Along with the chorus of voices expressing heartfelt thoughts and prayers for the children killed in the elementary school shooting in Connecticut and their grieving families, we are now hearing a chorus of voices proclaiming that we must end the violence with stricter gun control and a ban on violent video games.
Tragedies that defy logic and explanation cannot be solved with simple solutions. Would stricter gun control laws have prevented the tragedy in Connecticut? Would a ban on violent video games really reduce crime? The gunman obtained guns from his mother, who apparently purchased them legally, and even before any link has been determined, violent video games are being condemned as contributing to the tragedy.
Our ongoing series The United States of Hysteria continues as we now talk about the hysteria that follows any tragedy. There is a tendency to try to quickly and conveniently answer the questions about why something terrible happened, but that is more a human instinct than it is a useful exercise in preventing real problems.
As humans, we want answers because answers might lead to solutions which might prevent tragedies. Politicians fuel the flames of the rage about guns and violent video games and many will use a tragedy to position themselves with citizens. Group leaders with agendas also use tragic situations to promote their causes. The most immediate impact is on the politicians getting attention or the agenda being advanced, but that does not mean any problems have been solved.
I respect the 2nd Amendment, but no one needs an assault weapon. The U.S. ban on assault weapons, passed in 1994, was allowed to expire in 2004 and nothing has been done to pass another assault weapons ban. Columbine happened in 1999, 5 years after the assault weapons ban was passed. We would live in an ideal world if everyone obeyed the law, but those with the intent to break one law by committing a crime are not likely to respect another law that prevents them from getting a weapon to commit the crime.
And is it fair to blame violent video games? Wouldn’t it be nice if the problem of real world violence could be prevented with a ban on certain video games? When you consider that millions and millions of teenagers that play the most violent video games on the market every day and if you accept the reality that those who are blamed for being influenced by those violent games account for a percentage of video game players that is so small that it doesn’t even register on the radar, I think it’s time to reassess the blame placed on violent video games in the aftermath of tragedy.
Furthermore, the current suggestion that teachers should be armed is another argument that is increasing the population of the United States of Hysteria. I have heard politicians talk about teachers and staff being armed with a gun in a lock box in the classroom. How quickly would a gun in a lock box be put into use at the moment tragedy strikes? Any armed teacher or staff member would have to be highly trained on when, where and how to use a firearm. Anything short of that would be certain to lead to more innocent deaths. And if arming teachers was not mandatory, then most teachers would never be armed, therefore that would not be a legitimate solution.
The main thing that has changed today is that adults have learned to blame something other than ‘personal responsibility’ for negative behavior. Years ago, generations were taught that they were accountable for their behavior regardless of what they had been exposed to. Do you think parents in the past would have blamed “The Three Stooges” for any violent acts committed by their kids? As more and more Americans become part of the United States of Hysteria, we can see a direct correlation with the loss of ‘personal accountability’ in our society.
It does not serve a useful purpose to become hysterical following a tragedy and to accept, as gospel, the instant rhetoric espoused by many leaders. This is a time to think less about the quick simple solutions that are offered and more about the overall causes of negative behavior in the real world.
If you have become part of the United States of Hysteria, I hope you will reconsider your citizenship!