Last night, a black-clad, helmeted gunman made his way into the Garden State Mall, shooting randomly. Still a favorite of mine, it is the mall that was the site of countless shopping trips in my youth. Those outings were always special times with my mother, involving shopping for school clothes or a special party dress at now-defunct department stores such as Gimbels and Alexanders, and punctuated with an ice cream cone at Wolfie’s Luncheonette or the ultimate thrill of choosing a new book at Schiller’s Bookstore.
Today, my daughter told me “no more malls, Mommy – we’ll go shopping online.”
How can I honestly tell her that those fears are unwarranted? What have we done to ensure the safety of our children?
Should we also avoid airports? It was just last Friday that a shooting rampage took place at LAX. Naval bases? Schools and universities?
Where is it safe in America today?
Why are Americans so inured to violence and lulled into such a false sense of complacency in the presence of the terror of mass shootings that we tolerate and even promote unlimited ordnance and ammunition available to all, with not more than the click of a mouse? A Google search for online gun purchase revealed no fewer than 55,000,000 (yes, fifty-five million) results. And what a bargain! I have shoes more expensive than some of those guns.
Should you be so inclined, you can buy an assault rifle on websites with particularly enticing URLs such as www.cheaperthandirt.com or www.grabagun.com. I don’t suppose that it is much more involved than ordering the latest best-seller on Amazon. Perhaps they even store your credit card information, for greater ease of purchase.
The shooting last night sparked chaos, lockdown and a manhunt. As of right now, the shooter is still at large. But thankfully, nobody died last night at the Garden State Mall. So, the terror and trauma of this horrific event will not even be counted in the statistics of mass shootings.
Immediately after Newtown, I wrote about terror and fear, American-style.
What has changed since then?
What shall I tell my daughter?
Almost a year later, what has happened to the earnest and heartfelt oaths that the lives of the innocent children and teachers would not be in vain?
The answer, of course, is not a thing.
A mother-daughter shopping trip to the mall is not supposed to be as fraught as an afternoon in Iraq or Syria. I don’t know what to say to my daughter. I could tell her that the odds are that everything will be fine. But I cannot assure her that we, as a society, are doing everything possible to safeguard her, because the truth is that we have done absolutely nothing.
I am ashamed.
Here in the United States, we are our own terrorists. I feel a lot safer in Tel Aviv.