A few weeks back, Scott Levy did an interview with Neil Haley (@totaltutor on Twitter and at TotalTutor.net ) that can be found at Soundcloud. He comes in right around the 30 minute mark of the show. The subject of the show was the tragedy in Newtown, CT. Scott’s segment was on the blame that’s being placed on guns, video games, and movies for not only the Newtown shooting, but all the mass shootings taking place.
Scott’s background is that of a Marine who served in the Gulf in the early 1990’s. He’s someone who has been trained in the use of weapons. He is also an actor, having been in TV, movies, and short films, as well as video games (Medal of Honor: Warfighter and Army of TWO: The Devil’s Cartel). So he has a unique take on all three of these things being blamed for the violence. And if those aren’t enough, listen to the story he tells at the end of the interview about a life changing event that happened, not while in the Marines, but on the streets of LA.
I, however, do not have a background in the military or in acting (my 15 second extra stint on X-Files doesn’t count) nor do I have a background with guns. I have fired some of them: .22 revolver, 9mm pistol, .357 Magnum, and a .22 rifle. But that’s about the extent of it. I don’t normally play the FPS style games that are being blamed. I bought my first one a few weeks back to see what it was like. I have a very background, yet, everything Scott said I agreed with.
Banning guns is not the answer. There’s a quote I heard years back: If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. I wholeheartedly agree. Until something can be done about the criminal element having access to everything from small handguns to high powered automatic weapons, the law abiding public should be allowed to protect themselves be it with rifles or shotguns at home or carrying a concealed pistol. Neither of those things should make them feel like the bad guy. Especially when one of them might save your life.
If someone is intent on committing a crime with a gun, they will get one one way or another. If they don’t legally own one, they will get one illegally. Maybe by purchasing one on the black market or stealing one from a store or someone they know. They’ve already got their mind set on committing one crime so they likely don’t have any issue with committing another.
I think what the Journal News in NY did, releasing the names of weapons permit holders, was totally irresponsible journalism. Not only did they set those gun owners up for targeting by the criminals in hopes of getting their hands on the weapons, they set all the non-permit holders up as potential targets for criminals. The information may be freely available but I do not believe many criminals are going to request a list of this sort through public records. Now they don’t have to. The public is told it is/was the newspaper’s “right” to publish that information. Well I certainly hope it’s the public’s “right” to take them to task when someone is attacked for being or not being on that list. Is the next mass shooting going to take place because a neighborhood is targeted for being predominantly non-gun owners? Are people still going to say a ban on guns would have prevented it when, in reality, the total opposite is true?
A lot of people point to other societies (England, Australia, etc) that have bans on guns saying “Look! Gun bans worked there!” Maybe they did. But, that is not America. Those people are not Americans. They are of a totally different mentality than most Americans are. America is about freedoms. In a sense, we’re a selfish culture. It’s all about “me” and what “I” want. Most of the time this isn’t a bad thing. Until someone tries to take something of “mine” away. I would also guess that guns are not easy for the criminals to come by in those countries. People there probably don’t feel the same “need” to protect what is theirs. So comparing another country’s successful ban on weapons is pointless. A gun ban is simply the wrong way to go. It puts too much power in the hands of the bad guy.
Blaming video games and movies is equally wrong. It’s the easy way out, the lazy way out. They are not the “cause”, but possibly a contributing factor. I’ve watched violent movies & TV Shows. I do believe there is a plethora of them out there. Maybe too many, sure but that is what the public wants to see. Hollywood is a business that gives people what they want to make money, just like any other business. Yes, more often than not the “bad” is glamorized in movies and TV as well as the video games labeled as “violent”. You can shoot and kill people, run them over with cars, stab them, beat them up… the possibilities are pretty endless. But you can’t tell me LEGO Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Pirates, etc. are not equally violent? The only difference between the two is the “realism”. Instead of seeing blood and body parts, you see LEGO block exploding everywhere. Where the problem lies, is that society is not providing a counterbalance to it all.
Looking back at many of the mass shootings, the person(s) who committed them had mental issues. Mental health care in this country is sorely lacking. It is difficult to come by because people do not know where to look, they cannot afford it, or it is just not there. Friends, family, and school staff might not know what signs to look for. If they do see signs, they may be afraid to say anything for fear of retaliation. If a report is made to someone, it can be easily swept under the carpet, lost in a pile, entangled in red tape, or simply ignored. The system is overloaded and understaffed in the wake of constant budget cuts. The mentally ill do not have that counterbalance to help them understand and cope with what is truly real in life.
Parents, too, must shoulder some of the blame when it comes to kids doing these things. I’m not a parent but I do understand how hard it is raise a family and make ends meet in this day and age (I have friends who are parents). For your average family, both parents probably work. Mine both did. And if it’s a single parent family, chances are that parent is working 2 maybe 3 jobs just to keep a roof over their family’s head and food on the table. So the children are left to their own devices once they are out of school. They play video games or watch movies that are not appropriate for their age because no one is there to say otherwise. No one is there to explain that what they see is not real. That, to do that in real life, would have dire consequences. Kids become numb to the idea of killing and death because no one shows them the reality of it. Because parents are unable to spend time with and interact with their children, they do not see the beginning signs of a child with a problem. If they do, they may not even recognize what it is and chalk it up to “kids will be kids” or be too afraid to seek help because of the stigma attached to therapy.
Even when a parent or parents are around, they often try to be a friend, more than a parent. They give their children too many freedoms for which they are not old enough or mentally mature enough to handle. Even something that seems as innocuous as letting them on the internet, Facebook, or any number of other social sites can lead to problems. Unmonitored internet messaging and texting can be just as harmful. Look at all the stories about children being bullied through these outlets and the effect it has on them. They kill themselves or others and then the parents say they didn’t see the signs or didn’t know where to turn to for help. Health care system failed to give them the knowledge they needed.
Of course, there is the access to unsecured weapons belonging to family and friends. It seems like it should go without saying that weapons need to be kept secured and out of the reach of children. And just because a child is over 18, that doesn’t mean the weapons should be any less secured. Even if there are no children living in the household, they need to be kept out of mischievous hands. If a guh causes harm to someone because of it’s careless storage, the owner needs to be held accountable to a degree.
Anyway, the point I am longwindedly trying to make is that there is not one solution to the problems with the mass violence in America. One bill passed through Congress is not going to fix anything. It’s going to require changes in the healthcare system, in the mentality of Americans,in educating the public, in the raising of children, and in crime fighting. The problem is decades in the making and will take just as long, if not longer, to correct.