I was disturbed to see that yesterday there was another mass murder shooting (5 dead) at a US shopping mall. This occurred near Chicago, and there appears to be neither a suspect nor a motive at this point. I am, of course, from Minneapolis, where occurred the birth of the indoor shopping mall in the 1950s. Southdale center was the mall we went to as a special treat; it was much further from us than either Brookdale or Ridgedale but there was some reason that we would occasionally drive down there from the north west suburbs as a special treat. This was, of course, before the “mega-mall” opened in that same general region of southern Minneapolis suburbs.
Alright, so we have established that the state of my birth and my youth is a clear indoor mall paradise. There are very good reasons for that given the weather extremes experienced in this particular part of the midwest. The question troubling now is why do these indoor malls seem to be increasingly centers of violence? Does someone see it on the news and feel like shooting people in a mall is a good idea? Is it more deadly because we still don’t expect gunmen to be shooting wildly in these sterile environments, so our awareness is not “up” the way it would be if we’re walking around a seedy part of the city instead? Crazed lunatics with guns seem to be increasingly targeting high-density people places where the people are unlikely to be aware of what’s coming. (The Virginia Tech shootings are an extreme example of this.) We don’t actually hear much of shootings killing 5 or 9 people in the middle of the city–those are usually isolated events.
Of course, here in the UK we hear about more knife violence than gun violence. This has become the domain of youth gangs around London and elsehwere. While troubling, I’ll take it as a better alternative, because it’s very difficult to execute a mass attack and kill 5 in a minute with a knife compared to a semi-automatic weapon.
So people, what is going on in America? How many more of these incidents are going to have to take place before we start talking seriously about gun control? It’s amazing to me that in light of all the widely-publicized violence it remains an “American value” to fight against any real restrictions on gun purchase and use. This is not the wild west, this is not the prairie of the 19th century. The time to have all these guns around is over. In a presidential election year, we should be hearing a lot more about the importance of gun control and the need for societal changes to rid America of this scourge of shopping mall shootings.