People are hurting, lives are lost and we need to all step off our soap boxes and talk earnestly. This isn’t another article suggesting more or less when it comes to guns and gun control; it’s what you can do now to begin long-term change for our children’s future. Let’s step to the side of our pedestals for a few minutes, let’s talk about life and what’s terrifying more of our hearts- murder.
Guns wielded, innocent shot. The reasons vary, “mental illness”, anger, deeply held hostile beliefs. After every instance, we are quick to stand strongly by a particular position on gun control, but the issue is systemic and you and I have blood on our hands.
My husband wants to buy a “game entertainment console”. Playstation, Wii or Xbox, his decision is based on what games he can by for himself while still having fun kid friendly games. He wants to play the “shoot ‘em up” games, many do. I don’t want that violence in my home. We debate and argue over this time and again, still no console in our home.
The video game industry floats quietly under the radar able to dispel and deflect ascertains that its product influences player’s behavior. Would you suspect it is a twenty-one BILLION dollar industry? Did you know, according to a game industry article, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) spends TWICE AS MUCH as the National Riffle Association (NRA) on political lobbying?
Things like this happen…
On Wednesday 24 March 2012, 14 year-old Noah Crooks was accused of shooting his 32-year-old mother with a .22 caliber rifle after a failed attempt to rape her. Noah was charged with first-degree murder and assault. During the dispatch call to 911 shortly following the murder, Crooks revealed that Gretchen Crooks had taken away his Call of Duty video game because his grades had turned poor and that this was the reason why he snapped. According to dispatch, Noah Crooks did not seem emotional even though he had murdered his mother a couple of hours earlier.
On 9 April 2011 in Alphen Aan Den Rijn, The Netherlands, 24-year-old Tristan van der Vlis opened fire in a shopping mall, releasing more than a hundred bullets with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun, killing 6 people and wounding 17 others, after which he also killed himself. A fair amount of attention was given to Van Der Vlis’ playing of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2and to the alleged similarities between the events in Alphen a/d Rijn and the controversial “No Russian” mission in the game, where the player can choose to (or choose not to) partake in the killing of a large group of innocent people inside an airport terminal.
…and we blame guns.
I remember the first time my husband and I took our kids to John’s Incredible Pizza, a pizza buffet and arcade entertainment paradise for kids. Roaming wide-eyed, curious what we would find, we played classic carnival game like ski ball and made friends with new video games. Then I found myself horrified as I watched a tween point a plastic gun at a display of an airport baggage claim and shoot innocent people for points. Turning full circle like the final water draining from a bathtub, I found myself surrounded by first person games, blood spattered on screens, dead bodies everywhere. Congratulatory remark cheered or orange-red blood covered screens depending on the player’s performance. Overloaded parents drop kids off for birthday parties. They do not think twice about content exposure, though many argue “It’s just a game.”
And we blame guns.
A self-sufficient friend posted a photo of her dinner, chicken breast with a bright salad with mixed vegetables. Everything on their plates that night was raised and tended to by her family as their food source. At the appropriate time they “processed” the chicken. There was blood and guts when the life was taken. When I purchase a whole chicken to cook, the heart and other organs are inside the clean cavity. You and I are removed from the process of death in obtaining our meat packaged neat and tidy at the store.
There was a time when hunting was normal, when killing the chicken on the farm was common and going to the butcher’s shop was where people purchased meat. There was an interaction with death and a reminder of life. Now, purchasing meat on clean form trays with clear plastic wrap covering them with a side dish of violence in the name of entertainment we face one of the most brutal eras in our nation’s modern history.
And we blame guns.
A surefooted eighty-seven year old man, our neighbor, hunts alone though he needs help with managing the remains. Last week he got a deer and needed help. My husband hasn’t been an avid hunter, but he has a bit of survivor blood that courses through him and compels him to learn skills. He wanted us to go as a family to see our neighbor’s “kill”; that’s the honestly with which hunters talk, no beating around the bush. In nearly forty years I’ve never witnessed food preparation, unless you count the time I looked sideways out the crack of one eye while by husband cleaned a fish. In the name of protecting innocence, I hesitated.
Our kids have never looked into death’s hollow eyes; they have never felt a body once warm now stiff and temperate. Outside the clean walls of a hospital or farewell hospice bed in a home most of us haven’t experienced this. The most tangible and personal interaction the average American has with death is in sterile and controlled environments. However, the average American also ingests copious amounts of death on a daily basis.
American culture is death-obsessed. Consider the number of people obsessed with The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Spartacus, Hannibal, and many other gruesome shows all in the name of “entertainment”. Screen Rant has a list: Top 10 TV Shows With the Most Gruesome Violence. That means, “You can expect a high body count and a great story.” Grey’s Anatomy, C.S.I. and Mastermind fans aren’t off the hook when it comes to violence though we rationalize and justify the violence.
We owe this generation a gigantic apology for streaming violence into our homes in the name of “entertainment” and “news coverage”, but we won’t because we don’t want to look at ourselves, at what we need to purge in order to protect. We look for something to blame beyond ourselves, but in reality, every adult who owns a television, who purchases a ticket to a violent movie, whose gaming revolves around shooting and killing, owns a level of responsibility for the violence epidemic. These things are not entertainment and they are eroding the safety of our communities.
Follow the money the “entertainment” industry is bringing in quietly in the corners, laughing while everyone blames guns. Taking guns away or adding more guns won’t change the barbaric culture we are producing, the change begins with our idea of entertainment. Are you willing to curb your “freedom” to interact with violence by ending your participation in this destructive cycle?