Are We Numb To Mass Murder?
French President Francois Hollande smiles after his weekly cabinet meeting in Elysee Palace, Paris, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. (AP Photo)
Jiverly Wong, a 41-year-old immigrant from Vietnam, often complained to friends and family about being criticized for his poor English skills.
In frustration, he dropped out of language classes at the American Civic Association in Binghamton, N.Y., where he returned on Friday armed with two handguns and wearing body armor.
After blocking the back door with his vehicle, Wong walked through the front door and began firing, killing one receptionist and wounding another, before moving on to a classroom filled with fellow immigrants and a teacher.
There, he took 12 more lives before taking his own.
One man whose wife was one of the victims asked, "What is it about American society that keeps turning out these kinds of people? What is it about our society that keeps driving people to do things like this?"
The shooting has stunned Binghamton, just as mass shootings of civilians have stunned so many communities.
You remember Columbine ten years ago: 15 dead. And then Virginia Tech two years ago: 32 dead.
But you may not remember the shootings that left ten dead in southeastern Alabama, or the eight who died in a North Carolina nursing home … the six dead in Santa Clara, California … and now Binghamton.
Then there's yesterday morning's shooting of three police officers in Pittsburgh, and the five children apparently murdered by their father in Washington State before he killed himself.
Six mass shootings that have taken 47 lives in just four weeks' time.
It seems that no town, big or small, is immune. But why? Is there more violence - and is our reaction to it changing?
"Tragically, I think many Americans have become more desensitized, more numb to the mass murder, to the massacre, because it is no longer that unusual," said Howard Kurtz, a media critic for the Washington Post.
"It doesn't mean that everybody doesn't get a feeling in their gut when they hear that a bunch of innocent people have died at the hands of one crazy gunman, but it is no longer a story that we've never heard of before," said Kurtz. "So there's a certain ritual to it. We know what to expect."
Part of what we expect are expressions of condolences from our political leaders … but that is where it all seems to stop.
CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen says that, in this climate, more is not likely to happen.
"I just don't think [as] a political issue that folks care as much about gun control right now as they do about economics," he said.
"The hard reality is that people are more concerned about their jobs and their 401(k)s and how they're going to pay for their school tuition for their kids, than they are about trying to put additional restrictions on guns."
Tonight in Binghamton, a candlelight vigil will be held. Hundreds will mourn the city's fallen … new statistics in an old story that just doesn't seem likely to go away.
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