I Survived A Mass Shooting, And This Is What Needs To Change

Gideon Tsang
Gideon Tsang

It has been seven and a half years since my high school endured its school shooting. I want to say that this letter was inspired in light of recent events, but sadly, that is not the case. This letter is being written due to the tragic, ever-present, mass shootings in the United States.

My experience – it’s December 12, 2006. I’m walking from French class to Band around 9:15 am. While passing the most populated hallway in the school a student is dressed in Camouflage holding a sawed off AK47. He continued to shout, “Everybody Down” and opened fire. Literally an arms length away from him, my disbelief was immediately denied as the celling fell on me and the sprint of my life ensued. Anyone who was in that hallway with me can relate when I describe the sound of the scene as the loudest silence I have ever heard – it was like everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs but no sound came out. Leading the pack, a hall monitor told me to stop running, unaware of the situation, and then screamed “oh my God.” I fell down a flight of stairs, lost my shoes, dropped my saxophone and ran to the parking lot where I called 911. Weeks of therapy followed but not one day has passed where I don’t think about the motherfucker who shot up my school.

It was difficult to talk to classmates about this horrific event because most people felt sorry for the gunman.

They felt that he suffered from serious depression and other mental problems. I on the other hand felt bad for myself, for the gunman’s parents, for the other 800 students in my high school who were forced to attend classes under constant fear. I have never spoken out publicly about this, not even on the anniversary of the shooting. I hate Facebook on December 12th because it is filled with “always remember” bullshit. I have always had the urge to publicly express how I really feel and I will do so subsequently:

Fuck You Shane Halligan. Fuck You for putting my school in that situation, for putting hundreds of lives in danger, for giving myself and others PTSD, for giving me anxiety, for taking even the smallest amount of time out of my day to remember you.  To all of you who think what he did was okay, that an educational institution is an acceptable place for violence – Fuck You too.

After leaving high school I thought that these awful thoughts of the past would leave my mind. I then became very close with my freshman year roommate who confided in me that his primary school also endured a school shooting. Numerous school shootings and other mass shootings have occurred since these events. Nothing has changed aside from an increased mortality rate due to the actions of tormented individuals.

I understand that the people who fire their weapons in public places are tortured and often mentally challenged people. I feel sorry for them and for their families. I feel sorrier for their victims.

What I don’t understand is why adequate changes have not been made to prevent these tragic events. If you’re an NRA supporter or skeptic of this letter, I will absolutely argue that adequate changes have not been made because it keeps happening over and over and over again.

After ever school shooting the country wants a change but quickly forgets until the next event. There is always a bullshit excuse like depression. After the Isla Vista, Calif. Shooting the internet exploded with articles blaming misogyny for the mass murder. Sure, misogyny is a problem. Depression is a problem. Racism is a problem. Sexism is a problem. Bullying is a problem. The United States is full of problems. The rest of the world is plagued with misogyny, depression, racism, and sexism; it is not however, plagued with reoccurring mass shootings.

The real problem is access to guns. I urge the government to look at Australia’s gun laws, once was enough for them. Australia, I applaud you, I thank you more than you could ever know. Any European, Australian, Chinese person etc. who I have spoken with about America’s tragic shootings thinks America is completely senseless. It is embarrassing.  It is devastating.

To the government, to the NRA, to anyone who has not yet grown tired of the completely avoidable murders of children, students, mothers, daughters, friends, anyone in this country, Fuck You too. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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