Three weeks ago we were faced with yet another gun-related tragedy. Violence was brought to an innocent sleepy town in Connecticut taking 26 young lives and 4 adults. A gunman broke into Sandy Hook Elementary school and opened fire on the unarmed crowd and took a score of 33 by the end of it and then cowardly taking his own life. In a country where guns are promptly obtainable to almost everyone, including semi automatic weapons and assault rifles, one has to wonder how the mentality of gun ownership supersedes the acts of violence associated with them.
When you look at the other countries for instance our neighboring country of Canada who has just as many guns as we do, but isn’t as populous as the US, but have exceedingly fewer accounts of gun violence, it doesn’t seem to add up right? I’ve listened to news reports discussing the effects of violent video games, films, and music contributing to these violent acts, but Canada/EU/Australia watch the same movies and plays the same video games and listens to the same music. So where is the disconnect?
Let’s back up 12 years to 1999 during the heartbreaking Columbine shootings. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold sauntered into their high school equipped with full flak jackets and several rounds of ammunition, semi automatics weapons, hand guns, homemade pipe bombs and by the end of it killed 13 innocent students/faculty, injured 21 and then took their own lives. Investigators, worked on this case for almost a decade, digging deep into the lives of Eric and Dylan, whom were depicted by the media as outcasts, tormented and picked on by popular kids for being dissimilar because of the way they dressed, the music they listened to, their obsession with cult films and associating with an outsider faction called the “trench coat mafia”. They listened to shock rock by artists such as Marliyn Manson whom the media proclaimed inspired their violent acts and incessant behavior. Yes, the music made them do it, yes of course, Marilyn Manson himself came out of the music like the Matrix and pulled the trigger. But in the end, the final report on these “so called” outcasts was not so true to first form. These kids came from upper middle class families drove decent cars, Eric drove a BMW, they were good students, interested in sports (baseball) had a good group of friends went to prom but had a penchant for getting into trouble like most teenagers. They were not the victims the media had portrayed them to be. One has to ponder that their lives were just too vanilla, so the media took whatever juice they could squeeze from anyone willing to reveal anything scathing. For instance the “trench coat mafia” with whom they never had any real association with was exploited all over the media; this was the answer, the youth revolted. Yes, the day of the shooting they did where trench coats but only to conceal the heavy artillery attached to their bodies, but this was out of necessity not because of an anarchist group involvement. How quickly these facts and thoughts get so hastily warped by the media, and warped they were indeed. Almost all accounts of the shooting reported by the media were 75% sensationalized. Not surprising.
When looking at some of our countries more violent gun related tragedies, UT Tower shooting, Kent State University, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora movie theater shooting, and now Connecticut, one has to remember that these weapons were all purchased legally. Another common denominator, all assailants had mental illnesses in one form or another yet had normal upbringings. Interesting.
And of course now we have the million-dollar question, gun control, to be or not to be? Is this really the answer? I used to be a big proponent for gun control for personal reasons because of the affects it had on my family by violently losing my grandfather to the hands of gun. However, I’m beginning to modify my position about this entire logic, and for a respectable motive.
For some implausible basis we think the government should control the climate by eliminating and making it sufficiently complex for citizens to purchase guns. OK. Well then if they are going to limit how, when, where, why we purchase guns, then let’s be fair, then they should limit violent films, music, video games and the exploitation and sensationalized media coverage as well. But let’s really dig deep here, what this comes down to is a sick society. When you look at Europe for instance who has just as many guns as we do and then some, their gun violence is considerably less than the US. What’s the difference societal speaking? Well, for starters, healthcare, education, longer vacation time, extensive maternity leave, numerous social programs to take care of the jobless, homeless, sick, and elderly are paid for through a strong tax program. Societies in Europe have a greater opportunity for higher education without paying a premium price and a weighted debt post graduation like most Americans. So what does this mean really? It means the more educated the society is, the healthier, stronger that society is at making better decisions. They are more focused on a career driven life without the dread of debt, rather than a materialistic unrealistic one. ON the other side of the coin we have to look at the media! There is no other media anywhere else in the world like the US, whose media is a corporation built on instilling fear to get us to watch their program. There is very little control over how or what the media reports here because of their 1st amendment right. As long as there is an ounce of truth they will report it, flip it, dramatize it and in return desensitize our society as a consequence. Violence is sensationalized all over the news every single day, all day. We are pummeled and brainwashed, whether it is through push notifications popping up on our smart phones or the ticker reader at the bottom of our TV screens we are slammed daily with the atrocious negative and violent events unfolding in our country, city, state and world. What do you get in a return, a desensitized nation that accepts violence as a standard occurrence in our day to day lives.
I found it interesting watching Anderson Cooper speak to a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School about a letter written to President Obama by one of the students saying “only military and police officers should be able to carry guns”. Anderson Cooper was unyielding about not talking about keeping the gunman’s name out of his media program as much as possible as to not give him any credibility or notoriety. However, great thought but it just places more focus on the violent acts themselves against the kids and faculty of SHES. The sensationalized gun control subject is all over the media. Let’s face it; the media is a corporate controlled business. They control what we see, how we should perceive it and reported what they want and how they want. I wonder how they would feel if the wheel was turned and instead of talking about gun control we started talking about altering the 1st amendment and controlled the media by only allowing them to report relevant newsworthy content instead of this one sided rhetoric we see/hear on a daily basis? I am talking about all media outlets, not just CNN or FOX, all of them they are all rhetoric riddled corporations with two true things in mind, money and ratings and they will go to any/all lengths to achieve these goals. The video games are one thing but they are in fact games as well as the movies, but when the media is reporting and validating this actual violence on a daily basis, one has to ask who the bigger criminal is? The media or the media tools such as movies, games and music. The media has too much muscle and authority on generating a certain atmosphere and giving a particular part of society the motivation to act out on what they are viewing in the news without remorse or recourse.
I think as a society we are better than gun control and really the only way we can ever begin to stop this violent madness, is by looking at our desensitized society and how news is reported and the control the media has over our society….because in essence this is the daily, inexorable loaded gun…in our eyes, in our ears and in our minds….