Violence and Control by William Denzel Wood ’18

In the wake of the terrible shooting that took place in Florida a few weeks ago, I’d like to talk briefly about the difference between violence and control—there is no difference. Violence is control. Control is violence. Guns are violence, just as are hateful words. Telling someone they’re not good enough is violence, as is bombing innocent civilians on the other side of the planet through drone strikes. Unfortunately, the Left’s answer to this problem of control in the form of firearms is more control, and the Right’s answer is to bury their head in the sand while both cuddling and fondling the NRA lobby. Violence breeds violence. The attempt to control breeds further control. Does this mean that we shouldn’t expand gun legislation? I don’t think so. Ban guns. Ban all of them, sure, put on restrictions, make rules, take them away. I don’t need a gun—it’s not a hobby of mine, I don’t care (other Americans would care, which could cause its own sort of violence). Let’s be honest; people would find ways to access guns, but at least they’d be illegal. However, that still wouldn’t address the core issue of why The US of A has the worst gun violence per capita of any first world nation. I believe the roots to be that, as a culture, we are obsessed with power, control, and violence.

Why do most shootings take place in school? Is it because kids are inherently violent? Or, perhaps the issue stems from the systemic micro-aggressions these children experience daily at the hands of their teachers and peers? I’m not saying that these angry adolescent white males shouldn’t be blamed for the terrible things they’ve done in school shootings. Rather, they should receive counselling and individualized treatment to address their racist, sexist, violent tendencies. These people are conditioned to believe they have a disease, when in fact they themselves  are becoming ostracized—which better manifests their hatred. Ostracism is a form of control: it’s a way of excluding someone considered ‘off,’ which only makes them more off. School shooters are symptoms of a societal illness, and under these conditions guns only serve to facilitate more violence. We need to behavioral treatment for students, promote flexible classes, maintain better peer relations, and regulate youth gun ownership. We should treat the root and the symptom.

These white males that shoot up their schools clearly have some kind of evil manifesting in them, and it doesn’t come from nowhere. This evil derives from their peers, teachers, parents, strangers, and through the isolating culture of mass media. Of course, the choice of choosing to kill rather than reaching out for help requires mutual efforts, but our system of competition, politics, celebrity culture, movies, video games, and general society convinces young minds that power is a priority. And so, when you’re an outcast at school, an easy route to ultimate power is through a gun. Therefore, let’s treat the disease that infects people like Nikolas Cruz. We must reform the notion that guns are a means of empowerment for those in psychological pain, rather than try to approach these issues with polarizing be-all-end-alls. Because if we don’t do something to change our schools, using our power as voters, as political voices, then these tragedies will continue. I don’t want that on my conscience, and neither do you.

wwood18@amherst.edu

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