It’s truly hard to imagine it’s been 18 years. Almost all of us feared additional terrorist attacks on US soil after 9/11. I still remember some of the initial polling in the weeks following the attacks that day. Over 90% of Americans thought we would experience a similar type of attack within the next year. That fear was exactly what the terrorists were attempting to achieve. Bin Laden and company knew they couldn’t defeat the US militarily, but they did want to harm our economy and create fear that would disrupt our everyday lives. For some time, that was the case. Thanks to the sacrifices made by so many in service to our country, Islamic terror remains a threat but generally one that’s battled outside of our country. Instead, the more recent form of fear has been brought about through the mass shooting epidemic.
Sidestepping the causation aspects that we’ve discussed at length, is this latest revelation from Gallup. According to Gallup’s findings, 48% of us have a fear of mass shootings. That's more than at any time previously. While the fear is greatest among young adults and women, it's at record highs among all demographics. The changes in behavior are also affected, 13% have purchased a gun themselves, while 12% deliberately avoid crowds and 6% go so far as to alter their shopping habits and other events that are in public places.
Like terror of 18 years ago, this too can pass as a regular fear in our society but only if we have similar success in ending these attacks going forward. This may prove to be a more difficult challenge than a defined enemy with a clear mission. Let’s hope we figure out a way to obtain similar success.
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