America cannot truly address gun violence unless it is prepared to address the root causes of gun violence.
by Nadin Abbott
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut, we have had many discussions on the sources of gun violence in our country. We were all shocked. Many fingers are pointing at both Hollywood and the video game industry. If we are to believe them, all this would go away if we removed the glorification of violence from the media.
I will be the first to admit this: Call of Duty is violent. It simulates war. We would be surprised if it wasn’t. It is also rated M by the ESRB, that would be for seventeen year olds and older. It’s not meant for kids. Ratings work, only if we use them as a guide.
I will also admit that a James Bond movie is pure schlock with quite a bit of violence. There are many other titles out there that include explosions, gun play, and bloody gore. Need I mention the Die Hard series? Argue all you want about how video games and movies encourage violent acts. But that’s merely scratching the surface and doesn’t get to the root of the real problem.
Fingers, in other words, are being pointed at popular culture, as if pop culture is the root of all of our problems.
Yesterday the Unions gave Christmas fixings and toys to five hundred families at Qualcomm Stadium. These people are suffering from chronic food insecurity. They are unemployed, or under employed. You see them often. They drive our transit buses and cannot get enough hours to make ends meet. They are low paid workers, many making under $20,000 a year. Some are quite bluntly unemployed. They are suffering from great stress. Oftentimes they don’t know where their next meal will come from.
The other day I covered another story of great violence: People making $17,000 a year who are being asked to pay $2,000 in health insurance for the year. They are the heads of their families and work at a hospital. You might as well ask them to travel to the other side of the moon. The health insurance is just as reachable.
This is crushing poverty, and this too, is violence. This is the kind of violence that at times leads to suicide–sometimes murder-suicide–often via the use of a gun.
When an inner city school comes out of lockdown after a shooting just outside the school grounds and the body remains on the other side of the fence, that is a form of scarring violence. When a kid is shot in the arm, and the police have to fight EMS to get that kid taken to the ER because they don’t have insurance, that is violence.
When the kids have to know to drop when they hear popping sounds because it happens so often in their low income neighborhood, that is violence.
Here is more real violence: A young teen, runaway, taken to the other side of the country–rarely across international borders–where he is used for sex and forced to have sex upwards of fifty times a day. When the authorities finally rescued him, he was a shell. That is violence.
The younger man, begging for money on the corner, while still very much “in country” with no treatment for the PTSD caused from being sent over there, that is violence. The older woman standing on the corner begging for money, that is real violence.
When you cannot get mental health care and you are treated like a disposable entity that is somehow less than human–that is violence. When an adult is next to impossible to commit if need be, that is violence. The almost non-existent mental health system in this country is simply not acceptable.
So tell me, when are we doing something real to stop that violence? Perhaps a good first step would be the enactment of strong living wage laws. Notice I did not say minimum wage. I said living wage. People who are not on the edge are less likely to commit violence themselves, with or without guns.
Prattling about popular culture is a nice distraction coming from the comfortable middle class. And it happens after every mass shooting. Not merely every shooting, but every mass shooting. The reality is that 34 Americans die by gun fire every day, and 34 thousand every year. Those are the grim statistics. So we need to also deal with the culture of violence and fear that encourages despair and violence.
Do we need to talk of what to do about the guns? Yes, but we also need a more global approach to what ails us as a culture.
Anna Daniels says
Nadin- you powerfully address the massive metaphorical carnage caused by corrupted self-interest and indifference. Thank you.
Sadly, the less fortnate can count on things not getting better anytime in the near future. Even those who are not less fortunate may have to plan for the possibility of becomeing that way.
If you feel so inclined feel free to delete my post. I realise it’s a bit off topic.
Anna Daniels says
Goatskull- you have contributed to the conversation on a myriad of topics. We read and consider what you write. Keep talking to us!
Thanks Anna. I was just thinking after the fact that the article I posted was more about a local issue rather than the point of the SDFP article.
No, you are right on point.
It is part of the problem.
Thank you Nadin.
Jamie Edmonds says
Yes, the institutional/cultural violence you describe is subtle, but insidious and is called “structural violence”. This is one of the things that getting rid of the monetary system would cure (among many others). I agree, we need to stop dancing around the edges and address the root causes of this structural violence. Unfortunately, in a (slave) labor for (debt) money based free-market capitalist system, you will never eradicate this structural violence–it goes with the territory. You’re trying to spoon out the ocean. We must declare all the world’s resources as belonging to everyone equally and work together to provide for everyone’s needs by applying the scientific method to social concern. There is a workable model out there and the movement to change this conversation is growing world-wide: http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com
John Lawrence says
Thanks to Ronald Reagan the mentally ill were liberated which means dumped into the street. They no longer had a place to live and to be taken care of. But they sure had their freedom. As Janice Joplin said, “Freedom is juct another word for nothing left to lose.” The mentally ill need resources both human and material. Without that they are just accidents waiting to happen.
Thank you all. I just had it with the “it’s the video games and Hollywood’s fault” line of thinking, every time we have one of these.
John P. Falchi says
This article hits home.Of course, we need to ban AK-47 type weapons and expect thorough background checks of those who would buy guns, but unless each of us takes an active role in working to halt the emphasis on violence that pervades our culture, we cannot expect these egregious acts of mass violence to decrease.
Frances O'Neill Zimmerman says
First things first. Personally, I would like to see a national ban on assault weapons and many-bullet-magazines and longer waits for background checks to prevent crazy people from shooting six-year-olds many times in a matter of seconds. I really would feel wonderful if this could be achieved. And it won’t happen unless we focus.
After we get those basic rules in place, we can go after our penchant for “nation-building” in foreign countries, violent video games, football, boxing, high-fiving, Terminator movies, Quentin Tarantino and every other capitalist expression of competition that demands an outcome of “winners and losers.”
bob dorn says
Everybody’s got it right, even the Present Occupant who in his address to the nation and after has said the question of gun violence is “complex.” Complex, as in inferiority complex, or; a complex of mutually inhospitable notions, like Warrior Christians; a government that calls its sophisticated military complex a Defense Department that bombs and strafes tribespeople in places few of us have ever been and can’t quite place on the map, or; a pill can make your Jones stand up, or … well, we all know how complex things get when we’re fed a steady diet of the impossible and untrue. Like Gil Scott-Heron said, “Ain’t No Such Thing as a Superman.”
One thing is for sure as indicated in the photo, we need to do a much better job of taking care of our vets. Regardless of how anyone feels about the wars we’re in or have been in, regardless how much suffering these wars have caused, regardless of how much money is being spent on the “military industrial complex” that could be used in more productive ways, we should never turn our backs on the individuals who have fought in these wars. The fact that so many have would up like the individual in this pic is unacceptable.
And San Diego has a very large percentage of them.
Yes it does.
I meant wound, not would.
I’m curious which union sponsored the toy/food giveaway at Qualcomm stadium that you mention? I know the Nice Guys of San Diego had one a couple weeks back and the Marines did a Toys for Tots collection last weekend, but I wasn’t aware of anything else. I like to be involved with stuff like that so please let me know.
Central Labor Council.
Thank you, I am sorry that I wasn’t able to donate to them.
No problem, I was replying from my phone. But almost every union did through the Labor Council.