Why so much violence?

Published 8:37 pm Saturday, November 28, 2015

Why do we as a society resort to extreme violence over trivial matters?

A customer pulled out a gun and shot and killed an employee at a Waffle House restaurant in Biloxi Friday after she asked him not to smoke, police said.

Police received a call about the shooting at 1:11 a.m., said Biloxi police Sgt. Donnie Dobbs. The customer, Johnny Max Mount, had argued with an employee after being told that he could not smoke, Dobbs said.

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“He pulled out a handgun and shot her in the head,” Dobbs said.

A woman was shot in the head for asking a customer to not smoke in a restaurant. Let that sink in.

Violence is often senseless, but this seems particularly absurd. While it’s just as tragic, we can often understand violence in the context of drugs, gangs, even domestic situations. In those situations, there’s typically a connection between suspect and victim that, if nothing else, allows us to write it off as “not random.”

It’s the randomness of some crimes that disturbs us, because it means we have no control over it.

The woman who was shot in the head at Waffle House likely didn’t know the suspect, and her only connection to him was that he was a customer in the restaurant.

The tired saying about guns not killing people is true. Humanity is evil enough to kill without guns,  but they sure do make it easier. That doesn’t mean guns are the problem though.

The heart of the issue is that people are quick to escalate an otherwise meaningless confrontation to deadly violence. Some people, when they feel they have been wronged by society or an individual, resort to gunfire.


Unfortunately, there seems to be more of it happening today, and as a society, we better figure out why.

Is it mental illness? Is it isolation? Is it simply the evil inherent in a fallen world? The reasons are likely many, and the solutions must be as well.

While acts of terrorism grab headlines, the threat of random violence from someone you encounter while going about your day might be the larger concern. Mass shootings and other acts of unprovoked violence, unrelated to terrorism, have claimed more lives in this country than the Islamic State.

It makes sense, then, to invest as many resources as possible to understanding and reducing the kind of violence that claimed the life of the Biloxi woman.

Luke Horton is the publisher of The Daily Leader