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In the last three decades there have been over 62 mass shootings in the United States, almost half of them in the last seven years. The FBI defines a mass shooting as one involving a single gunman killing four or more victims in a public place. The average age of the gunman is 35. They are all male, and almost all are white. In the mainstream media, these killers are seen as individuals - terrifying, but individuals nonetheless, their histories parsed for motive or signs of mental illness - and indeed, most of them suffer from mental illness. Almost no one suggests that broader social factors are at work. It might surprise to learn in the eight days since Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, CT, 100 people have lost their lives to guns in the U.S. Since 2001, over 270,000 people have been killed by guns here. Whatever the multiple causes of gun violence are, they include a social tolerance that has rendered it nearly invisible outside these frightening outbursts of mass murder.
With Patricia Williams, legal scholar, author, and professor of law at Columbia University. She pens a monthly column in The Nation magazine entitled Diary of a Mad Law Professor, and is the author of several books, including The Alchemy of Race & Rights. Her article, “Guns and Mental Illness: Tragedies in Waiting” appeared in the August 17 – September 3, 2012 issue of The Nation. Available online at http://www.thenation.com/article/169294/guns-and-mental-illness-tragedies-waiting#
Radio interview by Amy Grunder, first aired live on Sounds of Dissent on WZBC 90.3 FM Boston on December 22, 2012.
Sounds of Dissent has aired since 1998 on WZBC 90.3 FM in Greater Boston. Catch us every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Live streams & archive links at wzbc.org