From Seattle writer and consultant Matt Rosenberg...

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It's The Culture, Stupid

June 02, 2004

When black teens shoot each other dead or wounded in the inner city over some perceived slight or rivalry, it might easily get just an inch or two on page B5. Likewise, if a few guns are confiscated from a student at a ghetto school, life goes on without a hiccup.

But if a kid brings a gun to predominantly white suburban high school, it's big news. Perhaps all incidents should be taken so seriously. The latest such furor in Puget Sound is over the confiscation of a .38 from a student's backpack at Islander Middle School in the upscale Seattle suburb of Mercer Island.

There were reports of other students with guns, too. The school was closed for a week, as the community tried to sort things out. The King County Journal reports that last night, at a public meeting, a local police detective who interveiwed two dozen students from the school said extreme hazing hasn't been a factor.

Small, accumulated slights were the cause in almost every instance where a student was reported to have brought a gun to school, he told parents.

Which would raise a couple of questions.

One, why would any parents or guardian anywhere make it easy for kids to appropriate their guns? There's nothing wrong with responsible, legal firearms ownership. Sounds like some Mercer Island adults need a basic gun safety class. And gun locks, available from local police.

Two, it's far easier to throw our hands up in the air, but do we really want to sidestep why kids brandish - and perhaps use - guns after tiffs with other kids? Popular entertainment and culture play a huge role in trivializing violence: movies, rap music, videos, video games, and especially computer games. (Yes, insert the word "some" in front of each of those, fine).

I still cringe whenever I see a kid with a toy gun. I'd much rather see a kid at the firing range with his mom or dad, learning respect for firearms. Or in an NRA-sponsored "Eddie Eagle" gun safety class.

Mercer Island news tip via Charlie Hoff.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at June 2, 2004 09:16 AM


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Comments:

Some may cringe at the thought of kids with toy guns while others cringe at the thought of parents taking their children to the firing range.

The bottom line is, kids that play with toy guns don't have respect for what real guns can do. They are apt to treat real guns the same as toys.

Then, some parents don't take measures to keep their weapons away from the children, and
accidents happen.

Kids who learn early from the firing range, do know what these things are capable of, and are apt to be more responsible.

We won't find out if that makes a difference, because those parents lock their guns up!

If a kid in any school shows up with a weapon it should be big news. Whether it is in a ghetto or suburbia.

All of the things mentioned in Matt's post contribute to kids brandishing guns. These things should be addressed. Perhaps it comes down to parental involvement with their children, and monitoring the availability and intake of different forms of entertainment.

I think the problem is compounded (in children too young to differentiate between movie and reality) when someone is shot in a movie and the parents say, "don't worry Bobby, it's just an act, they aren't really hurt."

If you think that can't add to the problem, consider this; Last week a 30something woman told me that "Martin Sheen does such a good job on the West Wing, we should elect him President!" I'll bet you that her children think you can point a gun, go bang, and get up to play again!

Posted by: rross at June 2, 2004 12:54 PM

This is actually in response to the Cosby-NAACP incident. (I don't expect you to print it, but that doesn't matter.) On the one hand, Cosby had a point about parents and priorities. On the other hand, he overlooked the grave problems with emotional disorders and unemployable men in the black community. Cosby's own rise from the Philadelphia projects centered on his talents as an entertainer--a viable career path for very few. Further, from the relevant information I have, I'd say that Cosby, clearly afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder, ended up with a gay son, Ennis, and could well have put a contract out on him (he was murdered a few years ago) to preserve his own Superdad reputation. (Same-sex attraction springs from faulty identification with the same-sex parent, and is preventable and treatable--see www.nart.com.) Sounds outrageous, perhaps, but stranger things have happened. I know a lot about these conditions and about family dynamics. The successful and popular should not have a separate standard of justice. Contact me about this if you wish.

Posted by: Sharon Kass at June 3, 2004 06:10 AM

That's quite a mouthful Sharon, suggesting that Cosby is so self-absorbed that he would have his own son murdered to protect his reputation.

I'm not willing to weigh-in on this. I just was curious as to why your view is here, rather than on the Cosby comments section?

Posted by: rross at June 3, 2004 06:50 AM

And what about Diane Feinstein? A bunch of Hollywood types sat around a gun catalog and outlawed them based on how "scary" they looked.

The "scary" looking ones, based on the judgement of idiots who've never handled a firearm, are now classified as "assault weapons".

Shouldn't our LAW-makers have at least HALF a clue what the hell they're talking about?

Posted by: Jeff Brazill at June 3, 2004 10:56 AM

Jeff, Dianne Feinstein probably has handled firearms -- she has a California carry permit that ordinary peasants cannot get there.

Still, it does not stop her from handling firearms in an irreponsible manner whenever she appears with one in public (usually at anti-gun spectacles).

Posted by: James J. Na at June 4, 2004 08:24 AM

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