Skip To Content
BuzzFeed News Home Reporting To You

"I Don't Feel Safe Anywhere": People Express A New Kind Of Anxiety Living In America After El Paso And Dayton Mass Shootings

"I’ve kinda had this fear for a while but it’s just getting worse."

Posted on August 4, 2019, at 1:11 p.m. ET

Bryan Woolston / Reuters, REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Residents across the US are expressing a new kind of anxiety and fear after two back-to-back mass shootings took place over the weekend.

On Saturday, at least 20 people were killed and 26 were injured in El Paso, Texas, in an apparent act of terrorism. On Sunday morning, nine people were killed and 27 more were injured in Dayton, Ohio.

Americans who went to bed with news alerts of the first mass shooting, then woke up to alerts of a second mass shooting, are posting online that they "don't feel safe anywhere." They said they feel like they have to be constantly prepared to be confronted with a gunman whenever they leave the house.

Steve Reveles, an 18-year-old from Oregon who tweeted these exact feelings on Sunday, told BuzzFeed News these anxious thoughts are "just getting worse" for him.

"I’ve kinda had this fear for a while but it’s just getting worse because they're happening more frequently and who knows where the next mass shooting is going to happen or how many are going to happen?" said Reveles. "Am I safe anywhere?"

Other Americans are worried they need to have an escape plan anytime they're in a public space.

Whenever I'm in a public space, I think about what would happen if a mass shooting broke out. It's a constant, low-level anxiety that follows me everywhere. I wonder if it's just me. I don't think it is.

Geraldine DeRuiter, 38, captured the moment in a tweet that instantly went viral. She told BuzzFeed News she "wanted a reality check" and "to know [she] wasn't alone or irrational" for feeling the way she did in response to mass shootings.

Her tweet then inspired Jes Karakashian, 43, of Rochester, New York, to share her own experiences.

Karakashian told BuzzFeed News she sees a therapist for this type of fear. She wants to keep speaking about it so that "others... know they're not overreacting," she said.

She put her fears in context by listing the mass tragedies that she's had to confront on a scary personal level:

"In 1992 a student shot a teacher in the face at my high school. I was in class two doors down. When I lived in Denver, I watched Columbine happen in real-time on the news. The Aurora Century theater is a theater I frequented years before the shooting there. Several months after Sandy Hook — which was 20 years to the day of the shooting at my high school, by the way — I sent my eldest to kindergarten, where on the first day of school there was a lockout because the police were looking for a man who had shot his girlfriend in Rochester the day before.

"I've never been more terrified in my life for my child's safety," she said.

@everywhereist My husband was so worried that I was calculating exit strategies whenever I entered public buildings that he asked me to go to therapy. The therapist told me, "oh honey, you're fine. You're being proactive and aware. That's how it has to be now."

Karakashian is far from the only one openly talking about the psychological effects mass shootings have had on them and their day-to-day lives.

People say they don't want they try not to think about it, but they find themselves constantly worrying about how to escape a potential active shooting scenario.

@everywhereist It's not just you. The college where I work freaks me out the most. Classrooms have only one door. Other classrooms have glass walls. I try not to let my mind go there, but it does anyway.

One person wrote they left a movie theater because it was packed.

I left a movie I went to early because it was a full theater and packed places like that don’t make me feel safe AT ALL. I also work in a large marketplace and it’s like I’m just waiting for the next mass shooting to take place right outside my store. Fuck this paranoia.

Pro wrestler Brandi Rhodes tweeted that she's designated a spot to sit every Sunday at church because it's her "best route to exits in case someone comes in and opens fire."

She added that she tries to not normalize these thoughts and behaviors, but the frequency of mass shootings makes it difficult.

Every Sunday I have a spot I HAVE to sit at in church. I’m insistent on it because it’s my best route to exits Incase someone comes in and opens fire. Ive tried to convince myself to stop doing this. 2 mass shootings in 24 hrs. What a nightmare we are living in.

Many Americans say the string of tragedies that happened hours apart from each other have caused them to feel they truly "don't feel safe going anywhere in public."

There are so many shootings I don't feel safe going anywhere in public anymore. How many shootings do we need to prove that something needs to be changed???😓

DUDE. It’s at the point where I don’t feel safe anywhere man. 2 mass shooting in one day? Something has to happen. https://t.co/MD2iO8lD6m

After today, I don’t think I’m ever going to feel comfortable or safe going anywhere


On Sunday, even Dayton's mayor, Nan Whaley, said in a press conference that she understands these sad new realities.

"These senseless acts of violence that occur have been happening anyplace, and I don’t mean to scare people, but frankly we’re at a situation now in our country that — these are so random, there’s no place that you can say, 'Oh I just don’t want to ever go anywhere,'" she said.

Reveles said he does not think or want these pervasive thoughts to become "normal." He wants lawmakers to protect him and other US residents.

"I hope they can reform laws on gun control," he said.

"Do something instead of nothing at all," added Karakashian.

I don’t even feel safe going anywhere anymore man. When are these acts of terrorism and violence going to stop?? Swear it just gets worse and worse. Im losing faith in humanity, I hope everyone is safe and careful next time they go out.


ADVERTISEMENT