Questions about shootings being normal in America

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 19, 2022
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Paramedics help the injured near the New York subway station where a shooting occurred on April 12, 2022. [Photo/Xinhua]

The smoke was only clearing on the N train in New York City's metro when a shooter opened fire at a mall in Columbia, South Carolina, on April 17. Each of the shootings, in the span of a week, injured more than 12 people. They have become a routine occurrence in the United States of America.

Fortunately, no one was killed in either of the most recent attacks. But that is not always the case. On April 3, a group of shooters murdered six people in Sacramento, California, and injured 12 more. 

Overall, about 21,500 people were killed in America in 2021, higher than in any other developed country in both absolute numbers and rate. Homicides increased in both 2020 and 2021 and reached a 22-year high.

It's not just the extreme number of murders, it's also the setting in which these brutalities occur that is scarring Americans and long-term residents of the country. Imagine a smoke bomb exploding on a subway and a masked man opening fire while you are on your way to work. A gunman spraying bullets with a semi-automatic rifle when you are shoe shopping. An angry man confronting you at a protest where you are exercising your free speech rights and then pulling out his handgun and shooting you because he disagrees with you.

These are just some of the scenes that have unfolded in early 2022 and echo scenes that unfold year after year from New York City to Portland, Oregon. Is there anywhere Americans can feel safe?

The fact that some neighborhoods are vastly more dangerous than others is itself a violation of people's rights. That the poor are condemned to live at heightened risk of being mugged, maimed, and murdered is quietly accepted as an immutable fact, impossible to be fixed. 

According to a recent study conducted by the consultancy firm Augurisk, "certain areas in Los Angeles are projected to face a rate of up to 347 violent crimes per 1,000 residents annually." Women are at heightened risk of being targeted by rapists and male thieves who target them. 

According to the World Values Survey, 13% of Americans often or sometimes "feel unsafe from crime in your own home," higher than China, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, Japan, Canada, and many other countries.

Middle-class Americans determine they can avoid – or minimize – their risk of being victimized by moving to the suburbs, avoiding dangerous areas downtown, and staying inside at night. Some choose to carry guns, although that often puts one at greater risk. 

But then the assault comes to them during their morning commute. Hot lead cuts through flesh and walls. It's not something I even thought about when I took the metro in Shanghai, where I used to live, nor in South Korea, where I live now.

Rudy Pérez was on his way to work at a construction site when the masked man opened fire. He got shot in the leg, and he won't be able to walk – or work – for weeks. Now he says he's afraid of taking the subway, too: "I'm afraid it'll happen again," he was quoted in the New York Times.

There are others who just jump on the train the next day without a thought. "I wasn't even thinking about that," another person was quoted as saying. 

What can she do? What can any individual citizen do? The gun industry and the politicians aren't going to do anything.

Americans just have to go along as usual and hope it doesn't happen to them.

Mitchell Blatt is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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