Two cases from different parts of the nation would appear to suggest that we are not.
The campus shooting at Northern Illinois University was just another horrifying example of what we value most coming under assault from something that, arguably, we do not fear enough.
We value good universities where learning and debate is carried out in an atmosphere free of oppression and intellectual control. We value the unique and experience that is college life in America, something that is envied across the world.
But our college campuses have become shooting galleries, high profile and oh so vulnerable targets where the deranged can fulfill their demented dreams andobsessions while armed to a scale of Rambo.
The Northern Illinois massacre looked a somewhat different from the Virginia Tech slaughter, but only for a short while.
As it turned out, the shooter, who at one point seemed to have once enjoyed a normal enough college career, was really a young man in trouble. Addicted to an ultra violent video game – we seem to manufacture and market those in abundance
– he was placed on medication, went off his Meds as the saying goes, was able to arm himself to hilt legally and with little trouble and procure military grade ammunition on the Internet.
Because of these circumstances combined our absurdly liberal gun laws, the horror of Northern Illinois was now well and truly on track.
In the case of the murder of psychologist Kathryn Faughey in New York, we see death as a result of the deployment of more primitive weaponry but again we are dealing with the aftermath of someone being allowed to go to the brink and beyond it with minimal intervention on the part of the law and its enforcing authorities.
Faughey, the daughter of Irish immigrant parents, had achieved the American dream only to have her life cut short by a repeating American nightmare, that of unrestrained violence free and on the loose.
As various laws currently stand, or in the clear absence of certain kinds of law, we would appear to have both a de facto and de jure acceptable casualty rate for all ages, and most depressingly of all, for our children.
We could do better as a society, much better.
But why is it that we have this gnawing sense that little or nothing will happen even following these and other recent tragedies that could have been prevented if sanity and common sense were our main guiding principles.