A Valley resident told me it was common in the 1990s for his friends to take shotguns and put them in the trunks of their cars. They parked the cars in the school parking lots. After school, they went hunting with their dads and uncles. None of the teenage friends ever thought of going to a public mall to randomly shoot people. What has gone wrong?
There are over 393 million guns in America with a population of 326 million people, according to The Washington Post. This turns out to be 120 guns for every 100 citizens. The movies and videos glamorize the gun culture as an easy heroic solution to every problem no matter how trivial or complicated.
The disintegration of the American family means parents no longer have any significant authority on what is wrong and right in guiding the behavior of children. Whatever pathological thoughts go on in the child’s head is a matter of debate, self-expression, Freudian psychoanalysis, human rights and individual freedom.
When I was growing up in a close family of nine siblings in a small house, there was no privacy especially for pathological thoughts and moods. If I had been depressed, moody and had thoughts of killing myself or people in large numbers, my mother and my family members would have gasped and interrogated me very bluntly. If she determined a serious case of depression, she, my dad and the community had immediate effective treatment. Situations today are that children are experiencing serious emotional pain and physical threats may be at school, and the parents may have no clue until it is too late.
The internet normalizes any abnormal or pathological behavior. If you can think of the most serious, depraved and sick behavior or thoughts, the internet has numerous groups who will normalize that pathological behavior. Public shaming for destructive and extremely abnormal behavior no longer works because people are too busy trying to normalize what used to be unacceptable behavior.
The media and the public have already fallen into a trap, which has created a vicious cycle. When a gun massacre happens, some news outlets vow not to mention the name of the suspected perpetrator. Then the internet media begin to discuss the massacre for the next 24-72 hours. This is precisely what the people who commit gun massacres including terrorists crave: Publicity. Is there a solution to this?
Not all possible causes of gun massacres have been covered. The few discussed causes suggest that even if today Congress passed one gun control law, the gun violence would not be significantly reduced. The best solution is comprehensive gun laws, changes in the media, the family and changes especially in the culture and hearts of citizens. If the failure to pass comprehensive immigration law is an example, gun violence is not going to end any time soon. A lot more effort than a few laws are needed to stem the tide of gun massacres.
Mwizenge S. Tembo lives in Bridgewater.