Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Terrorism in America

Another mass shooting rocks the country again, returning to Virginia, site of the nation’s worst mass killing at Virginia Tech. Apparently, a lone gunman murdered eight and injured one near Appomattox, the place, ironically, where the Civil War ended.

In late November, a parolee gunned down four police officers in suburban Seattle.

Earlier that month, an Army Major slaughtered 13 comrades at Fort Hood, Texas. The outrage then was not how this could happen or why this happened, but rather Americans argued whether or not to call the perpetrator a terrorist or not.

Does it really matter?


We live in a society that venerates gun ownership over all other rights. It’s not just hunting rifles that Americans revere, but semi-automatic handguns, assault weapons and “cop-killer” bullets too. It is rather hypocritical of Americans to excoriate other cultures or religions for being violent, when we live in the most violent society in the developed world.

There are roughly 30,000 deaths a year in this country due to firearms. Suicides account for a slight majority of the deaths with homicides making up most of the rest. Gun violence is the leading cause of death of youth in America. Also, there are about 200,000 injuries a year due to firearms. (On 9-11, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by Islamic terrorists.)

The question isn’t how or why these mass killings happen, but rather, when or where will they occur again. It is a given that Americans have a high tolerance for wholesale slaughter by firearms. We are willing to accept these regular tragedies because we consider it the cost of freedom. The freedom to murder by handgun, for example, supersedes government attempts to minimize access to firearms, the Supreme Court ruled last year.

Such is the state of terrorism in America.

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