Michael Moore’s newest documentary opened Friday around the country. Bowling for Columbine originally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this summer and caused quite a commotion.
Michael Moore wants to know: “Are we a nation of gun nuts or just nuts?”
Good question. More than a year ago, a member of my family committed a felony with a gun. Now he faces 10 years in prison due to Florida’s 10-20-Life law. And though I ponder whether 10 years is too much to give to a first-time offender, I still can’t help but think what would have happened if he didn’t have that gun.
And how about all the other people in the country, some living, most dead, who have been victims of gunshot wounds? Where would they be if a gun hadn’t crossed their path? A scary fact: On average, 10 children are killed by guns every day in the United States. What does that say about us?
To me, it says that we are indeed a nation of gun nuts. We have one of, if not the, highest gun-related death counts in the world. Many European countries have twice the amount of guns the United States does, yet they have a fifth of the gun-related deaths. Why? Because they are taught to respect guns at a young age, whereas our kids see guns glorified in movies and TV.
I am not saying TV and movies cause violence, because that’s unfounded. But the more our kids see things that make them think guns are cool, the higher our death rate is going to soar.
In his documentary, Moore reports that the bullets used to kill students and faculty at Columbine High School were bought at a local K-Mart. He urges two boys who still have bullets stuck in their bodies to return them to K-Mart. After meeting the boys, K-Mart said it wouldn’t sell guns and ammunition anymore. I don’t know if K-Mart has stuck to its deal as of yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they still sold guns and ammunition.
I am not an advocate of the take-all-guns-away theory. The right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Second Amendment, just like my freedom to write what I want in this column is guaranteed in the First. Of course, then, our founding fathers were thinking about protection, not Columbine.
So, what do we do? By the time our kids are grown, how many people will we have known who died this way? Solutions swirl around Congress like they swirl around in our minds. But nothing gets done. Should people be able to own rifles for hunting? Of course, it’s a sport. Should parents be able to protect themselves and their families by keeping a gun in the house? Yes, I believe so. Should parents be held accountable when their child finds that gun and shoots him or herself in the face? Yes, no question.
There were 775 weapons missing from the FBI and INS services in August. According to a government Web site, only 18 were found. The numbers are outrageous.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Neither does the government, at this point, but there has to be a way to fix these problems. We are such a violent country. But how do we stop what we can’t even control?
Jessica Higgins is a junior majoring in mass firstname.lastname@example.org