The gun debate has ignited once again as it does with each new killing spree. Every time, we hear the same message. The public is invited to clamor for measures to control guns to stop the violence. We are told to pressure our politicians to have the courage to face the powerful gun lobby. We are urged to reject our violent “gun culture.”
To be honest, there really isn’t much I can do personally to reject this culture. My exposure is actually minimal — and I suspect it is the same with tens of millions of other Americans, gun owners and non-owners alike. Most are like me who very rarely handle a weapon. People I know who do handle arms often are usually quite discreet about it. They seem to understand the seriousness of carrying any gun — and are familiar with those very rare occasions when a gun might be needed for self-defense. To these owners, guns represent restraint. I have no problem with this gun culture since its adherents act responsibly, rationally and calmly.
Grand Theft Auto, from which this still is taken, is full of violence and the misuse and mishandling of guns. (AP/Rockstar Games)
It is telling that, despite the extreme ease with which a person can become a member of a major gun rights organization (just pay dues), no mass killers appear to have been members. In a similar way, no mass killers have been found to be fervent Christians, family men or owners of significant property.
There is a second gun culture that no one dares mention. And this gun culture, I vehemently oppose. Unlike the first culture, I am and can be constantly exposed to it. It is in my face and found all over the media. The use of weapons in this culture is irresponsible, deadly — and incredibly supported by liberals. And yet, no one protests.
This second culture is defined by the plots and themes constantly found in Hollywood films and video games. It seems that every action film is full of guns, misuse of weapons and gratuitous violence. In fact, I am exposed to more guns in one of these films than a full year of exposure in the first culture.
You see this culture in the chase scenes where characters shoot at each other without any regard for what is around them. These are trigger-happy cowboys (and cowgirls) ever ready to shoot anything that moves. The weapons they sport are semi-automatic pistols, automatic weapons and yet more sophisticated arms that deaden the public sensibility to violence. No one complains about these characters that cling to their guns and wreak havoc on society. Daily we are flooded with images of these irresponsible characters that pull out a firearm at a moment’s notice. We are witnesses to dramatic deaths that bear little resemblance to real death. Film stars engage in the frenetic intemperance of a surreal world that acts upon impulse and brutal actions. They make killing look so easy and gratifying.
I don’t understand why people have no problem with this unreal world that glamorizes the gun and glories in scenes of massive violence. I am especially appalled by bloody video games that make today’s mass murder sprees look like cakewalks. There seems to be no problem with these bloody acts that would be illegal and criminal in the real world.
Such scenes from action films and video games represent not a single episode of a mass murder. Rather, it is as if the same mass murder is committed millions of times inside theaters, homes and mobile devices. Inside the minds of countless youth, they send a message that guns are the means to impose one’s will upon another. Guns represent power. To lonely young men from fatherless families frustrated by their failure to be part of society, the gun is the ultimate platform and avenger.
The same liberals who decry the first culture have little problem accepting the second. Ironically, liberal actors and actresses who support gun control will play ruthless characters that gun down their opponents. The same liberals that call for drastic gun control measures action fill the theaters showing these action thrillers. They will idolize the film stars who wield their weapons so irresponsibly.
Is it any wonder that we have those who act out their fantasies based on the unreal world on the screen? Isn’t it time we, liberals and conservatives alike, publicly denounce this other gun culture that sends such a deadly message?
I am not saying that Hollywood and video games are the only causes of the mass murder phenomenon. However, I believe this second gun cultures play a major role. That which none dares mention, should be mentioned.
John Horvat II is a scholar, researcher, educator, international speaker, and author of the book Return to Order, as well as the author of hundreds of published articles. He lives in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, where he is the vice president of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.
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