Cara Plott: ‘Are you OK?’ A med student’s plea for action to stop gun violence

By Cara Plott, a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

I am sick of needing to text my friends and family to ask whether they have been shot.

On Nov. 7, my friend traveled to Thousand Oaks, California, to visit her family. Late that night, a gunman shot and killed 12 people, and injured many others, at a country music bar in Thousand Oaks.

On Nov. 8, my friend texted me that she had been “literally driving by the shooting as cops were racing toward it.” Relief washed over me that she was safe, but also sadness and anger.

I knew there were many other people who were also waiting for a text from their loved ones, but who would never receive that message. Once again, we had lost people who still had so much life ahead of them. Once again, people had suffered injuries, both physical and mental, that would change the course of their lives.

My first memory of fearing for a loved one’s life due to gun-related violence was when I was in seventh grade. My cousin was attending Virginia Tech when a person attacked students with a semi-automatic rifle. Then, when I was in ninth grade at Annapolis High School, a student brought an unloaded gun to school. I remember texting a friend who was in an external classroom, checking whether she was OK.

In 2017 in New York City, a shooter attacked individuals at the Bronx Lebanon Hospital. The hospital was located close to the school where I had been teaching, and I worried that one of my students or their family members had been hurt. About a month later, when a gun was discharged right outside of our organization’s main office building, I feared that a community member or one of my work colleagues had been shot.

You, the reader, may be all too familiar with what gun violence does to a community. This past June, as I reached out to my parents and friends who live in Annapolis after the shooting at the Capital Gazette, each second that I waited to hear a response from them feeling like an hour.

Read the full story published in the Capital Gazette.