In 1984, a man walked into a McDonald’s with three firearms and began shooting the customers that were innocently eating inside. He randomly shot at men, women and children. In 77 minutes he wounded 19 people and killed 21 others, ranging from the age of 8 months to 74 years old. I was 12 when this event occurred and although I wasn’t aware of most of the horrific details, I had heard about it and was terrified to eat out at any restaurant. I can remember having nightmares night after night of hiding under tables in restaurants in hopes of surviving a crazy person with a gun. I didn’t know at 12, that the fear of potential danger would multiply when I became a mother.
Three tragic and disturbing events that happened recently have been consuming my thoughts since they occurred. First, the Tucson shooting outside a grocery store horrified me, as it did the rest of the world. Second, a mall that I frequently go to with my children was evacuated and put on lock down in the middle of the afternoon as a robbery suspect with a gun rushed inside after firing at officers. Third, a friend of mine told me that a woman she knows was walking with her young children in a mall parking lot (the same mall that had been on lock down), when she was attacked with a blow to her head with the handle of a pistol, as a means of a female gang initiation. If I was at any of these scenes, I do not know what I would have done.
My true fear comes from the places that these crimes occur. Everyone needs food. We all go to grocery stores. The mall and the area surrounding it is a nice area with upscale stores and restaurants. I never before wondered as my laughing children and I left the mall after enjoying shopping at the Lego Store, Nordstrom, or Barnes and Noble, if we could be attacked as we walked to our car. If I were knocked out, my toddler wouldn’t know enough to stay away from cars that are backing out or driving. How can I keep my kids safe I am injured? No, those were not things that I thought about as I chatted with my boys, sipped my latte and carried my bags. But I think about it now.