Commentary: It's time for sensible talk on guns, ultra-violent video games

The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)December 20, 2012 

Let’s hope the dude shoots better than he reads.

In a column written hours after the Newtown, Conn., massacre, I adopted – along with many of you – the same position as President Barack Obama: The immediate aftermath of the shooting was not the time to talk about regulating guns, he said. It was a time for us as a nation to mourn and rally together.

Right on, I wrote, adding, “Today is a day to grieve” and, one could add, try to figure out how to prevent such carnage from occurring again.

That isn’t what one gun lover from South Carolina read or, more likely, had read to him. He, as did scores of others, somehow read or heard that the president wanted to use the Connecticut tragedy as an excuse to send brown-shirted storm trooper-types around to confiscate gun owners’ automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

This is what kills me

“At least for the first day after 28 people are dead,” he wrote to me, “could you please present all the facts? Especially those of the top killers? (He cited tobacco, cars and medical errors, asking facetiously – at least I hope it was facetiously – if we should thus ban doctors.) “We can have a gun control discussion after a respectful period of grieving for the loss of life. Is that too much to ask?”

Not at all, homes. Indeed, I’d swear on a stack of Guns & Ammo magazines that that is precisely what the president said. That right there, though, is the problem with a sensible discussion of gun regulations – not “gun control,” which simply means “aiming straight”: Some people go into shutdown mode, refusing to discuss or entertain any perceived infringement on their Second Amendment rights to bear arms or arm a bear.

There were many other readers and listeners who lacked basic comprehension skills. Like the guy who wrote that I am “always trying to take away my guns,” to which I offered to pose provocatively in Guns & Ammos magazine’s Christmas edition – but only as the centerfold – if he could show me one syllable where I ever suggested the government take guns.

Violent games and movies

It can’t be argued – but it still is – that not as many people would die if we abolished the sale of automatic and semi-automatic guns or even implemented appropriate waiting periods and conducted mental evaluations.

Nor can it be argued – but it likewise still is – that not as many people would die if we regulated video games, certain types of movies and other things kids and softheaded grownups are exposed to. By “we,” I mean parents, friends, girlfriends. Of course, it’s hard to believe that anyone who plays “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” for 16 hours a day could have a girlfriend.

Still, if parents stopped buying ultra-violent games for their kids or enough of their friends were like “Yo, dawg. You’ve got a ‘Black Ops’ monkey on your back,” socially maladjusted gamers might check themselves. Or check themselves in for treatment.

Last month, when the latest “Call of Duty” video game came out – for Christmas, tee hee – more than $500 million worth were sold worldwide the first day.

That should trouble us as a nation and as a world, that so many men and boys are sitting around, totally absorbed in a grisly, visually compelling “game” where the objective is to kill, kill, kill.

That’s not the true sign that the apocalypse is nigh, though. That occurred at a mall in Texas on Black Friday, when one man pulled a gun on another for – get this – cutting in line. That’s not the surprising part, since we all know people who’ll let nothing come between them and honoring our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by spending loads of cash.

The surprising part is that police didn’t arrest him because he possessed a gun permit.

Yeah, but he didn’t possess a gun-having brain. bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

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