your parents. Your spouse. Your best friend. You.

Thousand Oaks, California, is 40 miles outside of downtown L.A., and it’s home to less than 130,000 people. It’s named for the oak trees that grow here. It’s a quiet, pretty community. And it’s now ground zero for America’s most recent mass shooting.

But just wait. There will be another one soon. Because there always is another one. At a movie theater. At an outdoor concert. At an elementary school. Maybe next time, at a normal, everyday place where you will be.

Any town, any day, anywhere. Anybody can become the victim of a mass shooting, and that means no one is safe.

There is no way to protect yourself from a mass shooting, or stay out of harm’s way. You can always go grocery shopping in a bulletproof vest, but that’s not very practical.

The only way to prevent mass shootings is to change gun control laws on a massive scale all over the U.S. And until the gun lobbies stop pumping campaign money into politicians’ bank accounts, that’s not likely to happen.

But there is something you can do. Stop buying guns. Stop buying ammo. Stop buying gun accessories, rifles, shotguns, and everything else the gun manufacturers want you to buy. Stop making it profitable for them to make these killing machines. Vote for candidates who support gun control laws. And stop voting for candidates who refuse to adopt common sense legislation that will save lives.

None of us should live in a country where mass shootings are considered commonplace, where going to a yoga class can mean getting gunned down like a deer in the forest, where shopping for groceries means taking your own life into your hands. No one should live in a place where it’s risky to go sit in a movie theater, or send a 6-year-old off to school for the day.

Is this really the news you want to see when you wake up on a Thursday morning? Every single American has the power to change these headlines and prevent more of these events.

Stop buying guns. Stop taking pictures of guns. Stop lining the pockets of politicians who don’t care if your children die in a school, at a bar or in a grocery store. Just stop.