Monica Stynchula is the Founder & CEO of REUNIONCare, Inc. a health information technology company REUNIONCare, Inc. an SBA certified Women-owned small business. Monica received her MSW and MPH from the University of Pittsburgh.
Aging Unbounded? Get Real
Mass Shootings Kill Our Aging Journey
What is a Mass Shooting?
“A mass shooting is an incident of targeted violence carried out by one or more shooters at one or more public or populated locations. Multiple victims (both injuries and fatalities) are associated with the attack, and both the victims and location(s) are chosen either at random or for their symbolic value. The event occurs within a single 24-hour period, though most attacks typically last only a few minutes. The motivation of the shooting must not correlate with gang violence or targeted militant or terroristic activity.” As defined by gun violence researchers Jaclyn Schildkraut and H. Jaymi Elsass and cited by the Rockefeller Institute for Government.
2023 Gun Violence Statistics
260. That is the number of USA mass shootings already this year according to gun violence archives. Let that sink in. Mass Shooting Tracker site lists a shooting total (not just mass) at three-hundred and eight which is about two- and one-half shootings every day. In fact, 429 people have died and 1,176 people have been injured.
I write this blog with a very heavy heart. The recent violent attacks on people going about their daily lives are too much for me to ignore. I intended to write an upbeat message as we close out Older Americans Month. Ironically, Aging Unbounded is this year’s theme which is so far from reality with the threat of gun violence.
Unbounded Threats to Safety
So where does gun violence happen in the great USA? No place is now safe from the threat of concealed weapons, stolen firearms, corrupt gun dealers, illegal firearms, homemade ghost guns, and gun owners themselves. States and the federal courts are rolling back protections leaving all of us at risk. Unbounded is right. Gun owners are unbounded to inflict death and suffering on others in support of whatever grievance they feel.
Run, Hide, Fight
Run, hide, fight is the mantra taught to school children in active shooter drills which are mandatory in most US states. Schools are closed to the public to reduce shooting risk. Schools have metal detectors, reinforced classroom doors, and, in some, teachers with weapons of their own. Now tell me how senior adults are protected? Do we have safe rooms and metal detectors in public buildings?
Vulnerable People Live in Fear
People with chronic health conditions and people with disabilities cannot Run, Hide, Fight. In fact, the number of emergency help line calls for ‘suspected gun fire’ demonstrate that we live with this inherent fear of violence permeating our daily lives. Anxiety and distrust of strangers gives rise to some of the emerging ‘Karen’ personas and social media posts of these ugly interactions. News reports of violence drive vulnerable people into retreat where they feel the safest, at home. Gun violence hurts all of us. Throw a stone in a pond and you get ripples, right? Shoot a gun at one person and the impact cuts through families, friends, communities, countries.
Social Determinants of Health
One mass shooting sets off a chain reaction in our Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). In fact, SDOH contributes up to eighty percent of risk of disease and death, life expectancy, healthcare costs, and functional limitations. Communities’ breakdown when public spaces are not safe. People stop gathering, they isolate themselves in an indoor safe space. Public transportation feels too risky, people miss medical appointments, stop going to work, and other activities go undone. Local grocery stores with familiar faces now produce anxiety and flashbacks of the carnage seen on the television. Working parents’ angst over the safety of their children leads to low productivity. Healthcare costs rise as insidious anxiety and depression spreads, and health conditions worsen.
Mass Shooting Unbounded
I feel the depths of helplessness and hopelessness with every mass shooting. The days of ‘thoughts and prayers and political grandstanding are over. We have reached the level of insanity where we continue to do the same thing expecting a different result.
Support National Gun Violence Awareness Day
Please join our team by wearing orange on Friday, June 2nd, in support of gun violence awareness.
The Disaster Distress Helpline is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990.