Consider this paragraph a holding action on the subject of getting blown away in America. While I write this dispatch, I’m waiting patiently for the next set of dispiriting killings in this country. And I have faith. Before I’m done, some angry—or simply mentally disturbed—and well-armed American “lone wolf” (or lone wolves) will gun down someone (or a number of people) somewhere and possibly himself (or themselves) as well. Count on that. It’ll be my last paragraph. Think of it as, in a grim way, something to look forward to as you read this piece on American armed mayhem.
National security officials and politicians have been pounding home the message that the “greatest threat” to Americans is an extreme and brutal jihadist movement thousands of miles away and the videos and social media messages its followers produce that make it seem close at hand. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the dangers of armed life in these United States, a quick survey of national insecurity in a country armed to the teeth.
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that, in the first half of 2015, there’s been a plethora of incidents to draw on. There’s the killer still on the loose in northern Colorado who shot at people in cars or out biking or walking late at night. There’s the suspected serial killer who dumped seven bodies behind a strip mall in New Britain, Connecticut, and may now be in jail on unrelated charges. There’s the ongoing trial of James Holmes who blew away 12 moviegoers and wounded 70 in a multiplex in Aurora, Colorado, in 2012. There was the mass killing of seven people in February in the tiny town of Tyrone, Missouri, by Joseph Aldridge, an armed recluse who then killed himself. And don’t forget Sudheer Khamitkar, who shot to death his wife and two young sons and then himself in Tulsa in April, or Christopher Carrillo, who murdered four of his family members and then turned his gun on himself in a Tucson home in May. And many others.
In such a list, there should be a special place for a phenomenon that, though largely untabulated, has been gaining attention in recent years as ever more Americans “carry” in ever more places. This means ever more loose guns lying around. I’m talking about the mayhem committed by toddlers (or perhaps they should be thought of as American lone wolf cubs). Toddler shootings range from the 2-year-old who killed his mother in a Walmart in Idaho with the gun she was packing in her purse as 2014 ended to the 3-year-old who discovered a gun in a purse in an Albuquerque motel room in February and wounded his father and pregnant mother with a single shot. Such a list for this year would have to include the Florida 2-year-old who found his father’s gun in the family car and killed himself with it in January, the 3-year-old who picked up an unattended gun and killed a 1-year-old in a Cleveland home in April, the Virginia 2-year-old who found a gun on top of a dresser and killed himself in late May, and the 4-year-old who, at about the same time in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, picked up a shotgun at a target shooting range and killed his 22-year-old uncle. Toddler killings have been commonplace enough in these pistol-packin’ years that they now significantly outpace terror killings in the United States.