Emily Litella (aka Gilda Radner) was one of my favorite characters on the original Saturday Night Live. In one sketch, she didn't understand why parents wanted to stop all the violins on TV. Of course, poor Emily just had a hearing deficit and parents were actually upset about violence, not violins. If only having more (or fewer) violins could actually protect us from violent crimes.
After the tragedies at Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, and Newtown, we seem to think that locking up all the guns or telling the world where all the gun owners are will stop the violins--I mean--violence. This sweeping anti-gun campaign is more about finding an easy (quick) fix than a real solution. I'm not disputing the data that says more murders have been committed by some kind of firearm than any other assault weapon. But, what about all the other violent crimes that did not involve guns? The hazing death of the FAMU drum major, the horrendous rape and murder of the Connecticut (Dr. Petit) family, the murder of the elderly Oklahoma couple, the death of Caylee Anthony? And what about the myriad violent crimes (like the attacks on models Marla Hanson and Katie Piper) that leave their victims still alive, but physically or emotionally scarred for life? Will confiscating guns stop the monsters that commit these crimes? I think not.
Guns, in the hands of responsible, law-abiding humans are not the problem. Guns, in the hands of people who are high on illicit or prescription drugs, or alcohol, or people suffering from some deep psychological disorder, or people who are just plain evil? Well, that’s a problem. Whatever the triggers--violent video games and movies, social media, fast food, unemployment, George Bush (forgive my brush with sarcasm), the overall decline of humanity, or something else, we have created, nurtured and tolerated a culture of violence. That culture will not die just because the prospective criminals can’t obtain guns—which, incidentally, they will obtain anyway; or they’ll find/create some other weapon(s) that may be even more dangerous.
As we all know, violent behavior exists and will continue to exist whether guns are available or not. And our culture of violence is not just about the monsters of society—the murderers, rapists, serial killers. School and workplace bullying, hyper-aggressive, rude, harassing and mean-spirited behavior run amuck everywhere--on highways and railways and alley ways, in shopping malls, parking lots and stores, libraries, even houses of worship. It is behavior that is tolerated as “normal” or ignored by society, even though it may be threatening—and become violent.
Taking guns from law-abiding citizens won't stop the lawless, deranged or evil people from committing violent crimes. Not any more than locking up violins will end music appreciation as we know it. Okay, well maybe it will, but that's another debate. For now, let’s stop looking for simplistic answers to complex sociocultural problems. That won't fix what's really wrong.