Watching U.S. Shootings Unfold When You’re Abroad

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I remember clearly where I was on December 14, 2012. My first semester studying abroad in Buenos Aires had come to an end and I was spending the week volunteering at Adulam, a rehabilitation center and orphanage outside the city. I didn’t have internet access or data there so I was pretty out of the loop. But as I was leaving the family’s home, I noticed the headline on the tv: “27 Dead at an Elementary School in the U.S.” I talked with my host family about it, what must they think of us? That we let our children get massacred. I thought, this is when something finally changes in Congress. How can they continue to do nothing after this? And yet here we are, 4 years later, reliving the same cycle every week or so.

I haven’t felt too far away from friends and family while here in Colombia, but I did two weeks ago. I read on facebook that UCLA was on lockdown because of an active shooter but it was too early for any specifics. I immediately texted my brother, a freshman at UCLA, and the text didn’t go through. I panicked, felt completely helpless, I couldn’t call him from Colombia. My mom wasn’t responding on whatsapp. A million scenarios played through my head until my sister texted back that he was okay. Later, we learned it was a murder-suicide. Just that. Nothing to be alarmed about.

Colombian news coverage on the Orlando shooting has been extensive. I’m not sure if all U.S. massacres get this kind of airtime here or if it’s due to the fact that most of the victims were Latino. Once again, as my host family watches – they don’t comment on it to me this time – but I can’t help but wonder what they must think of us. Sorry to get political but I’m about to get political. How can we have politicians that just shrug their shoulders every week or so when this happens? That say gun control will in no way improve this situation… but there’s also nothing else they can do. We put you into office because we expect you to fix problems. And this is a BIG problem. And you are doing nothing. Well, you are accepting thousands, millions of dollars from the NRA. The NRA, that lobbied for people on terrorist watch-lists to still be able to buy guns and so that – you too! – can buy an AR-15 in less than 10 minutes!!! You’re sending your thoughts and prayers to these victims without taking action, without even recognizing all of the factors that contributed to this shooting: homophobia, lax gun laws, and terrorism. It’s the terrifying feeling that more of these shootings will inevitably occur and we just have to sit and watch as politicians do nothing.

I’ll just stop before I go too off the deep end in a rage filled rant and I’ll let this segment from Samantha Bee express what I and many Americans feel about what’s currently happening. “Love does not win unless we start loving each other enough to fix our f******* problems.”


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