Gun Control: A Band-Aid Fix To A Grade-A Problem

Gun Control: A Band-Aid Fix to a Grade-A Problem

An op-ed outlining why gun control merely skims the surface of a whole family of issues which all stem from violent tenets embedded in American society.

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Gun violence and gun legality have been vigorously debated in America by everyone from politicians to students. Shootings are horrific, inhumane acts, but many people focus more on the "gun" and less on the "violence" taking place inside the perpetrator of the horrific act. While tighter firearm regulation may reduce gun violence in the United States, I submit that this solution is a band-aid fix for a much graver problem plaguing American society.

Gun violence in America is a recent phenomenon. All of the 5 deadliest mass shootings in America have occurred since 2007, and 28 of the 35 deadliest shootings have occurred since 1990. It is also worth noting that assault rifles with the same capabilities as the ones around today became available with the production of the AK47 assault rifle back in 1947. This data suggests that gun violence as it exists today is not solely a product of gun availability or lax legislation, but rather a societal flaw present in America today that was not present pre-1990.

Any act of violence stems from aggression inside the perpetrator. Aggression itself is a natural emotion and is experienced quite often by humans, especially by men who have naturally higher testosterone levels and possess natural instincts to fight off anyone whom they deem a threat. But why do some manifest this aggression in the form of violence? Psychologists suppose that cultural shaping, peer relationships, and individual characteristics are responsible for a person's choice to act violently. These aspects of human character development have largely been influenced media exposure (and in particular electronic media exposure) over the past 20 years. Since 1998, consumption of television, video games, music, and other forms of e-media has increased exponentially.

Consuming media is not innately bad. For our purposes, it only becomes problematic when the media being consumed is violent. Exposure to violence increases aggression levels in humans, and thus increases the likelihood of those humans to perpetrate acts of violence, whether it be on a large or small scale. The reality is that Americans consume an uncanny amount of violent media on a daily basis. Whether it is earning extra points for a head-shot in Call of Duty, watching that body be dissected during an autopsy in Law and Order, or listening to the violent ideas promoted in contemporary rap music, Americans are barraged with more violent images than their brains can process.

Not only does exposure to violent media increase aggression levels, but it also has a numbing effect on those who consume it. Desensitization exists in various instances of our day-to-day lives. The bliss of finding a new song wears off with each additional listen. Doctors and soldiers become desensitized to the sight of flesh and blood. In a similar way, continual exposure to violent media dulls the natural, negative human reaction to violence. Violence in the minds of Americans has shifted from horrific to commonplace, which is frightening news. When violence is seen as commonplace, people have no reason to distance themselves from it, nor do they have a framework from which to deem it evil.

As melancholy as this article has sounded thus far, there is a solution to this abomination plaguing American culture. To content creators on all media platforms, for humanity's sake, please promote healthy, productive messages over the violent and destructive ones, even though they may not line your pockets as deeply. To all consumers of media, be mindful to consume only that which depicts behavior you wish to emulate. This is the only long-term solution and is the path to health, sanity, and the end to the violence afflicting America today.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Democrats Need To Split From Ilhan Omar Because Of Her Radicalism

Ilhan Omar's actions are only making matters worse for the Democrats and the country.

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Many freshman representatives have been gaining a fair amount of traction recently, either by the things they say or the legislation they push. One of these is Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. However, the reasons for the attention she has garnered are more negative than positive.

Earlier in March, Ilhan Omar accused American Jews of "dual loyalty," an anti-Semitic trope that has been used many times throughout history. She proclaimed, "I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says that it is OK for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country." When Democrat Representative Nita Lowey called her out for such comments, Omar responded by saying, "I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress."

Most recently, she has come under fire over her comments on the 9/11 terrorist attacks, referring to this horrific event as "some people did something." Here's the full quote:

"For far too long we have lived with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I'm tired of it, and every single Muslim in this country should be tired of it. CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something and that all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties."

She could have reasonably apologized for that comment, saying that she used a poor choice of words and did not really mean it. But instead, she doubled down. Omar tweeted a quote from George W. Bush that says, "The people — and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."She then followed up in the same tweet asking, "was Bush downplaying the terrorist attack? What if he was a Muslim?"

Omar and her defenders say that she is being criticized because she is a person of color and for her Muslim faith. However, there are other Muslim and African-American Congress members who aren't under any scrutiny like her. They don't associate themselves with anti-Semitism and downplay terrorism like Ilhan Omar did.

Now, Omar and her companions are suggesting that a video Trump tweeted, juxtaposing her 9/11 comments with footage of the attack is inciting violence. When asked if she thinks Trump is trying to incite violence against Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, responded by saying, "Absolutely." Omar replied to the video by saying, "Violent rhetoric and all forms of hate speech have no place in our society, much less from our country's Commander in Chief. We are all Americans. This is endangering lives. It has to stop."

Has Trump used violent rhetoric before? Yes, he has, but the video he tweeted about Ilhan Omar does not encourage any violence toward her. It is dishonest to say it does and is an attempt to stifle real discussion. The actual people sending Omar death threats and the people honestly criticizing her are two entirely different groups.

If Democrats want to have a chance for 2020, they need to split from the radical area of their party, and that includes Ilhan Omar.

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