2012: The Year of the Random Shooting

I'm a person who gets sick when he hears news of a shooting by a maniac and innocent people are killed and I often count my blessings.  I'm also a person who is a parent of five children and two step-children who gets sicker when he thinks about a kindergarten child whose last moment of life is spent staring down the barrel of a gun held by a madman.  I imagine what that child must be thinking to herself - "Where is my mommy?" And I start to tear up.  Can there be anything more tragic than imagining the thoughts going through a child's mind as she faces death? (Other than the lives of the parents who are left behind.)

  (Reuters/ChicagoTribune)

In the past year, I can recall random shootings in the United States by crazed gunmen at malls, movie theaters, churches, day spas, buses and subway trains and now, again, at an elementary school.  I can't keep up with the news updates online and I don't really want to.  I start to wonder why this happened, but then I stop myself.

The story will play out and time will march on.  We'll find out who the shooter was and wonder why.   We'll find out who he killed and we'll sit back and wonder why.  We'll see a photographic roll call of the children that he mowed down and we'll cry at their tragically shortened lives and wonder why.  We'll hear from FBI profilers and psychological experts who will tell us about the shooter's past and the path he took that led him to his destructive climax and wonder why.  We'll find out about the town and school where this tragedy occurred and learn about the low crime rate there and we'll wonder why.  We'll hear from the shooter's neighbors as they tell us about his "loner" ways or that "he never seemed like the type ..." and we'll wonder why.

There are no answers to our "why" questions.  This is happening too often in our world and the more it seems to happen, the fewer explanations it seems that there are.  Think about it.  What do you know today about the student who walked into the classrooms at Virginia Tech and killed 32 people?  Did a study of his brain or his past help reduce the random shootings that occur fairly unrandomly today?  What about the guy who stood in front of the movie theater during "The Dark Knight Rises" and started shooting moviegoers?  Are we safer and more secure today than we were before the profilers and doctors began to examine his sad story?

The answers to these questions don't even matter.  The fact is that  we are not safe.  We are not safe at the mall buying Christmas presents; we are not safe at the movie theater watching the latest Oscar nominated film; we are not safe on the subway as a Bulls fan returning to our hotel after the game; we are not safe at church praying to God to keep our children safe and healthy.  And, our children are not safe at the safest place on earth:  a classroom with a teacher who is trying to educate them on how to exist in society.

2012 can readily be identified as the year of random shootings and while I am in no position to explain why it is happening, I can safely say that we are now deeply immersed in a national tragedy.  No civilized society can exist or hope to continue to exist when it's citizens do not feel safe outside of their homes and when they don't feel safe to bring their children to their schools. 

How can this condition be repaired and this country returned to the days that our parents remind us of when "kids used to go to the park and play until dark and ride their bikes home by themselves."  No longer.  We are a country that is infested with twisted, deranged and depraved lunatics who are preying on the most helpless and innocent among us.  Somehow, we've got to make it stop.  Please, someone make it stop.

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