FEATURED IN LEADERSHIP
“You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security, and I will go door to door if I have to, but I'm gonna convince Americans that I'm right, and I'm gonna get the guns.”
That is a line uttered by fictional Commander and Chief Andrew Shepard played by Michael Douglas in the movie An American President. He makes the above declaration after delivering a heartfelt speech about love, country and character near the end of the movie. At the time (17 years ago), I never thought much about the Second Amendment: I only owned a couple of handguns, wasn’t a hunter and as a police officer I was allowed to have and carry a firearm virtually any time I wanted.
And while the movie was considered a romantic comedy and overall I thought it was a pleasant little fairytale, even back then that line still struck me as odd and somewhat disturbing for a number of reasons.
The first: I believed it was an implied right for a citizen of this country to own guns, so “getting” them seemed a bit of a Constitutional reach. The second, it was literally impossible to do; take every gun away from everyone. Third, I thought the viewpoint was somewhat tyrannical, and, fourth, the statement was confusing and narrow-minded on a number of fronts, especially handguns and assault weapons being lumped together. But again, it was just a movie so I simply dismissed it as an unrealistic fantasy … until now.
The concept subscribed by Andrew Shepard isn’t so much a fairy tale anymore. There is a large segment of the population that looks at a citizen’s right to bear arms as misguided, factually wrong, antiquated or just plain stupid. And that's just a little bit scary as--in my mind--we are talking about a Constitutional right.
We have probably never been more at odds in this country over a plethora of issues. Immigration, gay marriage, abortion, race, the budget--you name it. Both sides--all sides--complain the other refuses to engage in “serious discussion” about whatever it is that needs addressing. I agree with that perspective; we do avoid discussions and when we have them they do need to be serious. But more importantly, they have to be realistic. The Second Amendment, mass killings and gun control require a realistic discussion. So let’s start one here.
But as we do, please understand that the argument isn’t about the Second Amendment per se. It's about the overall reason for the argument in the first place: violence. Where the discussions veer off course is when they become myopic in focus. People have an agenda and offer quick solutions to a complicated problem; unless of course that solution impacts them, their views and their income.
In my opinion the most vocal are: completely biased, using a tragedy to push an agenda, close minded, passing along wild misinformation, and are involved in massive hypocrisy. Let’s look quickly at some of the reasons for violent behavior in our society, possible solutions and the hypocritical behavior that both allows it to continue and avoids the taking of responsibility.
24/7 News organizations. What do they do when there is a tragedy? They capitalize on it! So here’s a suggestion: Stop the oversaturation reporting! I’m not saying ignore the tragedies, but why don’t we limit the spotlight afforded to these crazed killers? Spend a couple of minutes on it. Report the incident. Keep us updated. Then, stop it!
The people who commit mass killings have sick twisted minds and they want the notoriety because of perceived wrongs and their belief that they have been shunned by society! If they didn’t think they’d get worldwide attention then they’d be less apt to walk into schools and movie theatres and fire away! The news organizations say they care about stopping the carnage but they won’t change their behavior. Why? Their argument is the First Amendment and that “people have a right to know.”
What do I think their motivation is? Pure and simple--and yes I’m a cynic--RATINGS! And as we all know, ratings = money.
Parents and family structure. Uninvolved parents--what the hell happened to holding kids accountable? Parents need to spend quantity time not quality time with their children! In other words: Be there! Set the example. Know what they are doing and where they are. How the hell are kids able to build bombs and arsenals in garages and the parents don’t know about it?
On a related note, the breakdown of families, but in particular the lack of an active father has absolutely been linked to violent, anti-social and criminal behavior. So maybe we should stop having kids out of wedlock. The stats are staggering. More than 50% of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage. Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. One study showed that 85% of incarcerated youth are from fatherless homes. You think that might have something to do with violent behavior among young males? Casual links absolutely exist.
But how does our society respond to this? We ignore it. We argue that women have the right to have children without the need for an active father (the need for a Dad being archaic and antiquated thinking), and for millions of them, we pay for all the expenses. Again what is society doing about this?
Media and video games. Some of the most self-righteous and disingenuous people in this debate are the movie stars, producers, directors, and video game manufacturers. Their entire argument is that what they produce doesn’t influence others. Pardon me, but that’s flat out crazy!