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America and UK the violent

I followed in absolute horror what went on in the US the other day. The massacre had a more profound effect on me than the almost daily stories of human beings treating other human beings in a million and one dire ways. I was affected by the tragedy in Virginia because I have a child and the thoughts of my child either a) getting so down that he would want to kill people b)having my child killed in such a way, just plain frighten me. I also feel very sorry for all those parents who lost children in this sad and fruitless waste of young life.

What can be learned from this appalling incident. Well, first, the US needs to sort out its gun control thing. I do not object to people being able to own guns. If they function as a deterrent and can protect you and yours from the terrible acts of others, then they do no harm. But, guns make killing very easy and more needs to be done to ensure that mentally unbalanced and depressed people cannot get hold of them. They guy who did this had already been recommended for counselling and at that point he should have had his right to wander into a gun shop and arm himself removed. And if he already had weapons, then these should have been impounded. Yes, this would cause people to be judged guilty before having a fair trial, but if it prevents tragic incidents, then this may be enough of a justification. Alas, this step would not have prevented another from helping someone get hold of guns, as happened in the Columbine situation, but maybe, just maybe, someone may have said ‘No, you are not fit to own a gun’ and a tragedy might have been prevented. OK, hindsight I hear you mutter. Well, yes and no. Something more concrete should have been done after the Columbine incident.

Then again, these incidents are very rare and I’m pretty sure that more people have died in road accidents in one year than have been killed in all of these incidents concerning mad gunmen. This does not mean nothing needs to be done, and from an accounting point of view serious legislative steps are not financially worthwhile. Sometimes though, we need to say ‘to hell with the cost’ and just do something.

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In the UK, a similar incident to the one in Virginia caused the introduction of draconian firearms laws, yet recently quite a number of young people have been shot dead. I read of another incident in the UK only yesterday. A real case of gun control that isn’t.

Education is what is needed. We see so many films where guns are flouted around and people are wiped out that I think some people have become desensitized. The boundaries of reality and fiction seem to be overlapping in many people’s minds. Back to Virginia for a moment. I read that the guy responsible had imitated various gestures from a violent film in the video he sent to the media. This should be treated as something of an alarm bell and perhaps a little more should be done to understand the effects of violent films and games on young minds. Are youngsters, children, I think are exposed to much more violence now than they were 20 years or so ago. The thresholds for what are considered acceptable levels of violence seem to have come down and vengeful killing appears to have been glorified. This makes it acceptable in certain eyes and leads to tragedies.

It would be interesting to carry out an experiment in which one group of children continued to do as they do now, ie play video games, watch the news and films and another had the level of violence to which they were exposed carefully monitored. Such testing could be linked to psychological profiling to render it more relevant. I would like to see the results of such an exercise.

We’ve got ourselves into this mess most probably. Now we need to get ourselves out. And why does is it tend to be men who commit these terrible acts? Women, how can we sort ourselves out?

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