Enough with the ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ — it’s time to stop talking and thinking like five-year olds

Adam Serwer writes: At the National Rifle Association’s first press conference since the Newtown massacre that killed 27 people, most of them elementary school children, the gun lobby’s CEO Wayne LaPierre said the solution is more guns.

“There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people,” said LaPierre. He was talking about the entertainment industry, not groups such as the NRA that lobby for laws that allow people to get away with murder. Rolling out a list of 1990s-era conservative cultural shibboleths, LaPierre blamed a coarsening culture, and violence in movies, video games, and music for mass shootings — that is, everything but the deadly weapons the killers have used to slaughter people.

LaPierre’s “solution” is for Americans to arm themselves, and for the government to place armed guards at every public school in the country: “I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.” LaPierre did not note that Columbine High School had an armed guard when two students went on a murderous shooting rampage there in 1999, and that Virginia Tech had an armed police force with its own SWAT team equivalent when one of its students killed 33 people in 2007.

The head of the nation’s most powerful gun rights organization laid out a vision of a paramilitary America, where citizens are protected by armed guards until they are old enough to walk around with their own firearms on the off-chance they might need to pump a few rounds into a fellow citizen. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said LaPierre.

Even if we don’t make a cognitive leap that few American leaders are willing to make — dispense with the cartoon imagery of a world populated by good guys and bad guys — the question, using LaPierre’s own terms, is: how to stop bad guys from getting guns?

As for LaPierre’s indictment of the American culture of violence, fed by movies and video games, this is a challenge not without merit. Even if effective regulations for gun control were put in place, one can still reasonably ask what kind of influence the media’s portrayals of violence have on the minds of young Americans who enter the military.

The blood shed in American schools is a small fraction of the blood shed overseas and whereas when it happens on this soil we are told that it was a bad guy who had his finger on the trigger, if it happens abroad the supposition is almost always that the bad guys got killed.

Sooner or later we will have to dispense with the good guy/bad guy narrative, and ask why killing people got so easy.

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Comments

  1. eugene says:

    Personally, I can’t find a time in history when killing wasn’t easy. It’s who is dying that gets us. If it’s the other guy, his wife or his kids, we could give a shit less. In fact, we’re proud of it and call the killers heros. If it’s our own, we cry and moan. 500, 000 Iraqi kids dying didn’t bother us a bit. Fire bombing Japanese cities didn’t bother us a bit. Dropping atomic bombs on Japan, which probably wasn’t even necessary, didn’t bother us a bit. Swinging over Laos to indiscriminately drop our bombs didn’t bother us a bit. And that’s just our history. Dig as far back as you can and the same goes on. Slaughtering, raping and all sorts of rampant killing is normal. It’s what we do.

    I, also, notice the national wailing has more than a bit with color of skin and economic status.

    Having lost a child, I fully understand the pain of the parents. Beyond that I think the preoccupation says a whole lot more about who we are as a people than anything else.

  2. What makes killing progressively more easy is the ability to create more and more distance between killer and victim. There was once a time when those who took away life were more keenly aware that when doing so, they were in jeopardy of losing their own life.