Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gun Violence: Where's the Outrage?

April 7, 2009

I am no gun control freak. I admit, I have only handled and shot a gun once in my entire life. My father did not take me hunting when I was a child. We did not have guns in our home, and the mere idea of me owning a gun and storing it in my house frightens my wife to death. But I am in no way a proponent of getting rid of all guns.

However, it has struck me as odd how the recent violent episodes of gun violence in various parts of the country have sparked so little concern - from the news media, from gun-control advocates, or from anyone else, as far as I can tell. Click here to see a list of the latest bloodbaths.

Coming from Wyoming, it is no surprise to me that high school students in the past routinely carried rifles and other arms in their vehicles while driving to and from school. It never occurred to me at the time the danger this could pose to me or other students. This even after experiencing a shooting at my own school when I was in the seventh grade in Sheridan, WY.

Then came the brutality of Columbine. I am not completely sure, but since that incident, I don't think high school students are allowed to drive with weapons in their cars to school. Some probably still do, but they better not store them above the back window of their pickup. Columbine seemed to have the affect of changing the way a lot of people thought about the use of firearms.

There have been several other incidents since Columbine that have sparked disbelief and horror in us all, school shootings, sniper shootings, etc. Even with the shootings at Virginia Tech about two years ago, it seemed the discussion was very heated on how to combat these types of occurrences.

Yet, with the several killing sprees that have erupted over the last month and a half, these discussions seem to have vanished. It may be because of the fear that was hatched with the insidious misinformation that President Obama would take away our guns if he were elected. I honestly don't know. But it seems to me, the more incidents that happen, the more discussion should be had, not less.

One good argument (really the only argument I've heard so far) is that with too much coverage, these violent crimes encourage copycats, which could only increase the incidence of these acts. But there is a way to cover the issue without practically glorifying the killer, as I felt may have been the case with the Virginia Tech gunman. I recently heard of a group of young people in Casper who were discussing suicide on a MySpace board. It would be silly for the authorities who learned of this to say, "well let's just pretend it isn't a problem, because we might be glorifying the participants." Something had to be done in that instance, and something probably needs to be done about these shootings. Nothing is going to happen if no one will even entertain discussion.

No doubt there are lobbies out there trying to curtail the right to bear arms. No doubt they want to stop people from owning and storing guns in their homes. But I don't know where they are right now. It is just curious that at a time when our president supposedly wants to take away guns, and when the media supposedly are riding along in his bandwagon, that somehow the media have collectively turned a shrugging, indifferent shoulder to the multiple massacres that have recently unfolded.

Why the apparent refusal to at least discuss that there may be some correlation between the increasing number of innocent deaths, and how gun laws are in force today? That includes discussion of whether it would have made people more safe if there had been a gun in the building where the killer opened fire. Has the discussion become so polarizing that people are avoiding it all together? Or, as the CEO of the NRA recently put it, are the ones with the guns making the rules currently? Is it because the economy is hurting, and people have more important things to worry about?

I have a lot more questions than answers. However, since I began writing, I found that ABC is going to do a special shortly on the violence that has happened over the last year. Maybe they will do what should already have happened - begin a dialogue about what is going on, why it's happening, and what possibly can be done to change the situation.

There was another mass killing over the weekend in Graham, Washington. That apparently brings the number of mass killings to five in the last eight days. It is very disturbing that these killings are happening. It is also very disturbing that no one seems to care too much about it all.

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