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Monday, January 21 , 2019, 8:58 am | Fair 54º


Kids Speaking Up: Casualties of the Recession

Mass shootings and other gun violence may have their roots in a moribund economy

Unemployment and insolvency seem to be present everywhere. As of last month, 8.5 percent of our workforce is jobless, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen more than 40 percent, and the Gross Domestic Product (our economic output) has dived to levels not seen since the Great Depression. The ordinary American is inundated with statistics and figures that have driven our consumer confidence to the lowest levels in recorded history. But amid of all these mind-boggling data, there are also morbid numbers of human casualties that may also have taken their roots in the recession.

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Anjian Wu

During the Great Depression, myths of stress and frustration described people “hurling themselves from windows” and “pedestrians picked their way delicately between the bodies of fallen financiers.” The reality of suicides and killings, however, could not be more pronounced when considering that a total of 57 deaths have occurred over the past month. From Samson, Ala., to Graham, Wash., instances of shootings and rampages share a common characteristic, the troubled unemployed worker.

Perhaps even more shocking is the temperament of the shooters themselves. Their trigger-happy attitude often take four to 13 other innocent people with them. In Binghamton, N.Y., a gunman entered an immigrant center and killed 13 people before killing himself. Jiverly Wong, the identified killer, was a 41-year-old Vietnamese immigrant and evidently upset about losing his job and about people degrading him for his limited English. In Oakland, Lovelle Mixon, 26, was stopped by police and fatally shot two police officers and killed two more in a gunfight in which he was also killed. Mixon’s relatives explained that he had been aggravated about not finding work and dreaded the idea of returning to jail.

The list of these heart-breaking accounts goes on and on, endlessly. As citizens of a country struggling with its prevalent Gun Culture, we will never truly be shielded from reckless and selfish killings. Just three years ago, we, as Santa Barbara residents, saw our own tragedy when Jennifer San Marco shot and killed seven people, including six postal workers, before committing suicide, reminding all of us that even the most brutal murders we watch on the news can hit home in a relatively peaceful town such as our own. It makes us question how safe we truly are, especially when we consider there have been more deaths from domestic shootings last month than from U.S. casualties in Iraq since President Obama’s inauguration. Our country itself may be turning into its own battleground.

Although we individually may not have the capability of creating jobs or stimulating the economy, we can still be attentive, diligent and wary in the community. The effects of gun violence often extend much further than the families of the suspect, but also to the many innocent victims and their communities. It is a brutal world out there, and we need to protect our most valuable asset, our loved ones.

Dos Pueblos High junior Anjian Wu is a member of Kids Speaking Up, a local group working to educate youth on social, national and political issues and inspire them to write.

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