Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 20, 2013

Across America, a week of chaos, horror — and hope

(Continued)

"I think it's fair to say this entire week we've been in pretty direct confrontation with evil," Secretary of State John Kerry said.

All this happened as the Senate, with high feelings on both sides, voted down legislation that would have banned assault weapons and expanded background checks of gun buyers. The measures, sought for decades, only became possible after 20 children and six others were gunned down at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

The defeat of the bill "brought the whole Sandy Hook thing up again," said Rachel Allen, a lawyer from suburban Pittsburgh.

"There are so many senseless things that go on, and you see how people can come together," Allen said Friday. She recalled being moved to tears watching the first Boston Bruins hockey game after the bombing, when the national anthem singer fell silent and let the entire arena roar the song to a finish.

Events in Washington can magnify the sense of chaos, says Fischoff, the psychologist. "Most of our institutions that we use to stabilize ourselves and our country are damaged, crippled," he said. "What you're having is a kind of emotional, cognitive anarchy."

Late Wednesday night, reports emerged of an explosion outside Waco, Texas. As Thursday dawned, the magnitude became clear: A fertilizer plant had blown up with such force, it registered as an earthquake and wrecked homes, apartments, a school and a nursing home. As of Saturday morning, 14 people were dead.

"Is this week feeling a little apocalyptic to anyone else?" tweeted Jessica Coen, editor in chief of the Jezebel.com blog. "Boston. Poison. Explosions. Floods. Tomorrow, locusts."

Recent Aprils have often been cruel to America. In 1993, dozens died in the siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. In 1995, a domestic terrorist killed 168 people in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. In 1999, two students killed 12 classmates, a teacher and themselves at Columbine High School. In 2007, a student rampage left 32 innocents dead at Virginia Tech.

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