Well, here we are yet again. Staring down the harsh reality of yet another madman killing many people for no reason. The videos I have seen, show it was in fact a massacre.
And, yet again, the media and the majority have shifted focus away from the madman himself, and put the responsibility of the event on the weapon – and the millions of Americans that own the same exact rifle. Myself included.
Even on NPR this morning, people were barking the familiar rhetoric of gun control, and passing “tougher” laws to prevent these shootings from happening.
Want the reality? You will never be able to pass ANY law that will prohibit these events. They will continue to happen. There are two primary reasons for this.
Violence is deeply seeded in our Culture.
I have said it before, and I will say it again and again. The number of guns in our country has nothing to do with our violent culture. Just like the number of calories in a pint of ice cream has nothing to do with chronic obesity. The issue is much larger than that. We are a culture that is ENTERTAINED by violence.
We line up on opening night for the latest Jason Bourne spy movie full of guns, death, shooting, and sniping. We say “that was a really good movie.” We watch Rambo shoot up small towns, and Django go unchained and shoot people in the heart. We binge watch Law and Order, NCIS, and countless other murder/crime shows. We align positivity with killing. The same thing happens, perhaps even more pervasively with video games. They actually let you get into the mind of a sniper…sneaking around an urban city (airports even) blasting people, sending blood flying. And, most kids are playing these games on a loop for weekends at a time.
Again, we are ENTERTAINED by this. It’s how we pass our time.
These activities – violent movies, video games, and music – saturate our minds and desensitize us to violence. It becomes “just” a movie. “Just” a game. I’ll just re-spawn. No big deal.
On the back end of a tragedy? We get the media sensationalism. The 24-hour saturation coverage with every little detail. Every video, every interview. The news becomes entertainment. We learn to put these people on a pedestal. People who are in a marginal mental state might see this as a chance for them to exact revenge. To go out with a bang. They, too can literally change the course of a nation with 5 minutes of insanity.
But the media will never stop. These tragedies translate into millions of eyeballs, glued to their screens. And, those eyeballs mean big advertising dollars. Just watch these ads, and we’ll return to coverage of the latest tragedy.
Even the earliest DNA our culture and society is built upon, has a foundation of violence. We killed millions of Native Americans. Millions of animals. Bison were sniped from trains for fun. The Wild, Wild West was called that for a reason. People shot each other in the streets. How about the Civil War? Piles of Americans killed by Americans.
Thinking we can reverse hundreds of years of deeply seeded cultural violence by limiting magazine capacities, or types of rifles is, sadly, laughable.
The weapons this shooter used were all legally obtained.
The person that bought these rifles, had no criminal history. Not even a speeding ticket. No mental health flags. So the belief that “expanded background checks” would have made a hint of difference here is totally false.
The rifles themselves were legal. They were legally obtained, and all legal. Current reports indicate at least one semi-automatic rifle was equipped with a bump-fire stock which allows for “simulated” automatic fire. These devices are all legal and are available online for about a hundred bucks. You can also just buy a book on Amazon right now, that will show you how to (illegally) convert your AR-15 to automatic fire.
It is currently INCREDIBLY illegal to possess ANY weapon that is capable of automatic fire, unless you have the appropriate approvals to do so. We need to make that clear. Under the National Firearms Act you must be fingerprinted, pay an additional tax and fees, wait about a year, and be approved by the government. And that is the easy part. It is also illegal to import any automatic weapons, and domestic manufacturers are limited to law enforcement and military. So that means a very limited supply of guns, and a very high price tag. Most full-autos I have seen retail for between $25,000-$40,000. Sounds like appropriate gun control already in place.
So How do we prevent these shootings from happening?
Since there are millions and millions of high-capacity magazines in circulation, limiting them will do nothing. We cannot count on a person intent on murdering mass amounts of people to suddenly obey a law like that. We also cannot look at rifle actions, pistol grip styles, or any of the myriad red herring arguments out there. They provide feel good, knee-jerk legislation that makes lazy lawmakers look heroic. Yet those actions do nothing.
So we must pivot our action plan from one of prevention to preparation.
- Cities need to design smarter venues. Places like the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the Route 91 music festival were not designed to accommodate the potential for a massacre. Venues need to be prepared with tactical medical kits, with an emphasis on GSW readiness – clotting materials and tourniquets.
- Cities should also invest in Boomerang technologies. These devices will instantly pinpoint the location of a shooter and appropriate countermeasures can be implemented. It took LVPD 17 minutes to identify where the shots were coming from. These devices can also help with other crimes, not just infrequent mass shootings.
- People should also be prepared with even basic first aid. We need a national push for people to learn first aid, and how to care for gun shot wounds, vehicle impacts, and stabbings.
- This one is a big one:
We need to start making foundational changes in our media. For starters, implement an updated movie and video game rating system that allows the identification of violence-only content. I could care less if my kid sees a female breast in a movie. But don’t want him seeing a head get shot off. Empower parents through a nationwide awareness campaign of the effects on children and violence. Do a better job of protecting kids from the desensitization.
This also applies to schools. Stop the fear mongering lockdown love. It seems like schools are just itching for the lockdown. Just last week a man with a warrant was pulled over in a town out here, and the local school (2 miles away) was locked down. Gross overreaction meets desensitization and needless fear among our kids in their formative years.
And lastly, the news media needs to be reformed when it comes to reporting these incidents. We really do not need the saturation coverage and associated glorification of these people. I know division is both a product and a revenue generator for the media conglomerates, but a tragedy like this is not the time. Report on the facts, briefly, and move on.
Why Won’t Any of these things Get Done?
In America’s healthy capitalism the dollar dictates all. We may think we are willing to make the changes we all want, but once the familiar pang of tragedy wanes, we will forget and move on with our lives.
The news will never change. The entertainment industry will not modify its rating systems. Parents, overworked and under-equipped will not keep their kids from playing video games in the basement. And, gun owners like myself will not give up our rights to own the guns we are allowed to own.
So I suggest we start preparing for how to deal with these events when they do occur. We’ll continue to post how #strong a city is on Facebook, send some thoughts and prayers, and maybe change a profile picture or two.
It’s the American way.
Featured image courtesy CNN.