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Texas Matters: Why is Texas violent?

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Turn on the nightly local news and you’ll likely witness the frequent “if it bleeds – it leads” montage of mass shootings, armed robberies, violent attacks, stand-offs and law enforcement showdowns.

It’s no wonder that the vast majority of people think we are living in a hyper-violent age—when just the opposite is true. Statistics tells us we are less likely to be a victim of a violent crime today than in past decades.

That misconception could be due to social media and the old school news media being incentivized to share and broadcast the latest caught-on-camera home invasion shootout.

And thanks to the video cameras everywhere, it's much easier to record infrequent horrible behavior.

But in Texas you are more likely to be a pulled into a violent event than in other parts of the industrialized world. And why is that?

According to the editors of the new book “Steeped in a Culture of Violence: Murder, Racial Injustice and other Violent Crimes in Texas 1965-2020,” Texas has a thing for violence.

The state’s history is slathered with brutality and bloodshed. This could set the stage for a set of values, beliefs, culture and expectations that problems should be solved with a punch to the face or the squeeze of a trigger.

Understanding the roots, underlying causes and context of Texas violence is necessary before we can begin to address how to break the cycle.

“Steeped in a Culture of Violence: Murder, Racial Injustice and other Violent Crimes in Texas 1965-2020” is co-edited by Brandon T. Jett, professor of history at Florida Southwestern State College, and Kenneth W. Howell, a professor of history at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas.

It’s published by Texas A&M University Press.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi