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Violence, Guns, and The Culture

A Conservative Call for a Culture Change

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Would banning guns prevent gun crime and horrendous murder sprees? Britain banned just about every firearm in the late 1990's in response to a school massacre. A decade later, Britain saw gun crimes grow to twice the level than before they were banned. While the number eventually fell below it's peak, it remains above pre-ban numbers today. In the United States, cities that have banned or made it difficult to obtain gun permits like Chicago and Washington, D.C., have among the highest gun violence rates in the country. Even if we just tossed the Constitution aside like many gun-control advocates would like, banning guns would be highly implausible given that there are over 200 million privately owned guns today. And does anyone think that violent criminals, gang members, and other psychopaths would simply just turn in their weapons? Were most of these weapons legally obtained in the first place?

The outlaw of guns would not stop people from acquiring them any more than drug laws stop people from easily getting any and all forms of narcotics. Making guns illegal will do little to stop illegal gun ownership. Yet it’s also true that allowing people to more easily and lawfully carry weapons can stop atrocities. It is probably no coincidence that mass shooting regularly happen in "gun free zones" like schools, colleges, and in other public places like a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. John Fund noted that the chosen theater in the 2012 shooting was the only one of seven nearby (and not the closest to where the shooter lived) that banned concealed weapons.

If Guns "Caused" Crime, There Would be More Crime

Gun control advocates often blame the existence of guns for crime, murder, and violence. But the root problem is not guns. Tens of millions of people are lawful gun owners and almost all of them somehow manage to not be “forced” by their guns to commit murders and other crimes. Guns are no more the cause of violence than cell phone texting capabilities are for car accidents. Let’s blame the person texting and blame the person doing the killing. I doubt we’d feel better if homemade bombs were used instead of guns, or if planes were used as missiles. The Oklahoma City Bombing and 9/11 were both carried on without the use of guns. People who want to find a way to kill will kill. Instead many act as though sane people are about to go grocery shopping but then saw a gun in a drawer and decided to start killing people instead.

So yes, let us start putting the blame on the individual, first. But we can look deeper and ask what has shaped a person’s behavior. It's more important to ask what drives people to kill rather than ban the instrument people he decide to kill with. Conservatives point to two things that may continue to lead to violence: the destruction of the family and the decline of the culture. This is where conservatives always get in trouble. You see, talk about the culture and we are a bunch of prudes who are "out of touch." Complain about the violence and drug abuse and alcoholism that is targeted towards American youth by the culture and we are incessantly mocked as censor-freaks.

The culture is at a crossroads. People like Tim Tebow are mocked for living a Christian life and – gasp – being an unmarried virgin. But be a teen mom and you might get to be the reality star of a TV show on a network aimed to attract the eyeballs of other teen girls.

Does Entertainment Shape Personalities in Youth?

When it comes to entertainment, everything is darker, even our superheroes. Movie villains once used to be ridiculous caricatures that few took seriously. Now they are dark, demented, and even “cool.” Bad is good and good is bad. Characters like “The Joker” often become more idolized than their heroic nemesis - who are now often darker than ever, too. Everyone is desensitized to movie and television violence. And this is stuff that is being marketed to kids before they even hit their teens. When I was 10 I was playing Super Mario Brothers. Now? It’s realistic shooting games that are graphic beyond belief. The more violent the better. Movies glorify violence, have "cool" murder and death scenes, and irresponsibly show all the wrong uses for guns. And this is what young people grow up with during their formative years and we hope the decades of violence seared into their brains will have no repercussions.

Whenever there is gun violence, the politics starts to fly. It’s time for a “national discussion” on gun violence. But there is never a discussion on those who promote gun violence in the worst possible ways. The NRA does not promote gun violence. How often are murderers NRA members and carry conceal and carry permits? Ironically, those who want to ban guns are politicians and those who are or are close friends of the people who create, produce, or act in the most fantastically violent films and television shows and video games.

The Worst Combination

This is not to say that entertainment causes people to become violent any more than guns do. Most people can watch movies and have the ability to separate reality and fiction. But the profile of random shooters is often the same: young college aged males from broken homes with a history of mental problems. In 2010, the media reported on Avatar movie-goers who became depressed and suicidal when they realized they could never live in a place as wonderful as Pandora. We can't pretend that a culture that obsesses over making violence "cool" and then markets it to teens might not have impact on a certain segment of society.
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