Shopping mall violence

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.


3 responses to “Shopping mall violence

  1. The Chicago-area shooting actually took place at a strip mall. Since strip malls have no enclosed areas, no atriums or indoor courtyards, just huge swaths of parking lot, they don’t tend to be public gathering places for young teens or anyone else.

    We have heard relatively little about gun control in this election, and will continue to hear little, because crime is not a hot-button issue in this election cycle. Crime rates, particularly murder rates, have continued to decline in most of the major metropolitan areas across the nation. In fact, a Freakonomics co-author noted last month that crime was alomst never mentioned as a issue by potential voters when asked to name their chief concerns.

    There’s also been little talk about future Supreme Court nominees. With Alito and Roberts in place, and with an actual Second Amendment (“right to bear arms”) case on the docket this year, the two previously high-profile issues of gun control and the Supremes will suddenly pop back into the national consciousness. But only for a brief moment — the TV crews will immediately cut back to the presidential horse race.

    Americans have slowly but surely come to accept sporadic bouts of mass killing as a fact of everyday life. (I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying it’s so.) The horror of Virginia Tech has quietly receded from the national consciousness, even as “helicopter parents” hover over their adolescent and legally adult offspring in ways we would have considered absurd a few decades ago. It’s not for nothing that we have phrases like “go postal” in this country.

    As sixties activist H. Rap Brown famously noted, “Violence is as American as apple pie.” Guns: they’re How The West Was Won, they’re part of how slavery and Jim Crow were enforced, they’re much of what makes the prison-industrial complex go ’round. They have one of the most powerful lobbies in the country. To those powers that be, dead bystanders are simply collateral damage.

    And we are talking “bystanders”. Note that your post focuses on acts of mass violence. There were 393 people murdered in Philadelphia last year, the vast majority of them, including a police officer, killed one at a time by gunfire. The problem with guns is not that they make the fourth or the fifth killing in 10 minutes easier, though that may be what is most salient in our minds. The problem with guns is that they make the first killing in a lifetime easier.

    It’s not the random, premeditated, high body-count events that would change as a result of gun control. Those have already begun to seep into Europe. It’s the deaths from the petty neighborhood beef, the crimes of passion, the accidental discharge that would diminish. The stuff that never makes the national press. The stuff that doesn’t concern rural hunters. The stuff that happens every day in urban centers where we have little parking and very few malls.

  2. Hi there,
    I think the main reason people choose malls is for maximum results unfortunately. Tinley Park is a fairly small suburb here and the weirder thing to me is how it’s always somewhere way out in the burbs where “things like this don’t happen”. Sadly, they happen everywhere these days.

  3. Pingback: Random acts of senseless violence « Not From Around Here

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s