President Donald Trump declared in his inaugural address that the “American carnage” some in the nation were facing “stops right here and stops right now.” At his rallies, he speaks to supporters as if he has lived up to his pledge to “make America great again.” But it’s hard to feel that the United States is “great again” when men born and raised here keep going on mass killing sprees.
Over the weekend, a gunman killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio. Another gunman killed 20 people in El Paso, Texas. The mass carnage was so horrific that the news media scarcely covered the fact that 18 people were shot in Chicago in the space of a few hours late Saturday night and early yesterday morning. A week prior, a gunman killed four people at a garlic festival in Gilroy, California. Earlier this summer, a gunman killed 12 people in Virginia Beach.
Outbreaks of mass carnage now seem as if they can strike anywhere, at any time. Last year, mass shooters killed five in Aurora, Illinois; 12 in Thousand Oaks, California; 11 at a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, synagogue; five in Annapolis, Maryland; 10 in Santa Fe, Texas; and 17 in Parkland, Florida, among other episodes. In 2017, a gunman killed 26 in Sutherland Springs, Texas; and another killed 58 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Some Americans suspect that Trump’s extreme rhetoric is partly to blame––that he incites anxiety and hatred, incessantly injects conflict into national life, and brings out the worst in many.