Ideas Worth Discussing Regarding Mass Shootings
I don’t pretend to have all the answers as to why there are so many mass shootings in the U.S. I suspect it has something to do with our insistence on having simplistic answers to every question, and with our inability to engage in discussion over important issues. But if you’d care to hear some utterly unfounded hunches of mine — mere lines of conjecture that may be worth following — read on:
-Violent video games have some small part to play. Most lack any moral repercussions and encourage players to randomly kill as many people as possible. Giving a kid a virtual gun and tons of virtual targets and rewarding him for every kill he makes is not a responsible thing to do.
-Violent movies have some impact. Like video games, their use of gratuitous violence makes people think that bloodshed is a reasonable way to resolve conflicts. Whether it is Top Gun or the newest Marvel movie, it all comes down to punching someone in the face or blowing something up.
-A media that fixates on the worst aspects of human behavior cannot be given a pass. The term “If it bleeds it leads” is a truism among those who provide us with the news. If it’s true that we are all looking for our 15 minutes of fame, then the most maladjusted of us get a pretty clear message regarding what they have to do to get it.
-Glorification of the armed forces has something to do with it. Like video games, there is never a question about right or wrong. Once they are sent into action, we are never permitted to question if what they are doing is moral or appropriate. And the soldiers, of course, have no say over who they kill, either.
-Our country’s weak rationalizations for why we always have to prepare for, threaten, and engage in war, is another variable. If those we entrust with the important decision-making never really have to make a case for why violence and murder is acceptable, why should someone contemplating going on a killing spree be expected to do better?
-The availability of guns has something to do with it. Opportunity makes the thief and guns make the shooter.
-Gun culture plays a part. The more people there are that are into guns and think they’re cool, the more people will want to live out their gun fantasies. I’ve only ever fired a pellet gun, but just having one in my hands gave me the urge to shoot things that shouldn’t be shot.
-Lack of mental health access is another aspect.
-I suspect the over-medication of people for mental health issues has a rather large influence. I have no evidence to back this up, but then again, when was the last time you saw a study on how many mass shooters were on medication? I don’t think the pharmaceutical industry would want such links to ever be made, do you?
-I don’t think we are living in a sane society. That alone would cause people to do insane things. I would think that people who are not grounded in reality, people who have no meaningful attachment to others or themselves, would be more prone to senseless acts of extreme violence. One would have to be extremely disassociated from the society in which they live in order to contemplate such behavior.
-Taking God out of education is another aspect worthy of consideration. Yes, I know just how slippery a slope this can be, but the words “Thou Shall Not Kill” should be taught to children, and it should be backed by the weight of institutions or traditions that have some moral authority. I fear the thought of extremist Christians as much as anyone, but this aspect should not be automatically dismissed and perhaps ways around it (e.g. a class where people of various faiths can address students, stressing universal precepts) can be found.
There you have it, a few short, bullet-pointed (no pun intended) thoughts I believe worthy of further discussion. But as I said earlier, we are living in a country and a time when uncomfortable discussion about divisive issues is difficult if not impossible. While I know a lot of people would never watch Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine because they think they know who Michael Moore is and think they know what his argument was, in fact he was just trying to ask the questions. I didn’t think it was one of his better movies and don’t think he had a satisfactory answer at the end of the film, but he did attempt to look at the subject of mass shootings without trying to make the evidence fit a pre-decided agenda. If only others were willing to do the same.