I downloaded this long essay for the Kindle app on my phone. Author Stephen King ruminates about the gun debate in the United States from the predictable media response to a mass shooting, violence in American culture, and explaining his reasons for pulling his book Rage from publication. While admitting to being a gun owner himself, King proposes that further regulation of firearms is necessary in the United States. And he believes that the NRA, conservatives, and others opposed to gun control need to be involved in creating these restrictions. King’s arguments for firearms regulation are sound, but there’s nothing that hasn’t already been put forward. Similarly, while he addresses the necessity of pro- and anti-gun control factions working together, I doubt that his words will convince anyone to change their views.
My book did not break Cox, Pierce, Carneal, or Loukaitis, or turn them into killers; they found something in my book that spoke to them because they were already broken. Yet I did see Rage as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale. You don’t leave a can of gasoline where a boy with firebug tendencies can lay hands on it.
Superhero movies and comic books teach a lesson that runs directly counter to the culture-of-violence idea: guns are for bad guys too cowardly to fight like men.
The assertion that Americans love violence and bathe in it daily is a self-serving lie promulgated by fundamentalist religious types and America’s propaganda-savvy gun-pimps. It’s believed by people who don’t read novels, play video games, or go to many movies. People actually in touch with the culture understand that what Americans really want (besides knowing all about Princess Kate’s pregnancy) is The Lion King on Broadway, a foul-talking stuffed toy named Ted at the movies, Two and a Half Men on TV, Words with Friends on their iPads, and Fifty Shades of Grey on their Kindles. To claim that America’s “culture of violence” is responsible for school shootings is tantamount to cigarette company executives declaring that environmental pollution is the chief cause of lung cancer.
Ididn’t pull Rage from publication because the law demanded it; I was protected under the First Amendment, and the law couldn’t demand it. I pulled it because in my judgment it might be hurting people, and that made it the responsible thing to do. Assault weapons will remain readily available to crazy people until the powerful pro-gun forces in this country decide to do a similar turnaround. They must accept responsibility, recognizing that responsibility is not the same as culpability. They need to say, “We support these measures not because the law demands we support them, but because it’s the sensible thing.”
Recommended books: Hell’s Abyss, Heaven’s Grace: War and Christian Spirituality by Lawrence Hart