Aurora, CO Mass Shootings: Lets talk about Culture and Gun Control

What happened in Auora, Colorado was a tragedy. Everyone can agree with that. The media is taking this as an opportunity to parade it around the television and internet – which I have no problem with – to debate the most obvious topic on hand: what does this mean for gun control.

The same talking points are being regurgitated across the news outlets and the respective conservative or liberal leaning stations are standing their ground without much bend or surprise in their arguments. So the story goes, but gets us nowhere, because frankly guns aren’t the problem in America – it’s the culture.

We are breading a culture of violence and a desensitized populous unphased by the slaughter of human life. We are a modern day Spartan society. Warriors are heroes looked upon as Gods of society.

Worse – the “gangster” or criminal mentality is rewarded by praise from peers and television. Even I find myself rooting for drug dealers and murderers on TV.

Joining the military to kill our enemies is taken lightly it seems and greeted with a “thank you” from society. Killing a few civilians a few thousand miles away with a drone has literally become as easy as a video game. Sometimes I wonder if we take the loss of human life seriously enough or if the constant bombardment of death has made it invisible.

Liberty without Responsibility Fails

I’ve argued before the importance of maintaining our rights to bear arms – it’s essential to our liberty as individuals and as a country. However, we cannot have liberty without responsibility, period. That responsibility includes instilling values of right and wrong in our children and holding our peers in society to the highest possible expectations. Liberty is only successful in combination with morality.

Among developed nations we are the most violent. We aren’t killing each other for food, drug cartels aren’t our overlords, and we aren’t fighting for survival; yet because of some crude sense of enjoyment – the incentive provided by a perceived benefit granted by society as a whole – we embrace violence. Sometimes, if enough people die, we hear about it on the news.

Where do we go from here?

Over the next few years and decades we basically have thee choices. We can either concede to violence until the people finally beg our Government to play the parent and take our 2nd Amendment right way (or at least strictly impede it) or we can change the current prevailing culture. I think most of us, even the most liberal of us, would prefer the latter.

We teach peace and the infinite value of the human life. We demand personal and social responsibility. We instill these facts in our children and our peers.

People not the Government

I am a strong advocate for action and culture change brought upon by the people and not by our Government simply because we have been shown time and time again that no one can force a group of people to behave.

When the Government tried out prohibition it failed, the drug war is failing us now, and I imagine that for America (where the gun culture is so strong) an attempted law prohibiting fire arms would fail too – or at least only keep them out of the hands of law abiding citizens. So, to me, the only logical thing to do is to hold ourselves personally accountable.

5 thoughts on “Aurora, CO Mass Shootings: Lets talk about Culture and Gun Control

  1. jon

    Good post, Atticus. I agree basically — but I’d add one thing. There is some proportion of the population that you’re not going to be able to instill values in. I read recently that about ‘psychopaths’ constitute about 1% of the population at large — these are people that are incapable of feeling empathy for others’ suffering, and may not even be able to anticipate painful consequences for themselves. Some studies actually show that in the brains of psychopaths, the amygdala, which normally becomes activated to stimuli that produce fear – is under-responsive. There seems to be an organic aspect to the problem. And that 1% (psychopaths) jumps to about 30% when you examine violent offenders in prisons. I think we need to do something to protect the other 99% of the population – and some reasonable controls and restrictions are called for. There’s a lot you can do while maintaining 2nd amendment rights.

    For instance, in addition to the ease with which military-style arms are purchased by nearly anyone, who would defend selling ‘cop-killer’ bullets, other than an association defending the commercial interests of arms manufacturers, and advertising to convince regular Joe’s that this national association is actually defending the American way of life?

    1. Atticus Finch

      Jon, I am all for responsible and reasonable Gun control laws. For example, I think getting a gun should be similar to getting a license. There should be a background check, some sort of educational process, etc. I’m not advocating that every man women and child should have a handgun and an AK-47 (I’m not in the arms business) 🙂

      Having said that I’m skeptical of making the exception (the 1%) the rule for the crowd. Sure there may be a psychopath or two that slips through the cracks, but in that case I’m not sure banning guns all together would stop them either.

      Getting a jump on the cultural aspect, I believe, would put us up there with any of the countries with the lowest violent crime rates.

  2. Holden

    I think that regardless the measures we take, there are always going to be tragedies. People will always go postal and will always find the means to do so if they feel inclined enough to do so.

    What happened in Colorado is a tragedy and if I lost a family member in that tragedy, I’d simply be at a loss of what I thought should happen.

    Fact of the matter is, shit happens and there is nothing we can do about it.

    1. Atticus Finch

      Things will always happen, but we can greatly reduce their frequency. Take a look at other developed countries – most of them have far less incident of “mass shootings”. That’s proof that we can reduce the amount of violent crime if we try (though we can never completely eliminate people from doing bad things). So there IS something we can do about it.

  3. Rattlesnake

    I basically agree with your thesis, but I think I would think about this issue a bit differently. First, I agree that it is the culture that is responsible for violence and not the presence of guns. I’m not 100% sure about this, but I’m pretty sure most violence is due to gang activity. It isn’t really something that most people encounter very often, aside from hearing about it on the news. I would say that depictions of violence on TV, on movies, and elsewhere probably doesn’t have as much to do with it than “gang culture” which I would guess is mostly propagated by poverty, drug use, and dependence on the government (I’m sure hip hop and “gansta” culture also contribute to that by glorifying gang culture, but everyone who is raised with proper morals should be able to recognize that “ganstas” are not people that should be looked up to). So, I basically agree with your thesis (especially the part about liberty requiring responsibility).


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