With all this talk about guns and "gun control", raising the age to buy an rifle to 21 (the same age you have to be in order to buy a pistol), as well as all the other discussions made me stop and think for a moment about the violence in the first place. First off, most of these school age mass murderers were on some psychotropic drug for behavior issues. Further investigation seems to indicate a tendency by the parents to leave the child alone a lot; to their own "devises" as it were. Also, the individual was rarely disciplined (parents who made idle threats--counted to three a lot) and children who faced little consequences for their actions.
Another interesting factor is that these children often felt as if they were outsiders; somehow "weird" or ignored; not taken seriously. For them, violence seemed to be their only answer; their only solution if you will. It brought them attention. It rid themselves of those who refused to accept them. As for the suicide at the end, that too seemed fitting. After all, if they felt they "didn't belong", then what was death to them but a quickening of a fate they knew they were destined for anyway. As for the adults, again we see individuals who suffer from some sort of mental illness, usually some type of identity crisis, which is treated with some form of psychotropic drug. I can't explain why this is. I'm neither a psychologist nor someone who treats mental illnesses. However, I am a keen observer of people and of cause and effect. I am also very familiar with history.
"Cry Havoc and let lose the dogs of war!
", a phrase uttered by William Shakespeare's Mark Anthony in his play "Julius Caesar" (Act 3 Scene 1), which is perhaps one of the most famous lines ever penned by "The Bard" as Shakespeare is known. Man is both a spiritual being, capable of higher thought, compassion, empathy and a predatory animal; one capable of incredible acts of horror and carnage. Mankind has sought to overcome this most base aspect of His nature, or to find a balance at least in countless religions, ideologies, and philosophies but it's hardwired into our brains.
The ancient Greeks felt that a state at war for too long became immune to it; "drunk on blood" as the saying went (some have argued that was one of the reasons for Sparta's furious reputation. It's population was desensitized to the bloodshed; their famous red capes being the color of blood). We hear of the brutality of the Roman Legions, and indeed, some of the Caesars, which over time, not just desensitized the populace to violence, but actually created a craving for it---"The Games".
No one knows how many thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands died in the so-called "games" held throughout the empire which was riddled with coliseums great and small. The blood sports were stage for "entertainment" of the masses; a release for what's ailing society at the time and a way to blow off steam which might otherwise turn into riots, protests, or revolutions. Most of the time, these games involved animal on animal (often a starving predator and prey or two opposing and hungry predators), man vs a apex predator (it was also a gory but popular and cheap way to rid the prisons of murderers, thieves, rapists, and political prisoners).
Of course, when most of us think of these games, we think of gladiators, which were the prime reason people attended the games. Most were simply fights--often several happening at the same time---where one wins and one loses. On rare occasions, these fights were to the death (as the empire continued to decline, these type of fights became more popular). It's not surprising really. Rome found itself going from being the conqueror to becoming the conquered; always being attacked or facing a rebellion somewhere within or near its borders. As a result, the legions became more brutal; they became more barbaric than the so-called barbarians that they had come to "civilize". Of course, we can fast forward through history and find pretty much the same thing. The longer a people are subjected to violence, the more they become almost immune to it, and the more it takes to elicit a reaction.
Some professionals will tell you that it's a natural or built-in response, an "off switch" if you will, to protect our psyche. I have no doubt they are right, but at some point what the senses witness simply overwhelms our ability to cope and so we snap. Call it combat "fatigue", "exhaustion", or "shell shock" or PTSD, or even "cowardice" as some claimed (the British High Commission were particularly notorious for this assertion during WWI, resulting in soldiers being imprisoned or even executed), the results are all pretty much the same. Most will agree that the brain is affected in some way which causes a variety of changed behaviors ranging from total withdrawal, uncontrolled crying or laughter, physical shaking, a purposefully lack of hygiene or ability to control bodily behavior, all the way to extreme pacifism or aggressive behavior.
America, perhaps more so than most countries, is a nation of "latchkey" children; children which basically raise themselves, with either both parents working full time jobs while trying to carve out some type of "personal" life to parents in name only. Thus, the kid is left to occupy themselves, which is sometimes when the trouble begins. Meanwhile there are those individuals who were little more than children when they found out they were about to become mothers or fathers themselves. Most are usually poor, willfully uneducated (meaning they blew off school intentionally), come from broken and often abusive homes, and live off the charity of taxpayers, churches, or other social organizations. Rampant drug and alcohol use is commonplace, as is crime and gangs.
As an aside, whenever you watch or listen to an interview of the parent(s), they invariably have some excuse for why they allow their children to do as they please like "they just won't listen to me", "their friends are responsible", "it's the teacher's fault", or even that society is somehow at fault that their child is a thug, junkie or drunk, or whatever. It's this failure to accept and take responsibility that really irks me the most. Someone---the parent---needs to take charge, which means, as often as not, getting their own act together, which many don't want to do. Personally, I think steps should be taken to keep them from having more children (temporarily) which they're unable or unwilling to take care of as long as they're on the taxpayer's dime, but back to the topic at hand.
What does this all have to go with gun violence in our schools (or in society in general)? Several things. First, owning a gun is not the problem. Americans have owned guns from the beginning. At one time, some schools even offered gun safety classes (of course, they also required civics classes too). I do agree that the age limit to buy a rifle and pistol should be same and equal to whatever draft registration age is (if you can carry one on behalf of the government, you can carry one as a citizen too). I think that there should be a mandatory gun safety class with each purchase, and yes, I think civics should be brought back too. Children, especially young adults, need to understand what the Constitution and Bill of Rights are from both a scholastic and practical sense.
Along with this is the need to reestablish discipline in the schools. Teachers are not underpaid babysitters, and no teacher should ever feel threatened or endangered. I know that it's not "PC" to paddle their little butts, but expelling (free time off) sends the wrong message too. Perhaps exposing them to some real life "bad boys" and "bad girls" in prison followed by a "boot camp" environment (with looser rules on how discipline can be applied) is the way to go. However, parents must step up too. Yes, I know everyone is busy these days, from work and attending meetings or going to night school to sitting at home eating Mickey D's and watching Oprah to robbing the local 7-11, doing drugs....or in jail. Whatever.
If you brought a child into this world, then guess what---you're responsible for them. Not strangers. Not your parents or grandparents. Not society. It doesn't take a "village". It takes a active and interested parent. So grow up. Pull your pants up, and step up. Therefore, I think parenting classes should be required to. I don't care who offers it---churches, schools, some social service agency---just as long as everyone attends in order to graduate high school. Perhaps the classes could even start in junior high school---whatever it takes.
Next, and I think is the most critical factor, is that in this country we glorify violence. It's on our TVs 24/7, in our movies, and as often as not, it's in even in the music, and it's on our video games; the more graphic and gorier the better. Kids and young adults are exposed to it constantly. Before the era of "smart phones", they could at least get away from it for awhile, but now they can carry it with them all day and all night. When we were kids the most gore we usually saw was a broken arm, scraped knee or elbow (maybe a bloody nose). We weren't exposed to it constantly. Even cheesy "shtick" violence seemed real enough to us!
Now, these kids and young adults get to blow out brains, decapitate people (or aliens), not to mention commit all sorts of general mayhem, albeit cyber mayhem while eating their Gummy bears or chips and slurping on their sodas. But how long does it take kids with not supervision or control, with no sense of responsibility, who are being drugged in being compliant, to take the step from cyber mass murder to real life mass murder? They already have little or no respect for others---especially differing opinions Given their overexposure, they've already become largely desensitized the violence.
Ultimately, therefore, the increase in gun violence, be it in schools or even by the police, may be the result of a society which has become "blood drunk" like the Romans and other had before us (of course, kids taught to challenge or runaway from the cops doesn't help either). Perhaps we've become immune to seeing violence, real or fake (which is increasingly harder to discern between the two). America has already been at war for longer than at any point in its history, and it shows no signs of abating. If anything, this manufactured "War on Terror" is designed to be nearly as eternal as any government bureaucracy.
Perhaps too this is intentional. In a country with a never-ending need for cannon fodder, it benefits the system greatly if the sheep have been conditioned to administer and accept slaughter. Being desensitized to the carnage certainly fits the bill doesn't it? So what if a few "loose inmates" escape and cause some damage? The occasion can always be turned into a renewed campaign to disarm the public from one thing protecting them from a government run amuck---a means to protect themselves and (most of all) fight back.
People seem to have either forgotten or chosen to ignore the fact that we are not the America our Founders created. We are not a Constitutional or democratic republic, no matter how many times we pretend it is. Wishing it was still so won't bring it back. Sorry folks. America is an Oligarchy; a plutocracy with an ever expanding surveillance/police state. There is "Them" and there is "Us". There are rules and laws for both, but they aren't equal or always just. For the ruling class, treason is laughed off as naive. For us, it's unpatriotic, "Un-American", and criminal. Paying one's "fair share" of taxes is for chumps. Corporations are now people, but only more so. Money is "free speech", especially in politics---except yours and mine are still capped; limited.
Freeing Americans of their guns (or simply stigmatizing anyone with guns or who support the 2nd Amendment) is now seen as a realistic goal. The political/corporate establishment don't see this as a problem, at least not as long as video games, TV (with its uncensored cable and satellite channels), and movies exist. Besides, modern warfare is more technological today anyway. If you can fly a remote cyber or real drone using a remote control stick, then you too can fly a real multi-million dollar drone and watch the bad guys just like on your video games.
Just like your video games, you can strafe the fleeing baddies or even launch missile strikes and blown them to bits, and all in real time and in vivid 3D color! At the end of your shift, you get to go home (possibly playing your latest video game as leave---stop for something to eat with your friends, and then back home. However, there's one key exception. Instead of simply color pixels flashing and disappearing from the screen, real flesh and blood human beings are dying or dead. In this "video game", there is no reset; no "redo". There is no coming back from the dead. While you eat, the buzzards do too. Not a pleasant thought is it?
America spends over 50% of its budget on the military (and I will add, the men, women, and their families, aren't paid or compensated nearly enough for what they do in the name of corporate greed disguised as "patriotism"). America, in fact, spends more than Russia, China, India, France, the UK , and the ten countries on the list. Pax Roma. Pax Americana. Of course, the expenditures are always justified as "protecting global freedom", "national security", or "making the world safe for democracy", when in reality it's about the ability of corporations to extort resources from unwilling countries or indigenous peoples, using the military as their quasi-private "muscle" to enforce polices they helped write, and making the world safe for corporate profit, and all in our name.
I've often wondered what America would be like if part of that 50% went toward schools. After all, a well educated citizenry is critical for the protection of any nation. Maybe additional school programs could be added, like those mentioned earlier, and perhaps others such arts, history, critical thinking, debate, writing, English, as well as more trade schools. Surely these are things which make for a stronger country.
Maybe some of that money could be invested in better training for the police in order to weed out the wannabe "Wyatt Earp" types from the real public servants; more emphasis on reform and less on punishment for non-violent and first offenders. A little toward rebuilding our infrastructure or securing our borders wouldn't hurt either. We need to ensure public safety through better designed roads and bridges (and especially improving public transportation through trains, subways, and trolleys), as well as repairing the ones we have (which, again, is why we need to invest heavily in trade and vocational schools). Shouldn't this be considered "national security" too---safe roads and bridges? Given that we are by far the world's strongest military, and we have alone have enough nukes or other weapons of mind-boggling destruction to turn this world into something that even cockroaches wouldn't want, would they actually miss 10% or even 20% of that---our---money?
The weapons aren't the problem dear reader. They are neither good or bad. Their appearance is neither good or bad. It's the person with their finger on the trigger and their intentions. More often than not, that individual's intentions are benign. When it's not, it's usually for self defense. However, it's those who are planning evil that we hear about, which is to be expected. Death, for the time being, still shocks us. I hope it never stops shocking us.
I would even like to see a time where even hokey "shtick" violence shocks and surprises us again. But that will mean taking responsibility, at home, at school, and as a society regarding the extent of violence we will tolerate, be it on TV, at the movies (with their hypocritical producers, directors, actors and actresses), in music, and video games such as mandatory parental approval for underage children. The beauty of Capitalism is how it responds to money...or the absence of money. Ultimately, it is the parent(s) who should set the ground rules and enforcement them, rather than simply drugging the child to control their behavior. Maybe they should be treated the same way we treat soldiers and civilians who suffer from PTSD as a result of overexposure to violence.
We should also include a basic training in gun safety too with each purchase---new or used. People who own guns should know the proper care and use of every firearm they own, from how to clean it to how to use it, and when. Finally, we must find a way to stop the Oligarchs from using our children, grandchildren, and us as their cannon fodder; of desensitizing us to war, violence, or bloodshed in order to promote their agenda of a unarmed populace living in a heavily armed police state and readymade soldiers willing to whatever enemy the corporate state manufactures in the name of whatever patriotic slogan is popular at the time. The solution starts and ends with us, not by self-limiting or aborgating our rights but by taking them back.
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