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News Opinion Readers Respond

Mall shooting demands a cultural shift [Letter]

I went to The Mall in Columbia Monday. Normally, that would not be news, but going to the mall the first day it opened after the shooting on Saturday was important to me. It was important because I choose to not be afraid ("Howard leaders respond to mall shooting," Jan. 28).

I choose to support my community. I choose to remember Brianna Benlolo and Tyler Johnson, who were so brutally and needlessly murdered there on Saturday.

I choose to support the mostly hourly workers who not only lost wages because of the shooting but most likely saved lives. They acted admirably and deserve our thanks.

I choose to be grateful for public servants — the police and other emergency services personnel — who move toward the danger to help when the rest of us are doing our best to get away from it.

I choose to continue to say that it can be different, that we as a people can demand the actions, political and social, that will bring about the cultural changes that make recurring gun violence as unacceptable as drunk driving and smoking in public.

There are those who say it is too early to talk about the shooting (a line from the National Rifle Association's script). I say that it is too late for the many thousands who have been killed or injured by gun violence, and for their families. It is too late to reclaim the sense of safety in our communities. But it is not too late for those who might have the opportunity to live out their lives in the future just because we took effective action now.

To quote Rabbi Hillel, "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"

Jana Hussmann Meacham, Laurel

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