James Alan Fox, the prominent criminologist, says the country is in the midst of an “out-of-control” panic prompted by an irrational fear of spree shootings. He says dubious FBI statistics and overblown media coverage have contributed. We might as well worry about lightning strikes, Fox asserts.
A dozen states now have laws allowing seizure of guns from someone who is deemed dangerous, often because of mental health concerns or threats of violence. Gov. Greg Abbott spoke favorably of the idea after a school shooting near Houston. Gun enthusiasts were not happy. Abbott has changed his mind.
A man dressed in black walked along a busy street Sunday night in the Greektown neighborhood and fired random shots, killing two people and wounding a dozen. He apparently shot himself after exchanging gunfire with police. His motive was unknown.
A man with a vendetta against the Annapolis Capital Gazette fired a shotgun through the newsroom’s glass doors, killing five and injuring two others in a targeted shooting. The suspect had lost a defamation case against the paper over a 2011 column about his guilty plea to criminal harassment of a woman over social media.
“When someone is desperate for fame or attention, committing a high-profile mass killing is one of the only guaranteed ways to get it,” criminologist Adam Lankford told a recent gathering of journalists. Responsible media, he argued, should guard against providing killers with a platform.
A new FBI study of 63 cases in which armed gunmen opening fire in public places found that most use guns they obtained legally and targeted specific victims. Mental health usually wasn’t an issue. “Offenders don’t snap,” said FBI expert Andre Simons.
Seven months after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, the tiny town is still struggling to cope. “It just shined a light on who we always were,” said one resident. “And we’re the community that focuses on God and has always before this.”