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Paul Turner: Will Las Vegas become moment when we quit going to public events?

Kasara Wise, 25, chalks the message “Sending Love Las Vegas. Stay safe,” on the plaza at the Spokane Tribal Gathering Place next to Spokane City Hall, Oct. 3, 2017. KREM TV invited the public to come write a message to those affected by the tragic shooting on Sunday along the Las Vegas Strip. Wise had a college friend attending the Route 91 music festival when the shooting broke out, killing 59 people and injuring 527. Wise reported that her friend was safe. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Perhaps now we have reached a tipping point.

Time will tell. But maybe one day we’ll look back and recall that it was the gun carnage in Las Vegas that caused significant numbers of people to start avoiding crowds and public events.

People everywhere, including Spokane.

No doubt there are those who already steer clear of movie theaters and other venues where previous mass shootings have taken place. But for many, this macabre risk assessment had been only half-serious.

Maybe that has changed.

Oh, sure. There will be football stadiums full of people this weekend. Military jets flying overhead. Moments of silence. Thoughts and prayers. And a rah-rah show of resolve.

You know. We will not let this insanity win. Et cetera.

But maybe it’s too late. Perhaps it already has.

At least some of us are so tired of this violence, and so utterly convinced it is not going to change.

And when you stop believing there is any reason to hope for solutions, about all you can do is remove yourself from the potential lines of fire.

Easier said than done.

Once it was absurd, dark humor – the darkest – to ask yourself, “If I go to that event, what are the chances members of my family will get shot?”

It was a reflection of the cynical outlook on society that sometimes seemed necessary to cope with modern American lunacy.

Now? Sure, we’ll still go about our business, day after day.

We’ll shrug and shake our heads when the next one of these slaughters plays out. We’ll talk about being numb. Again.

We will turn off the TV and shuffle out of the room when the talking heads say the same things they always say. “Something needs to be done.”

But little by little, we will start to accept that we might get shot by a stranger someday. Really accept that as possible reality.

What an impossibly bizarre concept.

We’ll try to get our heads around the idea that it actually could take place. Because that is what happens in America. People get shot.

Over and over.

That nagging seed of doubt about individual safety in the back of our minds might sprout and grow into something more than a jaded awareness of current events. Maybe it will become the sort of fatalist resignation where the impossible becomes merely improbable.

It’s a big difference.

Maybe that difference is enough to keep you home, instead of going to ArtFest.

No doubt, for those of us in the Spokane area, the recent tragedy at Freeman High School serves as a somber reminder that anything bad that happens elsewhere can happen here, too. Believing otherwise is to be in deep denial.

Braying about being armed and able to defend yourself misses the point that it would not have helped in Las Vegas.

So is it paranoid to actually formulate the thought that going to, say, Bloomsday or Hoopfest, involves the risk of being randomly shot at?


Is it something we are forced to consider in 2017?

Of course.

You don’t have to be a mystified, white-haired great-grandmother to say it.

What has the world come to?

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