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.