This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.
The landscape of America is littered with bodies.
Total body count for these incidents: 19 dead, 26 wounded.
Not much, you might say, when taken in the context of about 30,000 gun-related deaths annually nationwide. As it happens, though, these murders over the past couple of years have some common threads. All involved white gunmen with ties to racist or right-wing groups or who harbored deep suspicions of “the government.” Many involved the killing of police officers.
In Pittsburgh, three police officers were shot and killed, while two were wounded in an April 2009 gun battle with Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist fearful that President Obama planned to curtail his gun rights. In Okaloosa County, Florida, two officers were slain in April 2009 in an altercation with Joshua Cartwright, whose abused wife told the police that her husband “believed that the U.S. Government was conspiring against him” and that he was “severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected President.”
At the Pentagon, an anti-government conspiracy theorist, John Patrick Bedell, wounded two police officers in March of last year before being shot to death. At the Holocaust Museum in 2009, James W. Von Brunn, a white supremacist, gunned down a security guard before being wounded and subdued by two other security guards.
Government officials, of course, have also been targets of the gunmen, as demonstrated so vividly by the recent shootings in Tucson, where Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others were wounded, and one of Giffords’s staff members and a federal judge were among the six dead.