February 16, 2008

Availability of guns doesn’t explain why so many individuals use them today to kill random strangers

NEWS RELEASE from MORALITY IN MEDIA, Inc.

NEW YORK (February 16, 2008) – Following the mass murder at the Omaha, Nebraska, mall in December, Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, wrote a 3,000 word article, entitled, “Mass Murder by Individuals and the Role of Guns, Religion, and Popular Culture.”

In that article he commented:

“Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in North Central Illinois farm country, I often felt left out when friends went hunting…Despite the availability of guns and despite the fact that bullying and fistfights were common among kids back then, never once did any of us (or our parents) use a gun to shoot someone else. I think I am also on safe ground in saying that we didn’t grow up fantasizing about shooting other human beings in real life in order to exact revenge or just for the sake of shooting them. Nor do I recall hearing or reading about mass murders in other similar communities.”

Mr. Peters had the following comments in response to the mass murder at Northern Illinois University:

“As the crow flies, NIU is about 40 miles from where I grew up. Several high school classmates went to Northern, and three boys that I played high school football with also played there.

“One of the three boys punched me in the face when he was in eighth grade and I was in seventh (we also went to the same grade school), and I must admit that I still remember crying! What I don’t remember is thinking about going home and getting my father’s rifle and blowing Bill away.

“But things were different then. Religion had a much stronger influence on people than it does today, and while there was already too much violence in films and on TV, it was generally clear who the good guys (heroes) were and who the bad guys were. Good guys (heroes) didn’t commit murder.

“Children today grow up in a popular culture saturated with deadly violence graphically portrayed – not just in films and TV but also in videogames and RAP lyrics. The line between good and bad guys is often blurry; and in many TV programs, films, video games and RAP lyrics, mayhem is celebrated.

“If nothing else, present day popular culture acclimatizes kids to the thought of killing other human beings for just about any reason, good or bad; and some violent video games prepare them to do it.

“This is not to say that media violence alone can explain the horrific incident that took place at NIU on Thursday. But it would be a mistake to make availability of guns a scapegoat of this and other similar mass murders. Availability of guns in North Central Illinois, and most of the rest of America, is nothing new. Widespread use of them to kill random strangers is.”

 

Morality in Media is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that works to curb traffic in obscenity and uphold standards of decency in the media. MIM is headquartered in New York City.

Author: MIM   02/16/2008

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