Nine days ago, a man in a business suit shoots an ex-coworker five times in the head at the Empire State Building, before being killed by two cops, who also injure 9 bystanders in the process.
18 days ago, a man shot and wounded a security guard at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. before being stopped. The attack appears to be politically motivated.
28 days ago, an Army veteran killed six and wounded four at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, before apparently committing suicide.
And most notably, it’s only been 44 days since James Holmes opened fire in an Aurora, CO movie theatre, killing 12 and wounding 58 others.
While many of these perpetrators had troubling backgrounds, none of them would actually fit our general ideas of a violent criminal.
So how do we respond to these isolated incidents of extreme violence by non-repeating offenders?
Do we lump them in with the way we respond to ordinary criminals? Or do we try to implement programs to identify and prevent these isolated incidents from occurring?
Up until now, the way we have been responding has done little good.
Collectively, we hold our breaths and cross our fingers and pray the next time doesn’t come, and then what? When it invariably comes, we all look at each other and shrug. Make some empty condolences, and then repeat the whole scenario.
Like all other social problems, this one does not have a simple solution. But because of that, we effectively don’t try to find any solution at all.
This country no longer tries new ideas to solve our problems. It’s either try the same old, tired, ineffective tactics that paint with a broad brush and clearly do not work, or don’t try at all. Treat it like we can’t do anything about it.
As a civilized society, we should always strive to completely eliminate tragedies like these, no matter how implausible. Because one is already too many.