So yeah, this awful awful thing happened. Can’t escape it and nor should you really want to.
It’s an indictment on our civilization in the western hemisphere and it says a lot about us as a culture.
Now it’s happened – Again – there is finger pointing. As there usually is in the media, there is a need to appropriate blame and try and work out some silver bullet fix that will stop something like this ever happening again. We, as a culture, want to blame someone (which is hardly surprising, given the heinousness of the crime, and the natural anger and outrage to which everyone is subject over this).
Now targets like the NRA are easy. They campaign relentlessly for gun ownership and fight ANY legislation aimed at curtailing their ‘hobby’. Assault weapon bans are easy.
There’s also a mental health blog post going round titled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” which details the trials or raising a socially maladjusted child, be it from mis matched brain chemistry, social maladjustment or neuroses. There’s a lack of support for mental health that is lamentable in this country, and worse still, a belittlement of that condition.
Then there’s the inevitable Fox News finger pointing at the evils of Video Games, since we are obviously training and desensitizing the psychopaths of the future.
So what’s to blame? Where do we point the finger? What can we change?
Well, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. For each of these issues – and they are all issues – there are problems.
Lets take Mental Health first. The first thing to say is that Mental Health in the US (and in other countries) is shockingly bad. The actual care isn’t so bad, but the events and tracking leading up to being committed are. It wasn’t always this way, so why is it now?
That’s a pretty easy question to answer though. Money. The medical care system in the US is For Profit. Insurance companies are a for profit endeavor. Health care is an on going process an often just as expensive day to day for care as being in regular hospital. And guess what? Lots of mental health issues cannot be ‘cured’ per-se. They can only be managed. That means the costnever goes away. How do imagine the health companies view this? Think that’s something they want to sign up for? Hell no.
During the 1980′s, in his tenure as Californian Governor, Ronald Regan closed lots of the mental healthcare facilities in CA, because they cost so much to run. Think about that the next time you see a homeless person in CA, because most of them used to be housed in these facilities.
Mental Health care isn’t going to get a revamp or look over until we find some other way of paying for it that isn’t For Profit.
Then there’s the fact that the linked article above isn’t as germaine to the actual Connecticut shootings as it might originally seem. Sure, what the lady is complaining about is relevant to our culture, and she does have a point. But most g0-mad-with-an-ak47 shootings are NOT performed by people who are trackable, with warning signs that are easy to see. This blog post details it nicely http://thegirlwhowasthursday.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/
The fact is that while there needs to be far greater help for those with mental illness, it wouldn’t stop massacres of this nature – well, it might stop some, but there are those out there who are very good at hiding their own psychoses (like the nutter who shot up the movie theater in Colorado) or whom just suddenly snap. You cannot just lower the filters of what is a warning sign because in that case I guarantee every person who’s reading this blog would be put away at some point or another. We’ve ALL had moments of high stress where we’ve reacted badly and had other people looking sideways at us.
So, while Mental Health needs a good deal of work, it’s only one piece in the jigsaw.
The next is gun control.
Yeah, we need more of this. I don’t think there’s a question about that. There’s NO NEED for ANYONE to need 47 guns at home. There just isn’t. The general public is in no need of semi automatic weapons.
Really, the second amendment needs to be repealed completely – it’s from a bygone era designed to ensure that America could fight back to the UK if they tried to invade. It was designed to create groups that could assume police and army like stances, before there were any. There are both police and armies now. It’s un-necessary and frankly, dangerous. But – there is an entire class of people out there who are both afraid (and we’ll get into that in a bit) and also knowthey don’t matter. And they don’t. 95% of the US population is interchangeable and can be replaced and the world would keep turning and nothing would change. That’s the sad reality (and to be clear, I’m in that 95%). That’s a terrible thing to carry around and the fact is, holding and shooting a weapon is the opposite of that feeling. It makes you feel like the world would pay attention. You have a weapon, and the world would sit up and take notice. And for most people, that feeling is enough – but it’s such a powerful feeling that they will _never_ allow you to remove their guns, because then they trulywould have no self respect.
Now to be clear, that’s not every gun owner – but those who need to own 5 guns at home? I have serious questions about how big they think their penises are, and how afraid they truly are – both of “the gubermint takin’ over”, “The black people down the block coming to rob them” and “I don’t matter and if you take my guns, I really _won’t_ matter”.
And this is why the 2nd amendment isn’t going to go away – because the NRA has their finger very accurately on the pulse of this fear and resentment feeling that quite a lot of western civilization festers.
While we are there, lets also deal with this “I need guns for defence” specious argument. The fact is that no, you don’t need guns for defence. The majority of guns at home will never be shot by those owning it, even if confronted by armed robbers. Most of us do NOT have what it takes to take a life. In fact, stats show that you are 3 times more likely to be shot by your own gun if you have one in your home than not. Here’s a link making that point. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17922-carrying-a-gun-increases-risk-of-getting-shot-and-killed.html
And that’s assuming you can actually get the gun out. Most people will simply not react to a shooting situation the way they imagine, based on all the movies they’ve seen and games they’ve played. So yeah, here – go watch this – it makes my point for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QjZY3WiO9s
And lastly, lets also deal with this “More people get killed by cars – we should ban cars” BS. Yes, that’s true. The trouble is, cars are NOT designed to kill people, and guns are. There’s no apples to apples comparison here at all. If you took all cars away, the US would grind to a halt. If you took all guns away, it would just become safer. So yeah, that argument is a waste of time.
So ok, if we can’t repeal the 2nd amendment, what can we do? Well, we can do several things to help.
- Ban automatic weapons. The public doesn’t need them and nothing good can come of them having them, except certain people feel their penis size is OK.
- Ban all clips that contain more than 8 bullets. Why would you need more than 8 bullets anyway?
- Improve purchasing restrictions on weapons. I have to take a test (both written and practical) and have my eyes tested before I can get a drivers license. Why is that not the same for gun ownership? I can also have my license taken away for bad decision making – why is that not the same for guns? There needs to be a psych eval for a request to own a gun – that would at least highlight some of the nutters who want a gun for nefarious purposes.
- Remove the concealed carry right. NOTHING good comes of this. When the congress woman in Arizona was shot, there happened to be a gentleman nearby who WAS carrying. He came upon the scene of the actual shooter being sat on by a member of the public, who was holding his gun to keep it away from the shooter. That individual who was carrying was a split second away from putting a bullet in the member of the publics head, because he mis-read the situation. Concealed carry is a bad thing – of that there is no question.
- Remove the right for home stored weapons. You want to own a gun? Fine. It’s locked up in a gun club. As has already been demonstrated, you having one at home is dangerous and you are more likely to be shot by it than use it.
- Pull the NRA’s teeth. Lobbyists need to be refused access to senators and congress people – remove the access and the money goes away.
Now that would help a go some way to removing the availability of guns to those who snap. It won’t stop all of them – but short of repealing the second amendment, nothing will. At this point, all we can hope to do is make it more difficult.
Then there’s the media. Movies, video games and the news networks.
I’d like to separate the two – movies / video games and the news networks, because in my mind, they do two separate things.
The news networks push fear. Fear sells. Their stories are ALL about “Are you at risk from the new strain of Nuclear HIV? Story at 10!” – if it bleeds, it leads. That’s Selling By Fear. It’s no wonder that so many people want to own guns – the news is ALL ABOUT the latest shooting and all the drama and blood they can drag up.
Movies / Video games don’t make you afraid. They glorify and desensitize. When you have syndicated Television shows (Syndication means you sell your shows as a large block of 100 episodes or more – and it helps if each episode is individual, because more than likely the shows will be shown out of order) where one week, a character gets a gun shot wound and is close to death, but next week, he’s fine with no ill effects, it’s no surprise than an entire generation grows up thinking that a gun shot wound won’t stop you – you just have to grimace and carry on. None of these tv shows / movies show the reality of being in a fire fight – of shock and pain and on going medical problems due to a gun shot wound.
Video game are the same – there’s a argument that movies / TV and Video game are ‘just holding up a mirror to society’ – that they depict is just whats going on in society anyway. However, there’s a lack of understanding that while that might be true, it also perpetuates those attitudes. That gunning down masses of people is all Just Good Clean Fun.
Now to be sure – I’m part of that industry and I don’t want to believe that we are responsible for training mass murderers – and to be clear, I don’t believe that. The fact is that if you are disturbed enough to go on a shooting spree, then playing a few games won’t significantly make that worse. People were blowing stuff up and on killing rampages way before Call of Duty was on the shelves.
But, having said that, we _do_ owe a duty to be more responsible with what we make and show. We aren’t the problem, but we do contribute. And contrary to what the NRA would like everyone to believe, Gun Control would go a hell of a lot further to stopping nutters going berserk with an M-15 than stopping Medal Of Honor being made.
So there you have it. The three prongs of what needs to change to reduce (and note I said reduce – you will NEVER entirely stop events like this from happening – that genie is not going back in the bottle) massacres of this nature.
Tell Biden I sent you.