An Open Letter to My Shooter
Are you going to kill me today? Is the next mass murdering shooter reading this? Are you planning to take me out while sitting in class for a reason I’ll never know? Are others coming with me? Will you make yourself famous while I’m sitting with my son at the new Star Wars movie? Will my son, which has fought so hard for his life, survive? Will my daughter keep her mother to teach her how to be a lady?
I won’t know and I can’t know.
How many more before me asked themselves the same questions before discovering their fate to be reality? I aspire to influence the world positively through print but will my name only make the newspaper as a listed victim? Will they spell my name right? Do you think you are the only one that feels this world has wronged you? The day you set out to act on your thoughts, did you look for a kind smile from a stranger?
As you load your gun remember it’s not too late to change your mind. As you buy your bullets and drive to your location know that you steal so much more than life. You rob others that freedom to live without fear.
More and more innocent people play over the scenarios while dropping kids off at school and sitting in office chairs. Have you yourself been an invisible victim to strategizing an escape route in the event a shooter were to storm your room? Have you been the vigilantly praying parent? How distracting it must be for a teenager trying to conquer sophomore English while the “What Ifs” play on repeat in their minds.
While you plan your day with others’ fate in your hands, somewhere in the crowd there is a young man that has an important ring in his pocket. He found the courage to propose to the woman that has bettered his goals and stood by his flaws. He waits to pop the question tonight. You will kill him before he makes her a fiancé. Blended in the crowd is another man waiting to hear from his doctor about test results. Test results that could change his life. He wouldn’t usually be here but after realizing his possible future, he tried something new. Your next victim is a young teenage girl learning to love herself. She deals with bullies at school that torment her but even so she has been able to keep her grades up to her parent’s expectations. She won’t be bullied tomorrow at school because you will end her life tonight. A seemingly ordinary man will confront you before his death. He served three tours and proudly returned but not without injury. He tries to ignore the anxiety he is suffering from the crowd while coping with undiagnosed PTSD. He will naturally confront you in efforts to save lives like he has been trained to do. He will fail and his blood will soak the American soil he so courageously fought for. An American flag will be folded and handed to his devastated widow at his funeral.
These are just a few of the lives that will never fulfill their dreams or legacies. Who knows how many more before you are stopped? What could you have done with your own life had this not happened? Would you have found a new hope that very night and begin a journey you never thought possible? Became a great leader that would save one lost soul, saved many lost souls? What was your potential? We will never know. Will your mother cry as she sees her precious child described in a way she never saw: evil? Will she blame herself for not giving you enough hugs as a child? Will she be able to show her face without shame because of the loss her child caused? Will the President make a tearful statement and use you for his political agenda? With each shot from your gun hurt and devastation rings out. Like the bullets that soar and tear, your actions pointedly lodge in lives and can’t be reversed. Are you planning it tonight or will you spontaneously rampage next month? Right now, I worry myself with things that seem so silly if I will not live through next week.
Shooter, I won’t make the mistake of trying to reason with you about how precious life is but you should know this potential victim chooses to live. You may have the power of my death in your fingertips but I won’t stop living until my last breath. I will enjoy movies from the theatre, send my children to school confidently and sit in class focused on task. I have and will continue to pray over our lives each day but you will not kill me before I’m dead. Let my life be a testimony what a gift life is and that it is worth living without fear. You may be waiting for me. You may not. I refuse to stay at home afraid of the possibility. If it will be my last day on this planet, I will happily say I lived it doing what I wanted. You may hold the decision of my death but I will exercise the power over my life.
I hope to spread this empowerment to that others that will laugh in the face of fear. God has put this desire in my heart that is not meant to be kept to myself. Find forgiveness, put down that pill, or seek out a friend about your thoughts. Start living.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
Jacklyn York is a digital contributor for Townsquare Media in Wichita Falls. She graduated from Midwestern State University with a degree in Mass Communications and has a passion for writing and photography.