She wasn’t answering her phone.
I found out about the Los Angeles International Airport shooting at school, when I heard classmates talking about it in the lounge. I immediately picked up my cell phone and called my sister, who was supposed to be taking a flight to Dallas from LAX that morning.
I called her four times, each time getting her ironically cheerful voicemail message: “Hi! You’ve reached Kathryn Madden. I can’t get to the phone right now, but I will call you back as soon as possible!”
Right after I hung up on the fourth call and prepared to call her a fifth time (which, in retrospect, would have been useless, but at the time seemed crucially important), I received a text from my mom, and suddenly I could breathe again: Kathryn was fine, albeit shaken up, and was in lockdown on the tarmac.
I learned later that my sister witnessed the entire thing. After going through security, she went to the bookstore right next to the security station.
While she was in the checkout line, she heard the gun go off, which, to her, sounded like a BB gun. It wasn’t until someone yelled “GUN!” that she took off running, following another man who had been in the bookstore with her. They rushed down the stairs of the emergency exit and hid behind some stray barrels on the tarmac until a police officer found them and directed them both to a waiting area on the other side of the tarmac, where the rest of the people in their terminal were being held.
If she had gotten to the security station just a few minutes later than she did, she could have been seriously injured or worse.
To be honest, I have never thought much about gun control. While I paid attention to the news and mourned for the victims of the seemingly endless shooting sprees that have occurred in the past year, I hadn’t really spent any time researching or analyzing the details about gun control legislation, or the positions that different politicians have taken on the issue.
Ever since that Friday, I’ve been obsessively researching the gun control debate, trying to figure out what it would take for a gun control bill to be passed and what I could do to push it forward.
While the Obama Administration has now required insurers to cover care for mental health issues, which will hopefully help lessen gun violence, the National Rifle Association has been successful in blocking most gun control legislation through their vast monetary resources.
While I personally identify as a libertarian, I believe that both parties should be working together to advocate change, instead of using this issue to further polarize the American political system far more than it needs to be.
I’m lucky that my sister is safe, that she decided not to walk her dog before she went to the airport, that she didn’t hit just one more red light on her way there, and that she printed out her boarding pass before she got to the airport, instead of having to wait in line with the people who were checking their bags. The families of the victims of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Aurora, Sandy Hook and the Navy Yard weren’t. Enough is enough.