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THE killing of two shoppers and serious wounding of another at the Clackamas Town Center in suburban Portland was horrible. Our hearts go out to their families and friends. This is not something that should happen during the holiday season, or at any time.

It is not, however, a reason to be intimidated. The shopping malls and business districts of the Pacific Northwest are not dangerous places. The Clackamas Town Center in Oregon has been a front-page story partly because deadly craziness there is so unusual.

Even when the shootings occurred, the odds of being a victim were small. Some 10,000 people were at the Clackamas mall, and all but three came out physically unharmed.

A shooting is news. It should also be news that the rate of murder in America has fallen wonderfully in the past 20 years. In Washington last year the murder rate was 2.4 per 100,000 people, eleventh-lowest among the states. In Oregon it was 2.1 per 100,000, ninth lowest.

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And while random murders in public places get big attention, few murders are random. Retail districts full of holiday shoppers are some of the safest places there are.

Share a moment of sadness, but don’t let it short family, friends and colleagues of holiday spirit. They need it, especially after having read the story from Oregon.

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