Commentary

Commentary: Where America’s Gun Culture Comes From

C.Song/The Phillipian

Gun ownership has become embedded in American culture at an early age because media, toys, and games portray guns as “cool.” Video games, such as Fortnite and action films continue to  normalize the usage of guns despite, a recent “Time Magazine” poll which stated 66 percent of respondents supported stricter gun laws. And yet, this support for tighter gun control is not reflected in the media. As the media and society continue to neglect people’s wishes for stricter gun laws, they give more power to guns.

Fortnite, a popular video game that involves human characters and a variety of guns continues to standardize gun usage in the beyond virtual worlds. What makes it ethical to promote guns and weapons in games when we denounce gun violence in real life? Children are playing games that reward them for the number of enemies they kill, linking guns to power and achievement. Our country needs a cultural shift, and we must start from things as small as video games. While guns empower some people, we must take into account the significant consequences that come with each shot fired. Games should not glorify gruesome murder because, in reality, there are emotions behind each death that video games continue to overlook and ignore.

In addition to games, specifically video games, movies often fail to represent the devastating emotional consequences of gun violence, thus trivializing and failing to demonstrate the effects of gun violence. As a result, movie watchers, including myself, are likely to feel little emotion towards characters taken by gun violence. Instead we are hit with a few seconds of grief and like most movie characters, we move on with the plot. But imagine being a parent whose child was shot in the Parkland shooting. For that family, life moves nowhere near as quickly as families experiencing loss in films.

Hunting is a hobby or even a family tradition for many American families. And while hunting may seem harmless, it frames gun usage as simply just a hobby. Hunting from a young age teaches children not only how to use a gun and the power of a gun, but also that it’s okay to kill living beings. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, 40 percent of Americans engage in wildlife activity, such as hunting and fishing, and Statista writes that 16.9 million Americans hunted in the spring of 2017. It is difficult to ban the tradition, but the U.S. government can create restrictive measures such as limiting gun usage to hunting ranges and reserves. While I’m not condemning hunting as a whole, I believe it is important for people who hunt to emphasize that using the gun for hunting purposes does not translate to using the gun in any alternative way. 

Guns appear in movies, games, and few hobbies that center around gun usage, but these portrayals of gun fail to show the harrowing consequences of gun violence. While it seems normal to kill in games and move on like movie characters, we must keep in mind that this does not happen in real life. Reality is not a movie scene or a game of Fortnite. We must make gun control an issue on the forefront. By highlighting the negative consequences that come with guns, we can contribute to denormalizing guns within our community.

Guns appear in movies, games, and there are even hobbies that center around gun usage, but these portrayals of gun usage fail to show the harrowing consequences of gun violence. While it seems normal to kill in games and then move on like movie characters, we must keep in mind that this does not happen in real life.  In a more applicable sense, I think students at Andover should strive to make gun control an ongoing issue. We need to make gun violence as important an issue as race and sexual harassment in order to drive long-term change.

Ava Long is a Junior from Belmont, Mass. Contact the author at along21@andover.edu.

Apr 20, 2018