Darkness falls, again, with yet another mass killing by a deranged gunman. But to blame violent cinema, says Brook, is to mistake a camera for what really produces the carnage.
In the wake of the ‘Dark Knight’ theatre shooting, I’ve been hearing a lot of people saying things along the lines of, ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, or however it is that saying goes. The second half of that saying is correct; people kill people all the time … with guns. If guns don’t kill people, what do they do? I’m pretty sure they were intended specifically for that purpose.
Many opponents of stricter gun control, specifically in the USA, argue that it will do nothing to stop acts like this, citing last year’s killing of 77 people in Norway, where they have much stricter gun control, as an example. Apparently this is evidence that stricter gun laws won’t stop these tragedies from happening. Well, let me put it this way: do you really think that James Holmes and Anders Behring Breivik would have killed as many people as they did if they tried to choke everyone to death, one by one? No. It’s the guns.
Why are guns so easily available in the US? Not only guns, but assault weapons! I know there’s a background check when someone buys a gun, but I don’t know how much that can tell you. That they pay their taxes and that there’s no history of crime? Yeah, some good that is. I understand — although I do not entirely agree with — an individual wanting to own a shotgun to use as protection in their own home, but there is no reason whatsoever that a civilian should be able to legally purchase assault weapons. Holmes had purchased 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the internet — the internet — an AR-15 assault rifle, a Glock pistol, a Remington 870 Marine Magnum and a Colt AR-15 tactical carbine. And he purchased them all legally. Legally! Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that Americans can purchase guns, it’s that they can purchase f**king assault weapons. It’s outrageous.
Many people in favour of gun ownership argue that all it would’ve taken to stop the Dark Knight shooting was for one well-armed individual to shoot back. I think they overlooked the fact that along with assault weapons, Holmes was wearing a bulletproof vest, a gas mask and threw tear gas into the crowd. I don’t think an additional person firing blindly into a panicked, crowded, smoke-filled room would have done anyone any favours. ‘Fight guns with guns’ is not really a mantra that’s going to work here. If anything, a second person waving around a gun would just cause more chaos. There shouldn’t even be a need for someone in a theatre to shoot back at someone with an arsenal of assault weapons in the first place. The fact that guns are so easily available is why things like this even happen.
But don’t blame the movie either. If violence from movies and video games is the cause of rising violent crime rates, then a large chunk of my friends are mass-murderers just waiting for the perfect moment to flip a shit on everyone. For some reason, I don’t think that’s the case. I myself have no desire to hijack a Range Rover and drive around Miami shooting people while peddling drugs, à la Grand Theft Auto, but I do like to play the game.
The fact that The Dark Knight Rises is a violent movie most likely has nothing to do with why Holmes chose its screening as the site of his atrocity. First of all, don’t tell me this is the most violent movie you’ve seen all year. Second, this was the first screening of the movie; Holmes would not have even seen any of the violence in it yet. Third, in short, he is a sick person who wanted to kill a lot of people (for what reason we don’t yet know), and the opening night of one of the most anticipated movies of the year is the perfect target. (Also, may I point out that the character of Batman is vehemently against using guns.) It could have been the midnight premier of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. Forgetting for a moment the fact no one in their right mind would flock to a midnight premier of that movie, it still would have happened. Would we blame the movie then? Although debatable, I say no.
I know it elicits a loud ‘duh’, but it comes down to the psyche of the people who commit these crimes. Most of us watch violent movies and are not moved to carry out actual violence based on what we’ve seen. We know this is not real, that this is not an example to follow. But people who commit crimes like these have vulnerable minds. People like this have always existed, before movie violence was really a big deal. The Beatles’ 1968 The White Album will forever be known as the inspiration for the murders of Sharon Tate and seven others by Charles Manson and his ‘family’, for example. If it isn’t movies, it’s something else. There is always one form of popular media or another that’s blamed by some for twisting the minds of people who commit violence.
But whatever twisted their minds, the real problem is a twisted person with a gun in his hand. Which brings us back to the issue: why are guns so easily available? I’m not saying to ban the purchasing and ownership of guns outright, but it simply can’t continue to be this easy. There will always be disturbed people who set out to do ghastly things, but we can at least make it harder for them to access the weapons to do them.
26/07/2012 - 11:48