Latest school shooting shows current measures to protect society aren't working
Americans are mourning the loss of more than two dozen innocent lives in the horrific shooting rampage at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Friday's massacre was just the latest in a growing epidemic of violent incidents, including mass shootings, that have become far too frequent. Those of us on this side of the border can empathize because we're not immune to the violence. Canada - even southern Alberta - has experienced its own gun-related tragedies, including the murder-suicide just over a year ago which left four people dead near Claresholm.
The mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., has added fuel to the gun-control debate. It prompted Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat congressman from New York, to issue the statement that "If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don't know when is."
U.S. President Barack Obama hinted at change in a news conference after the shooting when he noted that Americans are "going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."
Gun control has been a hotly debated topic on both sides of the border and there's no arguing that guns, in particular automatic weapons, make it far easier to carry out mass shootings of the sort which occurred in Newtown. Where the argument always gets bogged down is over how to keep these weapons out of the hands of those who would use them for evil purposes while not infringing on the rights of law-abiding hunters and sport shooters. This latest incident won't bring us closer to a compromise on the debate but it might serve to keep the discussion on the front burner, and perhaps lead to some workable solutions.
Perhaps the bigger problem is that there seems to be a growing number of people in society who are wanting to carry out such acts of mass violence. It has become the method of choice for individuals to lash out in anger at society or circumstances.
Hollywood star Jamie Foxx said Saturday that the entertainment industry should take some responsibility for this type of violence. "We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn't have a sort of influence. It does," said Foxx.
The American Psychological Association would seem to concur. On the subject of violence in mass media, the APA's website points out that "the great majority of research studies have found a relation between viewing mass media violence and behaving aggressively." It also notes that "viewing violence desensitizes the viewer to violence, resulting in calloused attitudes regarding violence toward others and a decreased likelihood to take action on behalf of a victim when violence occurs."
The escalation of mass violence in society is a complex issue and there is no easy solution to the problem. But Friday's shooting tragedy in Connecticut is the latest warning that whatever we're doing now isn't enough.
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