Taylor Swift recently revealed — to mixed reactions — she carried gunshot-wound bandages with her at all times.

"I carry QuikClot army grade bandage dressing, which is for gunshot or stab wounds," she wrote in an essay about 30 things she learned before turning 30.

Some expressed their sympathy for Swift's genuine fear of being attacked by a stalker or random stranger while performing onstage, others scoffed and called the measure paranoid.


Me? I went straight to Amazon and stocked up.

As an Australian who's been living in America for three years, the threat of gun violence is something I've sadly become accustomed to.

Before you label me, as some have called Swift, paranoid, I want to make it clear I'm not an alarmist when it comes to guns. Really, I'm not. My American in-laws live in the rural south and have more guns than people in their homes. I understand the reasons Americans keep firearms are often complex and not always sinister; some for sport, some for farm work, some because guns make them feel safe in areas with high rates of home break-ins driven by the opioid epidemic and unemployment, and slow police response times.

Earlier: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces gun law reforms

At the same time, you'll never catch me owning one, and the only gun show I'm interested in attending involves the Hemsworth brothers baring their biceps.

I don't think it's over the top to take measures to protect myself from the possibility of getting caught up in gun violence. Not when you consider 272 people are shot by another person every day in America, and hundreds of mass shootings occur every year (there were 340 alone in 2018).

Especially as commonsense gun laws are repeatedly, pardon the pun, dead on arrival in Congress.

It's not as though I walk around every day afraid I'll get shot. Most people probably don't think they're going to be in an accident every time they get behind the wheel of a car.

You don't think it will happen to you, and it most likely won't, but it is a possibility, and the consequences could be devastating. So, you take measures to reduce your chances of being hurt in a crash, like sticking to the speed limit, wearing your seatbelt and double-checking your blind spot.


So, what else do I do as a precaution against gun violence?

The purchasing of QuickClot bandages — a "battlefield proven way to stop serious bleeding" the package reads — to go in my handbag along with the Band-Aids, tissues and hand sanitiser is new for me. But for years I've had an app on my phone called Citizen, which alerts me when a violent incident is unfolding nearby and provides updates.

A protester holds a sign after marching in the third annual Women's March on January 19, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. Photo / Getty Images
A protester holds a sign after marching in the third annual Women's March on January 19, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. Photo / Getty Images

The part of New York City I live in has the highest gun homicide rate in the state, and there are reports of shots fired every week — sometimes every day — within a few blocks of my apartment.

It's mostly gang activity and usually happens when I'm tucked up in bed for the night, but I still think it's worthwhile knowing if I should avoid a certain block when I'm walking my dog.

I've also watched YouTube videos about what to do if I ever find myself in a mass shooting situation. I've even been through active shooter training at the Midtown Manhattan office where I sometimes work. It was carried out in the same matter-of-fact style as a fire drill.

In fact, the concept of a fire drill, or the in-flight safety demonstration on a plane, just about sums up how I feel about my newly-acquired QuickClot bandages, my Citizen app and the mass shooting survival videos on YouTube.

I hope I'll never need them, but if I do, they could mean the difference between life and death. To me, that makes it worth it.

Some Democratic 2020 presidential candidates are running on gun control reform, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Although even if elected, their ability to get any meaningful laws passed will be difficult.

Still, the gun-control movement gaining momentum among the younger generation, led by Parkland school shooting survivors including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, does give me hope.

But as long as American politicians continue to fail their country by not introducing commonsense gun laws, as Jacinda Ardern has pledged to in New Zealand after the Christchurch mosque shooting, I'm with Taylor — gunshot-wound bandages are, well, just common sense.

Erin Van Der Meer is an Australian journalist based in New York City who writes about news, trends and travel in North America. This article was first published on