12 Oct, 2015
Just before sundown on Thursday 1 October, an old man charged across the main street of the little town of Inglis, Florida. He was expecting trouble. Someone had recklessly fired a pistol in public, and Buzz Terhune intended to have words about it.
The horror that unfolded in the next few minutes has become so mundane, so everyday, that it no longer makes national news. Terhune was marching headlong into the 1,000th mass shooting in the United States since the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre almost three years ago.
Just a few hours earlier, a gunman in Oregon had killed nine people and injured nine others at a community college. It shocked the American conscience. But what happened to Terhune and three other people, and has happened to thousands of others across the country, went unnoticed. Shootings that injure or kill four or more people – mass shootings – have become commonplace in American culture.
An examination of the details, though, reveals mass shooting number 1,000 to be, like all the others, a human cataclysm. Broken hearts and bullets, an affair in which the roles of victim and perpetrator flip in an instant.