Violent Culture: Not much optimism for changes 2012.12.19

Written by David Green.

It’s the large-scale murders in public places that grab our attention the most, but mass shootings are anything but rare in America.

In fact, shootings occurred in every month but June this year. August was particularly hard hit with seven people dying Aug. 5 in Wisconsin, three people dying Aug. 13 at Texas A&M, one death and nine injuries in New York City Aug. 24, and three deaths in a New Jersey supermarket Aug. 31. There was also a high school shooting Aug. 28 in Baltimore.

Every month but June…. The year’s tally of fatalities now stands at 93, not including the killers who often took their own lives.

None of the 18 incidents in 2012 hurt as much as the recent elementary school shooting in Connecticut and of course it’s launched another round of the continuing debate about why the United States is such a violent country.

Some blame the ease of obtaining weapons. Others cite the legal status of assault weapons, questioning the need for that weaponry among citizens not engaged in a war.

From the other side comes the argument that those weapons will be needed when it’s time to fight against an unjust government, and some citizens believe that time is already here.

Some people note that it’s easier to obtain an assault weapon than to obtain mental health services—something desperately needed by the murderers. Others criticize the adverse effects of the medication prescribed through mental health services.

Some people favor an “arms race” approach and are certain that more guns is the solution. Armed guards are needed at every school and school personnel should have weapons. Others cite public health studies that point to the opposite: the more guns available, the more shootings that follow. An estimated 300 million guns are now in the U.S.—one for every citizen.

Does the “virtual violence” of video games affect a small subset of young people? Is the early recognition of psychosis a key?

A few big name personalities are quick to point to what they see as the obvious problem: We’re being punished by God. It’s the same reason given for hurricanes and other disasters.

All of these conflicting opinions suggest that not much is going to change, that guns will continue to be very pervasive in this country, that our culture of violence is here to stay.

That’s a very bleak look at our future, but disturbing events such as the Newtown shooting don’t offer up much hope.

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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