Ban the Bullet?

I will have to avoid the TV news for a few days. I have kids in my house and I certainly don’t want them seeing the endless replays of the grisly facts. Like everyone, I feel tremendous sorrow for the victims and their families, but I also wonder why it takes an event like this for people to even address why violence so prevalent in our society today.

I have some positive suggestions for how to move forward.

First, I don’t think these shootings should be covered on national TV for days on end to the extent that they are. In fact, I think they should barely be mentioned at all, and the shooters should remain as anonymous as possible. Some of them undoubtedly are seeking fame and publicity and the way our media reacts to these tragedies makes that dream come true. I’m interested primarily in one fact: was the shooter taking prescription medication? I realize many popular medications have bizarre side effects that some pill companies may seek to conceal. I know these shootings never happened until we put half the country on pills. So is there a cause and effect? This is a health study we desperately need right now.

The gun lovers are never going to give up their guns and I wouldn’t be so stupid as to ask them. It’s a right they will defend to the death. I get that, but can we make a few changes, like closing the gun show loophole, and restricting mental patients with a history of violence from obtaining weapons? I’d also like to see taxes on some weapons greatly increased so a national fund can be created, a fund that would compensate the families of the victims. Not that any amount of money could replace the life of a single child, but simply that all these gun lovers and violence worshipers should contribute to easing their suffering. I also think violence pornography needs to be better identified and taxed as well. Sponsors of violence pornography should be forced to pay into the fund. And so should consumers. So we need a special tax on violence pornography video games and violence pornography TV shows.

Ken Kesey had a novel idea, inspired by his grand-daughter. Ban the bullet. Make it very hard to get anything but rubber bullets and paint pellets, which are perfect for target practice, which is the only thing most people do with their guns. Lead builets, on the other hand, should be much more closely controlled.

Of course, the gun lovers need guns to protect themselves against the government. As if a civilian population in this country could engage the government in open warfare in the streets? Those days are over. The only revolution that will succeed from here on is a non-violent one. We really need much more respect for the grandmasters of peace, people like Gandhi and Bob Marley, and we need more celebrations of peace, and more respect for peaceful cultures, especially the counterculture, which is as American as rock’n’roll and apple pie.

At the second Whee! festival in Oregon, the Merry Pranksters unveiled plans to take on the gun lobby in the usual Prankster fashion (by tricking the bozos). Check out the video:

How to Stop the Violence?

When I was in high school, the thought of a teenager coming to school with an automatic weapon and opening fire on his fellow students did not seem very realistic. Even though we had students in my class with obvious mental health issues, no one exhibited the sort of out-of-control violent behavior that has almost become the norm in America.

In the 1960s, a new culture tried to emerge, one that represented a turn away from violence, but sadly that culture was so ridiculed and despised by the mainstream that it was quickly co-opted and practically erased off the earth. Ask any teenager today what he thinks of “hippies” and the answer is not likely to be very complimentary.

Meanwhile, the amount of violence pornography in our culture continues to accelerate. Just turn on any TV on any night and check out what movies are available. The overwhelming majority will be filled with gunshots, graphic beatings and senseless deaths. There’s so much violence in mainstream culture that I can hardly stand to watch TV anymore since I have little interest in watching violence pornography.

Can you imagine the sort of world we’d be living in if the hippie culture had actually been celebrated and respected by mass media? Instead, the media taught our children that hippies were dumb, dirty, shiftless and lazy. Not to mention addicted to illegal drugs. Meanwhile, half the country is now addicted to pills that create mania for about 10% of users. Mania leads to psychosis. And psychosis leads to paranoia. Paranoia can lead to violence. That’s why I say we have created “a perfect storm” by allowing guns for all and pills for all. Don’t expect this situation to improve anytime soon.

I have some suggestions for how to deal with the situation, if anyone cares to listen. First, non-violence needs to attain the same level of respect in our society that violence currently holds. Many people’s reaction to the recent shooting in Colorado is to arm themselves, as if carrying a concealed pistol would protect you when your assailant is dressed in full-body armor and carries an automatic rifle? Putting more guns in the hands of inexperienced users will likely just get you more deaths and you can’t fight violence with more violence since all that does is keep the cycle moving endlessly.

Obviously, we need to eliminate the gun show loophole. But more than that, if you’re going to be taking SSRI’s, or similar mental health medications, you should surrender your lethal weapons. In fact, any patient experiencing mental health issues who is given a prescription for a mental health medication should not be allowed to bear arms. That also goes for anyone who has been admitted to a psyche ward.

I’d also recommend gun owners not be allowed access to lethal bullets. Let them buy paint pellets or rubber bullets for their target practice. The only people that need lead bullets are the people who are killing animals and people. Unless you have a good reason for possessing lethal bullets, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy them, and possession of illegal lethal bullets should be a serious crime. In order to get a permit for lethal bullets, citizens should be required to pass a course in gun safety.

But mainly, we need more ceremonies of peace and more respect for peace culture in society. Almost all our major ceremonies (like the Super Bowl) are celebrations of warrior culture. I respect warrior culture, and it certainly exists for a good reason. But we have lost our balance and gone overboard with warrior worship. The peace people also need to be respected. And right now, that isn’t really happening.

So bring back the non-violent culture of the 1960s. It’s been nearly 50 years since that alternative to mainstream society’s values appeared, and its about time for that culture to make another run at transforming society.