Gun violence needs to die hard
If you want to know why Congress will never pass substantive gun legislation, look no further than your local multiplex.
A few weeks ago, when I took a friend to see “Silver Linings Playbook” — an outstanding motion picture, by the by — I had the particular misfortune of having to be subjected to the first trailer for “A Good Day to Die Hard,” the fifth installment of Bruce Willis’ “Die Hard” series. Just as in the previous films, it features Willis as a lone ranger charged with eliminating a grave threat to the safety of the United States with nothing but a cadre of weaponry — my God, were there guns.
Assault rifles. Rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Pistols. Shotguns. Car bombs. Helicopters strapped to the gills.
On its opening weekend, despite reviews that could only be characterized as god-awful (the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern artfully characterized the film as a “near-death experience”), “A Good Day” opened with a box office-leading $29.3 million its opening weekend.
Typical. We don’t have patience for a real story. We’re not appreciative of cinematographic nuances or intricate plots. Nah, we just want to see things blown to pieces.
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m an 18-year-old, red-blooded, somewhat manly man. I thoroughly enjoy watching “Pulp Fiction” or “Kill Bill” and seeing absurd amounts of blood splatter across my television screen. A quiet boys’ night in with my buddies normally entails playing quite a few rounds of the ultra-popular, ultra-violent “Call of Duty” Zombies game mode, in which teams work to eradicate seemingly unending hordes of the undead. And I’m smart enough (at least, I think I am) to realize that movies and video games aren’t to blame for the more than 30,000 people killed by guns every year.
But I’ve found that our collective American identity, for whatever reason, has always relied on a particularly dangerous perception of ourselves as the world’s John Wayne — as rebellious cowboys, whose desires for wealth and power are only matched by our collective thirst for violence. That temperament sets us apart from everybody else, and it’s an inalienable part of our so-called American exceptionalism.
We think we’re really, really special.
We’re special enough, in fact, to own 300 million firearms while being the only country in the world with a constitutionally guaranteed right to virtually unregulated gun ownership. We believe ourselves to be the greatest nation man has ever seen, and we’re ranked first in the world in guns per capita and second in firearm homicide rate and assault deaths only to our favorite drug-smuggling neighbor, Mexico — a nation essentially governed by its cartels and exceedingly corrupt military. On average, about 3.6 Americans die every hour by gunfire.
But I have yet to be affected by guns. Like many of my classmates, I grew up in a safe, quiet, tree-laden suburb of Chicago. I never witnessed gang violence, I never heard of a murder in my neighborhood — I’ve still yet to even hold a .38 Special.
So it took the senseless massacre last December of 20 children and six teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., for me — and, sadly, for most Americans — to remember that our country has a serious gun problem. Within 24 hours of the shooting, there were over 100,000 signatures on a White House petition to consider new gun control laws. The president quickly announced the formation of a task force to develop stronger anti-firearm legislation, but even after congressional hearings and substantive data proving that stricter gun control works, it seems unlikely that anything truly transformational will pass.
For this sad state of affairs I blame the gun-crazed simpletons out there, most of whom are unwilling to admit that their unerring worship of the Second Amendment is just as hazardous to the good of the public as the AR-15’s they love to collect. They’ll go to any length to keep the hands of jack-booted government thugs off their guns. NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre actually insinuated after Sandy Hook that the police were untrustworthy and unnecessary and that civilians should keep themselves armed at all times rather than simply rely on law enforcement. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away ... or a minute away?”
This, my friends, is the “Die Hard” mentality. This is why, every year, 30,000 people will continue to die while looking down the barrel of a gun.
This is why it will only get worse.
Adam is a freshman in LAS. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.