Of firings and firearms

The death of the working class only expands the underclass.

Although shooting sprees are nothing new to Americans, we invariably react to news of such incidents with a collective sense of loathing and shock that gives the impression that we have been witness to a crime that happens once in a generation âÄî not several times a year. It seems incompatible with the common conception of Americans as a desensitized citizenry that has become indifferent to violence. Sadly, weâÄôve had to confront this horror too frequently even in this early season, as 2009 has already been a bloody year. Since the beginning of March, we have seen weekly âÄî if not daily âÄî reports of horrific killings from all parts of our country. Five dead in a Miami murder-suicide, a pastor gunned down at the pulpit, a gunman murdering 10 in a rampage across Alabama. Traffic stops and domestic violence calls have turned into Fallujah-esque street sieges that claim luckless policemen. People have even been caught in the sights of madmen while recovering in nursing homes and studying to become American citizens. According to the Associated Press, at last count there were 57 deaths as a result of recent mass shootings. Although truly senseless crimes, most share a narrative that makes sense of the morbid affair: a final, hopeless act of bitter immolation from a working class left in ruins by the âÄúGreat Recession.âÄù And thatâÄôs what this is truly about. This story has less to do with gun violence or self-destruction âÄî people who live in slummy urban neighborhoods suffer such tragedies on a daily basis âÄî than it does with our beleaguered working class slipping into the oblivion of indigence. According to Northeastern University professor Andrew Sum, of the 5 million jobs lost since the recession began, almost 70 percent belonged to blue-collar workers, mostly males. As these job losses mount and working class families are separated from their already meager prosperity, we know what to expect. The misery of widening destitution has only begun to make itself known.