In Oregon, at the Umpqua Community College, a 26 year old coward decided to shoot some people, especially targeting Christians, and if he got a few others who didn’t qualify, that was not a problem for him. He went into a location that was, for all practical purposes, a “gun free zone,” secure in the knowledge it was likely that he had the only weapon. (Legally, the college cannot ban lawfully carried weapons on campus.) No one could stop him from his murderous rampage. The powers-that-be in the college administration had clearly bought into the lie that if we all disarm, the bad people will pity us and leave us alone. So, the administration armed their lone security officer with a piece of wood, content with the notion that he would use it to knock out any bad guys who might–but probably never would–attack anyone at the college.
President Obama openly admitted that he would politicize this event, perhaps reasoning that the solution to preventing shootings would be to have Congress and the Nation delete the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. In his address to the nation, the President ripped into the NRA (National Rifle Association), making it appear that somehow all of this could be laid at their feet because they’d managed to buy off Congress, alluding to their lobbying power. At the same time, he scolded Congress. (Frankly, there is some merit to his scolding of Congress.) And, while there is truth to the notion that the NRA grew to become a powerful lobbying presence in Congress (anyone familiar with its history knows that fact), it is not the cause of all the murderous impulses that leap into the minds of men.
Dawn Turner, a Chicago Tribune writer illustrates perfectly the position of the President (and virtually all of those who are for what is broadly called “gun control”). She wrote, “I thought that when the 20 children and six adults of Sandy Hook Elementary School were massacred in 2012 we’d become savvier about gun laws, and that the National Rifle Association would shrivel up. That turned out to be naive, because the gun lobby is a powerful god before which our feckless politicians eagerly bow.”
Not only is that position naive, but illogical. Indeed, within her otherwise excellent article, Ms. Turner actually scored some hits on the real problem. Coming close to the target, she admits that the “only answer” is to try and “imbue” those young men who are doing the shootings “with a conscience” and “anger management skills” so as to enable them to see that shooting is not an answer to a problem. She then make another hit near the center of the target. Turner said: “What’s clear is this: If these young men don’t value their own lives, we can’t possibly expect them to value ours. We lament their lack of a moral compass, but they also don’t have a road map.”
Excellent insight. Of course, it runs contrary to the earlier position which somehow puts the NRA as this evil monster responsible for all the shootings. (And, there is a “road map” for the moral compass, but that is a debate for a later time.)
On October 2, 2015, in the Marquette Park neighborhood in Chicago, a 16 year old was shot when someone walked up to him and shot him. Chicago gun laws are among the toughest in the nation. In spite of the tough laws, over 325 homicides have occurred from the beginning of the year to the end of September and over 1500 incidents involving guns have occurred. Guns are literally everywhere.
In its efforts to get some kind of control over the gun violence, Chicago tried to take away all guns from all Chicago citizens. The US Supreme Court decided the Second Amendment was still in the Constitution and, like it or not, Chicago did not have the legal right to disarm all of its citizens. McDonald v. City of Chicago, Illinois, 561 U.S. 742 (2010). But as we all know, the Supreme Court is made of mortals who pass on one day and there is little doubt that the day will come when the Court will take a different view of the Second Amendment and at the least, will alter the interpretation such that the owning (and even manufacturing) of guns will be seriously altered. We’ve seen the Court’s willingness to bow to the will of a minority of the people and overturn centuries of precedent, so we know the Second Amendment is not a real obstacle.
Gun Control Crowd Does Have a Valid Argument
In fairness, Turner and others who believe that taking guns away from people is the answer, do have a good argument with respect to gun control. But, it is not demonizing the NRA or those who support the Second Amendment. The real argument for them is the ease with which so many are able to obtain guns and the people who are entitled to buy them. Some, such as the shooter in Oregon, obtained his weapons legally. But, if one looked at his background, a number of “red flags” would have prevented this man from buying a gun, or at least could have delayed him. (The criminals will always have access to guns. But, that is an entirely separate argument.)
Could a system that was more refined (think “profiling”) have set off some “red flags” and caused law enforcement to at least investigate this young man’s rapid acquisition of weapons? It certainly is something that needs to be considered. Should there be legislation enacted that would develop a sophisticated computer analysis coupled with review by experienced law enforcement? Or should we do as the FBI and others do in targeting potential terrorists within our borders? While there would be push-back from many, I am convinced that the majority of Americans would rather feel safe than worry about whether the feds were too invasive of their privacy.
Many of my friends will step back from me on this issue, believing that it should be easy to get a gun and believing that the government is already too intrusive. It is something that concerns me as well, but frankly, we don’t have much of a choice at this point. We have to stop the terrorists. We have to curtail the ability of certain people to legally obtain a weapon. Personally, I believe that every responsible citizen ought to be able to purchase a gun. But, defining “responsible” can be difficult and defining “easy” can be impossible for some, but this is a discussion that collectively, we, as a nation, must perform.
Or, is there something more fundamental here, perhaps something more sinister?
Economic Depression Does Not Produce Killers
In the Great Depression (1929-39) there was wide-spread unemployment. The economy was essentially in a free-fall. Over 15 million people were out of work. Mixed into the economical disaster was geological catastrophes. The Dust Bowl, as it is now called, destroyed the farms and homes of over 2.5 million families. They simply left all they had, which was by then buried under multiple layers of dust, and moved elsewhere. Many of them–some estimate at least 10%–went to California. Bread lines were common. Dust blew from Kansas and Oklahoma all the way into Chicago and as far away as New York City. The nation was in chaos.
But, in spite of the chaos, in spite of the absolute impoverishment of millions, there were no mass shootings. There were no children walking into a school and shooting students. There were no Columbines, no Oregon-type murderers. There were not hundreds of young men skulking around the streets of Chicago murdering each other and other children. This is not to say there was no crime. There were shootings. But, not on the scale that it is, today. What we are seeing today in our society is an epidemic. We are seeing something that we have never witnessed in our society. The only time in our society we have had death stalking us in such numbers was in the Civil War.
The Weapon of Choice Can be an Axe
What we are witnessing today is only related to guns in that this is the weapon of choice in the current society. I contend that if every gun in the nation was destroyed, we would still see the violence, perhaps as much as we see today, or more. The killings would be with knives, spears, arrows, axes, bombs and other such weapons. By keeping our focus on the weapon–guns–we are insuring we will never solve the murder mystery. We will never understand why the children we are growing are killing us.
If that hypothesis be true, then we need to rethink the “gun control” issue. We need to focus on why our young men are murdering each other (and us). We need to explore the reasons why and what is creating the monsters amongst us. I suspect that if we were true scientists, true lovers of truth and would allow ourselves to truly investigate, pushing aside politics and certain business interests, we would discover the following are, in large part, responsible for the evil that stalks us today:
Movies and Commercials Alter Desires and Behaviors
1. Movies. Today, the violence in the movies industry is unprecedented. To say that movies are not influencing the minds of young men and women is to defy logic and demonstrable evidence. Ask yourself this question: Are the businessmen who spend millions of dollars for a few seconds of air time during the Super Bowl broadcast stupid? Or, do they really think that in a few seconds of time, they can actually impact the minds psychologically of tens of thousands of people? Do they really think advertising works? Do they really think their “message” can be communicated, as subtle as it may be, in a few seconds? Well, they keep coming back with their multi-million dollar commercials. Want to hazard a guess as to whether advertising works?
If a commercial can influence the minds of millions of adults, then what can an hour of non-stop imagery coupled with sophisticated acting and sound, layered with embedded philosophies, do to a young mind? Do you think there might be some impact there? Do you suppose that the movie industry might in fact be altering the notions of right and wrong, or investing children with desires that have no relationship to hard work, but instead convey the idea of earning one’s living by getting “easy money?”
The Gaming Industry Bends Minds
Add to the mix, the gaming industries heavy investment into the minds and psyche of our nation, especially the young men and women. These games are played into the minds of our children and even grown men and women non-stop, today. There are studies that show a serious psychological impact on the minds of young people. But, like Big Pharma, these media companies know how to fight and understand the art of deception. They have the deep pockets to invent their own “studies” and conjure up conclusions that defy logic and common sense. And, as we’ve learned over the years, even scientists and doctors can be bought. Data can be manipulated. And, like sheep, we prove over and over, we can be “had.” We have proven our stupidity in the face of hard facts.
Historians know this as well. They remember how the farmers who had ruined the land by over-planting and not letting the land rest, thus creating the Dust Bowl, would later return to the land and repeat the same mistakes all over again, ignoring the evidence that showed why the land had turned into a dust bowl. Even so, we as a nation are prone, when shown evidence that will deprive us of immediate pleasure, will always opt for ignoring that evidence, especially when shown conflicting data (conjured up by the big corporations whose interests are only in making money, irrespective of who dies).
The Internet is a Detachment Tool
2. The Internet. We cannot gauge the impact this medium has had on our children and their minds. They can see it all. Instantly. They can have a movie on any level–even porn–at any time. Parents are too busy working to monitor them. Their ideas of right and wrong are learned from watching movies or playing games on the web. They see violence as a legitimate avenue to get what they want. They come to de-personalize their world. They say things to others that they’d never say face to face with that person. Death has become an impersonal thing, something that has no emotion attached to it. They live in a fake world, acting as characters dreamed up by some game designer, doing things that are forbidden in the real world, developing appetites for acts that are surreal, until one day those appetites demand satisfaction by the real thing.
Moral Values are Taught and Demonstrated
3. The Absence of the Teaching of True Values. Children today are bombarded with conflicting ideas of right and wrong. They see people they admire whose moral values are nonexistent. They see a grandparent whose moral values are solid, but discount those values because they see in their own parent(s) a total opposite. Children will almost always go with what is easy, what is prevalent amongst their peers, and what “feels good.” Parents are failing to teach their children, depending instead on a school system that itself has no sense of true values, or if it does, has no time to teach (or does not want to go down that road). Only a few dedicated teachers ever manage to truly impact the lives of children under their tutelage so as to give them some absolutes in terms of morals.
Today’s schools shy away from fixing any absolutes on moral behavior, preferring instead to concentrate on the “positive” things in life. But, when it comes to telling a child that he or she should never do a thing that is positively immoral, the schools will typically defer to “someone else,” such as the parent, or the church to make such declarative statements.
Teaching a child that it is wrong to steal and that it is wrong to cheat is simply not done across the nation any longer by teachers, by and large, and rare is the parent who has sat down with their child and carefully explained why it is wrong to steal or wrong to cheat.
If a teacher dares venture into the arena of declaring it is wrong to steal or cheat (or any other moral value), he or she will typically couch their words into “suggestions” or will qualify their words to the point of uselessness. (“I don’t think that really is something you should be doing. I’m not saying you’re a bad child. And if your daddy did do that, I’m not saying he is a bad person. I’m just saying….”) They almost never tell the child why they should not do something, nor do they tell the child things they can do to help prevent them from doing something wrong. Everything today is relative. All of the counseling to children is based on the “warm fuzzy” notions of not making someone feel bad about themselves.
Children Who Were Consumers are Now Parents
Today’s parents are consumers of all the evil our corrupt society has produced so it is unlikely that they are going to be of much use in teaching their children true values. They grew up lacking a “moral compass” and it is impossible for them to direct their children morally. They are themselves corrupted to the point that they often see no wrong in allowing their children to be consumers of things that are shocking to those with real values and morals.
America is Growing Monsters Who Are Murdering Us
The sad reality is that we–America–are growing monsters. We are raising killers. They are now stalking us, killing us, and we lament and wonder why. We look to place the blame on everything except ourselves. Since the mindless gun is the thing that killed one of our own, it must be the fault of the gun, or so the frenzied mind recoiling in horror to the wanton acts of violence that hits us, wants to say.
No, it is not about politics. It is not about gun control. Is there room for gun control? Absolutely. Can we do better at removing certain kinds of weapons from our streets? Hopefully. Are there some discussions about gun control that should be had amongst us all, irrespective of our politics? Of course. But, the question is will we continue to ignore the presence of the elephant? Or, will we keep talking about the NRA and the guns our killers used to kill us?
We Are the Cause for the Killers of Ourselves and our Children
The real culprit is not guns and not the NRA. These are “straw men” and if we keep trying to take them down, we will continue to lose our children to the monsters we are growing amongst us.
We’ve created killers who cannot have remorse. The games do not allow remorse since the player knows the people are digital. The games are not real, thus the emotions they generate are not real. A gamer can kill a thousand people and walk away from the game happy, but not feeling remorse for killing so many people. The digital world of so many has merged into the real world and our children have carried over their lack of feelings into their real world. Emotional detachment became the norm for parents, and now their children and their children’s children.
And we keep wondering why the increase in senseless violence. We keep trying to make sense of it. Some keep lamenting the lack of gun control when the answer is in the mirror.
Sadly, as the farmers in the thirties destroyed their land by their greed and ignorance, we will continue, in America, to allow others to destroy the minds of our children who will then destroy us.