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When Did Mass Shootings Become so Frighteningly Mundane in America?

June 12, 2014 in Blogs

By Sue Miller, The Guardian

Isla Vista, Seattle, Las Vegas, now Troutdale. Summer 2014 already has violence everywhere.

Here's a recurring dream I used to have growing up on the South Side of Chicago. I'm walking down a street by myself and a man is walking toward me. Just as we're about to pass each other, I see that he's holding a razor, a razor that he lifts quickly to try and slash across my face. I jerk my head back violently, which is the moment that wakes me each time – breathless, my heart shaking my chest.

I had this dream in response to a series of real events. For a short while during the 1950s, a man was terrorizing women and girls in public places in Chicago, randomly slashing at them. But I went on having the dream, in one variation or another, well into my forties, I think because the crime seemed so terrifyingly random, a matter of pure bad luck. Like going to the movies and having someone step out onto the proscenium in battle dress and start shooting. Like sitting in a classroom learning to read when the door opens and a madmen enters, fully armed.

Now here comes the summer of 2014, and with it the statistically inevitable rise in violent crime and murder. Caused at least in part, we're told, by the temperature. It gets hotter, irritability increases, we all head outside, bumping up against each other, pissing each other off.

And already, with summer still weeks away, the carnage has begun. A man in New York goes on a stabbing spree that includes two little children. A man in California knifes three people, then shoots and kills three others before killing himself. A man in Seattle walks into a college, a man in Georgia walks into a courtroom, both of them equipped for and apparently willing to kill as many people as they possibly can. A white supremacist couple in Las Vegas. Just Tuesday, a lone shooter in a high school in Oregon.

Is it random? Is it the forecast? Or is this kind of violence now as inevitable as it is unpredictable?

I …read more


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