Gun Responsibility

First, the only reason I’m talking about guns today is because I came across an interesting article that blamed Hollywood for its glorification of violence and guns in particular as a guilty party in the recent uptick in school shootings over the pass few years.

So you have a hypocritical situation where actors and filmmakers are speaking out against assault weapons while glorifying them and supporting them in their movies either directly or indirectly.

So you essentially have Hollywood vs the NRA, with the NRA laughing all the way to the bank every action movie or episode that releases out of Hollywood. It’s almost a joke if it wasn’t so serious.

I thought this was particularly interesting and convicting because as a filmmaker myself, I had to ask where I stood on this same issue.

Do the movies I make glorify guns and violence? Am I contributing to the moral decay of our kids with my art?

I believe it’s worth gaining personal clarity around as an artist and creator so you have a firm foundation to stand on when making statements about gun violence. I’m about to make some myself later in this episode.

My new sci-fi short film I am wrapping up post production on at the moment has a scene with a gun in it. It has a teen girl as the star, so impressionable teens could potentially watch it. Is the gun use glorified or does its user seem larger than life for using it? No. So, in that, I can have some solace. However, I can’t deny I enjoy watching films and TV that glorify guns and violence. I guess from now on, I will have a new lens asking the question, “Is this targeted at kids and how will it influence them?”

There are plenty of folks right now sharing their opinions on both side of this debate.

As an artist, I’m not about taking sides.

To me, a well-adjusted, responsible, gun-bearing adult in America who grew up understanding the second amendment and our right to keep and bear arms without being infringed upon, is a fundamental part of our democracy. Why do I believe that? Because after our first amendment rights, it’s the only thing protecting us from totalitarian dictatorship.

Now that’s a strong statement, so let me unpack that for a moment. Once the people no longer pose any threat to the government, meaning we either have no weapons or extremely inferior weapons, the check and balance in our society falls apart. As Socrates and then Plato explained in The Republic, the next step after a democracy is complete anarchy after which the people beg for a dictator to take over and bring control.

So I would recommend caution to anyone who doesn’t study history on what kind of rhetoric they engage in without thinking through the implications of where their popular sentiments lead.

So if I am horrified at the school shootings, or even the car into crowd killings, what are my suggested solutions?

On a side note, isn’t it funny how we don’t hear too many people screaming about banning cars, except if they are self-driving and kill a few folks? I’m pretty sure car drivers in general kill more people every year than kids with assault rifles, but someone else can research that for me.

OK, so my top three ideas for helping this gun responsibility problem in America? Number one, I mentioned cars right? You have to get insurance to drive them right? The insurance company has skin in the game if they insure unfit drivers right? You have to renew them and take tests right? They would be anal retentive about giving gun insurance to mentally ill people right? They would do checks on whether there are mentally ill people with access to your weapons right? Seems like common sense to me.

Number two, where are all the people upset with the parents or legal guardians of these kids that go on rampages? Don’t we prosecute owners of dogs that kill people? So if a child is under my care, don’t you think I would be extra careful with and responsible for my at-risk child if I knew there was potential jail time in my future? Seems like common sense to me.

Number three, why do we protect our planes and terminal passengers like they are more precious than our dear children? I’m pretty sure it’s much harder to go on a killing spree at the airport than it is at the local high school. And that’s a problem. That chain link fence that separates the school grounds from the public streets? Not going to hack it. Seems like common sense to me.

And while we’re beefing up security in our schools, how about arming them with psychologists and counselors. And smaller class sizes so teachers can actually know their students and families. Just a thought.

What do all three of these have in common? Skin in the game.

That means from the parent, to the insurance company, to the local authorities dedicated to our kids’ security, they all have a vested interest in ensuring these school shooting incidents are greatly reduced.

Which ultimately brings me back to Hollywood. All of us are hypocritical, just like Hollywood, in that we cry over these terrible events while supporting the violence in films, television, and even the news. While I believe there are some common sense ways to satisfy both sides of the debate, I cannot deny that I am part of the problem.

So if the conclusion is that art is a weapon, if film is a weapon aimed at the heart of our kids, then maybe I should start by looking in the mirror and take more responsibility for what my kids watch.