Gun Violence and the Media

Straight Talk About Gun Violence and the Media

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We’ve heard politicians and anti-rights activists cry out for gun control after   the murder of two TV journalists in Virginia. At the same time the “gun grabbers” admit that their proposals would be largely ineffective in stopping public murders.  That doesn’t make sense. So, what is going on in the minds of these people?  As a clinical and forensic psychologist, having been in practice since 1986, I have a few thoughts I would like to share.


I have also written about and taught armed self-defense.

What makes the recent shooting of two broadcasters from Roanoke, Virginia so moving? Youtube from camera man-  Youtube from murderer point of view-

First of all, we saw it happen. We heard the people shout and scream. Viewing a murder in real time on TV is shocking.  Like seeing the planes hit the WTC towers on 9/11/01.

Secondly, this was up close and personal. Two nice people. America’s middles class next door neighbors, the young adults we went to grade school with are murdered right in front of us and we are helpless to do anything!

There is a part of us that feels guilty that they died and we are still alive. This is termed “survivor guilt”. This is what makes us all want to do something. What that something is depends on what side of the gun rights/gun control fence we stand.

Politicians proposed the trendy gun grab of “universal background checks”.  At the same time, these proponents admit that background checks don’t stop murderers.  Why does that make us feel better? Why are people attracted to gun regulation?

Gun control laws” do NOT make everyone feel better. The motives of the legislators and lobbyists for gun control are often divergent from the motivations of the general public who support more gun laws. For the legislators, motives range from power, money, and control all the way to hoplophobia.

For the public, the uneducated public and even the educated public like the idea of “common sense” gun laws. If you use denial to deny logically thinking through the issues and consequences of more gun laws as well as the existence of the ones currently enforced by the BATF, then you can continue to believe it makes a difference in terms of deterring violent crime.

Then you have people who know better. However, they have a stick up their you know what as a result of some unresolved inner conflict, traumatic personal experience, secondary benefits from professing we need more gun control, identification with someone who believed in gun control, a fixed belief, and even the possibility of self-blame, self punishment and general punitiveness and hostility.

This leads into the territory of true hoplophobes.

So, why are people attracted to a plan that won’t work? Why does gun control work for the politician even though it doesn’t work in the real world?

Gun control is NOT placebo which is a “sugar pill” that one believes is the real medicine. It is a “Nocebo” that is fueled or motivated by the irrational belief that if we DO NOT have it, Mad Max will come to our society. It also has lot to do with how one was raised and who one identifies with.And it is NOT superstition. But it is or should I say, can be, magical thinking. In other words, make more laws, and the problem will go away. Then it is no longer our problem since we did everything we could.

So….how should advocates for self-defense respond?  What should we say and do?

We cannot afford to sit on our hands, or bite our tongues.  We must fight more oppressive legislation with more grass roots education.  This does require community outreach, and most folks, myself included, do not have time for this.  And that is what the “Chuck” Schumers and Bloombergs of the world count on.   But as long as we turn the other way, or do nothing, good old Chuckie and Mikey will steal your face, steal your guns, steal your rights, and steal your life.

For more straight talk about guns and mental health, follow me on:

ARMED: The Essential Guide to Concealed Carry

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