When the text message from your daughter at college begins: “If you are listening to the news, don’t worry, I’m safe and locked in my room” — you worry.
Phone calls and web searches resurrect a too-frequent American nightmare: shooter on campus, heading toward the lakeshore dorms.
And then follow two hours of tweets and texts and listening to a police scanner trace college streets down which you have driven with books and boxes and care packages of chocolate chip cookies.
Finally, two teenagers are “detained,” and the lockdown is lifted.
This time no one was shot. (Not like two days ago at the Washington Navy Yard, when 12 people were killed. If you define mass shootings as four or more people getting shot at one time, we’ve had almost 250 this year, according to Jon Stewart.
This time it was “only” a robbery and a shot fired without hitting anyone. If it hadn’t been at the university, it probably wouldn’t even have made the news. I didn’t see anything about the incident that came across my Facebook feed the morning after, from Minneapolis (names and many comments omitted):
ORIGINAL POST: Yesterday there was a shooting at Penn and GVR, a kid was still in the process of *getting off the bus* when he pulled a gun and shot at a group of other kids. Not to be outdone by one child’s stupidity with a handgun, one of them fired back *at the bus, that happened to be full of people.* I can’t seem to find news reports on this, probably because the kids’ aim was so poor and bystanders were lucky that no one was hit.
These were early high school, or possibly even middle school youth. Who is putting GUNS in the hands of CHILDREN?
COMMENT: and they most likely got the guns from their homes. Thank God for bad aiming kids, next time they may just hit a bystander, then it will be on the news.. And don’t call 911 if no one is bleeding or dead they won’t even come. Dumb asses COME GET THE GUNS FROM THE DAMN KIDS POLICE
COMMENT: I’ve been asking that same question, over and over! Where are they getting these fucking guns or who the fuck is giving them to them, WTF? Somebody somewhere has these answers, but it not their children and families out on the firing range! And please don’t come back on me with that “the guns are coming from burglarys” shit!
Looking at the next morning’s Twitter feed for #lockdown, I saw half a dozen schools in different state on lockdown, all because of unconnected threats.
For every gun death, there are hundreds of gun incidents, like those described above, and the one in Madison, that tear at the fabric of our communities. Their psychic echoes make us feel less safe, less “at home,” less connected to one another.
For every “mass shooting,” there are dozens of shooting deaths unnoticed by anyone except the families and immediate communities. As the Washington Post noted in a headline, “Not all mass shootings are equal in the eyes of the media or the public.”
“[Eminent criminologist James Alan] Fox, who has been studying mass murder since the early 1980s, sees a dismaying jadedness in our national response to such spectacular acts of inhumanity. Even as overall gun violence has fallen precipitously, what shakes the national scales has graduated, higher and higher, he says. ‘When four people were killed [in a shooting], it was always covered’ nationally, he said. ‘Of course now, four people doesn’t get covered. It doesn’t rate.’”
When it comes to guns in America, only two things are certain:
This Congress will not even seriously consider, much less pass, any controls on who can buy guns or what guns they can buy.
And the shooting will continue.