The real answer lies in decoding a vexing paradox in our culture. By all statistics, Americans are becoming less violent and safer -- overall, violent crimes are down dramatically. Yet, in inner cities, murder frequently takes the lives of young men, and more broadly, in shopping malls, schools and other large public venues, the deranged are drawn to ever more frequent, horrendous acts.

Simply, the marginalized and disaffected among us too often view life cheaply.

That's not TV violence working on the psyche of a entire generation -- most children are growing up to be less inclined toward violence than their parents and grandparents.

More likely, it's a society with culture wars that characterize some folks as "takers" instead of "makers," because they don't have the skills to participate in the mainstream, or as "freeloaders" or "oppressors" on the basis of race, gender or other characteristics.

Politicians and pundits too often vilify groups to gain advantage, and may well do more to manufacture young men who pull triggers from the pits of mental desperation than super heroes firing laser guns on Saturday morning TV.

More self-control in rhetoric and authentic mutual respect could give us a civility and more embracing culture that diminishes the prospects for more tragedies like Newtown, Aurora, and wherever violent dysfunction visits next.

Professor Peter Morici, of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, is a recognized expert on economic policy and international economics. Prior to joining the university, he served as director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission. He is the author of 18 books and monographs and has published widely in leading public policy and business journals, including the Harvard Business Review and Foreign Policy. Morici has lectured and offered executive programs at more than 100 institutions, including Columbia University, the Harvard Business School and Oxford University. His views are frequently featured on CNN, CBS, BBC, FOX, ABC, CNBC, NPR, NPB and national broadcast networks around the world.

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