Thirdeyemom

America’s Love/Hate Relationship with Violence

For the last few nights I’ve been sleepless. I have debated over and over again inside my head whether or not I should write about an extremely controversial subject on my blog. About a topic that divides and tears America apart and makes the rest of the world just shake their heads at us: Gun Control.

After much thought, I decided that as a mother and as an American citizen, I could no longer be silent and just share my beliefs over Facebook with my friends. Instead, I would put together an emotional piece on why I believe we should have gun control and why we must put more pressure on institutions such as the media, our mental health care system and society as a whole to change the deep-rooted, dark culture of violence in America.

It is an overwhelming topic. In fact, often I don’t even know where to start. So I am going to try to lay out my feelings and beliefs now and see if we can have a real conversation about guns and our love/hate relationship with violence in this nation. Whether you agree or disagree on my beliefs, it is up to you. But until we start having a real, honest dialogue about what is happening in our country nothing will change.

Photo and Image credit: Everytown USA

Photo and Image credit: Everytown USA

The facts:

Gun violence in the United States results in thousands of deaths and thousands more injuries annually.[1] *

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013, firearms (excluding BB and pellet guns) were used in 84,258 nonfatal injuries (26.65 per 100,000 U.S. citizens) [2] 
  • 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000)[3] 
  • 21,175 by suicide with a firearm,[4]
  • 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm,[4] 
  • 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent”[5] for a total of 33,169 deaths related to firearms (excluding firearm deaths due to legal intervention).
  • 1.3% of all deaths in the country were related to firearms.[1][6]
  • In 2010, gun violence cost U.S. taxpayers approximately $516 million in direct hospital costs.[12]
  • Despite widespread concern about the impacts of gun violence on public health, Congress has banned the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) from conducting research on gun violence.[18]

*Above content from Wikepedia. I cross-checked every statistic and source for accuracy. 

Is this the world we want for our children?

Per Everytown for Gun Safety: "Since 2013, there have been at least 142 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives? Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe.

Per Everytown for Gun Safety: “Since 2013, there have been at least 142 school shootings in America — an average of nearly one a week. How many more before our leaders pass common-sense laws to prevent gun violence and save lives? Communities all over the country live in fear of gun violence. That’s unacceptable. We should feel secure in sending our children to school — comforted by the knowledge that they’re safe”.

Perception versus Reality:

So why is it that people are more fearful of being killed in a terrorist attack or traveling to a “dangerous” country when there are more deaths by gun violence right outside our backdoor? Obama recently urged media to compare the number of deaths by gunfire each year to the total number of deaths from terrorism. The results were surprising. From 2004 to 2013 316,545 people died by firearms in the US. During that same period, the number of U.S. citizens killed overseas by terrorists was 277, while another 36 were killed in domestic acts of terrorism (Star Tribune Editorial “Placing the Blame on Another Mass Shooting”). My question is: Who is our government spending all our money on to fight? Yes, terrorism. What are we doing to fight our own mass killings in the US. Not much. 

The media plays a strong role in creating a perception of fear. Violence and fear sell. Ever since 9/11, the media has played on our fear and anxiety to mess with our minds and get us to watch it. Wasn’t it after 9/11 that CNN and other media sources such as Fox News (the real fear news) began their “BREAKING NEWS!” flashes with 24/7 round the clock coverage of the attacks? Media is smart and has figured us out.

There is also the strong notion that owning a semi-automatic gun is our “right” as Americans. It is in the Constitution isn’t it? My right to own as many and whatever damn well kind of gun I want is my right per the Second Amendment, they say. Well, here is what the 2nd Amendment says:

“The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A well regulated Militia? What?

What about our freedom as the Americans who don’t want people having these guns?

Many argue that even with gun control people will still be able to buy guns and mass shooting will still happen. I am not naive. Of course those who want guns to kill people will get them if they choose. Think about how easy it is to buy drugs. Yet at least if we had some more control on the kind of guns people were able to buy and who was able to buy them it would at least be a little bit more difficult.

Although I believe gun control can help it will obviously not solve the problem of mass killing or homicide. If someone wants to kill another human being, they will just use something else.

Can you believe that these weapons were easily available to a lunatic who went into an elementary school and killed children? Yet, even after Sandy Hook, one of the most disturbing mass killing imaginable what has changed? NOTHING.

Screen Shot taken from NY Times Article

Screen Shot taken from New York Times Article 10/03/15 “Where they Got Their Guns”.

So what is it really that we need to change? 

Us.

We have a love/hate relationship with violence.

We live in a culture of violence.  Violence is so embedded into our daily lives in America that it is not going to disappear anytime soon.

Take a moment and think about how many violent images do we see a day? On TV, movies, in the paper, on the internet, in video games, in music, in books, and in real life.

Do you go to the movies and watch the latest thriller where people are being blown away like no tomorrow? I am sure you do. I do too. We all do and that is the problem. Killing and violence is so engrained in our lives that it doesn’t even make us flinch when we see it unfold on screen, only in real life. But once it does happen for real, do we play into CNN, Fox News and the internet and watch it all unfold? Yes we do.

I’m not blaming us. I’m on your side. I’m just trying to take a step back from what our mentality is and our culture of violence and think about how we got to this point.

Let’s face it. Violence Sells. Death sells. Pick up any newspaper, turn on the TV, or take a peak at what a teenage boy is playing on his phone. Killing and Death. There is so much gratuitous violence around us every single day that we become immune to it and are numb. In fact watching a violent killing movie seems like nothing anymore.

I understand there are many, very complicated interrelated factors that drive the United States to be one of the most violent nations (that is not currently active in a civil war) in the world. But we can change this tragic reality. Our culture of violence must change.

Sure not everyone who plays violence video games and watches violent movies 24/7 will turn around and become a mass shooter however the ones out there that are already unstable and on the fringe could slip through the cracks and continue.

Gun control laws must change but that won’t solve the problem and stop the killing. Our entire mentality and culture of violence is what must be changed and it involves a massive cultural transformation that often seems hopeless and impossible.

We must have a better way for treating and helping mentally ill people yet also those on the edge of going off the deep end. Meaning the ones who seem to be “normal” yet are a violent, angry time bomb deep down inside.

Finally, we must put pressure on media to stop glorifying violence. I believe this is the most important thing that must be done but will prove to be the most difficult. How do we get media and society to end the love affair with violence when it sells and people want it? That I do not know. But I’m not going to give up the fight.

I am an optimist and perhaps I’ve gone to far on this blog post. It may be unreasonable, highly emotional and darn right angry. But I believe that only as a society working together we can change. It is our world. We must make it the world we want to live in.

We need to start a conversation about what we can do. To begin, I will leave you with this question.

So what can we do? How can we change this culture of violence in our society and live in a safer place? 

P.S. I am lending my voice to something I feel quite passionate about. Disagreeing with me and stating your opinions is wonderful! That is called a conversation. But I will immediately delete any comments that attack me for my viewpoints. 

Worth a Read:

New York Times article 10/3/15:  “How they Got Their Guns”: Criminal histories and documented mental health problems did not prevent at least eight of the gunmen in 14 recent mass shootings from obtaining their weapons, after federal background checks led to approval of the purchases of the guns used.

The New Yorker, “The Simple Truth About Gun Control” “There are complex, hand-wringing-worthy problems in our social life: deficits and debts and climate change. Gun violence, and the work of eliminating gun massacres in schools and movie houses and the like, is not one of them. Gun control works on gun violence as surely as antibiotics do on bacterial infections.

Star Tribune “Placing the Blame on Another Mass Shooting” (10/02/15)

 

 

44 comments

  1. Nicole, this is a very difficult and complex subject, that’s for sure. I agree that there’s too much gun violence. I believe people should have the right to own guns (what kinds are debatable.) I believe that people who want to can get guns and that people do have a right to defend themselves. I believe the media glorifies violence and that violence is rife in books, computer games, video games, etc.

    How to solve these issue (or resolve the beliefs) is very, very tough. We live in a Chicago suburb. Chicago has one of the most stringent gun control laws, yet leads or is at the top of gun violence. Much of this is gang and drug-related, as the local police pointed out during a recent anti-drug presentation at our church. Will gun control stop gang violence or school or other public places shootings? Perhaps some kinds of controls will. But gangs and drugs and those types of problems aren’t going to go away because of gun control. Perhaps what’s needed is support for families, trying to keep kids in school to learn a job skill and then having jobs for them to move into, have families support the schools, work a building better relationships between law enforcement and the people, etc. Worth working at certainly, but definitely NOT simple.

    janet

    • Excellent excellent comment Janet. I am with you. I agree that people who like guns for hunting protection and sport should have the right to have them. But how do we control the people out there who are simply nuts and will use guns, bombs or whatever it takes to kill strangers? It is such a horrible tragedy that for me makes me so sad. Every time I hear a siren go by my kids school my stomach tightens. It is the world of fear. How does this change? I don’t know. Today’s news of the 11 year old boy who shot and killed an 8 yr old girl for not letting him see her puppy is just becoming too common. Other countries are getting our violence but not at the rate as ours. What can we do?

      • Another thing the police mentioned is that prescription drugs abuse and death is much more of a problem than gun violence, although I imagine that might vary somewhat by neighborhood. Heroin is also dirt cheap these days and claims many lives. They said that kids from the suburbs are very safe in the inner city where they go to buy drugs because businessmen don’t kill their customers. But the violence related to the gang fights and drug-related fights does kill many innocents in their own neighborhoods.

    • Also here in Minnesota we have a conceal and carry law. You can basically carry your gun anywhere. I was against the law yet I don’t believe it has led to more gun deaths. I think the most are not coming from people who carry a piece for protection.

      • I agree, Nicole. I believe the same thing. That’s one of the problems with calling for more gun control. I really believe that most people who have guns are very responsible with them. The others can get them if they want them. Laws don’t change issues of the heart, which is what much violence of any kind is. We need parents to model the correct behavior and to control children at the family level, teaching them right and wrong. (Not saying that a single parent can’t do this, but it’s much more difficult.) How can we reward good behavior and make it more attractive than bad? A “me” society has a much more difficult time with this and when it’s not only unfashionable but mocked to say there’s right and wrong, what do we expect?

      • So true. I often wonder about the entire impact of our American individualistic culture too. It is very different than other places. We don’t have the same values on community and family structures are breaking down. I think of all the suicide deaths too. We live in a world where people believe they are entitled. As for children there are so many growing up messed up. It is heartbreaking. I don’t know the answer.

    • I guess I have a different perspective on your comment. I really don’t have an issue with the gang bangers shooting each other. And yes, they will always get guns. And I’ve had this discussion with friends. There is a difference with hardened criminals killing each other and some maladjusted young man who gets his hand on a gun and goes to a movie theater or school and kills random people.

      • Thanks for keeping the discussion going! I agree that gun violence in gangs is much different than the random mass shootings of people you don’t know.

  2. As an outsider I cannot see how nothing is changed in the USA after so many innocent people are killed. We had ONE mass shooting in Australia several years ago and everything changed. It can be done. I don’t know anybody outside the USA who understands your attitude to gun ownership.

    • So true Debra. I know about the law passed on Australia and the good results. I wonder if it would have similar results here? I just don’t understand our gun culture and violence. Also does Australia have a powerful lobby group like the NRA who is in bed with all the politicians? They have been a huge obstacle

      • I really really wish it wasn’t so insane in the country Debra. It is enough to make me wish so bad I didn’t live here but this is where I live and have to do my best to do what I can to try to change things like the terrible gun problem. I know I’m only one person but I try my best.

    • And yes I don’t understand our gun culture and I am American! At times I just wish I could leave. There are many things I don’t understand about our culture.

  3. Sas

    I don’t think you’ve gone too far with this post at all Nicole. Every time there is a major gun-related incident in the USA, it is all over the media here in the UK. My friends are shocked and horrified that it is so normal for people to carry guns. As I have travelled in the States, I understand that your culture has been formed from a different starting point than ours. A lot of Americans feel it is their right to carry a gun, and with that right you must also accept the responsibility of knowing that therefore there will be more gun-related deaths. Here in the UK, we have a much bigger problem with knife crime than guns. Other than the obvious gang-related gun owners, most of the people here who own guns are posh people who like to dress up on the weekend, get drunk and chase animals around the countryside. My heart aches every time I see President Obama have to stand up and talk about another mass shooting. I don’t know what the answer is, but I hope we can find it soon.

    • Interesting take Sas. I remember when I was traveling once in Africa and a woman from Nigeria told me that she wanted to come to the US to visit but didn’t feel safe. Now that should tell us something.

      • Sas

        A lot of people tell me I’m brave for travelling to the USA on my own. However, I have always felt as safe as I do at home in the UK. It sometimes shocks me when I see people openly carrying guns, but then I remember where I am. I am definitely anti-guns, though. I even grew up around them (my uncle shoots pheasants), and I never liked the noise as a kid. They always made me feel uneasy.

      • It is so ironic because when ever I tell people I’m traveling somewhere outside the us like Africa or Central America, they freak out and think I’m crazy going to a “dangerous” place. We Americans never stop to think that our own country is dangerous! Excellent points. I grew up with hunting guns too. I think hunting is fine and if you really want a gun for sport, ok. But why on earth anyone can buy any kind of insane weapon is beyond me. I honestly too think that most of the people who enjoy guns for practice shooting are not the mental insane killers out there. The people who buy guns to kill buy guns to kill.

  4. Just like Debra we had one mass school shooting in Scotland a few miles from my school and everything changed. I don’t know too much about the whole why USA doesn’t change something but I hope it does.

    • I wish it was so easy to change. I often think it is our strange psyche and culture. People want to feel important at times and if they are failing in life they feel they have been cheated and are frustrated. Thankfully most who are unhappy just remain depressed however some just loose it like the recent cases. I wish there was an easy answer.

  5. NN

    It’s the same problem in South Africa – people lobby for the right to have guns for self-defence, but since most attacks happen by surprise it’s highly unlikely having a gun in the house helps, and often someone in the family uses the gun (accidentally or on purpose) on somebody else in the family. I think only the police should be allowed to have guns (and they should leave them in a locked safe when checking out of work for the day.) It’d just be easier to control guns if nobody was allowed to have them.
    One interesting thing though is that school shootings don’t really happen in South Africa. Any idea why they are so common in the US?

    • Very interesting to know. Thanks for your comment. As for the US I honestly don’t know. I think there is a huge copycat factor involved too. Once a shooting happens it is all over the news and someone who is mentally unstable my view this person as a hero and want the same fame and attention. It is a very sad reality.

  6. The USA has cultivated an attitude of violence and domination that sweeps across all levels of systems. Look at our foreign policy, our media and entertainment, our capitalism and consumption as well as our gun lobby. It is there. Trying to change this attitude from the top down may be met with resistance and very little cooperation. The alternative is what you suggest: a grass-roots nurturing of non-violence, of kindness. “Massive cultural awareness” must grow like a virus. Individuals must decide to make changes: turn off the TV; spend time with your children doing peaceful activities; practice sharing, caring, empathy, honesty and understanding. Build trust and negotiation. Dismantle aggression and anger and blame. Live the practice, practice the life, believe in the way to peace. I don’t own a TV, and I don’t lock my door. I manage a Facebook page called “Keeping it Simple, Keeping it Kind”. It’s doable, and we need more people to do it. Also, the mental health care system is embryonic, at best, but removing the stigma attached to seeking and providing care can only help its development. If we were all better practitioners of honest communication, we might all have therapeutic relationships. Meanwhile, everyone in my family has gone to a therapist at some point, and a few have had medical intervention for depression and other issues. It’s not been ideal, but it’s a way to begin to face things.

    • Excellent thought provoking comment! Very very true. I forgot to mention all the wars and our politics of violence. I got so caught up in the moment. I love your idea of keeping it simple and kind. I think in our culture of so much individualism there is so much concern about the me and not the us. As for depression I often wonder if our culture has created it. Capitalism and individualism versus community and family. It is so different today.

  7. A brave piece and I don’t think you have gone too far in writing this – if anything not far enough. Where is the outrage? Where is the voice that asks, ‘Has this become so normal that nothing is done after each shooting?’ and where is the conversation? I agree the NRA seems to wield a disproportionate amount of power.

  8. It’s when I read pieces like this that I’m so thankful to live in a country where this isn’t as big an issue..

    As Debra commented earlier, the last major “massacre” and loss of life though firearm violence I can recall here was back in 1996 when 35 people (three of which I knew) lost their lives, with another 2 dozen injured. Less than 2 weeks after that massacre, our Prime Minister announced some drastic gun-control measures, including the buyback of over 600,000 weapons (around a fifth of all guns in circulation in the country), private sales were prohibited, weapons all had to be registered individually and “genuine reasons” not including self-defense were needed to purchase a gun. And the only reason this worked, and we haven’t had such a horror situation since is because the public backed this decision.

    As a result, I now get to live in a place where I don’t fear for my life while doing the groceries or going to the cinemas. My family and friends who are teachers don’t fear for their lives going to work.

    I know it’s different for an outsider/foreigner, but as a human being I just can’t understand how if something is costing THIS many lives, something isn’t being done about it… it’s just so heartbreaking 🙁

    • Thanks Jess for the thought provoking comment. Yes, I wish we could change the laws but again I still think there is an entire violence mentality/culture here that needs to be changed. While it is an enormous problem and there are many deaths by guns, I will not live in fear however. Yes, at times I fall into the media hype and get nervous but in general the US is a very safe place. I’ve traveled around the world where it is unsafe as a woman to walk the streets alone even during the day. I’ve been to places where the roads are dangerous, the water is unsafe, and there is much more danger than here. Guns are a problem but still the liklihood of dying from a mass shooting is very very rare. Death by gunshot is higher than it should be, but suicide rates are also high as is death by accidental poisoning and car accidents are a leading cause. SO I don’t fear my life here yet I do think our violence and mass shootings need to change. It is heartbreaking and it is hard to understand. Even I don’t get it and I was born and raised here. Thanks so much for the comment and for digging deep into the conversation.

  9. When I was 13, in my native Scotland, a man walked into a school in my country & shot dead 16 children & 1 teacher. Nobody would ever have expected such a crime to occur on our soil but in response to that atrocity & the subsequent inquest, gun laws, school security & security checks on staff who work with children were all overhauled.
    In the UK, you need a license to buy a gun which requires a police check & there are strict requirements on storage on properties. Both finding & then entering a gun shop are not easy tasks.
    As an outsider to US politics, (& forgive me if I make a misinformed comment) I don’t understand why someone who legitimately wants a gun for hunting etc isn’t prepared to go through a licensing & security check to obtain one if it helps reduce access & availability to those who could be a danger with one. I’m not naive enough to think it’s foolproof but surely it would help?
    Regarding the much lauded constitution: it was written a few centuries ago at a time when life was very different, and it’s context & interpretation are a bit of a debate when considering modern life.
    I know some Americans who have got quite annoyed with non – Americans passing comment because it is ‘none of our business’ but the constant media reports & published statistics is so saddening for what is a modern & western country.
    I commend all those who stand up for change & I can only hope it comes soon for the sake of your children & your children’s children.

    • Thanks so much for sharing this story. I completely agree. It makes no sense that buying a gun is so easy. It is just plain crazy. Our constitution is centuries old and outdated yet the right wingers believe it is their right to be able to buy and have as many crazy weapons as possible. It is just plain sick. I think the world should speak. We are all people and this issue isn’t just American as I see our often imperialistic viewpoints crossing many borders.

    • Yes excellent excellent points! I don’t have the answer but I truly think the big problem with imposing any kind of gun control is the insanity of the NRP and their power and money. They are one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country. They believe that guns don’t kill but won’t even let us talk honestly about any kind of control whatsoever. WE can’t even do a study on gun violence! The politicians need to get out of bed with the NRA and start really caring about our people/.It is completely insane, but then again I think a lot of things about our country is pretty messed up.

  10. I agree that we need stricter gun laws, and I share your frustration and shock and embarrassment that nothing has been done since Sandy Hook and the incidents that came before Sandy Hook. It is unfathomable.

    I’m also curious to know how different our violence on screen culture in the US is different from other countries.

    I need to see data that mental health is drastically different outside of the US. I think eliminating or decreasing (compromise) access to guns and having tough background checks will make a difference. How will be know, if we don’t try? As a country, we should also be providing better health care when it comes to mental health, regardless.

    Speaking out is always followed by a learning process. Better to speak and learn along the way, then not to speak at all. Thank you for being brave, Nicole, and for writing this!

    Jen 🙂

    • Jen, thanks for the comment. You know, we are importing all of our violent screen culture (video games and movies) around the world. I wonder if it will catch up to other countries or if violence in general is just something different about our culture. I also wonder about mental health. You can’t force someone who is on the fringe to get help. I think the problem is much deeper and routed inside our culture of individualism and expectations as a whole. So many young men become disillusioned in life here in the Us. They think a certain level of happiness, acceptance and success is their right and if they don’t get it, then it is someone else’s fault. It is really really sad.

  11. I am so glad you decided to write about this. As a mom, I often joke that when my kids are old enough to go on play dates my first question to the other family is whether or not they keep guns. And of course there is the shootings that we hear about in schools, churches, movie theaters, that make me so so so so mad and sad. Our country needs to do something about this!! and SOON!

    • Thanks for the response! I just going EveryTown USA an advocacy group to help use my voice to pressure congress for change. Let’s hope the more people that speak up, that change occurs. This is not the world I want my kids to grow up in.

  12. Ginthy

    Hi thirdeyemom,

    If there’s ever a topic that must be viewed with a third eye, it’s Gun Control in America.

    The problem is, we aren’t viewing this topic from the proper perspective. Most of us are entangled in the dense jungle of endless debates over gun rights and mental health. We need to leave the jungle behind, and climb the mountain so we can take in the bigger picture. Your discussion of the media indicates that you’re on the path that leads to the summit:

    >>>”The media plays a strong role in creating a perception of fear. Violence and fear sell. Ever since 9/11, the media has played on our fear and anxiety to mess with our minds and get us to watch it. Wasn’t it after 9/11 that CNN and other media
    sources such as Fox News (the real fear news) began their “BREAKING NEWS!” flashes with 24/7 round the clock coverage of the attacks? Media is smart and has figured us out.”<<<

    Since its invention, mass media has been a vehicle that the elite have sought to control in order to move society in THEIR
    desired direction. And over the decades, these "social engineers" have perfected their craft. Unfortunately, most of us – even many of us who consider ourselves "awake" – are blind to how severely we've been manipulated.

    To illustrate the severity of our manipulation, consider Sandy Hook, an event that horrified billions of people around the
    world. It is also an event that – if you unplug yourself from the talking-head media, and do some basic research – cries out:
    "Hoax!"

    So why do we believe that a massacre really happened in Newtown? The reasons boil down to two:
    1) The media (through public officials, "witnesses", etc.) told us it happened.
    2) There's no way a whole community could pull off such a hoax.

    First, because the media is completely unworthy of our trust, we should examine the available evidence for ourselves, accepting nothing at face value. The following video is an example of evidence that demands a critical examination:

    And if you don't think the whole community could be in on the hoax, please consider the December 14, 2012 vigil held at St. Rose of Lima in Newtown. Just 10 hours after the "massacre" – with the bullet-riddled, blood-stained bodies of 26 community members still in the school only a mile away – the catholic priest JOKED about the deceased, saying: "Y'know when you think about these little children, we have 20 new saints…20 new saints today. I don't know about the six adults. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt." And instead of gasping in horror, the dry-eyed vigil attendees LAUGHED. See and hear (and think) for yourself:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBpT5zP7i2I

    Finally, ask yourself what Eric Holder meant when he said – in 1995 – that "we just have to be repetitive…and just really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way."

    Think about it.

    How do you suppose Holder and his cronies intended to REPETITIVELY BRAINWASH us?

    I think you'll find the answer when you tune out "the news" and start researching events for yourself. Like Newtown. And
    Charleston. And Roanoke. And Roseburg. (And we could go on, if we wanted to be extra "repetitive".)

    ————————–

    While the view from the top of the mountain is shockingly ugly, the ascent is a trek we must make in order to understand the world in which we live.

    Keep climbing.

    • Wow, what a thought provoking commentary. Thank you so much. Yes we live in quite a sick world and it amazes me that people don’t stand up more to reality and what is going on. It is very very sad. I like your analogy to climbing too. I will continue to research this topic and advocate. Yes, it is an ugly world. That is half the reason I started blogging and reading blogs to really get some positive things out there (which is what most of my blog is about) and get more real dialogue going about the ugly truths. Thanks so much for this.

  13. Great article Nicole. At the end of the article you asked; “So what can we do? How can we change this culture of violence in our society and live in a safer place?” While you and I are in agreement, let me offer a different approach to address the gun and violence issue. It is obvious that arguing this issue directly each time after we have a mass shooting is getting us nowhere. Even the most watered down proposals, such as the Manchin-Toomey gun proposal which came after the Sandy Hook massacre, cannot even get a vote in Congress when more than 80% public supports background checks and closing gun purchase loopholes. The core of the problem isn’t that a vast majority of the country doesn’t want something to be done, it is that a very loud minority, with a lot of money behind it, is controlling the political agenda when it comes to guns, or any other issue for that matter. The core problem is that we have too much corporate and special interest money in our our political system, and it has only gotten worse since the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case which open the flood gates to unlimited and undisclosed political contributions. In the upcoming 2016 Presidential election more than $ 2 billion dollars will be spent to elect someone to a job that pays $400,000 per year. But it is really the down ballot offices below the President where the special interests really get the bang for their bucks. Who gets elected to House of Representatives and the Senate are just as important, if not more so. While President Obama is all for implementing some level of moderate gun reform legislation, and he can use his bully pulpit to rally public support, he cannot get legislation passed when the Congress is bought and paid for by special interests. The NRA, which has a relatively small membership when it comes to number of actual voters, has been very successful in intimidating elected officials because of their money. They have used that money successfully not only in elections, but also in a public relations campaign to convince the loud vocal minority to believe the Second Amendment means something that it actually doesn’t. These people truly believe the Second Amendment reads as follows; “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” They are also convinced that the Second Amendment was written so that they as individuals could keep and bear Arms to prevent the tyranny of the Federal government. Of course this completely overlooks that the entire purpose of the “well regulated Militia” was specifically “necessary to the security of a free State” (not a free Individual). In fact, between 1791 and 2008 there was not one single Supreme Court ruling that ever said that an individual had a constitutional right to own a gun. That changed with the 2008 Heller decision, by a 5-4 vote. (By 5 un-elected lawyers, as the conservatives like to argue when it came to their same-sex marriage ruling.) But making these types of fact based logical arguments will get up nowhere in today’s political environment. So first we will have to change the political environment. The first step in doing this must be to get all corporate and special interest money out of politics, which means overturning Citizens United. The most direct way to do this is to pass a Constitutional amendment which makes it clear that corporations are not people and do not have Constitutional protections, which is what the Supreme Court relied on in making their decision when they struck down all the past legislative efforts on campaign finance laws. Once their direct monetary influence over elected officials is removed, special interest groups like the NRA will have to focus their efforts on convincing the majority of voters to support their positions, not just buying the elected official and then keeping them in-line with a rabid single-issue minority of voters. This of course would dilute their influence over elected officials. I could go on (and if you have read any of my past articles you know what I mean 🙂 ), but I just wanted provide a little different perspective on how we might approach the gun issue.

    • Wow excellent excellent excellent Daniel! This is so spot on. I wanted to throw the question out to readers to see what they thought. So far the dialogue has been amazing. I am in complete agreement. That is why it is so important for us to be informed on our candidates and get out and vote! We need to use our voice to carefully select our leaders and try to stand up to this crazy lobbying and money being spent to get elected. After Sandy Hook I did some advocacy and was so dismayed to see that nothing changed deputy the fact that most people except a very select and powerful few do want change. I will keep at it. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and lay out your argument. I will not give up!

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