Cincinnati Enquirer — Bystanders in a Crowd: Main Street Shooting Among Many Similar Incidents

by Cameron Knight
August 18, 2022
Cincinnati Enquirer

When people see the words “mass shooting,” many think of a lone gunman targeting civilians. But in Cincinnati, high-casualty events usually stem from fights in crowded places. The people injured or killed are not always intentional targets, but bystanders. Experts say a mix of the pandemic, more guns and a lack of conflict-resolution skills have given rise to these chaotic crowd shootings, and some believe things will only get worse.

… Conflict-resolution training and cognitive behavioral therapy have been staples of gun-violence prevention for decades. Youth probation officers in Cincinnati and rehabilitation programs offered in adult jails and prisons provide a variety of programs focused on this. But expert Jeffrey Butts said the foundations of those programs have been turned on their head in recent years.

Pandemic upended gun-violence programs

Butts is a research professor at the John John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. He said prevention efforts have focused on youth intervention and economic disparity. “That was all designed for a pre-pandemic world,” Butts said. “An erosion of civilization happened with the pandemic. It seemed like society was coming apart. People were scared.” …

Professor’s prediction: It’s going to get worse

Butts said this pandemic also contributed to the proliferation of guns. There was a surge in gun sales at the beginning of the pandemic. More people bought guns and more than before, he said, they were first-time buyers. “It would make sense that those people are the least prepared to know how to handle it,” Butts said.

Alongside the surge in purchases came a number of states, including Ohio, relaxing restrictions on carrying firearms. Beginning in June, those over 21 without a criminal record would no longer have to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun. “It’s going to get worse,” Butts said of the violence. “As people learn ‘I can have a gun and go anywhere with it,’ things will get worse.” …

[ read the article ]

The Enquirer/Albert Cesare — Police investigate the scene after a multiple fatality shooting at the Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square after a shooting with multiple fatalities on Thursday, September 6, 2018 in Downtown Cincinnati.