The United States has more guns per capita than any other country in the world, taking thousands of lives. For the survivors of gun violence, healing can be a long journey.
In Uvalde, Texas, the funerals are over since the deadly shooting at the Robb Elementary School. But shock and deep emotional pain still linger in this Texas town.
‘It changes your core’
Jenifer Wilson was attending a concert in Las Vegas when gunman Stephen Paddock started from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort. Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 injured. The shooting became the deadliest in modern U.S. history.
“You can’t just go back and act like it didn’t happen. It did, and it changes you to your core,” Wilson said.
In the aftermath of the shooting, politicians focused their attention on firearms laws in the U.S., particularly regarding bump stocks, a device that allows a gun to shoot bullets at a similar rate to automatic firearms. Bump stocks were banned by the U.S. Justice Department in December 2018.
“I understand people needing a handgun for protection at home. That’s their business. But I don’t think that any normal person should have access to an automatic rifle,” Wilson said.
First U.S. campus mass shooting
On August 1, 1966, Shelton Williams, a senior at the University of Texas-Austin, was in his car to pick up his wife from the campus, when he heard gunshots.
“People did think it was a Western shootout kind of performance of some kind, rather than a real shooting,” Williams said. “I knew it was a real shooting.”
That day, Charles Whitman, a Marine veteran, had killed his wife and mother before taking rifles to the tower at the University of Texas, and then opened fire. In 96 minutes, he shot and killed 14 people, including a baby pronounced dead upon delivery, and injured 31 other people. This was the first mass campus shooting in the United States.
Williams still has nightmares from his experience in Texas. One outlet for him has been to write crime novels.
“[My books] are about tragedies. One of the reviewers said, ‘I don’t know how he does it, but he manages to get humor into these books.'” Williams said. “Because life is not just terror.”