Gun Violence in America

This was an answer (worth extra credit according to my teacher, although I didn't need it) to homework in my sociology class on gun violence in America. 

By Sharon, Nov 2005

Solve gun violence... hhhhmmm... is that possible? Ha! 

Well I think that in the movie Bowling for Columbine that Michael Moore brought to light some interesting facts about gun violence in America.  One is that having the availability of guns, and people using them (for hunting, other purposes, etc.) seems NOT to be a primary cause for gun violence.  Of 10 million people in Canada, and there being 7 million guns in-hand there, the gun violence is almost nil.  Perhaps a study on violence in general (not just with guns) must be investigated.

Another aspect brought up in the Columbine movie is that watching violent TV shows and movies, such as Arnold Swartzenegger movies, also apparently don't have as much an effect on people shooting other people with guns.  Comparisons on this point were made in not only Canada, but also Germany (where Goth, anarchists clubs, and violence-ridden songs/music are very prevalent), and other countries have plenty of violent movies and shows being watched by the general public, and their youth, and yet gun violence is still FAR lower than in the United States.

Based on these things, perhaps the saying, "Guns don't kill people, people do" has a lot of truth to it.  Why does America have such a violence problem?  After all, we're a "free" country, yes?  With all of this freedom, has it promoted a type of selfish-oriented, spoiled-child-like mentality?  Has the trend followed what the famous philosopher Plato suggested happens in society regarding the "pendulum of imbalance"?  This would be where he said, "Equality breeds democracy" where the seed of democracy is oligarchy.  At this point the mass-man (average man/woman) take on a new power and, as conflict theorists may agree, you find a "revolt of the masses" ensuing.  Plato also says on democracy: there is equality, excessive liberty, it appears attractive, but winds up pluralistic, diverse, individualistic (the key here), *violates the principle of "functional order and rule of reason"*, and results in a lack of guidance and self-control, no restraint, leading to anarchy and tyranny (lustful, out of control).  But if Plato is right on this account, why did his own idealistic societal formula not work?  Perhaps the drive for Americans to pick up a gun and shoot people comes from some inner (or learned/cultural) factor that hasn't fully been explored yet.  Or perhaps it has been explored, and I am just not yet aware of it.  Obviously though, we'd think that if it had, and that some kind of solution to this problem has been implemented, that we'd be seeing a huge difference in our society concerning this problem of gun violence.  But alas, 'tis not so.  I do think though, that however it is implemented, the solution lies within the individuals who make up the masses, that this error not be breached.  I do think that it can be taught, but all the rest of the right factors must also be in place.  A huge undertaking that simply cannot be solved overnight, but would probably take a lot of education, and generations worth of time.


Back to Cultural Anthropology