If you are a senior at Binghamton University, this is the number of people who have died as a result of mass shootings in the United States since you first entered college in 2014. The top-three deadliest mass shootings in history have occurred only in the last 10 years.
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas and the other 272 mass shootings that have taken place in 2017, it’s time to realize and acknowledge that we’ve grown desensitized to these occurrences. We have been alive for what seems like countless mass shootings in the United States, and it’s hard not to feel numb when we’ve grown up seeing this happen so frequently. At this point, it seems almost unsurprising when another one occurs.
We challenge you to move past this feeling of helplessness. We challenge you to be aware of the impacts and of these events. People dying as a result of gun violence shouldn’t be a regularity.
It can be hard to feel an overwhelming sense of loss when hearing of these events; they often occur in other cities and states, causing a greater disconnect. However, the reality is that it can happen to us. It has happened to us.
In 2009, a mass shooting occurred on Front Street in Downtown Binghamton at the American Civic Association. Fourteen people died, including the gunman. The other 13 were taking an English as a second language class at the center. This is still the worst mass shooting to occur in our state’s history. We can’t forget that this happened in our city — the place we call home for four or more years.
A memorial now stands at the intersection of Clinton and Front streets: 13 birds in flight hover 15 feet above the pavement among benches and a surrounding garden. In the wake of devastation in a city, all that physically remains is a man-made structure that we’re supposed to recognize and use to contemplate complex and difficult emotions.
Despite this tragedy, Claudia Tenney, a Republican representative for New York’s 22nd Congressional District, has expressed her strong support for the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment. She was, in turn, endorsed by the NRA during her campaign. It’s unclear how the city of Binghamton’s congressional representative can show such unwavering support for these weapons after the massacre that took place in her own district.
We are college students, we are young people, we are millennials — regardless of the term, we make up an overwhelmingly large group of the population, and we can unite to have overwhelmingly loud voices. We have grown up in an era of unparalleled gun violence and devastation. And although it seems as though this is just the way it is in the United States, it is up to us to challenge this fact. This is not normal, and we must work to pay attention, and make change.
We express our deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims in Las Vegas. It remains unfair and incomprehensible that innocent people who were attending a music festival — something exciting, enjoyable and completely guiltless — lost their lives. Take time to reflect on these difficult feelings, and make your voice powerful enough to incite change in this abnormal time.