Violence and the Human Heart

I’ve never particularly bought into the notion that violent media images are strongly linked to violent behavior.  A new meta-study suggests I should.

There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior — a link found by many scholars to be on par with the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke and the risk of lung cancer. In a meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990, the psychologists George Comstock and Haejung Paik found that the short-term effect of exposure to media violence on actual physical violence against a person was moderate to large in strength.

NY Times  worth having a look at.

I’d be interested not only in whether such viewing is linked to actual violent behavior but whether the anti-social attitudes of so many screen characters don’t have a bleed-in effect on watchers; not so much that shooting will happen as the general rise of contempt for others, self-centered assurance and the rise of MY opinion over all available facts.

Mass Shootings: Who Is Responsible?

Up Date: it is being reported that Nancy Lanza, mother and victim of mass murderer Adam Lanza, was a gun collector and shooter herself.  That puts at about a 99% chance she was an NRA member, and, being the first to be gunned down, should shut up (but won’t) once and for all the claim that an armed and knowledgeable person would protect others from maniacs.  As we try to keep from wretching in sorrow at least one GOP congressman is piping up to say that had teachers been armed this wouldn’t have happened.

Shooter Weapons

If his armed mother, who presumably knew her son, couldn’t stop him why on earth would a kindergarten teacher who didn’t know him and would have had, presumably, to get her shooter from a locked desk drawer, do any better?  [Though I suppose Rep Gohmert would say the teacher should have carried a concealed weapon somewhere in the huggable area of her person.]

Nancy Lanza knew her son was getting worse:  “Nancy told me he was burning himself with a lighter. In the ankles or arms or something,” he recalled of a conversation they had about a year ago. “It was like he was trying to feel something.”

And she didn’t lock up her guns!!?

Read more

If his mother had had to pay $1,ooo/year liability insurance for each gun, would she have kept so many where her disturbed son could get at them?


Just heartwrenching photos and text at the UK Daily Mail.


Adam Gopnik as had it with the NRA — from direct, encounters:

After the Aurora killings, I did a few debates with advocates for the child-killing lobby—sorry, the gun lobby—and, without exception and with a mad vehemence, they told the same old lies: it doesn’t happen here more often than elsewhere (yes, it does); more people are protected by guns than killed by them (no, they aren’t—that’s a flat-out fabrication); guns don’t kill people, people do; and all the other perverted lies that people who can only be called knowing accessories to murder  (wbk) continueto repeat, people who are in their own way every bit as twisted and crazy as the killers whom they defend. (That they are often the same people who pretend outrage at the loss of a single embryo only makes the craziness still crazier.)


From Juan Cole, whose usual beat is the Middle-East, but knows a lot about violence in this country as well”

Why don’t the news anchors or discussants ever bring up the simple fact that between 1994 and 2004, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994: The Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited assault weapons? The prohibition was not unconstitutional. Congress foolishly put in a 10-year sunset provision, and of course Bush and his Republican Congress allowed it to expire.

Why doesn’t anyone blame George W. Bush for these mass shootings? He’s the one who led the charge to let the assault weapons ban expire. Why aren’t the politicians in Congress who take campaign money from assault weapons manufacturers ever held accountable by the public?

Why don’t the news programs bring up the reported moves of Sen. Diane Feinstein to prepare new legislation banning assault weapons and their accoutrements? Are they so afraid of the NRA that they can’t even discuss the legislative process in public?

What in the world does the 2nd amendment have to do with these incidents? Do they look like a “well-regulated militia” to you? Semi-automatic weapons are the 18th-century equivalent of artillery in terms of their ability to kill. Do you think people should be allowed to have artillery pieces in their back yards, too? Is this some sort of sick joke, that you are telling us our children have to die because the Founding Fathers wanted madmen to have high-powered weaponry?

A wrenching story from a mother of violence prone young teenager:

According to Mother Jones, since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman. Mother Jones focused on whether the killers obtained their guns legally (most did). But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.

Kristof at the Times

The fundamental reason kids are dying in massacres like this one is not that we have lunatics or criminals — all countries have them — but that we suffer from a political failure to regulate guns.

Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries, according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written an excellent book on gun violence. Private Guns Public Health.