Gun Violence in Movies Has Tripled, and Mass Killings in Real Life Go On and On

I guess we shouldn't be surprised (horrified is more like it), but gun violence in movies has tripled since 1985, the year the rating was introduced.

According to, "The most popular PG-13 movies of 2011 and 2012 showed significantly more gun violence than R-rated movies of the same time period, a new study reveals."

Could we be any more depressed?  I read yesterday that a gun rights advocate who wrote a (very mild) piece for Guns and Ammo about how maybe we should consider regulating guns just a little, was immediately fired from the magazine and vilified and threatened by his peers, while his editor wrote a meek apology for publishing the story, and was himself fired.

Meanwhile, the killings in real life continue, with (you're not going to believe this) 16 mass killings since Newtown, where 20 first graders and six adults were gunned down last December.  (I so dread the anniversary coming up, especially because the vile NRA has promised to hold some sort of rally on Dec. 14 in Newtown.)

And as the Huffington Post points out, some of them didn't even make the front page.

“It’s shocking how gun use has skyrocketed in movies that are often marketed directly at the teen audience,” quotes Brad Bushman, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University. “You have to wonder why we are seeing this surge in gun violence in PG-13 movies, when it isn’t appearing in G, PG and R-rated films.”

Bushman told the results are concerning "because other research has revealed the presence of a 'weapons effect.'"  In other words, people who simply see a gun, or even a picture of a gun, are more aggressive toward others. “Based on what researchers have found, it is not good for teens to be viewing this much gun violence in films,” he said.

The Hollywood ratings board says a PG-13 movie “may go beyond the PG rating” in violence “but does not reach the restricted R cateogry," according to the Web site. PG-13 movies are also the most popular among viewers – 13 of the top 25 films in release during 2012 carried that rating, including seven of the top 10, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

“By the standards of the MPAA, PG-13 movies shouldn’t have as much violence as R-rated movies, but they clearly do. It appears sex scenes are more likely to result in an R rating than scenes of violence,” quotes Bushman.

So what are we to make of all this?  We see it on the news just about every day, in the New York City area. People shooting other people, people shooting other people's kids "by accident" (a one-year-old, killed in his stroller, when the shooter was aiming at his father), and teens taking their own lives using guns, as happened in Greenwich, CT in August.

We're pretty much right back to where we were before the massacre of innocent children in Newtown galvanized a new effort for some sort of gun control.  With nothing being done, even after this unbelievable crime.

(Even more scary -- I read in another article in the Sunday Times about kids and mental health that gave as an example of how we're failing our kids,a mother frantically rushing into an emergency room with her 13-year-old who was so agitated and anxious and hysterical she didn't know what to do.  The boy's name was Adam Lanza.  Writing this I feel a chill down my back.)

It's incredible to me that we're right back where we started, after Newtown, with our gun laws still so elastic and porous, that the deaths of 20 children who will never see their seventh birthday or go to a prom or get married or have children themselves, in the end, had such little impact.

As the anniversary rears its head, I remember where I was that day, driving to an after-school homework club at my church where I help out with the kids, and maybe it was because I was about to be surrounded by children the very same age, or the thought of my 11-year-old waiting for me at home, or the total unbelievableness of this crime, that this could happen in America, hearing it on the radio, I began to cry.

Not just for the kids, but for the world where this could happen.  And then, that nothing else did.


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