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The Thousand Oaks shooting could have been us

<p>Shooters, despite its many faults, tends to unite students who belong to different social groups.&nbsp;</p>

Shooters, despite its many faults, tends to unite students who belong to different social groups. 

Imagine a typical Wednesday night at Duke. As students filter out of classes and pack up to leave the library, they scroll through their phones—texting friends and catching up on missed GroupMe messages—to coordinate their plans for the night ahead. In the midst of stressful and busy weeks, many students look to unwind with their friends, dancing the night away at Duke’s most frequented bar, Shooters. Though many students enter the night hoping to make wild memories, it’s decidedly improbable that they fear this outing will cost them their lives.

I never considered this a possibility, and neither did the victims of last Wednesday’s brutal shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. The bar had been hosting a country college night, attracting students from the nearby California Lutheran and Pepperdine University. Around 2:00 a.m., while many Duke students were still riding the bull and dancing at Shooters, a gunman opened fire on Borderline Bar and claimed the lives of 12 people. 

Borderline Bar was not a remarkable location for a shooting. It was just a bar, the Shooters equivalent of Thousand Oaks. The victims of this heinous crime were not chosen or specifically targeted by the gunman. They were just people. Many of them were students, just like us. It had been a regular Wednesday night, the same as any other college campus in the country, and then a gunman turned hundreds of worlds upside down. 

In moments like this, when an act of malice hits unbelievably close to home, we are terrified by the reality that it could have been us. 312 days into 2018, the United States’ legislation has enabled 307 mass shootings to confound our nation. We live in a society with very few arms regulations, that make it extremely easy for individuals with malicious agendas to obtain automatic weapons. As students and Americans, we should be scared.

Some of you may remember my column published in March of last year, following the devastating attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. When I began writing for the Chronicle, I never expected that I would write multiple articles about annihilation in the face of insufficient gun control legislation. Yet, here I am again, less than one year later, begging the government, the country and the powers that be to decide that enough is enough.

I am tired of waking up to gut-wrenching headlines, informing me that another group of Americans have been slaughtered by the system. This system—that allows a plethora of individuals to obtain firearms, that alerts the President when it is time to tweet another round of prayers to broken families, that desensitizes the country to the atrocity of murder—is broken.

It is not enough to pray, and it is not enough to empathize. Now is the time to take action. We are all responsible for the lives of our fellow citizens, and we must protect these lives through voting, speaking out and advocating for strict gun laws.

Maybe you’ve only been to Shooters once, driven by curiosity and later repulsed by the sweaty crowd, or maybe you go on a weekly basis, enamored by the euphoric escape from academics. Regardless, you should be able to go out without wondering if the trip will be your last moments on this planet. You should feel safe to have fun and unwind with your friends, and you should not have to worry that, at any moment, a gunman could fire a bullet through your body. We cannot take our safety for granted any longer: enough is enough. 

Carley Lerner is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs on alternate Mondays.

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