The increasing frequency of gun violence and mass shootings in the United States is impacting the lives of millions of Americans, causing anxiety and prompting changes in daily routines. With National Gun Violence Awareness Day approaching, around 60% of US adults have discussed gun safety with their children or other family members, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In some instances, children as young as five years old are taught lockdown drills at school, learning when to barricade doors and when to run for their lives in case of an active shooter. Parents are finding it challenging to reassure their children in such situations. Vaile Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation with the American Psychological Association, says it is important for parents to have calm conversations with their children about gun violence.
Approximately 15% of respondents in the Kaiser survey have moved to different neighbourhoods or cities due to gun violence concerns. However, even after relocating, some find that the violence follows them. For instance, Travis Wilson, 40 years old, moved to a new neighbourhood in Louisville, Kentucky, only to experience a shooting at a local bank.
After the tragic shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, Lori Alhadeff, who lost her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa, ordered bulletproof backpacks for her two sons. Demand for such items has surged as gun violence worsens, with Yasir Sheikh, owner of self-defence item manufacturing company Guard Dog Security, stating that it is important for parents to feel empowered in keeping their children safe.
Schools are also taking action, with staff participating in training programs like FASTER Saves Lives, which teaches them how to use firearms to respond to gun violence. Around 41% of those surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation have attended a gun safety class to protect themselves and others from shootings.
A third of Americans are avoiding certain public places due to fear of mass shootings, even though such incidents only make up a small fraction of overall shootings. Psychologist Daniel Mosley explains that people often take measures to increase their sense of safety when their sense of stability and security is disrupted.
For those who have experienced gun violence, such as Pam Bosley, who lost her 18-year-old son Terrell in a shooting, anxiety remains a constant. Mass shootings have become one of Americans’ top stressors since 2019. Bosley has found solace in advocacy and campaigning as a way to channel her grief and work towards a safer future for her family.
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