I really do think it is partly due to where you live, and partly due to getting wider media coverage, so when there's no local crimes, you hear about national ones.That's a point. I remember the TET offensive very well. To an extent your idea that Americans have been sheltered form violence in the last 30 to 40 years is true. But that is a sheltering from military actions, and until Iraq there were few.
We don't know poop-loops about what is happening in Iraq on a daily basis, so from that point of view I can agree.
On the home front the news media gives us every gory detail of just about everything else. They even break away form regular programing to give us a look at a high speed chase happening on the other side of the country.
We sure as heck watched the "big burn" at Waco, and extensive coverage of 911.
Again my point is that we are becoming desensitized to violence. Drugs have brought the violence out of the darkness and onto a location near you.
There were four men shot in a very upscale area of the Tucson Foothills over the week end. It was promoted almost to a point of overkill by the news media. (No pun intended.)
Violence, especially drug vilolence isn't just on the wrong side of the tracks anymore.
I think I mentioned it before, but I'm not sifting back through the thread to check...when I grew up in NJ, EVERY NIGHT in the news there was a story about another murder (or two) in NYC. I was convinced NYC was a HORRIBLE place to go, because people were always being murdered there (especially in Central Park). I now live in a place where I can leave doors unlocked and never worry. But, when I visit NY and NJ, I also don't hear about as many crimes as I used to. My boyfriend's cousin is a cop in NYC, and asked him about taking the subway to a particular stop at night...he asked because when we were both younger, you'd NEVER take a subway through there if you valued your life. His cousin laughed at him for asking...told him there's no reason to worry, and that's why they have the transit cops at those stations, to keep the crime in check. It has gotten quite a bit better since when we were kids.
I know it's rather shocking when it hits home, but the change isn't that there's more violence, but rather cops aren't waiting around to get shot at before they stop someone from approaching them. A cop pulling a gun faster isn't a sign of more violence, it's a sign that cops are taking more measures to avoid being victims of that violence. When I was a kid, cops were killed in the line of duty more often...they've taken measures to stop that.
And, yes, there are always sickos in society who act violently or oddly...children cage fighting would be an example. This isn't any more or less than it was before, just the media coverage is such that you hear about it more. Again, when I was a kid, I rarely heard about that sort of stuff across the country, just the local stories...there was plenty of local news to report. Now, if there's no local story, we all hear about the story somewhere across the country. It can give the perception there's more crime, but it doesn't mean there really is.