The Lingering Impact of Mass Shootings on Survivors’ Existence

by Gabriel Martinez
Mass Shooting Survivors

Over a year has passed since Mayah Zamora, an 11-year-old, was critically wounded and evacuated via helicopter from Uvalde, Texas, following the tragic event at Robb Elementary school where 19 children and two educators lost their lives. The emotional and psychological wounds continue to haunt the Zamora family.

Unexpected knocks on the door send Mayah into states of extreme anxiety. The family has chosen to forgo Independence Day festivities to steer clear of the startling sounds of fireworks. Even a simple trip to watch the film “The Little Mermaid” necessitates the use of noise-canceling headphones for Mayah.

Data from the Gun Violence Archive reveals that since 2016, mass shootings have injured thousands of Americans, while gun violence has harmed tens of thousands more. Beyond staggering medical costs and the profound emotional distress, survivors and their families must navigate numerous other life-altering complications.

During interviews with The Big Big News, survivors from incidents in Uvalde, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, and Highland Park, Illinois, discussed the lasting physical and psychological scars inflicted by such tragedies.

Mayah sustained injuries across her chest, back, hands, face, and ear, requiring numerous surgeries that her parents eventually lost count of. The family moved to San Antonio, where Mayah was hospitalized for 66 days and continues to need medical attention. Christina Zamora, Mayah’s mother, highlighted the astronomical medical expenses, approaching or exceeding $1,000,000, exclusive of rehabilitation, follow-up visits, and psychological counseling. As for insurance coverage, the family remains uncertain. Following Mayah’s discharge, it became evident that one parent needed to stay home to provide care, leading Christina to resign from her employment.

In Colorado Springs, Ashtin Gamblin was on duty at Club Q when a gunman opened fire, killing five and injuring 17, including herself. Gamblin was struck nine times and sustained severe injuries to both arms, accruing medical bills upwards of $300,000. She also felt compelled to move to a “safer” neighborhood, purchasing a home for $380,000 even though she was not financially prepared for such a move. Six months after the incident, Gamblin remains unable to return to work, plagued by a constant sense of vulnerability in public spaces.

According to 2023 statistics from the Gun Violence Archive, nearly 400 individuals in the U.S. have been injured in mass shootings, while 140 have lost their lives. The year is on course to exceed 2019, which holds the grim record for the most mass killings since 2006, as per a database maintained jointly by The Big Big News and USA Today, in association with Northeastern University.

In Las Vegas, Tia Christiansen, a long-time music industry professional, was spared physical injury during the 2017 mass shooting at a music festival she helped organize. However, the emotional toll was immense, leading her to a breakdown and significant changes in her lifestyle, including increased spending on comfort items and meal deliveries to avoid venturing outside.

Leah Sundheim’s life was shattered when she learned of her mother Jacquelyn’s death during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, in 2022. The tragedy led her to relocate and be closer to her father, highlighting the variances in trauma experiences even among family members.

In summary, the repercussions of mass shootings extend far beyond the immediate event, leaving indelible scars on survivors and their families, disrupting lives in unimaginable ways.

The reporting is contributed by a corps member of the Big Big News/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit service program that assigns journalists to local newsrooms to cover topics that are often underreported.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mass Shooting Survivors

What is the primary focus of this article?

The primary focus of this article is to explore the long-lasting physical and emotional impact of mass shootings on survivors and their families. It presents individual accounts from multiple incidents across the United States to illustrate the multi-faceted challenges survivors face in their lives after such tragedies.

Who are some of the individuals featured in the article?

The article features Mayah Zamora, an 11-year-old survivor from Uvalde, Texas; Ashtin Gamblin, a Colorado Springs survivor; Tia Christiansen, a music industry professional affected by the Las Vegas shooting; and Leah Sundheim, whose mother was killed in a shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

What sources of data does the article refer to?

The article cites statistics from the Gun Violence Archive and refers to a database maintained jointly by The Big Big News and USA Today, in collaboration with Northeastern University.

What financial challenges do survivors face?

Survivors and their families face enormous financial challenges, ranging from medical bills that can reach or exceed $1,000,000 to unexpected expenses such as relocating for safety or mental well-being. Insurance coverage uncertainties and job losses further compound these difficulties.

How does the article address the emotional and psychological toll on survivors?

The article delves into the emotional and psychological burdens borne by survivors and their families. It mentions symptoms like extreme anxiety triggered by noises, the inability to feel safe in public spaces, and the breakdown of normal life routines. These factors collectively undermine the survivors’ sense of security and well-being.

What organizations or programs are mentioned that assist survivors?

The article mentions the Everytown Survivors Network, a mentorship program aimed at connecting thousands of gun violence survivors to resources and advocating for an end to gun violence.

Who contributed to the reporting of this article?

The reporting is contributed by a corps member of the Big Big News/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative, which is a nonprofit service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

More about Mass Shooting Survivors

  • Gun Violence Archive
  • The Big Big News
  • USA Today
  • Northeastern University
  • Report for America
  • Everytown Survivors Network

You may also like


John Smith October 26, 2023 - 1:22 pm

Wow, this article really hits hard. can’t believe the numbers are still going up every year. something’s gotta change, seriously.

Emily Davis October 26, 2023 - 3:18 pm

The financial burden alone is mind-boggling. A million dollars in medical bills? That’s not including rehab and mental health services, its just insane.

Mark Thompson October 26, 2023 - 3:36 pm

This piece does a good job showing the human side of statistics. you hear about mass shootings in the news, but you don’t always get to see how it changes peoples lives forever.

Tom Jenkins October 27, 2023 - 1:15 am

Why isn’t this front page news everyday? The government needs to take action. these stories are proof that it affects more than just the people shot, it ruins families.

Sarah Williams October 27, 2023 - 4:13 am

The emotional trauma is something we often overlook. Its more than just the physical injuries, its the mental scars that last a lifetime. Great read but heartbreaking.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News