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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

When it comes to fear, the Moore County shootings hit the bullseye

Is it simple vandalism or something darker? That’s still the question about the shootings at two Moore County substations that left thousands without power. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson, in his "On My Mind" commentary, says it’s natural these days to think the worst.

If they wanted fear, they got it.

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If they wanted confusion, they got it.

I’m saying “they” here, but I don’t even know if there is a “they.” It could just be one person who shot up two electrical substations in Moore County on Saturday, putting nearly the whole county in the dark.

It might have been a couple of drunks having target practice. It might have been some hunter ticked off that he or she didn’t get a deer.

But our gut feeling tells us something different, doesn’t it?

At the very least, it feels like somebody deeply upset with something or somebody in Moore County. At worst, it feels like a rehearsal for terrorists.

It’s going to feel that way until authorities find out more, or reveal what they already know. Local, state and federal officers are all investigating. Ronnie Fields, Moore County’s sheriff, said it appears the shooter or shooters knew what they were doing — they hit critical parts of the substations. But so far, the public doesn’t know much more than that.

What we do know, and have known for a while now, is that our security seems more fragile every day.

The institutions that we count on to protect us can’t protect themselves. The internet is flooded with scammers and hackers coming after our credit cards and Social Security numbers. The U.S. Capitol — the people’s building — was overrun by insurrectionists. It’s not surprising that someone might come for the power grid — one of the most basic things that holds our daily lives together.

I am for stronger gun control laws. I think there are far too many irresponsible gun owners. But I do understand the impulse to protect yourself when you’re scared. And whether their fears are fully rational or not, a lot of gun owners are scared. How they choose to deal with those fears terrifies a lot of the rest of us. And so the cycle continues.

Somebody with a gun — or some people with guns —thought it was a good idea to shoot up the power grid in Moore County. It’s troubling enough that they were able to do it. It’s maybe more troubling that we can come up with so many reasons why.


Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.