Police in Prince George’s County, Md., which adjoins Washington, D.C., are seeing an increase in low-“flash point” killings, in which attackers resort to deadly violence over trivial confrontations, the Washington Post reports. Police say the trend helped, drive the sharp increase in the county’s homicide count last year: 173, a record and a spike from the 148 in 2004. Twenty people have been killed in the county as of yesterday, compared with 33 by the same date in 2005. “Argument” was the most prevalent motive last year, police said. Forty-three homicides were motivated by an argument and 36 were drug-related. The next-highest category was robberies, at 24.
Police, prosecutors, people who work with ex-offenders, victims rights advocates, and the ex-offenders themselves attribute the burgeoning violence to “a toxic mix of causes: the easy availability of handguns; a subculture, including some rap songs and videos, that celebrates violence; and a pathological need on the part of some young men for respect,” the Post says. Timothy Dimoff, a former Ohio police officer, says in his book, “Life Rage,” that today’s teenagers and people in their twenties and early thirties have been bombarded with violence all their lives through video games, music, music videos, television shows and mainstream movies. “They’ve become desensitized to the results of violence,” said Dimoff.