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Editorial: No answers, just horror

Maybe there are no answers. Perhaps the unspeakable havoc wreaked by gunmen in separate incidents coast to coast amounts to horrid coincidence. But still, a country is unsettled. Are these shootings the manifestation of despair over personal problems, perhaps related to the anguish some feel in the midst of an economic crisis? Or, are they isolated episodes reflecting mental imbalances that simply exploded within weeks of each other?
North Carolina was the scene of one such abomination, the shooting deaths of eight people at Pinelake Health and Rehab in Carthage on March 29. A police officer shot and wounded the killer and ended the assault. On that same day, a man in Santa Clara, Calif., killed his two children and three other relatives before killing himself. His wife was critically injured. On March 21, four Oakland, Calif., police officers were shot and killed after a traffic stop. The shooter was killed by SWAT officers. On March 10, in two counties in Alabama, a man killed 10 people, including his mother, four relatives and the wife and child of a local sheriff’s deputy.
And April 3, a gunman in Binghamton, N.Y., killed 13 people and himself at a center full of immigrants taking a citizenship class. Then, on April 4, three Pittsburgh police officers were killed answering a domestic disturbance call. The killer was said to be despondent over losing his job and thought the Obama administration was going to ban guns.
The Binghamton community center shooter also was reported to be upset over the loss of his job.Investigations are to continue for some time, and speculation about causes is varied. Shock hasn’t faded much in any of these incidents. Fear hasn’t either. People everywhere are feeling a discomfort about what unexpected violence lurks beneath the surface in their communities. And yes, it’s impossible to address these acts without wondering about the common denominator of firearms. It may be too soon to ponder what could have been done prior to these tragedies that might have prevented them. But law enforcement and some political leaders will be speculating and speaking out.
These things are not supposed to happen, ever, in the United States of America. And there are some really disturbing parts to some of these stories. Police officers put themselves on the line for citizens all day every day, and they know the risks. Still, when they fall in the line of duty, it is shocking. And what of that Binghamton community center, and those immigrants who intended to become American citizens? That is a tragic irony if ever there was one.
But the other stories are equally sad. Children and old people meeting a violent end. These are tragedies. These are nightmares. These are individual and shared catastrophes. Maddening and frightening. The families will need help, though they will never find closure. The country will need answers, at least to the degree they can be found beyond the simply inexplicable actions of a human mind gone wrong.
ó News & Observer of Raleigh

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