Disclosure: This is my opinion. If you are not interested in my opinion, then skip right over this piece. Trust me, I will not be offended. Not at all. If, however, you choose to read this piece and offer up your opinion, know that I moderate comments thoroughly. Be civil. Stay on topic.
In wake of the recent shootings in Colorado, I was not surprised to see the usual suspects being touted as the reason behind the horrible incident in Aurora. To which I say: horse crap
1. Availability of guns : The availability of guns is not the issue. I am not a card-carrying member of the NRA, nor do I own a gun, but I do know that the ability to own a gun is not the reason James Holmes went into a crowded movie theater with the intent to kill. The argument that it made it easier is also a fallacy. In Japan, their requirements to purchase a firearm are considered a formality. They have the lowest number of gun deaths in the world. Mexico has very strict laws on gun ownership, yet there are an estimated 15.5 million people in Mexico who own a gun. There were 11,309 gun homicides in Mexico in 2010. In the US for the same year, there were 8,775 firearm-related homicides. Statistics aside, gun ownership is not the problem. Lack of firearm knowledge is, specifically safety and responsible ownership.
2. Lack of religious values [insert preferred religion here] : One does not need to be a member of a particular religious group to have a good moral compass. Saying so implies those of us who choose not to subscribe to religious indoctrination are evil incarnate and/or going to hell and/or are depraved and/or [insert equally idiotic phrase here]. Knowing whether or not to shoot someone is based upon two questions. Am I or someone near me in imminent danger of death? Is killing this individual the only possible solution? No? Then don’t do it.
3. Violence on TV/movies/books/music/comic books : The US is not the only country with violence in the various mediums. Case in point The Expendables grossed over $268 million worldwide and The Blade trilogy grossed over $417 million worldwide. Yes, they are movies made in the United States, but we are not the only country that puts violence on television or in movies. Violence on a television show: turn it off. Violence in a movie: don’t go see it. Violence in a video game: don’t buy it. Violence in music: don’t listen to it. Violence on the internet: Don’t read/watch it. Violence in a book/comic book: Don’t read it. You are the parent. Know what your children are reading, playing, watching. Know who your children’s friends are. Know where they go. Know what they do. Know what happens to your children at school. Know where your children are physically, academically, psychologically and emotionally. Be a parent. I know it is a tough job, but you birthed them. Now raise them. I was a struggling, single parent for ten years, I know it is hard. Do it anyway. Your children are worth it.
4. The dude was nuts : As for the dude being nuts. Do you recognize any of the following names: Jeff Weise, Desmond Keels, James Sheets, Nathaniel Brazill, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Kip Kinkel, Jacob Davis, Michael Carneal, Luke Woodham, or Jamie Rouse? They are all teenagers who brought a firearm to a school and shot and killed at least one individual. Are all these teenagers nuts? No. It is much more complex than that. Dewey G. Cornell presented testimony to the House Judiciary Committee at the Oversight Hearing to Examine Youth Culture and Violence in 1999. He identified three groups of teens responsible for violence. The third group, the outcasts, are primarily responsible for shootings that occur in schools.
The third group is most puzzling, because they often appear to be normal youngsters whose acts of violence surprise us. However, these youth are emotionally troubled and conflicted — alienated, angry, and depressed. They may be intelligent and capable, but they are not satisfied with their achievements and often feel unfairly treated by others. Although they may have some friends, they feel lonely and isolated. They are highly sensitive to teasing and bullying, and are deeply resentful, ruminating over perceived injustices. As they become more depressed, their judgement and perspective becomes distorted, like the suicidal person who thinks life isn’t worth living and that there is no way to solve their problems other than dying. In this case, however, the conflicted youth decides to kill others rather than himself. These are the youth who are involved in most of the school shootings.
In the Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research & Education, an article by Georgia Ann Weatherby, Sara Stratchila, Bridget McMahon addressed school shootings. They reference a study done by the United States Secret Service in profiling the shooters. Specifically,
‘In over 2/3 of the cases, the attackers felt persecuted, bullied, threatened, attacked or injured by others prior to the incident’ and ‘a number of attackers had experienced bullying and harassment that was longstanding and severe.’
Am I saying James Holmes was a victim of such abuse? No. It is way too early to tell. Am I saying he should be forgiven if he is a victim of such abuse? No. What I am saying is this: Don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t jump on any bandwagons. Do take a moment to hug your children. Know your children and what happens around them/to them/by them.
Editted for clarity