What the Lafayette Theater Shooting Says About the State of Violence in Our Country

by Aryanna Prasad 

The following post is a reaction piece to the recent shooting that took the lives of two women, 33-year-old Jillian Johnson and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux, on Thursday night by a gunman who opened fire during a screening of the comedy film “Trainwreck” in Lafayette, Lousiana.

If you asked me two years ago what kind of journalist I want to be, the most concise answer would be “an eventual war reporter.”

If you asked me right now what kind of journalist I want to be, the most concise answer would be a “conflict journalist.”

But I don’t consider conflict only in the physical sense; conflict acted out in wars.  I don’t need to leave the country to report on conflict.

It’s hard to tell people exactly what I want to focus on because it’s everywhere. It’s power dynamics. It’s the obscured narrative. It’s the pain and suffering and violence everyone experiences because of the conflict they experience in their lives.

People are experiencing violence every day in the United States whether they realize it or not.

[Read More: How the Supreme Court’s Decision on Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Gives Hope to Queer Youth]

In its most apparent, physical sense, it is the wide-scale murders of Black men, women AND children by police officers. It is the murders of trans men and women that goes underreported. It is obvious, blatant, lethal discrimination.

People are also experiencing structural violence through institutions: through the prison system, neoliberal corporations, minority lives, corrupt politicians and failed political policies.

Life is fucked up in the United States for so many reasons and for so many people. So many people suffer through violence unnecessarily isolated and alone because of our capitalistic, individualistic society.

People experience violence on a daily basis in Louisiana, too.
It’s one of the poorest, most conservative, least educated states, and its resources and people and constantly being exploited.

It’s a part of the United States, and it is a part of a repressed culture of guilt and shame regarding mental illness that may result in violent acts.

It’s a place that is now physically scarred by the effects of neglecting mental health; of neglecting those who need help; of those who lead lives of misunderstood, isolated pain.

It’s a place that needs to have an open discussion on gun rights and why anyone thinks they need them. It’s a place that needs to acknowledge that relatively lax gun laws result in murders.
It’s easy to kill someone with a gun. Thousands of Louisianans have died at the hand of a gun.

[Read More: Is Craig Hicks, the Suspect in the Chapel Hill Shooting, a Terrorist?]

Why does anyone need something that is primarily used to kill things? Do we ever ask ourselves that question? Why should owning a gun be an unflinching right without considering the potential consequences of owning one?

A gun is merely a tool: what creates the situations and shapes the individuals who use them is a violent American society.

Look up criminal psychology. Look up criminal profiling. Look up juvenile delinquency. Look up who becomes serial killers and why.
There’s a pattern: a lifetime of experiencing some sort of trauma.

Violence is a reflection of violence and a manifestation of pain.
To understand this, try to understand what kind of pain someone is in to threaten another human being’s life.

I went to The Grand in Lafayette every weekend with my family as a kid. This could have been anyone, but this time, it was the lives of two young women who were integral parts of their community.

My thoughts and love are with everyone pained by this shooting.

[Photo Caption: From left to right: The victims of the recent Lafayette theater shooting, 33-year-old Jillian Johnson and 21-year-old Mayci Breaux. | Photo Source: Twitter.com

Aryanna Prasad is an editorial intern with India.com and a contributing writer with Brown Girl. Born and raised in Louisiana, she is attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge as a Political Communications and International Studies major. Her goal is to become an international journalist focusing on international conflict through a cultural lens. At first glance, she may look different from many other brown girls because she is half-Irish American and half-Indian. From Twitter communities to collegiate ones, she’s learned a lot about what it means to be Indian, and she realizes now more than ever that she has the power to define this for herself. When she is not ranting about politics or perusing Atlantic articles, she enjoys traveling, hip-hop and seeking adventure.

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