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Mass killings becoming all too commonplace

The victims are piling up; the answers are not: why have there been so many mass killings of late?
Coming on the heels of the slaughter at a country music festival in Las Vegas: an alleged terrorist drives onto a crowded bike path in New York, killing eight and injuring 11. On Sunday, a gunman opened fire in a small, rural Texas church, killing 26 and injuring far more.
In our country’s history, the first mass killing of note — outside of war — was the slaying of 10 at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999. That event, perpetuated by two high school students, stunned our nation and brought us to our collective knees. We had never before known violence on a large scale like that before.
Since then, there have been dozen of incidents, and we seem to have no more clue in 2017 as to what triggers them than we did in 1999. Sure, we do post-event analysis of the shooters, drivers, stabbers and bombers, but what have we learned that will prevent future tragedies?
The latest incident in Texas has renewed calls for better screening of gun buyers and a potential ban on assault-style weapons. Those measures may help reduce the impact of future events, but it doesn’t get to the crux of the problem.
What is there now in our societal fabric that breeds such anger and violence that was not here before?
And how do we fix it? How do we reestablish a reasonable assurance of safety that will allow us to attend a movie, go to school, walk and ride on a recreational path or go to a concert without fear?
This epidemic of senseless violence is impacting our everyday lives.
Shalane Flanagan, who recently was the first woman winner of the New York City Marathon, talked a lot about the gratification of achieving a lifetime goal, the satisfaction of setting a standard and becoming a role model for her fellow female athletes.
She also spoke of her apprehension that there may be a terroristic attempt at the marathon, such as there was at the Boston Marathon a couple of years ago.
No one should have to be apprensive of running a race, attending a church service, going to school or shopping at a mall.
We need to create a safety net to find and help these individuals before more blood is shed. By all accounts, the shooter in the Texas church slipped through a maze of cracks. Like so many of those who create mass violence, there were plenty of red flags.
We may think that this will never happen here, in our rural backyard. But the 400-some souls who populate Sutherland Springs, Texas, probably never thought it would happen there, either.
We need to learn to recognize the red flags, and be prepared to act on them. As law enforcement so often encourages us: if you see something, say something. Be proactive, not reactive. It may save lives in the future.