Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More thoughts on solutions to gun violence

Mike DeAngelo has an excellent contribution to the gun control debate, and he seems to go further than I did, which suggests I may be more liberal (not in the Dems vs Reps sense) than many gun owners on the issue. While I drew a line between "Dangerous" and "More dangerous, requiring more responsibility" weapons, Mike wants responsibility tests for any kind of gun ownership, and wants large capacity magazines banned outside of those kept on shooting ranges.

I thought it was worth raising. For the most part though looking at the "public debate", I'm finding it's unfortunate because the two major sides are too entrenched in their positions. Gun control groups such as the Brady campaign are entrenched in the concept that (a) "Assault Weapons" are especially bad and, yeah, putting a heatsink on a barrel makes it super awesome for mass killings and (b) bans are required and good and will work.

Meanwhile the NRA has reached a point of principle, it seems, that any talk that remotely suggests that any gun might possibly slightly even maybe make it easier to murderize people is blaming guns, and so seems to avoid, for the most part, any restrictions on gun ownership save for token generalizations about the mentally ill.

Here's what I don't think:

  • I don't think bans are likely to work. And as a liberal, I don't believe in banning anything except as a last resort. It's not clear to me we've gotten anywhere close to testing alternatives.
  • I don't think "Assault Weapons" is an especially helpful definition of a gun that requires a special level of responsibility to own safely.
  • I don't think the Brady campaign is a terrible group dedicated to stealing teh freedom. I do think it's made up of victims, direct and indirect, of gun violence who are focused on the wrong things and aren't necessarily expert in the things they want controlled, or banned.
  • I don't think the NRA is a good advocate for gun owners. They've turned the entire debate into a left vs right thing and are doing everything they can to alienate liberals, while simultaneously putting forth spectacularly bad arguments. A future Democratic congress is more and more likely to pass draconian anti-gun laws, and it'll be in part because the NRA never engaged liberals or attempted to get them on their side.
A liberal position should involve encouraging those who want guns to own them responsibly, not criminalizing their possession.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How Hollywood glorifies violence

Kinda something that's been kicking around in my head since Wayne LeOutoftouch made his infamous post-Newtown speech blaming video games and Hollywood for the massacre.

I can't honestly say that either of the movies Wayne picked depicted violence positively. In both cases, violence was depicted as insane, horrible, and unpleasant.

But I can say numerous John Wayne movies have depicted it positively. That is, they've described violence as a tool, to be used legitimately under certain circumstances, largely something about killing "bad people". And here's the thing: the speech affirmed those values. The only person who can deal with a bad guy with a gun, said the NRA's chief, is a good guy with a gun. Add some swagger and a pseudo-Texan drawl, and you've got something that'd sound exactly like it was said by John Wayne himself.

Could it be Wayne's right, and that Hollywood does product influential pro-violence movies, but that he, not numerous mass murderers, is the victim of them?