The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Terrorism, the shopping mall, and global gun norms

December 6, 2007


Remember the threat terrorism was supposed to pose to shopping malls? Actually, some of these warnings are quite recent.

For years, some have feared that terrorists might go into shopping malls and start killing innocent shoppers or service employees. Often, the warnings are associated with popular holidays like Halloween or Christmas.

Here’s how Michelle Malkin might handle the latest developments in Omaha — if she worried about the ready availability of handguns, assault rifles and other terrifying weapons in the US:

Reports are, of course, quick to stress that accused jihadi Shareef [killer Robert Hawkins] allegedly acted as a “lone wolf.”

He is not alone.

“Lone wolves” who believe in violent jihad [pathways to celebrity] add up.

Sadly, the U.S. leads the industrialized world in death by gun violence.

The narrative from yesterday is all too familiar. A distressed individual snaps, perhaps triggered by loss of a job or personal relationship, shoots a bunch of innocent people in a public place, and then kills himself (the shooter is typically male).

Most of the IR bloggers at the Duck are interested in the development and diffusion of international norms that affect the behavior of states.

Sometimes, I wonder why the U.S. is not more like the rest of the industrialized world — embracing universal health care, gun control, longer vacations, and other progressive ideas.

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.