Friday, July 20, 2012

Public Reaction to Mass Shootings

Unfortunately, the United States is the world leader in mass shootings--one, occasionally two people with weapons going to a public place and shooting people.  Sometimes it is a random act and sometimes the shooter has a motive of anger or revenge.  It is always shocking to us because it occurs in our common spaces--our shopping malls, movie theaters, schools or work places--where we feel relatively safe.  We don't expect to be wounded or killed when we are in the store.
The typical blather has been heard after this latest shooting incident in Colorado.  Gun control, terrorism, and mental health care have been among the topics explored.  Included in this are questions about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's stance on those same topics. 
It is not the discussion or even the talking points that are so irritating.  It is the self appointed experts, blathering along, seemingly without a care about the losses to the families or trauma to the community that are so irritating.  Also, it becomes increasingly difficult to strike a balance in public expression:  after Columbine or Virgina Tech did we have a presidential proclamation or put the flags at half staff?  Did political discourse grind to a complete halt?  What to make of ABC News deciding that a certain man named Holmes was the shooter without fact checking something as simple as age?
At some point we will have to ask questions, but now, with families still reeling from the physical and psychic trauma and little or no information about the shooter and his possible motives, is not the time for such things. Stick to just the facts, mam, and keep the self appointed experts and professional arguers away.