Americans have an unfortunate need to assign blame. This is especially true at the moment, when in the aftermath of the brutal school shooting in Connecticut, many politicians have jumped to lay the blame for the tragedy on the lack of gun control, video games, the NRA, and recalcitrant supporters of the 2nd Amendment. Some say if only we had stringent gun control, mass killings wouldn’t occur, or if only our children were never exposed to violent images, we’d all be safe. But no matter how much we indulge ourselves in “if only” scenarios, the fact remains that the blame lies with the person who commits the atrocity, and no matter how much you restrict what citizens can legally own or watch, a person determined to do evil will find a way.
Despite what you may hear on the media, mass killings are not, in any way, a modern American phenomenon; mass-killings have happened all over the world. There has been a long string of fatal knife attacks on day care centers and elementary schools in firearm-free China. Norway has a comprehensive gun regulation system, and yet Anders Behring Breivik still went on the worst shooting rampage in history after killing 7 people with an explosive device. And these are just a few examples. And as for assigning the blame to an overabundance of violent images, according to criminologist Grant Duwe, “mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929” , at a time when many Americans didn’t even have electricity, let alone video games.
Instead of scrambling to place blame, we should be, as Ronald Reagan said, “restor[ing] the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions” . Sadly, our leaders are more interested in reacting and being seen to react than in trying to follow a course of action that makes sense.