I survived a school shooting in Kentucky. Gun violence in Louisville is a matter of when, not if.

I am a survivor of gun violence. In 2018, in Western Kentucky, at Marshall County High School, an armed student walked into my school and fatally wounded two fellow students. This experience as a survivor became even more pronounced when I willingly chose to move to Louisville, a hotspot for gun violence.

Survivors of gun violence live day-to-day attempting to cope with traumas invisible to others around them. In a city like Louisville, gun violence survivors like me never feel completely at ease, especially when our experiences occurred in school, a place that was supposed to keep us safe. When reports of gun violence at DuPont Manual High School rang out on November 8, I knew how those students’ lives would forever be changed.

The mental toll of gun violence remains forever

As a University of Louisville student, I received an alert at 9:30AM that ULPD officers were responding to the report of an active shooter some five minutes away from where I was standing. My heart sank. I knew what it felt like to be a student at DuPont Manual in that moment: paralyzed with fear. I knew that those students had no idea if they would get out of that building safely. Thirty minutes later, I received an alert that the building was clear, everyone was safe, and no active shooter ever appeared on the scene. As everyone else moved on, I knew the kind of damage that had already been done.

When will we do something? Gun violence is an undeniable issue for Louisville.

While, thankfully, there are no victims at DuPont Manual, the mental toll that day will remain with students, maybe forever. I know and understand how difficult it can be to cope with such fear. I also understand that these students cannot be expected to easily bounce back from this experience. DuPont Manual High School students need recovery time. Teenagers cannot go through an experience that forces them to consider their own survivability and then simply go on living a “normal” day. These students are strong and extremely, extremely brave, but at the end of the day we must realize that these students have forever been robbed of a “normal” school day.

Louisville Metro Police were called to duPont Manual High School Wednesday morning on reports of an active shooter, but have found no aggressors, officials said.
Louisville Metro Police were called to duPont Manual High School Wednesday morning on reports of an active shooter, but have found no aggressors, officials said.

Gun violence survivors always think about what it means to survive

The behavior and expectations of these students at DuPont Manual High School may permanently change. Survivors choose to stand near exits. Survivors do not go to large events, such as concerts or festivals. Survivors always think about what it means to survive.

Stolen guns are used in crime. Pistols belong locked in a safe, not in your glovebox.

As a survivor of gun violence, I knew living in Louisville would be difficult for me, but I had no idea how hard it would be to watch a city I loved so dearly face gun-related tragedies over and over again. Each new gun violence story I see has as much of a profound impact on me as the last.

The false call made to DuPont Manual forced teenagers to become adults in seconds, sent shivers down the spine of every Louisvillan, and especially impacted those who have personally experienced gun violence. The results of threats are real, tangible and evident at Dupont Manual High School. In Louisville, gun violence feels like a matter of when, not if, so we can’t ignore this false alarm. We must take this reality of our city seriously and realize that this reality has already shaped who we will become.

Karly Jones
Karly Jones

Karly Jones (she/her/hers) is pursuing an Individualized Major in Multimedia Journalism. A proud Kentuckian from Western Kentucky, Karly is currently in her junior year as a Brown Fellow at the University of Louisville.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: School shootings are Louisville reality. It's a matter of when, not if