Tuesday, October 6, 2015
A Tennessee fifth grader shot and killed his third grade neighbor because she would not show him her newborn puppies. He retrieved his father’s shotgun and shot her in the chest from the window of his mobile home, and then threw the gun out the window, leaving it lying beside her dying body.
Stories like this make me sad, of course, but like the President said after the murder of nine Oregon college students this week, we are growing numb to this sort of thing. We’re starting to think like one of the leading Presidential candidates who declared, “Stuff happens.”
But the interesting thing about the Reuters report of the fifth grade shooter that I read online was that about half-way through the article there appeared a video trailer for an upcoming film “The Walking Dead.” The video portrayed ghoulish zombies attacking people and multiple scenes of gunplay with both zombies and humans falling from the tops of tall buildings and other structures. After watching the video trailer I was allowed to return to reading the gory details of the Tennessee murder. I had to wonder if the fifth grade shooter was a fan of such movies.
And he wouldn’t have to go to a theater to see that kind of violence portrayed as “art”. The network TV channels have regular shows that depend upon mayhem to draw in their audience. A recent survey of T.V. violence found that this fall’s network shows depicted more violence than non-network shows. I wonder if the fifth grade shooter was allowed to watch such shows.
I strongly support increased gun control. I do not think we need to restrict gun ownership for those who are willing to abide by reasonable laws regulating the ownership and use of guns (except for particular guns that were not originally intended to be used by civilians).
Those reasonable limitations are: 1) registration of all fire arms (just as all automobiles are registered), 2) requirements for safety mechanisms on all fire arms, 3) restrictions on gun ownership by those deemed by law to be a potential harm to themselves or to others, 4) thorough background checks at gun stores, gun shows, on the internet, and in private sales to make sure that guns do not fall into the hands of those society deems unfit for gun ownership. It is hard for me to fathom why a law abiding citizen would object to any of those restrictions, none of which curtail his/her ownership or legitimate use of a gun.
Further I would support the repeal of all concealed carry laws and replacing them with much stricter laws allowing “carry permits” only to those who need them to perform specific law enforcement tasks or those who can show that they face eminent threat to their life and that they are capable of defending themselves without harming innocents in the process. I have yet to hear or read of a mass shooting that was prevented or even brought to an end by any civilian carrying a concealed weapon. If they were present they were hiding under the tables.
But all of that “gun control” will still not stop the wave of murder that numbs our consciences and our consciousness. We need to CONTROL the great love of violence which our society, consumes on a daily basis. And that is a moral problem. Those who produce our media need to be challenged to find ways to truly entertain us without having to depict violence of one human against another. And that is a moral challenge.
I’m not optimistic. The President sees little that he can do, given the strength of the gun lobby, except to “keep talking about it each time it happens.” The Republican candidates shrug and say, “Stuff happens. Get yerself a gun.” So gun regulation, even sensible gun regulation ain't on the horizon. And I’m even less optimistic that our love affair with violence depicted in our theaters and on our TVs will wane. Only when our fear of each other and our hatred of the “stranger in our midst” reaches a level that tears our society apart – on the pattern of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, and other places – will we possibly reach a level of exhaustion capable of bringing us to our senses. But don’t count on it.
Perhaps when Israel seeks peace with the Palestinians. Or maybe when hell freezes over.