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America Breaks Down: The Anatomy of a National Nervous Breakdown

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Another shooting, another day in America.

Or so it seems.

With alarming regularity, the nation is being subjected to a spate of violence that terrorizes the public, destabilizes the country's fragile ecosystem, and gives the government greater justifications to crack down, lock down, and institute even more authoritarian policies for the so-called sake of national security without many objections from the citizenry.

Take this latest mass shooting that took place at a small church in a small Texas town.

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The lone gunman--a former member of the Air Force--was dressed all in black, wearing body armor, a tactical vest and a mask, and firing an assault rifle.

Devin Patrick Kelley, the 26-year-old gunman, was described as a "regular guy" by those who knew him.

This "regular" guy's shooting rampage left at least 26 people.

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President Trump and the Governor of Texas have chalked the shooting up to mental illness.

That may well be the case here.

Still, there's something to be said for the fact that this shooting bore many of the same marks of other recent attacks: the gunman appeared out of the blue without triggering any alarms, he was dressed like a soldier or militarized police officer, he was armed with military-style weapons and clearly trained in the art of killing, and the attacker died before any insight could be gained into his motives.

As usual, we're left with more questions than answers and a whole lot more fear and anxiety.

That sense of unease is growing.

How do you keep a nation safe when not even seemingly "safe places" like churches and rock concerts and shopping malls are immune from violence?

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The government's answer, as always, will lead us further down the road we've travelled since 9/11 towards totalitarianism and away from freedom.

Those who want safety at all costs will clamor for more gun control measures (if not at an outright ban on weapons for non-military, non-police personnel), widespread mental health screening of the general population and greater scrutiny of military veterans, more threat assessments and behavioral sensing warnings, more CCTV cameras with facial recognition capabilities, more "See Something, Say Something" programs aimed at turning Americans into snitches and spies, more metal detectors and whole-body imaging devices at soft targets, more roaming squads of militarized police empowered to do random bag searches, more fusion centers to centralize and disseminate information to law enforcement agencies, and more surveillance of what Americans say and do, where they go, what they buy and how they spend their time.

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John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's aggressive, pioneering approach to civil liberties has earned him numerous accolades and (more...)
 

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