gun violence

Celebration to Panic: Mass Shootings Change How Some View Crowded Events

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Some are thinking twice about attending large gatherings in the wake of the mass shootings at Fourth of July celebrations in Illinois and Philadelphia.

D.C.-area resident Juan Carlos Orejarena told News4 he tries to keep watch of his surroundings.

"Always, always in the back of your head. It's a reality and we can't ignore it," Orejarena said.

He and his family opted to celebrate Independence Day at home. His son, Rodrigo, says he’s grown up in an era where gun violence is top of mind.

"It's really saddening because I've been practicing shooting drills since I was in school, since I was a little kid. It's something that makes me sad that I have to think about,” Rodrigo said.

Dr. GiShawn Mance-Early, an associate professor of Psychology at Howard University, says it’s OK to have doubts about attending crowded events.

"It is a sense of loss, that we're all kind of having this collective trauma together. The loss of our ability to just kind of be," Manc-Early said.

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She said that while some might feel comfortable in crowded situations, it's important to remember that others might not.

"I want to normalize the response of 'Hey, I'm anxious. I don't know if I want to be in this large setting,'" Manc-Early said.

A tourist from Europe who came to D.C. to see the Fourth of July fireworks told News4 he wasn't scared and doesn't want to live in fear.

"We all cope in different ways. For some, they need to have the sense of -- 'I need to have the sense of freedom. I need to feel like I can live,'" Manc-Early said.

FBI crime statistics show active shooter incidents have increased in recent years from 31 in 2017 to 61 in 2021.

But Mance-Early said it's important to keep things in perspective.

"It feels as though it's happening quite often. And the numbers are increasing," she said. “However, in the grand scheme of natural disasters, different types of traumas that are happening, the numbers are smaller."

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