Friday, May 13, 2011

Kids With Guns

Through our study of violence in the media and in art, we came to the conclusion that violence has a gender bias towards men. From time to time, we have heroines like Buffy who are up to par with her male counterparts in terms of being an agent of violence, but she remains the exception and not the rule. Likewise violence has an age bias. When we think of soldiers, we think of adult males in uniforms. We don't picture kids with guns. In traditional media we try to spare the pre-pubescent from violence as much as possible to preserve the archetype of innocence and potential. The simple thought of kids being consumed by adult-world violence can leave a bad taste in one's mouth. I would like to avoid talking about the religion and politics of kids with guns, and rather talk about the impressions we as viewers have of this.

A recent New York Times article spoke of a Neo-Nazi home in suburbia California, where a ten year old boy shot and killed his father with a handgun. He is now being charged with murder. What is the proper reaction to this? My gut tells me that the kid accidentally shot his father after stumbling upon the handgun's hiding place. After all, the boy is described as a pleasant inquisitive youth. No real character flaws there. Others will argue that growing up in an aggressively racist and openly violent home would have turned the child into a monster (though the journalist describes the victim as a good father). Overall, many react to young violence by blaming an external factor, believing that children will only resort to violence when pushed to their limits. Never mind how calculating children can be and for a second forget bullying in school. Kids don't have motives...or do they?

On a brighter note:


  1. I do think that kids have motives, especially with a gun. Our society is so focused on violence that kids are introduced to weapons and guns at an early age. I used to play a game when I was younger called FBI where we would just run around and shoot people with our fingers pretending they were criminals (awesome I know). However, kids may know what guns do but I dont think this kid knew the consequences of his actions. Young kids have a hard time realizing what death is and how things can cease to exist. The boy in the story may have had a motive but I doubt he knew what would happen after he fulfilled that motive.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I think Trey makes a good point about kids and not being able to fully realize the consequences of their actions. In video games you can always reset, call a "do-over" or cry foul, but in life you only have once chance. I had to watch an oscar nominated live-action short for my class called The Crush. In the movie a young boy challenges the fiancee of his teacher to the duel; the boy, however, has a real gun. The duel scene was one of the most tense cinematic moments I have ever had .The sight of a kid with a gun is a truly frightening thing specifically because of the reason Trey mentioned: they simply just do not grasp the consequences of their actions.

  4. There was that case a few years ago about the Georgian third-graders that formed a plot to murder their teacher. Probably most of you have heard about it already, but they had handcuffs, a knife, a rock to knock her out, and individual roles such as covering windows and stuff. They didn't have guns, but it's the same vein of kids that are too young to even understand violence that are attempting to commit it anyway.

  5. From a US point of view, kids with guns is a scary image and one that clearly goes against societal norms because we do not believe children can be agents of violence. In reality, many kids are taught how to use a gun and find themselves surrounded by them from a young age. This is especially true in hunting/gun enthusiast families. There is nothing inherently wrong with kids using weapons, but there is an issue when kids are not properly trained to use them and decide to test for themselves how they work. In addition, there is a problem when guns are used without supervision because many kids cannot fully grasp the idea that guns are lethal.

    From an international point of view, kids around the world are taught in military and militia setting how to use guns from a young age because they must defend themselves or their people. On the flipside, kids are also dispensable for many of the major military coups who often arm young children to do their dirty work. Sadly, this is the reality in many parts of Africa where constant civil war occurs.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.