Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013 9:26:10 AM
What causes someone to kill? That was the question I pondered as I walked into my Criminal Justice class on December 15th, the first day of class following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I knew that there would be heated discussion on the viability of gun control laws and I was prepared to defend my anti-gun control dogma to the death as I had so many times before. As I took my seat I prepared my arsenal of redundant gun control statistics and my many conservative colloquialisms, chiefly amongst them the age old saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” I realized that my position on gun control was firm; I was not going to deviate from the constitutional values I hold so dear. But as I reflected on my original question, I found myself drifting further from the political aspect of the problem and more toward the social aspect. One glaring fact was clear: twenty-six people lied dead in Newtown, the majority of them being kids barely old enough to tie their shoes. There was a problem, a problem that indeed needed a solution, but if legislation could not solve the problem, what could?
I listened contemptuously as the class bantered about the politics of the issue. How could these students use the death of children as political capital? Without raising my hand, I interrupted one of my classmates mid-sentence and blurted out (rather loudly) the question I was so hung up on: “What causes people to kill?” Unfortunately, the answer was right in front of me. It was an uncaring society that caused people to kill. It was a society, a classroom, that only a day after a massive shooting was so eager to exploit the fragile political climate that often follows tragedy. My question went unheeded and the class continued discussion until the bell. I remained silent for most of the day, only pausing to talk to friends I could hardly avoid.
When I got home I deliberated the issue some more and realized something startling. Movies, television shows, magazines, newspapers, and videogames all have something in common: they all in some way depict, promote, or glorify violence. In today’s world it is difficult to avoid violence. This is especially true in the adolescent world where one’s inherent size and predisposition to be combative are seen as signs of masculinity. People who fit this profile are often the envy of many of my peers. Those who are not strong in the physical world are strong in the cyber-reality world of videogames. These videogames are often first person shooters in which the main objective is to kill as many of the enemy as possible. Finally, kids who watch television are further bombarded with images of death. So where do we go from here? In short, this generation needs to reassess its definition of humanity. It is true that guns don’t kill people. However, without a sense of common humanity, guns are the least of our problems.