Americans Told Us How Their Lives Have Been Torn Apart By Gun Violence

Mass shootings have created a climate of fear, loss, and helplessness.

As the U.S. was still reeling from back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, we started asking Americans from different generations and walks of life how gun violence in the country has impacted them personally.

Then, on Wednesday night, an armed man shot six police officers in north Philadelphia during an eight-hour standoff. “When Columbine happened, I felt like ‘What's going to happen now? Are they going to change the gun laws?’ But nothing happened. Then Sandy Hook happened and I thought ‘Now they're really going to do something about it’ and nothing happened,” Diana Torres, 42, said. “At this point, I feel like what else has to happen for this to change?” America’s rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm is the highest in the developed world.

“It’s really been normalized that gun violence is a part of my everyday life,” said Jolie Simone Barga, 14. “We don’t feel safe at school. We don't feel safe going to the movie theater. We don't go and feel safe at a store.” Every day, 100 Americans are killed with guns, and hundreds more are injured, according to Everytown research. Families, friends, colleagues, and communities are left with the loss of loved ones and with persistent fear about the next mass shooting.

“This isn't just a problem that happened in El Paso or a problem that happened in Dayton, Ohio. It can happen anywhere,” Barga said. “Just because it was in those places the other day, [doesn’t mean] that it can be in your hometown the next.”