On a Sunday afternoon, when a church-shooting left more than two-dozen people dead outside San Antonio, Texas, a hometown friend in Montreal called me to express concern about the tragedy. While the media-frenzy had carried reports all the way to Canada within hours, I was blissfully unaware of the shooting which occurred an hour and a half away from where I live. On Monday, an editor reached out to see if I had an opinion on the shooting — which I did. And I set off to organize an array of emotional reactions. But by Wednesday, I was told the heat around the incident was dying down and an essay about gun-violence would be over-shadowed by more current events. It is a horrifying truth: frequent coverage has shortened the attention we give mass-shootings — which could mean we might eventually not give any attention to such tragedies. That desensitization has ominous implications.
Scientists at Loyola University Chicago report that exposure to media violence may numb people to emotional stimuli thereby increasing aggressive thoughts and hostile expectations. At the same time, such exposure could decrease prosocial behavior and sympathy for victims of violence.
My own personal experience has proven this true. I was 15 when my parents sat us down to tell us that our uncle, a father of two and husband, had been shot dead in front of his family. My uncle — a man who loved horror and violent films and would let us kids watch with him, only after we pleaded. In these movies, victims of staged-violence could reappear in other films; the finality of violent deaths was never real to us until my uncle was killed. That afternoon, as reality sunk in, my parents told me to put my head between my knees so I wouldn’t faint — I don’t feel like this when people get shot in movies, I thought.
I couldn’t watch violent movies for years — still can’t, really. I mistakenly watched Pulp Fiction, once. Moviegoers laughed when a scared man’s head was accidentally blown off by a gun.
Research shows that while reports of mass-shootings are more frequent, even if coverage is fleeting, the number of events haven’t increased — they’ve only become deadlier. Grant Duwe, author of Mass Murder in the United States,says the number of victims affects the likelihood that the shooting will be reported by the media. In other words, the higher the death count, the more frequent the coverage, the more prone we become to desensitization, or apathy — which literally means,“without feeling.”
As reported in Psychology Today, one must experience feelings about something to take meaningful action on it. So the implications of increasing coverage and normalization of these horrors means decreased emotional response, and without emotion to influence our behavior, apathy won’t affect the change we need.
It’s true: if I don’t want to hear what the media says, I don’t have to listen. And I don’t. After tuning in to my favorite radio-station every day since the 2016 election, last month I stopped listening — because I can’t handle the barrage of reporting and the anxiety it provokes in me. But the radio-silence has also provided the space to imagine what meaningful action could look like — without the influence of fear.
I know that head-burying won’t instill change. In fact, I confront the potential of change daily — my 9-5 hours are dedicated to using art and scholarship to prompt conversations that will inspire action. And I do this on a university campus that allows students and faculty to carry concealed hand-guns. Under the weight of these circumstances, there is no room for ignorance. Because the reality is change requires attention to what ruffles us, and the space to process discomfort, so that we can take meaningful action.
On a Sunday afternoon, when a church-shooting left more than two-dozen people dead, an official with the state Department of Public Safety felt compelled to say, “This was not racially motivated, it wasn’t over religious beliefs.” And the president of the US called the incident a mental health issue, not “a guns situation” — both statements trying to tamp down the collateral considerations of mass-shootings, and effectively contributing to the desensitization. But in an era of growing fear, ignoring the full-scope of gun-violence won’t protect us.
The Effects and Consequences of Gun Control Essay
2082 Words9 Pages
“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.” The right of all Americans to bear arms is a right the Founding Fathers held to equal importance as the Constitution itself. Gun control laws directly violate this right and therefore should not even be under consideration. Even if that issue is overlooked, gun control advocates state that in order to reduce firearm related violence, gun control laws must be implemented to remove the violence caused by firearms. Although this may seem reasonable, the consequences of such laws are ironically counterproductive; they exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it. Besides the fact that the American…show more content…
The United States’ homicide rate (5.9 deaths per 100,000 people as of 2005) is higher when compared to other countries: Sweden with 1.3, Canada with 1.5, and Australia with 1.3. To go along with these rates, America has a higher gun ownership with 39% when compared to Canada with 29.1%, Australia with 19.4% and Sweden with 15.1%. Many argue that these statistics prove the effectiveness of gun control. Fewer amount of guns equals less crime.
Though the arguments seem to have good, empirical statistics, they are actually riddled with holes. Kellermann and Reay’s 43-1 Statistic is nowhere near exhaustive and made significant assumptions that should not have been made. For one, the statistic recorded the crimes with deaths while having no way to account for the number of crimes prevented because of the use of firearms (Heumer 10). Many crimes are stifled and prevented when the victim pulls out a gun. The sheer thought of being shot stops many crimes. This, in-turn, also skews their results for self-defense. They needed to account for the numerous crimes prevented from the use of firearms through self-defense, which would greatly impact the ratio. The shortcomings of the 43-1 Statistic do not end there; thirty seven of the forty three deaths used in the ratio were from suicides. The inclusion of suicides in this statistic implies that the removable of guns would have prevented 100% of these unfortunate deaths. If