Like so many in our country and around the world, BOCAteers are heartbroken and enraged by the multiple mass shootings that have occurred within the past few weeks and throughout the last decade. As an agency, we have decided to come together and encourage change that makes our society a safer place.
Mass shootings are a result of inaction. There is no other country in the world that has this societal problem like the United States. This is an American problem. My mom and my sister live full time in Mexico. A country that gets a bit, sometimes a lot, of a bad rap. Everytime my mom and sister see this news, they literally scratch their heads and say to me, “this doesn’t happen where we live, Mexico.” Common sense gun legislation is desperately needed and we as a country need to demand it.
If you would like to get involved with common sense gun legislation we encourage you to check out advocacy groups such as Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action. There are many ways both big and small that you can make change. In just a few days on June 11, the March For Our Lives will be taking place in Washington DC and in cities across the country.
BOCA would like to lead by example. We will match the first 25 donations of up to $100 so a total of up to $2500 to Everytown for Gun Safety in honor of all of the victims of gun violence and in an effort to advocate for change. Once you’ve made your donation, please send proof to bocaaccounting (at) bocacommunications (.) com – we will match your donation up to $100.
Below, BOCAteers share their personal experiences about how living in a society where mass shootings are now the norm has affected each of them and their families.
The U.S. has seen over 200 mass shootings so far in 2022. 233 to be specific with the recent events that unfolded at a hospital in Tulsa. And what’s even more shocking is that Scientific American just recently reported “guns now kill more children and young adults than car crashes.” It’s sad that these events have been normalized in our culture. It’s sad when I sit in a movie theater with my friends and family, we often think about the nearest exits in case of this type of emergency. It’s sad that my wife, who works in healthcare, sees the events that happened in Tulsa and worries that there’s not enough security and procedures in place to protect her and other healthcare workers. This shouldn’t be a normal way of thinking. As Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors recently stated, “when are we going to do something? I’m so tired of getting up here and offering condolences to the devastated families that are out there.” The moments of silence should be over. It’s time for the masses to put more pressure on our elected officials to invoke change in policy.
— Sammy Totah, Partner
I don’t think people realize the mental and emotional trauma that’s being inflicted on the children of this country, even those not directly involved in actual mass shootings, because of our gun culture. When the Sandy Hook massacre took place, my oldest was in first grade — the same age as the children who were gunned down. That was one the most horrifying moments for me as a parent. I did not speak to my children about what happened at the time, because they were too little and I didn’t want to terrify them. But then the active shooter drills began happening at their elementary school on a frequent basis. In fact, I experienced one while I was volunteering in class one day. I had to run into a dark classroom and hide under a desk with a bunch of 9-year-olds. The teacher made eye contact with me and mouthed the words, “I hate this,” while tearing up. I looked around and wondered what was going through the minds of these kids. I recalled hiding under my desk during tornado drills as a kid, knowing full well that doing so would never protect me from the real thing, and realized our kids feel the same way about a situation that is much more horrifying. That reality came to fruition for me and my children when there was a real hard lockdown at their elementary school. It happened just before dismissal, so I was standing at the back of the school watching helplessly while SWAT teams walked the campus and a helicopter circled overhead. Although thankfully it ended without a shot being fired, the psychological damage was done. Upon arriving home, my 8-year-old told me what she was going through her mind while she was hiding under her desk. You see, her desk was closest to the door, and she stared at the window on that door for the entire 30-minute lockdown because she knew, “if the gunman came to our class, I would be the first one to get shot,” she said. Those words shattered my heart into a million pieces. My older child was also subjected to the lockdown that day. She wrote about it this year as part of a speech she did on gun control for her high school history class. Only now, four years later, did I learn that she too was traumatized by the experience, recalling that she was crying and thought she was going to die. This makes me more than furious as a parent — knowing the mental trauma my and other kids must be subjected to in order to attend school in America, all so that a minority of people can live out a ridiculous fantasy of arming themselves as if they live in a warzone. The Second Amendment states a “right to bear arms.” It does not mention the word “gun.” Arms include bombs, missiles, nuclear warheads, chemical agents and biolocial weapons — all of which are regulated and illegal for civillians to possess because they are classified as mass casualty weapons of war. Assault rifles, high capacity magazines and bump stocks fall into the same category, and therefore should be regulated too. After all, the Second Amendment also begins with the words: “A well regulated Militia….” The Founders clearly intended the right to bear arms to be regulated, and it already is in most cases. It’s long past time to enact common sense gun control in this country, because placing the responsibility on kids and teachers to hide, barricade doors and run for their lives is clearly not working.
— Jennifer Tolkachev, Vice President
Growing up in SoCal, I was accustomed to earthquake and fire drills – long before the threat of school shootings became prevalent. I vividly remember crawling under desks, waiting for what seemed like forever for my teachers to give us the OK to take our seats again. Luckily, these were only ever drills…never did I experience a “real incident.” I can’t fathom the fear kids must feel today when taking part in active shooter drills – knowing all too well that the risk is serious and that they may, some day, be in real danger. Never did I think this would be our reality, and I’m committed to taking a strong stance for gun control in order to give children back the comfort and sense of security they deserve. Parents shouldn’t have to be afraid to send their kids to school, and we shouldn’t have to feel in danger in places like grocery stores and churches, but in order to change this reality it will take a village.
– Taylor Byers, Account Director
As a parent, these school shootings are my worst nightmare. Every single time another shooting occurs, I can’t help but think of my own children. I envision their faces on the news and imagine what the images would look like of their classmates running across the playground away from their school. It is a repeating nightmare that now regularly keeps me up at night. A few years ago, my son came home from school terrified about the book he had to read in his kindergarten class during their lockdown drill. He had nightmares for an entire week about the ‘bad ant’ that came into a classroom full of ‘children ants’ who had to fight back with their ‘teacher ant’. This was a trauma. As a former educator, practicing lockdown drills became the norm and something that I dreaded every single time. One of the lowest moments was when I had to shove 15 three year olds into a tiny bathroom and try to get them to play ‘the quiet game’. At that same moment I knew that my two year old son, who attended the school as a student, was down the hall practicing the same drill with his class. This was a trauma. Anytime I am in a crowded public place, I find myself looking for the nearest exit and keeping an eye out for anyone around me that appears to behave unusually. I cannot enter a movie theater, a grocery store or a mall without the thought of “what if…” We have to demand change from our politicians. We don’t deserve to live like this and our children especially don’t deserve to die like this.
— Lauren Brown, Content Specialist
I remember the first shooting that truly affected me and still sits with me to this day. The Sandy Hook shooting happened when I was 13 years old. It was the first time I was old enough to really comprehend what had occurred. Now nearly ten years later nothing has changed and now children younger than I was when Sandy Hook had occurred are forced to become familiar with these terrible events as if they are the norm. It is disheartening that many cannot see eye to eye even when the safety of our children and teachers are on the line. Innocent lives should not be put at risk because of politics and money. When 9/11 happened, legislation was passed immediately without question, the entire country was shook and transformed. I do not know why these shootings do not have the same impact. The right to bear arms should only apply to guns for protection and hunting, not guns meant for killing masses.
— Kayla Castro, Account Coordinator
I grew up around guns. We had hunters in our family and wild animals sometimes visited the ranch and threatened our animals. Growing up around hunting rifles and small pistols, though, I could never have imagined the carnage our country is dealing with now. When people say this is a mental health problem, I wonder if they are thinking about the mental health of the people who have survived mass shootings, the families and friends who have lost loved ones (including their own young children!), the communities that now have to grapple with the scars left from these tragic events that are increasing every year, and the children and teachers who imagine their own deaths every time they have to go through active shooter drills in school.
I’m not anti-gun, but I do believe that all guns, especially guns capable of such mass destruction, should be “well-regulated” just like the Second Amendment originally intended. Weapons of war, such as AR-style guns, do not belong in the hands of ordinary citizens, and they most definitely should not be in the hands of 18-year-olds who can’t even buy a beer. Thoughts and prayers are clearly not enough to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the endemic gun violence plaguing our country. It is imperative that our leaders on both sides of the aisle enact common sense laws that will make it harder to access weapons that have the capacity to mow down innocent people. This includes red flag laws, mandatory waiting periods and training, national gun registration and licensing, and outlawing all AR-style weapons and ghost guns.
I’ll be marching this weekend to support the end of gun violence and volunteering for as long as it takes to elect political leaders who will help with this cause.
— Wendy Brittain, HR Director