We must look at roots of rage

It seems once again that we are falling into the pattern of pitting guns against Hollywood and video games. Yes, guns can facilitate violence, especially where alcohol is flowing. Yes, movies and video games are full of macho men (and macho women) using violence to solve problems. And yes, prescription drugs can have side effects, with no liability for drug companies — they take credit for positive life changes, and absolve themselves of responsibility for side effects that can be life-altering. All of the above are factors in violence, but one thing is missing: the psychological roots of violence.

Violence is most often connected to a sense of humiliation, and is frequently a byproduct of the deliberate or unconscious use of shame as a motivating tool. People act out when they are denied the chance to be seen as individuals, when they become symbols of group suspicion and targets of smear campaigns, public humiliation, hypocritical forms of payback, labeling and demonizing gossip and other socially marginalizing behavior. Insider/outsider status lines, pecking orders and a system that ranks and evaluates everybody based on superficialities and narrow definitions of capability and value… those are the drivers of aggression. Movies and video games absorb some of the frustration we collectively create, and guns absorb the rest.

This may be a good time for gun control efforts, and most of the handgun owners I know are not against an assault weapon ban. But we need to go deeper, if we want to address causes and not only means.

Michael Lockhart


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