I spoke this morning with James Alan Fox, who said mass killings were not unknown in the U.S. prior to 1966 — when Charles Whitman took to the Texas tower with an arsenal and began picking off civil­ians — but they were exceed­ingly infre­quent. Ever since 1976, we’ve been aver­aging more than 20 per year. Now, that has to do with a lot of things. It has to do with industrial-​​strength vio­lence on TV and the movies, and the obses­sive use of vio­lent video games by young men, and the increasing mobility and atom­iza­tion of society — but, as the Aurora shooting demon­strates, the car­nage is greater (and the expe­ri­ence more oth­er­worldly kinetic) when assault weapons are involved.


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