"Deja Vu, all over again." I don't mean for that quote from the late Yogi Berra to be humorous here. I'm talking about yet another mass shooting, this time in Oregon. Ten people killed, seven wounded. For me, as Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, one of the scariest things about this latest massacre, is this: Here in Boston, this story didn't even make the Headline on the front page of yesterday's Boston Globe. It was on the front page, but it wasn't the headlined story: Another, local story did. That's how common and relatively un-shocking this type of violence has become.
And once again, the pro-gun control/gun rights advocates will begin the shouting sessions and the finger-pointing at each other. The script never changes; it likely never will. Our country and its elected officials must get beyond this tired, cyclical debate marked by catch phrases such as "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," and ask a far more fundamental question:
Why has this country become such a savage, violent society?
Yes, gun sales have to be tightened up through better mental health screening of potential buyers. But gun control, itself, is a red herring, designed to focus the problem in another direction, away from where it really needs to be. Which is: Violence and depravity, pure and simple. Violence has always existed among humankind. But in this country, we have witnessed a RAPID, STUNNING increase in violence of the type witnessed from Columbine to today in Oregon - as well as the lesser-known, one-on-one violence - because we have become a vastly more violent culture. And this rapid growth in violence has been fueled by the entertainment media in this country, which glorifies and even encourages violence on so many levels. Movies, TV shows, broadcast networks, cable networks, video, 'music', print, the internet and more -- all allowed under the claim of "commercial free speech."
Newsflash to the liberals espousing this twisted argument: Free Speech was guaranteed under the First Amendment to our constitution, to allow speech AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT. Instead, "commercial free speech" has been twisted to allow even the most vile, shocking displays of violence - and in the process turn so many people into vulgarians and barbarians. And the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to stop it. Doubt that? A few years back, California passed a modest (even rather weak) state law that banned the sale or rental of shockingly violent video games - which psychologically "reward" the (almost always male teenage viewer) for not only killing police, women and innocent victims, but sadistically torturing them to death. SCOTUS' response: Disallowed the law - commercial "free speech." Don't think there isn't a direct connection between violence in the entertainment media, and events like Columbine, to today in Oregon. There is. And until this country reigns in and reverses the proliferating level of violence pumped into our household and into our citizens heads every day, it’s going to continue.
As a Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, I can assure you: The source of this problem is not so much the weapon of choice (guns,) it is what creates, promotes, stimulates and even rewards these acts of violence and depravity: A culture that will not reign in the source of the unceasing pounding of the drum of violence: The entertainment media.