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We’re Raising a Generation That Views Mass Murder as Normal

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On Tuesday night my 22-year-old daughter, Sarah, posted a short comment on her Facebook page:

I was at a show in Times Square tonight and we were held in the theatre on lockdown because there was talk of a potential shooter. Turns out it was a motorcycle that backfired and led people to thinking they were gun shots. With everything going on in this country of course we all assumed the worst. I’m so sick of seeing these headlines weekly. I’m glad everyone is okay and safe but this shouldn’t be something we have to fear day to day.

Sarah was chaperoning 11 teenagers who take acting, singing, and dance lessons at a Los Angeles–area nonprofit and were on an excursion to attend Broadway shows and meet with actors and directors. Sarah’s group was about to leave the Longacre Theater, where they had seen the musical The Prom, when Times Square exploded in chaos. What she didn’t know at the time was that terrified tourists and residents also sought refuge in other theaters and stores. Gideon Glick tweeted that he and his fellow actors in To Kill A Mockingbird fled the Shubert Theater stage as the audience began screaming and people from outside “tried to storm our theater for safety.”

When Sarah phoned me an hour later, she reminded me that this generation of teens has lived their entire lives in the shadow of mass shootings and deaths—at shopping malls, churches and synagogues, movie theaters, schools, outdoor music and food festivals, and other public places.

Most of the kids on the trip are 15 or 16 years old. Which means they were 8 or 9 in 2012 when a killer murdered 27 children and teachers at Sandy Hook school in Connecticut and another man killed 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, 12 when a white supremacist killed nine people at an African American church in Charleston in 2015, 13 when a man murdered 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando in 2016, and 14 when a man killed 58 people at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017. In the past two weeks alone, they’ve seen footage on television or cell phones of mass killings in Gilroy, California (3 killed, 15 injured), Dayton, Ohio (9 killed, 27 injured), and El Paso, Texas (22 killed, 24 wounded).

Since the Sandy Hook massacre, there have been at least 2,178 mass shooting incidents—defined by the FBI as indiscriminate rampages in public places that kill or wound four or more people—resulting in at least 2,458 people killed and 9,119 wounded.

Yet even this understates the level of gun violence. Mass shootings get the most media attention, but they are a sliver of America’s gun problem, which includes domestic violence, gang killings, and accidental shootings. Last year alone witnessed 57,383 incidents of gun violence that resulted in 14,771 deaths and 28,236 injuries, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Among the victims were 669 children under 11 and 2,850 teenagers age 12–17. This year so far, 8,963 people—including 2,233 youngsters under 18—have died in gun-related incidents. Mass shootings account for 112 of the victims of this year’s epidemic of gun violence. (These numbers exclude gun-related suicides).

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Thanks !

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