Mazzuca: Gun violence and the culture
My grandson Jonah has this great ability to deadpan some pithy and often very humorous comments, and the other day he quipped, “When we go back to school, how are we supposed to maintain a social distance during our active shooter drills?”
Great thinkers throughout history have recognized the human tendency to poke light at dark times. Plato felt humor was a mixture of pleasure and pain, and Mark Twain once said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.”
Psychological scientists understand that human beings have the ability to find comedy in tragedy, and humor helps us cope with life’s stressors. They also recognize how dark humor (humor with a morbid twist) while not for the faint of heart or those easily offended can make a situation normally seen as harsh or offensive, almost edifying.
So while we can make light of active shooter drills vis-à-vis COVID-19, the cold reality is that gun violence kills 35,000 people every year in America, and while many only think of gun violence in terms of large-scale mass shootings, gun-massacres represent less than 2% of all gun deaths in the United States.
There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes and the fact that there are no coincidences during an election year. Now I’m not going to get bogged down regarding what’s really behind what we’re seeing on our streets; nor will I cite statistics, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe how our culture has coarsened in recent years.
Some will argue, and with good cause, that religious attachments and basic respect for human life have waned in America, and perhaps that’s so. At the same time, however, and assuming one seeks honest news versus a narrative that comports with an individual’s ideology, we might want to ask ourselves how much of a difference is there really between what’s happening on the streets of Chicago, Portland, New York, etc., and what we’ve been seeing in the movies, on TV and in video games that encourage an 11-year old to go back and finish off his opponent?
Societal attitudes and mores are changing
How many remember when late-night TV comedians such as Johnny Carson were purveyors of humor instead of the vicious political commentary that’s so common these days? And what about the pornography that’s now as near as your son or daughter’s laptop; keeping in mind that it’s a pretty safe bet any youngster over the age of 12 has been exposed at one time or another.
Pew Research tells us the percentage of children being raised in single-family homes has tripled since the 70s. The Brooking Institute stipulates the number of children born out of wedlock has increased five-fold within certain demographics; and today 57% of millennials are having their babies out of wedlock. Folks, this cannot be good for society! And if someone still doesn’t understand the effects of a corrosive culture, they need look no further than the suicide rate among young people in America.
Still many simply refuse to accept the fact that a coarsening culture just might be a part of the problem, so rather than argue the point, I’ll offer a suggestion. The next Congress should enact a federal law mandating that if someone were convicted of a crime involving a gun, in addition to whatever sentence they received for the crime they committed, he or she would also receive a mandatory five-year prison sentence in a federal penitentiary without parole.
Rob a 7-Eleven with a gun and serve time for the robbery plus an automatic five years for using the gun in the commission of that crime. Threaten someone by brandishing a handgun during a BLM “protest” — go directly to jail “do not pass Go” for five years! And lastly, if such a law had been in effect, perhaps we wouldn’t have seen 70 people shot and 10 killed in just one weekend in Chicago as we did a few weeks ago.
No single policy will end gun violence in America, because if there were, someone would have thought of it by now and this solution is no exception, but it’s a start.
Thought for the day: The clearest example of “systemic racism” in America can be found in our inner-city schools where black kids have been receiving substandard educations for years. Perhaps BLM should partner with the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers and look into the matter.
Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.
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