A nation at war with itself marks a tragic year of shooting deaths

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer

Twenty children. Six adults. One deranged shooter.

I am in shock. How could something like this happen at an elementary school? This is an act of war, a crime of terror.

Twenty kindergarten and first-grade students.

Their biggest crimes in life couldn’t have been much worse than not making a bed or taking out the trash when their parents asked.

Photos of the slain bring tears to my eyes. There is nothing more precious than an innocent child, and they became lambs to a slaughter.

What is wrong with America? How can we live in a society that breeds this kind of derangement that fuels these despicable acts?

This year was filled with tragedy throughout the nation. Two of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history occurred this year—in a Colorado theater and in a Connecticut elementary school.

These weren’t the only two public shootings with multiple deaths and injuries. On Feb. 21 in Norcross, Ga., four people and the shooter were killed in a spa after the gunman opened fire.

On Feb. 27, in Chardon, Ohio, a 17-year-old opened fire in a school cafeteria, killing three.

On March 8 in Pittsburgh, Pa., a former teaching assistant marched through a psychiatric hospital on the campus of Duquesne University and opened fire, killing one before police shot and killed him.

On April 2 in Oakland, Calif., a former student returned to Oikos University, pulled an administrator into a nursing classroom, lined students up against the wall and began shooting. The shooter killed seven and injured three.

On April 6 in Tulsa, Okla., two men went on a shooting spree targeting black men. They killed three and injured two.

On May 30 in Seattle a man was asked to leave a coffee shop. Instead he opened fire, killing five. The shooter later killed himself.

On July 20 in Aurora, Colo., 12 people were killed and 58 injured as they watched the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises.”

On Aug. 5 in Oak Creek, Wis., a man walked into a Sikh temple and opened fire just before Sunday services, killing six and himself.

On Aug. 13 in College Station, Texas, a man opened fire on police as they served an eviction notice, killing two before being shot by law enforcement.

On Sept. 27 in Minneapolis a man was being fired and opened fire, killing six and injuring three before killing himself.

On Oct. 21 in Brookfield, Wis., a man walked into a spa, killing three including his wife and injuring four before shooting himself.

On Dec. 11 in Happy Valley, Ore., a man opened fire in a shopping mall, killing two and injuring one before his gun jammed. He also killed himself.

As a nation let’s not forget these innocent lives. Let our eyes be opened to what is happening in our own backyards. As Americans we have a problem, and we need to be alert.

The scary thing is it can happen anywhere and at anytime. The majority of the victims were strangers to the shooter. They were simply going about their business, living their lives the way they normally would.

One of the victims in the Minneapolis shooting was a UPS deliveryman; he was simply doing his job.

We can never know when or where the next shooting will occur, but we can take heed. I know I haven’t walked into a movie theater since July and not thought about my escape plan in case the unthinkable happened. Nor have I been in a shopping mall in the last five years and not thought about what could happen if someone opened fire.

I wish I had answers to questions these situations present—How could someone do this? Why would someone do this? What is wrong with people? Where will it happen next?

There is no rhyme or reason. There is nothing I can think of to do, except get down on my knees and pray—pray for my loved ones that they be protected. Pray for the victims’ families as they fight through their devastating losses. Pray for our nation. Pray for an end to senseless killing.

Whether or not we as a nation call it war, in my mind it is war. It is a war on society. It is an act of terrorism, leaving a death toll in its wake.

I can count 80 innocent victims this year alone, and I know there are more. Eighty people who were living their lives when an evil far greater than they could fathom stole them away.

Here in Brunswick County, we have been fortunate not to be the center of these horrific crimes, but it doesn’t mean evil and terror hasn’t seeped into our daily existence. Week after week, I write about it—lives stolen too early at the hands of evil.

Again, I don’t know what to do to make it stop. As we enter a new year, I pray the terror and travesty end. We are a nation that is hurting, but let’s stop hurting each other.

Pray, just pray and then pray some more.


Rachel Johnson is a staff writer and columnist at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.