I was moved when the amazing teens who survived the February 14, 2018, mass shooting spoke on TV. When interviewed by Jeff Glor, CBS Evening News Anchor, they asked that their event not be used as part of the anti-gun movement. Instead, they asked for support in this time.
However, the support they need is immediate and the long term need in America is for the gun violence to stop. Long term and permanent change is the real need in America. Other countries do not have this serious a problem. My personal opinion is that the very métier of our profit mentality is the biggest part of the reason why these tragedies occur.
In my very humble opinion, my thoughts follow about how WE as Americans can stop this societal tragedy that has infected our country. First, let’s look at the people, corporations, and mentalities that create the opportunity for gun violence to occur. Second I will state my opinion on who and how the items in the first section should be held accountable. Third, I will summarize the entire process.
I firmly recommend that if you begin reading this blog post, that you finish it. The Summary at the end is vital to understanding this concept. I am also aware, that it is rather long for the normal “formula” for a blog post. There is no way to state what I think and make it shorter. In fact, many of these thoughts bear far more development. I omitted further development in the interest of as much brevity as possible.
The 15 Minutes of Fame meme has become, IMHO, one of the main reasons why these tragedies happen. 15 minutes of Fame for destroying the lives of countless others. The perpetrators are typically described post facto as psychologically needy, loners, or maybe have shown other violent tendencies. Thus, I believe the following groups of We the People of America have contributed to the perpetrators’ personal method for achieving instant fame. It is also closely linked with financial profit.
- The News Media: how quickly did you post the news, gory pictures, and the face of the perpetrator? You gave all of the other lonely, needy and never noticed people a reason to create mayhem. Does this type of news bring profit to your organization? GUILTY.
- The Entertainment Industry: you continually fill our movie theaters, home televisions, and hand-held devices with so-called ENTERTAINMENT that desensitizes viewers to death and violence. You have created generations of people who see killing humans as entertainment. Do these violent films bring money into your pockets? You have profited. You are GUILTY.
- The Computer Game Creators: you continually fill our home computers with so-called ENTERTAINMENT that desensitizes viewers to death and violence. You have created generations of people, mostly young people, who view killing humans as fun. Do these violent games (?) bring money into your pockets? You have profited. You carry some of the GUILT.
- All Social Media users: Did you post the news of this tragedy all over your facebook, Instagram, or other social media accounts because YOU wanted to be the first one to report that you felt the horror? Think about this–repeating the news gave the perpetrator and other future perpetrators a huge boost to their need for 15 Minutes of Fame. By your posts, every one of YOU are giving them the notice, the visibility, the attention they seek. What did you get out of it, really? Did you get a “moment” of the feeling that you were a part of that tragedy, no matter where it was? You probably felt like you belonged. It satisfied your own neediness. You are seeking your own 15 Minutes. If you really want these tragedies stopped, STOP posting about them. Stop adding to the 15 Minutes of the perpetrator.
- The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects weapons and arms manufacturers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products. In the automobile industry, companies are held accountable for their machines that cause injury and death. Automobile makers are sued, and often have their pocketbooks held accountable for building vehicles that cause death. Drug companies are sued, and often have their pocketbooks held accountable for creating drugs that cause injury or death. Are the actions of Drug companies and Auto Manufactures acts any less criminal? There are countless other companies that are held accountable. Must we redefine what is criminal? The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act MUST be rescinded. Gun makers, gun sales people, Internet sales of Ghost guns, and anyone selling arms illegally, must be held accountable for their products that are used by misguided individuals to create mass murder. The PLCAA is codified at 15 U.S.C. §§ 7901-7903
- The Congress of the United States: are you as individuals profiting from NOT rescinding the PLCAA? Are you NOT creating laws that are prohibitory to all of the above groups who indirectly are supporting gun violence in our country? Do you get your votes, therefore your job, and your salary from those who support gun violence? Do you profit from not changing the laws of our country? YOU are GUILTY and are the most accountable of all because you have the real power to make a difference and you have not done so thus far. Make the changes you know are necessary, not because of your pocketbook, but because it is your job.
Next, let’s get creative and think of ways of how, specifically, each of the above groups can be held accountable for their part in creating the opportunity for violence in this country. Again, these ways are my opinion only, in the hopes that others, who actually have control over the methodology to institute change, can take steps to make change within their group. Holding those responsible creates accountability, something that has been sorely lacking in America. No one group is totally responsible. “We the People” must all stop profiting from the misguided actions of those among us. It is a national issue. No one person can stop the violence; my ideas certainly cannot stop the violence. They are merely ideas.
Here are my thoughts on what each group above could do to create change:
- The News Media: we all understand the value of Freedom of the Press. It is an essential part of what makes our country great. However, using better judgment as to how violence is covered could make a real difference. I humbly put the following ideas on the table:
- Never put the photo of the perpetrator on visual media of any kind. Do not make them FAMOUS for even 15 minutes. You are feeding not only their need, but also showing others how they, too, can get their needs met. So what if viewers want to know what the perpetrator looks like? Do not post it immediately. Post it when they come to trial, if they are still alive to face the courts, long past when the sensationalism has passed. Stop feeling it is your right to profit from sensationalism. Remember who may be watching and seeing how they might decide to become famous for their actions because of your actions.
- Stop repeating the “news” of the violence ad infinitum. Set some limits as to how long you will give the perpetrator their much desired 15 Minutes of Fame. Find something else to report on for the day. I am positive that there are many other ways you can feed the needs of your advertisers with more positive news events that are occurring.
- FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY SUGGESTION: Every network news report after the first 15 minutes of violent news must be charged a dollar amount for each victim’s pain or death. A National Trust Fund should be created to be distributed to the victims, families, place of business, or schools. That money should go to the families of the victims or to the victim. If a picture of the perpetrator is posted, major amounts of money should be owed to this National Trust Fund. In the case of school violence, the schools themselves should also receive a portion of the funds to rebuild and staff with the professionals needed to stabilize the school and their community.
- The Entertainment Industry: almost everyone loves a good movie. More films with uplifting themes that do not sensationalize killing and death are in order. The market moves what you produce, we all know that. However, it has worked in reverse in that you, yourself, have created the market for the violent films that fill our summer theaters, TV screens, and now, our handheld devices. Stop the special effects that imitate the blood, gore, and horror of violence. Find another way to line the pocketbooks of all facets of the industry. Get creative–you are famous for creativity. So far, you have desensitized America’s and the World’s youth to death and killing in a visual way that is previously unknown. Yes, we all know that violence has always been a part of humanity. However, we as humans, I hope, have grown enough to understand that there are better ways to live than by absorbing negativity into our psyches, masked as entertainment. Be a part of the growth of humankind, not the violent destruction of humanity. Think about what you produce. Hold yourself accountable as an Industry.
- FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY SUGGESTION: A large percent of the profit of all films that promote and sensationalize violence should go into the National Trust Fund as outlined in The Media section above. In order to not have that percent be the impetus for creating more films with the misguided concept that “then we’ll produce more such films to be able to contribute more” should be connected to greater corporate taxation for the creation of violent films.
- All the Computer GAME Companies: please find other ways to create profit for your business. The desensitization of the world’s youth to death and violence starts at such a young age. YOU are a large part of this desensitization. Your pocketbook needs to be held accountable for your part in American Violence.
- FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY SUGGESTION: A large percent of the profit, if not all profit, of all computer games that promote and sensationalize violence should go into the National Trust Fund as outlined in The Media section above. In order to not have that percent be the impetus for creating more games with the misguided concept that “then we’ll produce more such games to be able to contribute more” should be connected to greater corporate taxation for the creation of violent games.
- To all Social Media posters who post pictures of, videos of, share, or comment upon the gun violence: you need to be held accountable for your part in creating the climate for future violence. Facebook, Instagram, and all other social media organizations should ban you from posting for one year if you post or repost or share anything on violent acts. Your Financial Accountability is really Personal Neediness Accountability.
- Regarding all of those who are Protected by the PLCAA: once that act is repealed, the person or people who sold the weapons and ammunition to the perpetrator of the violence should be effectively put out of business by large fines, imprisonment (if the weapons were sold illegally) and held financially accountable for their part in creating the means for the death of the victims. All fine moneys to be distributed to the families of those who died or were injured. It is about accountability.
- To the U.S. Congress: What you must do has been outlined above in item 6. In addition, take note of the FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY in each of the above sections. You have the power to implement this concept.
- For FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY in the advent you do NOT institute real change: I suggest that your posh government paid health insurance be permanently revoked for 5 years for each victim of gun violence. I also suggest that you be held personally financially accountable for failing to act on behalf of the people you are in office to protect. You are there to assist the people in your constituency, not line your personal pocketbook with the spoils of those who wish to maintain status quo of the PLCAA and the NRA. A large percent of your salary should be contributed to the National Trust Account as outlined above. Hold yourself accountable as an example to the rest of the world.
In SUMMARY: I am only too well aware of the near impossibility of there being enough ethical people in the United States to be willing to let their pocketbook be affected by instituting change. After all, the profit motive is what drives this Nation. Well, I believe profit has driven our nation into the abyss of providing the climate and opportunity for gun violence to continue.
I am also aware of how “out of the box” and altruistic this may sound. However, my ideas are merely a start to much better ideas than mine which might create change and STOP THE GUN VIOLENCE. Everyone–think beyond my thoughts.
My ideas are only that, ideas. I cannot change others. I can only change myself. Each of us can only change our selves.
Finally, I say, STEP UP AMERICA – HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE and make the changes that will really help. Each of us must do our part if we really want this gun violence to cease.
Stop the 15 Minutes of Fame. Stop profiting from promoting that 15 minutes.
Peace can only come with each of us holding ourselves accountable. Peace can only come with compassion for our fellow Americans
Copyright 2018: Nancy Weckwerth, Author