First let me say: Kudos, Sue Jeffrey, you get it. Your well-thought-out and written commentary has led me to believe there may still be at least a few rational, thinking folks left in our country. Thank you. Thank you also to your son and other men and women in the military who have sacrificed so much to protect the constitutional rights and values that so many Americans are sadly willing to throw away.
Gun control is yet another one of those things that divides conservatives and liberals. It doesn’t matter which of those groups I fall into. What does matter is the potential loss of autonomy by all of us.
Am I upset because in recent years, innocent men, women and children have died because a handful of glory seeking punks went on a killing spree? Absolutely I am upset. I am not, however, caught up in the blatant political emotional ploy aimed at convincing everyone to lay down their freedom because of the nonsensical acts of a few.
Maybe background checks and mental health checks are a good idea … or are they? Who will determine who among us is sane enough to own a weapon? What criteria can we use to determine if a potential gun owner is mentally stable? Should everyone line up every few months for a mental re-evaluation? What defines a “crime of passion” or “temporary insanity?” Will anyone who disagrees with the current political movement be considered unstable? Will that person be you, your sons, your daughters or your parents? Who has the right to make that decision? The definition of “mentally unstable” is a tough one to circumscribe, isn’t it?
In my opinion, no one in the political arena or even in the private sector has given consideration to the real issues here. I understand that this is an off-the-wall concept, but why isn’t anyone looking at how drugs and media influence acts of violence? Fourteen percent of Americans are on some type of pain reliever, 4.2 percent are on some sort of tranquilizer, 2.8 percent admit to using hallucinogenic drugs, 2.6 percent use stimulants, 67.8 percent use marijuana, 30 percent consume excessive amounts of alcohol, and 3.9 percent use sleeping aids. That does not leave very many people who don’t use some sort of mind-altering drug, prescribed or otherwise. The staggering fact is that many of these people are teens and young adults.
Let’s take a look at media violence. A recent study has shown that by age 18, the average child will have witnessed more than 200,000 acts of violence through media exposure. That’s roughly 1.36 per hour, 32.85 per day, and 11,990.25 per year. We are talking about shootings, stabbings, bombings, bludgeonings and rape, and that is just on television and in movies. Now let’s throw video games into the mix. Ninety percent of young adults play action and adventure video games that have that same strong blood, gore, and sexual content. What is your child or grandchild doing right now?
Really, are guns the problem? Even as I get ready to end this commentary, there is breaking news of bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon … killers will always find a way to kill. Removing weapons will not change this truth. It’s society that needs fixing. I grew up around guns. As a child and young adult, they were always present in my home. My father was in law enforcement, so I knew he always kept a loaded handgun (or two) in his night stand. He also hunted for food, so it was not uncommon to see a couple of loaded rifles propped up in the corner. My father would have laughed at the idea of keeping his weapons in a gun safe or putting locks on the triggers. Never once did the idea of picking up one of those guns and shooting someone come into my mind.
We were taught to respect others. We were taught to respect life in general. I’m not saying people didn’t kill people back then; sure they did. We did not, however, have rampant drug usage and media violence to make killing seem cool. The other thing is that parents were parents back then. The government didn’t raise us. Our parents did. Murder was the exception and was not common place. What has changed? You might argue that we now have assault weapons. Guess what … they had assault weapons then, too — they called them “machine guns,” and they were easily obtainable. What then has changed? Could it be society and how we have allowed media violence and drugs to influence our youth? The recent arrests at Nevada Union have some folks up riled up because they say drugs are harmless. Are they really harmless? Is violent media really just entertainment?
Jodi McDonald lives in Grass Valley.
I understand that this is an off-the-wall concept, but why isn’t anyone looking at how drugs and media influence acts of violence?