Within a few steps at an all-American strip mall just outside St. Louis, you can play Skee-Ball at Chuck E. Cheese's or buy a semi-automatic shotgun at Ruby's Guns.
At this busy intersection in the heart of middle-class suburbia, safety and fear live in the same neighborhood.
For three years in a row, Ballwin, Missouri was lauded as the safest city in the state by real estate website Neighborhood Scout. In 2014, the site ranked it in the top 10 safest cities in the country.
And yet it was here, a few weeks ago, that Michael V. Pona II, 34, allegedly started shooting at vehicles in the middle of the day. One of the bullets hit a Chevy SUV, lodging near a child in a car seat, police said. Another bullet shattered the passenger-side window of a Mustang. No one was hit.
Police are still investigating why the alleged gunman went on this shooting spree.
There's a disturbing familiarity to all of this.
FBI figures released last September show that "active shooter" attacks, in which a shooter opens fire on a crowd of people, have dramatically increased since 2000. The number of incidents more than doubled over the past seven years compared with the previous seven, the FBI study found.
The report found 160 active shooter instances from 2000 until 2013. In the first seven-year span, there were an average of 6.4 incidences annually. Between 2007 and 2013, the annual average jumped to 16.4 incidences.
The majority of active shooters are not considered mass killers, however, because a majority of these shooters kill fewer than three people.
We've gotten to a point where open fire can seem oddly ordinary despite otherwise extraordinarily safe surroundings. Perhaps even more peculiar than the frequency of such instances is our reaction to them.
"One of the problems is that a person can be perfectly mentally stable and pass a background check on Monday, and all hell can break loose Tuesday through Friday," said Steve Walsh, owner of Ruby's Guns. "And there's no way to know it."
But, in fact, there are ways to know it, or least to have a better idea of it. There's research that indicates what makes one gun user more dangerous to society than the next. Unsurprisingly, prior history is significant. And there are ways to keep guns away from dangerously angry people without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Researchers from Duke, Harvard and Columbia universities analyzed data from more than 5,000 face-to-face interviews and discovered that nearly 9 percent of people in the United States have self-admitted outbursts of anger -- some of them getting into physical fights and breaking or smashing things -- and also have easy access to firearms. The researchers say one way to lower gun violence would be to prohibit those with violent misdemeanor convictions, such as assault or brandishing a weapon, along with those with multiple DUIs, from purchasing firearms.
Serious mental illness, which can lead to involuntary civil commitment and thereby legally prevent someone from purchasing a gun, only accounts for about 4 percent of U.S. gun violence, according to study author Jeffrey Swanson.
Walsh says there have been times he has turned away potential customers in his store who didn't seem mentally stable to him. He's told others to take a class before he sells them a weapon. He wondered, when he heard about the shooting a few miles down the road, if the perpetrator was one of his former customers. There's also an American Arms and Supply gun shop within half a mile of the incident.
But he doesn't believe that any additional laws or restrictions will reduce gun violence. He says the problem is that the country has gotten too far away from God.
Even in Ballwin, a relative bastion of safety, most of Walsh's customers say they buy guns for protection. During the protests in Ferguson, the store was selling so many weapons, they couldn't keep enough guns in stock, his office manager said.
Meanwhile, he sees nothing unusual about his store's proximity to a place where "a kid can be a kid."
"Any parent that doesn't educate a child on how to use a gun is foolish," he said. It's a part of life, he added.
Not everyone wants guns to be a part of their child's life.
No parent, regardless of their gun ownership, wants their child hurt or killed by a stray bullet or an angry, out-of-control person. There should be no argument around the notion that dangerous people should not have guns.
Those who dismiss research-supported suggestions on ways to reduce gun violence have accepted that these kinds of shootings are, in fact, a part of life.
The truth is: They don't have to be.