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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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