Gun Violence: 68 Percent of Liberals Blame the NRA, While 75 Percent of Conservatives Blame Hollywood


According to a recent poll conducted by The Hollywood Reporter and pollster Penn Schoen Berland, 75% of people believe "it isn't Congress' or the president's role to pressure Hollywood to make less-violent movies and TV shows."

Interestingly, however, a whopping 46% of people believe there should be less violence in movies.

A discussion on the impact of violent media, just as the discussion of any impact on the human mind, must rely on scientific data formulated after extensive study. However, science has so far been unable to provide conclusive evidence one way or the other so this is perhaps more an argument of governmental role.

Violence and its depiction in the media would most likely fall under the First Amendment. Generally, that interpretation takes it to mean that there is relative freedom for artistic representation, seeing as how the American government does not exercise much power to censor. However, there are limitations to a person's right to free speech whenever it falls under categories such as libel, slander, defamation and obscenity. The most famous and illustrative example used here is that you "can't yell fire in a crowded theater."

Of course, that changes when there is indeed a fire. So, if science can someday indisputably prove that violence in the media does indeed cause actual violence, perhaps more people would be willing to let the federal government step in. However, Twilight fans, I am certain, would be willing to die for their right to watch topless werewolves.

Interestingly, according to the same poll, 68% of liberals believe the NRA bears more blame than Hollywood while 74% of conservatives blame Hollywood more than gun-ownership advocates. In fact, both sides are convinced to protect their industry and malign the other, as can be seen by NRA vice president Wayne LaPierre's attack on the media and Hollywood's remarkable show of unity in favor of stricter gun laws.

The division on this issue betrays a certain illogicality, or at least inconsistency, in both parties. First Amendment advocates believe that any regulation on artistic expression is an infringement of rights but they are content with limiting gun use to official militias. Would they also be fine if only properly trained government officials were allowed to make art? (Looking at some of the terrible movies that come out nowadays, that actually doesn't sound like a bad idea).

On the other hand, gun advocates think that even the slightest regulation for guns is a violation of their right to bear arms. Yet, to them, a disk that plays movies using lasers is more dangerous than a machine that fires lethal pellets of metal. So, the tool for gun violence keeps me safe but the fictional depiction of that tool actually being used puts me in danger? Brilliant.

Perhaps we should not doubt anyone's intentions because, obviously, people want their children to be safe. The stance each side is taking, however, just seems a bit contradictory. For some, violence is bad so it should not be portrayed on film but its most effective tool, the firearm, should be in every home. For others, violence is bad but its vivid and sometimes childish portrayal on film is absolutely legit. And for most, violence in films is bad but it is not the government's job to stop it.

I'm guessing that last one is because parents are usually so responsible in what their kids should and should not watch.