Mass Shootings Survivors
Patience Carter Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo

Patience Carter, a victim in the Pulse nightclub shooting from Philadelphia, speaks of her experience during a news conference at Florida Hospital Orlando Tuesday, June 14, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.

October 02, 2017

Pulse nightclub survivor: Las Vegas massacre 'took me back to Orlando'

Patience Carter survived what was, until Monday, the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history

"Here it is, once again."

That's what Patience Carter thought when she woke up this morning and saw the horrific news coming out of Las Vegas.

In June 2016, Carter survived the largest mass shooting in American history by pretending she was dead on the ground in Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.

On Monday, the Philadelphia native woke up to news that the Orlando massacre no longer held that tragic distinction, after a Nevada man opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip.

Carter, 21, recently competed in the Miss Black America Pageant with a platform advocating stricter gun laws and greater domestic-terrorism awareness. (She finished runner-up.)

Before heading into a Monday morning class, she shared her thoughts about what happened in Las Vegas, and what’s happening with gun violence in America. 

Here's what Carter told PhillyVoice:

"It’s really hard to explain. It’s heartbreaking, super heartbreaking, to wake up and see another deadly mass shooting in America.

"I just can’t imagine what the families are going through, with the amount of people there, so unexpectedly gunned down. This is happening so frequently right here in America.

"People try to put a face to it, trying to figure it out, to pin blame on someone. But it’s people right here at home (behind the mass shootings). It’s us pulling the triggers. 

"What is missing here is figuring out the initial problem that’s making people do this.

"I woke up early and stayed up when I saw the news. It was the numbers that really got to me. 

"First, it was 20 dead. Then, it was 50. 

"First, it was 200 injured, then 400, and now, 406 people in hospitals.

"How much more do the numbers need to grow before things change? How many people have to die before we have sensible gun laws? We need better security at these events, at concerts. Why isn’t the first thought to better protect people?

"(The Vegas story) absolutely took me back to Orlando: ‘Here it is, once again.’

"People are just out enjoying themselves, really having the time of their life, and they can’t even get home to tell their families about it, their moms, their dads. They can’t even make it home to share their joy because their lives were taken from them.

"There are a lot of parallels to what happened in Orlando. It makes you wonder whether things will ever change.

"Your first thought is to crawl into a ball and not go outside ever again. You’re thinking that maybe there’s hope, that the world’s getting better and then it’s obliterated within minutes.

"How can you have hope in something when the world is this horrible?"