'These Neighborhoods Are Our Neighborhoods': The Best #CityReads of the Week

Our weekly roundup of the most intriguing articles about cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days.

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Our weekly roundup of the most intriguing articles about cities and urbanism we've come across in the past seven days. Share your favorites on Twitter with #cityreads.

"Newtown and the Madness of Guns," Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

After the Aurora killings, I did a few debates with advocates for the child-killing lobby—sorry, the gun lobby—and, without exception and with a mad vehemence, they told the same old lies: it doesn’t happen here more often than elsewhere (yes, it does); more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t—that’s a flat-out fabrication); guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder continue to repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.)


A sign is seen in front of a home in Newtown, Connecticut. (Mike Segar/Reuters)
 
"Why are mass shootings becoming more common?" Brad Plumer, Washington Post

Of the 12 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, six have taken place since 2007. (The Newton school shooting will likely rank second on that list.) Mass killings appear to be on the upswing — even as other types of homicides and violent crimes are becoming less frequent.


David Brooks highlighted this discrepancy back in July. For much of the 20th century there were, on average, a handful of mass killings per decade. But that number spiked in 1980, and kept rising thereafter. In the United States, there have now been at least 62 mass shootings in the past three decades, with 24 in the last seven years alone. This has happened even as the nation’s overall violent crime and homicide rates have been dropping.

So what explains the rise in mass killings?

"A Guide to Mass Shootings in America,"  Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan, Mother Jones

It's perhaps too easy to forget how many times this has happened. The horrific mass murder at a movie theater in Colorado on July 20, another at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on August 5, another at a manufacturer in Minneapolis on September 27—and now the unthinkable nightmare at a Connecticut elementary school on December 14—are the latest in an epidemic of such gun violence over the last three decades. Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. We've mapped them below, including details on the shooters' identities, the types of weapons they used, and the number of victims they injured and killed.

A teddy bear is seen at a makeshift memorial in Newtown. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Here's an older, but incredibly relevant piece on gun control, from the New Yorker:

"Battleground America," Jill Lepore, New Yorker

Ever since the shootings at Columbine High School, in a Denver suburb, in 1999, American schools have been preparing for gunmen. Chardon started holding drills in 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre, when twenty-three-year-old Seung-Hui Cho, a college senior, shot fifty-seven people in Blacksburg.

At Chardon High School, kids ran through the halls screaming “Lockdown!” Some of them hid in the teachers’ lounge; they barricaded the door with a piano. Someone got on the school’s public-address system and gave instructions, but everyone knew what to do. Students ran into classrooms and dived under desks; teachers locked the doors and shut off the lights. Joseph Ricci, a math teacher, heard Walczak, who was still crawling, groaning in the hallway. Ricci opened the door and pulled the boy inside. No one knew if the shooter had more guns, or more rounds. Huddled under desks, students called 911 and texted their parents. One tapped out, “Prayforus.”

A woman and a child pray over candles outside Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newtown. (Joshua Lott/Reuters)

"Cities: Rather Than Patronizing Young People, Give Them What They Ask For," Rustwire

Nothing makes me roll my eyes like a civic campaign aimed at attracting young people.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a worthy cause. It’s just that 90 percent of the time, the way they are executed ranges from cluelessly patronizing to counter productive to outright embarrassing.

"How eco-awful is your Christmas tree? Experts are split," Susie Cagle, Grist

By this Scroogey logic our own bodies are also intrinsic polluters! But the Sierra Club agrees: Rent a living tree instead, they implore the eco-minded. Don’t be responsible for yet another tragic early tree death!

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.