PA Bill Number: HR525
Title: Recognizing the month of October 2017 as "Domestic Violence Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.
Description: A Resolution recognizing the month of October 2017 as "Domestic Violence Awareness Month" in Pennsylvania.
Last Action: Adopted (191-0)
Last Action Date: Oct 2, 2017
No, the Las Vegas attack wasn't a 'new normal' :: 10/11/2017
What makes Sunday night’s mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival especially stunning is that, unlike the recent deadly storms striking Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, this threat came without warning, not even to the gunman’s own brother.
Struggling to make sense of a seemingly senseless tragedy, on-air anchors and their studio guests tried to fill time with speculation, hyperbole and sound that did little more than intensify the massacre's impact.
Early on, we were assured that there was no apparent connection to terrorism — that this involved a “lone wolf” assailant. Of course, the overwhelming majority of mass shootings have nothing to with “Islamic extremism,” as President Trump likes to call it. However, invoking the “T” word (even to rule out a terrorism link) does little more than empower our enemies. They don’t even have to lift a trigger finger to stoke our fears.
The Las Vegas shooting is hardly unprecedented. Fifty-one years ago, for example, a sniper at the University of Texas-Austin similarly targeted innocent people from a porch high above his chosen killing field until first responders arrived to overtake him.
The Las Vegas attacker killed more victims, but perhaps it is communication technology that hit us with more force than his bullets. A half-century ago, Americans heard about events in Texas only through news bulletins and eventually rough footage once the film was available. With smartphones in everyone’s pockets and purses, we are able to hear and see such events as they unfold.
Just how many times must we be mistreated with the recorded “rat tat tat” of gunfire? Sure, this instance is different in that the gunman might have had access to a fully automatic weapon capable of streaming bullets with the single squeeze of the trigger. But anyone who has ever watched a war movie or an episode of The Untouchables can recognize the sound. Hearing it over and over only deepens the horror.
And how many times must we be reminded that this was the largest mass shooting in modern American history? A CNN anchor pointed out that the Pulse nightclub shooting spree was the largest until now.
Even before Guinness published its first edition chronicling world record achievements in virtually every walk of life and death, Americans have been obsessed with being on top whether for the good, the bad or the deadly. It seems that events and accomplishments, from the trivial to the tragic, take on special significance if they can somehow be cast as the best or the worse of their kind.
Leaving aside the fact that there have been larger mass casualty attacks involving bombs (the Oklahoma City bombing), arson (New York’s Happy Land fire) or airplanes (9/11), does it really matter? Would the Las Vegas shooting be any less tragic if it were not a record? Is it relevant to those who have lost a loved one if their son or daughter perished in a record-setting event?
And with every record, there must be the proud record holder. CNN’s Anderson Cooper as well as many other pundits and professors of criminology have argued for a moratorium on identifying the name of a mass murderer or showing his or her likeness on air. Not only does it potentially inspire others to use a weapon to claim their quarter-hour of fame, but it truly adds insult to injury for those who suffer the loss most personally. If the national attention of mass murder can be alluring, imagine the draw of being a record setter. After all, records are there to be broken.
Former New York City and Los Angeles police commissioner Bill Bratton described the situation as the “new normal,” borrowing words Barack Obama used but explicitly rejected as a characterization for similar events during his administration. Leaving aside the fact that a record event can't possibly be "normal", mass murder hasn’t become a normal occurrence.
The number of mass shootings has not increased, as evidenced by the USA TODAY database on mass killings as well as other analyses. Dozens of Americans are killed and hundreds are shot on every "normal" day in America. The Las Vegas shooting is an aberration.
James Alan Fox is the Lipman Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University and a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors. He is also co-author of Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder. Follow him on Twitter: @jamesalanfox.
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