It happened again. This past week, three ninety-year-old students were senselessly murdered by shooting three teachers at a game in Nashville, Tennessee. As long as this tragedy remains in the news, the issue is that the facts of this incident do not fit the established political narrative that typically follows incidents of school violence. Sadly, Columbine, Colorado and Little Columbine High School will always be infamous for school violence.
In the case of the Nashville High School shooting, the attacker was reported to be a 28-year-old transgender man who methodically planned a violent attack on a private Christian school. The popular cultural narrative is supposed to be a conservative white male Christian who seeks vindication from a minority of vulnerable people and is therefore the primordial victim of domestic terrorism. However, the ideological reaction of the national news media and prominent politicians to the Alliance School tragedy was swift and predictable, and not enough attention was paid to the loss of six people and the devastation wrought on the family and community of Nashville.
After this pointless and wrongful act of violence, President Biden marched to the White House podium to call for an “assault weapons” ban, and gun control advocates called for a day of anti-gun protests at the Tennessee Capitol. The Tennessee president, and other Republicans, called for a speech and more school administrators to expand support in both public and private schools. Still others have wondered why there aren’t more “Red Flag” laws, and why aren’t these laws stronger?
In theory, Red Flag laws are a mechanism to prevent people with mental or potentially harmful issues from accessing firearms, an idea that has some merit if knowledge of both causes is carefully considered and based on fact. However, many signs of mental or behavioral disorders are hidden, obscured or offended by individuals who are afraid to speak up, lest they be retaliated against, pulled out, or dismissed. On the other hand, there is a legitimate concern that Red Flag laws could be deployed against political opponents, invoked in family disputes or used against neighbors. It’s a place where there are a lot of bad guys.
Leftists want to single out violent crimes committed with guns as proxies for extracting legal citizens and abrogating citizens’ Second Amendment rights to own and possess firearms. Meanwhile, conservatives want to preserve every second amendment right, so the terms of the debate are negotiable, and nothing will change as long as we keep the same old political narrative.
The root causes of school shootings and other social violence are much deeper, and there are ways to make a difference if our leaders are willing to rethink their ideological comfort zones. All they have to do is advertise in an NFL game, social media or other widely watched programming to see that Hollywood’s investment in violence is gratuitous. The term “Hollywood” refers to movies, streaming, cable and streaming television programming, video games, music and myriad social media platforms and content.
Hollywood’s use of firearms is ridiculous, if not grossly negligent. The way Hollywood used to carry a lot of characters with big guns would be to shoot them in the back after the first shot in the real world.
Just as I support the Second Amendment rights of permanent citizens to keep and bear arms, I support Hollywood’s First Amendment rights of free speech to create and distribute violent content within reasonable, and age-appropriate, limits. Most people can separate fact from fiction. However, it is small to think that Hollywood’s violent content does not adversely affect vulnerable people and influence their behavior.
That’s why we’re asking the left-wing center and Hollywood producers and personalities to give violent gratuitous violence in fictional violent content — not hard news, legitimate sports, or historical documentaries. Similarly, we ask conservatives to put aside their visceral opposition to new taxes to address endemic violence and mental and human health challenges. Non-violence tax proceeds could be used to fund gun safety relief and human health programs. Absent public pressure, Hollywood has no intention of self-policing violent content, so the Hollywood tribute is a sustainable source of mental health and health care funding for years to come.
Bruce publishes the “Common Sense Conversations” column biweekly on Tuesdays at the top of the Daily News. Butler is a former mayor and councilor in Silverthorn, where he has lived for 20 years. Contact him at email@example.com.