Guest Opinion | Mass shootings have become an American custom

Lansing-born University of Iowa student reacts to Michigan State University shooting.


Meg Doster, Amplify Editor

I’ve seen so many shootings on the news, but this is the first time it’s been somewhere I grew up.

When it came to Okemos High School alums, we went to two places: University of Michigan, and Michigan State. I was one of the few exceptions that left the state and attended the University of Iowa.

On Monday night I got a text message that three people had been shot to death just a few miles down the road on Michigan State University’s campus. Tuesday morning, the names of the victims hadn’t been released, so I started messaging my old friends, and found out that someone I know is in the ICU. It was one of the people I used to eat lunch with in high school.

Berkey Hall is MSU’s social sciences building, and the building where my older sister attended a summer chess camp, and I would wait with our mom in the parking lot for her to be done. Across the street from Berkey Hall is Insomnia Cookies, and a little further down is a Five Guys Burgers, where my family would often pick up dinner and dessert. That’s where the shooting started.

“I’ve been all over that building many times,” my mother texted me about MSU’s Union Hall.

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I really wish that I could write a call-to-action, tell everyone to write their representatives and to protest, but I think the time for action came and went a long time ago.

I’m 23 years old, I remember Sandy Hook, and then Pulse Nightclub, and then Vegas, and then Parkland — and the list goes on. Our government has been controlled by both parties, and yet the list of massacres keeps getting longer with no end in sight. I don’t think it will ever end.

I used to be hopeful that any day now Congress would pass something a law limiting gun access, or actually do something about the mental health crisis, or literally anything at all. I do not have this hope anymore. There is no one coming to save us from this. We are on our own.

When faced with a situation, the process is to first identify the problem, then fix it. But if you can’t fix it, accept it. Because there’s no point trying to fix something that cannot be changed.

My senior year of high school, in between the dozen or so other false alarms that locked down my school that year, there was a bomb threat that kept the school in lockdown for two hours.

During those two hours, my class passed out candy and started playing Hangman on the board. I looked around and realized that if a bomb went off right then, dying while sucking a lollipop and playing games wasn’t a bad way to go. I accepted that I am probably going to die from violence at some point. This is an acceptance I’ve carried with me for over five years now.

We’ve identified the problem, we’ve talked about solutions, but we never fix the problem. I’ve been through this roller coaster so much that I just want to get off. I’ve accepted that mass shootings are just a part of American life.

I haven’t lost anyone to gun violence yet, but there are two mass shootings a day and nothing has changed. It is only a matter of time until it’s your hometown, too.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.