It’s Back


Courtesy of

Living in the United States means constantly fearing losing your life to a bullet.

Riley Pietsch, Editor-in-Chief

I am not sure of the exact moment my biggest fear went from creepy clowns to being involved in a mass shooting. Maybe it was when my entire elementary school went on lockdown because an alleged gunman had entered the campus, or maybe it was when I walked out of my third-grade class and stepped into my Mom’s car to find her sobbing, as she just heard the news that 20 children around my own age were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

I might not know when the thought of attending a highly populated concert, or even mall, became an opportunity for me to detail an escape plan, but I do know that I am not alone in these dreadful thoughts. Living in the United States comes with this unfortunately rational fear and in fact, the American Psychology Association reported that a third of Americans avoid going to certain places because of their fear of mass shootings (TIME). 

Over this past year, my constant anxiety I felt as I entered a grocery store or even walked onto my school campus, had subsided. COVID-19 has been nothing slight of devastating, but it made it so that people could not really leave the house unless it was necessary. As a result of this quarantine strategy, “the number of mass shootings that happened in public was the lowest in more than a decade” (AP News). 

In a year filled with nothing but tragedy, this silver lining was evident and comforting. While I now was required to wear a mask, it did not take away from the fact that I could now shop for groceries without jumping in terror at the slightest loud noise. This new sense of ease was a luxury I have never experienced as a U.S. citizen, and it was truly freeing.

But now, in April of 2021, with the vaccine quickly being distributed to the public, we are moving to, what many call, “back to normal.” For those of us in the U.S., back to normal also means receiving notifications on our phones of a new shooting almost daily. It means regaining that same apprehension I had pre-pandemic, as the thought of sitting in a fully populated restaurant terrifies me. 

Just in March alone, three massage parlors in Atlanta, a grocery store in Colorado, and an office in California were all the locations of deadly mass shootings (Newsweek). Twenty-two lives in a single month were lost to a shooter and a gun.  

For Yorba Linda High School student Olivia Yerkes (12), the shooting in California was especially frightening, as it took place only around 11 miles from the YLHS campus. With the shooting site being so close, Olivia explained that “a city [she] often frequent[s] with friends and family quickly became the center of a deadly shooting.”

The U.S. has had a noticeable problem with mass shootings for about a century, as they began happening as early as the 1920s, but COVID has accentuated the dire need for change. The lockdown gave us a slight glimpse into a world where being in a crowd did not increase your chances of losing your life to a bullet. As I spent time in lockdown I came to this horrifying realization: Americans are not truly safe from mass shooters until they are forced to stay home.