Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24: Time For U.S. Gun-Obsessed Culture To Change

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Perhaps President Barack Obama doesn't want to be reminded of his 2008 statement about certain voters clinging to guns. But he was right.

At some point, it's become more important to so-called gun-rights advocates to have their guns, period, than to have them for the priorities of safety and hunting. That has been exploited by the National Rifle Association, which has gotten politicians from both parties to bow for their money and cower to their will. All of the above has translated into legislation or loosening of legislation that helped lead to last week's mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado.

The entertainment industry people mistake for liberal is actually the NRA's best friend, having spent decades glorifying movie, television and video game violence and shootings. They've slacked off at times after violent attacks, but then picked right up again.

Only a traffic citation was on James Holmes' record before he was arrested for murdering 12 people and injuring 59 others at a movie theater early last Friday. That was why he was able to purchase guns and ammunition through the mail so easily.

Holmes may have been re-creating a scene from the newest Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises," in the massacre. Despite plenty of warnings and discussions, directors still film such scenes in glorious Technicolor, with glittering makeup given to the baddies - without any thought of possible consequences. And while it's true that most people who watch films, shows or video games won't go out and commit such violence, many still become desensitized to it.

But the biggest problem is still the nature of guns in this country as more security-blanket than genuine security - a nature of obsession. An atmosphere that has made it more important for Person A to have any kind of weapon than for Person B to be able to go into any public space and be sure no one will fire that weapon at them. An atmosphere that caused Florida lawmakers to try to put a gag on doctors asking about guns in a home until a federal judge put a halt to that law. An atmosphere that has cost many good men and women votes at the ballot box because a lesser opponent will supposedly protect the Second Amendment.

That attitude doesn't protect anyone. It sure didn't in Colorado last Friday.

We are horrified at the occasional news of a similar massacre overseas - such as what happened in Norway a year ago. But such events are a rare occurence in other countries.

Here, they are much too common - not just mass shootings such as last week's, but the shootings that are a nightly occurence in many inner cities - inner cities being restricted from enacting laws that would take guns off those streets.

How many more shooting deaths and injuries do we have to take in the United States because of this obsession? How many more families have to mourn?

Would an NRA representative, an elected official who accepts gun lobby dollars or a producer of a bloody film look members of the families affected by last week's tragedy in the eye and continue their shpiel?

Or would they be willing to listen to those families, for once?

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