A Shooting at our Local Mall

Another shopping mall shooting happened over the weekend. This time it was close to home at the Columbia Mall. The last time I went shopping for clothes, I bought them at the Columbia Mall. Every year, during the holidays, there is a magnificent “tree” created in the central fountains made from red and white poinsettia plants. Every year I take my children to see that tree. There’s a carousel not far from where the shootings occurred – the boys have ridden it countless times. Were there children riding that carousel, laughing and enjoying the ride, when the gunman opened fire? If so, how terrified were they? How terrified were their parents?

Two people were killed. Three, if you count the gunman. It was enough to make the national news. Great, we’re on The Today Show for a shooting! It’s disgusting.

A friend of mine, also a parent of two small children, expressed her anger and frustration over the shooting. How do you raise children in a world like ours? A world where innocent people are shot at random in public places? Places that are supposed to be safe? How is it possible to feel safe anywhere? And if you don’t feel safe, how do you make your children feel safe?

No children were shot at the Columbia Mall. Thank God. But children have been shot. The unthinkable happened at Sandy Hook.

So what now? Who do we blame? Do we blame the guns? Do we blame the media for glorifying the gunmen who might otherwise have offed themselves in a basement and checked out quietly? The gun laws? The NRA? Mental health experts? The government? Society as a whole? Apathy? Who? What? Where does the blame belong?

And what do I do, as a parent, to not only make my children feel safe, but to actually keep them safe? I don’t want to be afraid every time I walk out my front door. I don’t want to feel fear every time I let my children out of my sight.

I don’t have any answers. Right now I am banking on the idea that life is a game of numbers. Gun violence came to my backyard. But it was on a day that I wasn’t at the mall. And if I had been at the mall that day, I probably wouldn’t have been shot. When the DC sniper was terrorizing our area, I told myself that odds were he wasn’t going to shoot me. And now I am doing the same thing. Which is really sad, but right now, I’ve got nothing else.