Monster unleashed, needs cage
TBO.comOur government is contemplating a ban on guns. Can you believe it? Even if it applies only to assault weapons, it's already been tried. It didn't work the first time and it won't work now.
Published: January 20, 2013
Published: January 20, 2013
Don't get me wrong. I hate assault weapons as much as anyone. No one needs that type of gun for personal use. Neither hunting nor target shooting requires high-powered, rapid-fire guns. Assault weapons are strictly suited to one thing: mass murder. Yet, banning them only makes gun enthusiasts want them more. Witness the recent boom in sales brought on by the mere suggestion of a ban.
Requiring universal background checks before purchase has been proposed. Though most states already require it when the gun is bought in a store, new laws would extend the requirement to sales between individuals and at gun shows. That's a start, but Adam Lanza, shooter in the recent Connecticut massacre, didn't have a criminal record and he didn't buy the guns. They belonged to his mother, the first person he shot.
Another suggestion is a ban on ammo magazines holding more than 10 rounds. This might at least slow a shooter down, resulting in fewer deaths from one incident. But it wouldn't have done anything to lessen the tragedy for Gabby Giffords and six people killed at her side two years ago.
So when did guns become the accepted way to handle discontent? When did it become cool to shoot someone? When did it become acceptable to blow away a roomful of strangers just because you want to, or because they ticked you off by simply being there? When did a mentally ill person's right to privacy trump the right to life for all the rest of us? (Yes, that's right. Most psychiatrists do not report violent patients to the police for fear of breaking HIPAA laws.)
So when did all this begin? When Hollywood and Silicon Valley said so, that's when. When nearly every movie and video game, at least the high-grossing ones, became "shoot-em-ups" featuring a plethora of the very assault weapons that now threaten us all. That's when violence as entertainment became the norm, with one significant caveat. In movies and games, no one ever seems to pay the price for their violence.
Isn't it time we do something to discourage this culture of violence? If banning assault weapons won't work, if limiting magazine size has limited effect and if background checks only weed out people with a criminal record, what's left?
We need to swallow the bitter pill of recognition that by valuing entertainment more than our children, or even our own lives, we fostered this culture of violence. We need to admit that death is not entertainment; neither is it a game.
We need to enact tough restrictions on violent video games and demand that movies depict violence as abhorrent, not cool, and show that it has long-range consequences for the shooter, as well as the victims.
We can't wait for our leaders to do it. Even our attorney general seems to think gun trafficking is a game he can play with impunity. We, the American people, need to take action. No one pretends it will be easy or even successful, at first. But we've got to start somewhere, and we've got to do it now. We unleashed this monster, and only we can get it back in the cage.