America has long been a nation of armed citizens. Why, then, is the mass shooting a recent phenomenon? Is it because of easier access to firearms? No, because there was a time when you could walk into any department store in the country and walk out with a semiautomatic handgun and the ammunition for it. Is it because of a glut of military-style weapons that have made their way into the hands of the public? No, because these guns — no matter how scary you think they look — are functionally equivalent to rifles that have been readily available for more than 100 years. Is it because we can buy high-capacity magazines? No, because those have been on the market for more than half a century.
So what has changed? You don’t need to look any farther than Arcadia for one answer. From 1947 until 2002, G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital served as a treatment center for the mentally ill. At its height, 1,200 beds were occupied and it was the largest employer in DeSoto County.
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