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yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)(14 posts)

yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)MJ
May 17, 2002 1:00 AM,11895,716923,00.html

Gunning for the land of the free

TV documentary about the US love of firearms makes history

Stuart Jeffries in Cannes
Friday May 17, 2002
The Guardian

The United States was lampooned yesterday for being not so much the land of the free and the home of the brave but a fearful and gun-crazy nation obsessed with violence, in a powerful film that premiered at Cannes last night.
Bowling for Columbine by the American film-maker Michael Moore, best known in Britain for his satirical series TV Nation and The Awful Truth, is the first documentary to be entered in competition at Cannes for 46 years. Its moving and occasionally funny analysis of gun violence in the US was greeted warmly by critics yesterday.

It is a topical and, for Cannes, explicitly radical political film linking what Moore calls the "paranoid mentality" of Americans who love guns to the violent nature of postwar US foreign policy.

Moore, 48, said that the question he set out to ask was "Are we a nation of gun nuts or just nuts?"

At the start of the picture, he opens a bank account and receives a free gun. He discloses that the bullets used to kill 12 students and a teacher at the Columbine high school in Littleton, Colorado, in 1999 were bought for 17 cents each from a Wal-Mart supermarket and encourages two teenage boys who still have bullets lodged in their spines after the Columbine attack to return bullets to the chain. After meeting them, Wal-Mart announced it would no longer sell such guns and bullets.

A member of an armed militia in his home state, Michigan, tells Moore: "It's an American responsibility to be armed." But the denouement comes when Moore confronts the vice president of the National Rifle Association, Hollywood star Charlton Heston, over his defence of the second amendment to the US constitution that allows Americans to bear arms. He attacks Heston for taking part in NRA rallies backing gun ownership near schools in Columbine and Flint, Michigan, where children had also recently been shot dead.

Why, he asks, do so many Americans kill each other with guns and why do so many of them feel they need to be armed? "We have a history of violence," replies Heston, "perhaps more than most other countries." When Moore retorts that Germany and Britain have violent histories, too, but currently a relatively tiny number of gun-related killings, Heston walks out.

Bowling for Columbine was a personal journey for Moore; he had been a marksmanship champion as a teenager and is a lifelong member of the NRA.

In the spring of 1999 he had been working on an episode for his Channel 4 TV series The Awful Truth, featuring a segment called Teen Sniper School in which a weapons instructor taught two year olds how to fire guns. Days later, the shootings took place at Columbine and Moore decided to make a documentary.

"I think bowling for Columbine is the most provocative thing in terms of film that I've ever made," said Moore yesterday.

It is hard not to agree, especially as the film expands from being an analysis of US gun culture to a revisionist history of the United States, suggesting the country was born in fear of outsiders and that that fear continues to influence US foreign policy.

"The very first sentence you learn about US history as a child is 'The Pilgrims came to America because they were afraid of being persecuted'. Then what happened? They encounter the Indians and are afraid of them, so they kill them; then they start becoming afraid of each other and start seeing witches and burn them; then they win the revolution, but they're afraid the British are going to come back. So someone writes the second amendment that says 'Let's keep our guns because the Brits could come back'.

"The genesis of fear in America came from having a slave population that in just 86 years from the time of the revolutionary w
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)BikeViking at home
May 17, 2002 4:31 AM
Columbine was a tragedy, but the same type of thing happened in Germany, in their relatively firearm-free society. These were terrible incidents, but they aren't happening every day/week/month/year.

We take risks with drunk drivers every time we get behind the wheel. We don't ban cars because of their "evil" potential for mayhem. Look at the good cars do every day. People make choices in life and sometimes they are poor, no matter what the implement is; pistol, car, wobbly ladders, smoking in bed, etc.

Firearms and cars are inanimate implements. What the humans at their controls choose to do/not do with them is the problem.
Violence = Perception?Sintesi
May 17, 2002 5:48 AM
In the aggregate, a nation of 270 million people can easily deal with 10,000 gun homicides a year. While it's horrendous to be on the receiving end of such brutality, apparently most of us aren't involved enough or threatened enough to do anything substantial about it. Media promoted incidents like Columbine or even the Vietnam war magnify the loss and thus motivates people to react politically, even though they live their lives relativeley remote from the violence and are not greatly impacted by it. Think about it: the raw carnage of gun, and say, vehicular deaths combined annually towers over the total loss of lives during the entire prosecution to the Vietnam War. I don't see this phenomena of violent death seriously impeding the progress of this nation. (relatively speaking our nation has grown in power, wealth, health and influence)

Another example, is the phenomena in US cities, where tremendously violent gun deaths can occur literally blocks from your house and yet if you did not read about in the paper or see it on the boob tube the next day you never would have known. In fact, someone was shot and killed 50 feet from my front door a while back, and I only found out about it the next day when my wife called me at work to say cop had come by asking if we heard anything. We didn't.

I would also like to throw this out. I suggest that there is a hyper-violent subculture in America that largely preys on itself, e.g. gang activity, criminals, people who regularly interact with dangerous individuals. Avoid these people and you can avoid must gun violence in America. When people abroad read about gun violence here, what they fail to perceive is that most of us walk through our daily lives w/out the remotest fear.

BTW, I don't own guns (I'm afraid of them) and am ambivalent about the second ammendment.

Violence = Perception?IAM
May 17, 2002 6:56 AM
Your comment about the violent subculture that preys on itself is exactly true. I'd like to see the statistics once all the criminals killing each other are removed from the pot.

I read a while ago that in Canada it is 1/10th of one percent of the gun crimes that are committed by people who got thier gun through legal means.This countries gun control efforts have cost us over 670 million so far and is estimated to near a billion by the end of the year.

All of us legal gun owners have got our gun licences and are registering our guns and people are still getting shot on the streets of Toronto every weekend. Last summer was crazy with what seemed like gangs going tit for tat and 15 young men dying within a couple of weeks.

All that money spent to get some farmer in rural Alberta to get a licence and register his shotgun and not a dam thing done about crime.I think that if the focus and money went to crime control and illegal guns we'd be much better off.
Valid comments, butmuncher
May 17, 2002 7:13 AM
the funny things about guns is that you get people, and BV seems to be one of them, that want to defend the right to carry/use guns come what may, and seem to be incapable of a ratinal analysis of thier effects/value.

What is so difficult for poeple to grasp about the fact that, save for a very very small minority of professional gun users, no-one NEEDS to have a gun. They do no good whatsoever, and it is a falacy to suppose that the general public carrying/having access to guns, reduces crime, either in quantity/severity. In fact, all the evidence points toward the contrary being the effect.

Some people just have a "thing" about guns. Others don't. I have a very strong view on which is the better approach.
But you have to undersand...Sintesi
May 17, 2002 8:03 AM
Our very independant nature. As Americans we have been steeped in this myth (myth does not necessarily equal untruth in my book) of heroic individualism. This is drilled into your head from practically infancy. Every person has the absolute right to guide his destiny and guns are seen as the empowering equalizer for the potentially oppressed. This and the very real fact that gun use in the relatively recently developed and rural areas is a deep part of our cultural tradition and had very real value once upon a time. Of course this is not the case today, i.e. one does not need to have firearms to feed one's family and or defend them, but it remains a deep component of the identity of a very large segment of our population. It is unthinkable to be without the same weapons your family has enjoyed from your dad to your great, great grandad. It's impossible for many of us to understand.

This situation is not logical, it is cultural, and this is where you have your problem understanding our mentality. We have an animosity to outside influence, whether it be our government or the guy down the street and this cannot be underestimated.

Personally, I don't care for guns, I'll never own one (proud of that) and I find macho gun nuts to be absolutely repulsive, particularly the most reactionary of them but then again I'm pretty tolerant of others' attitudes and their right to be "wrong" if that be the case. And ultimately, to be perfectly honest, this debate is almost abstract (I know can be seen as obscene by people who have suffered due to gun violence - I appologise)to me. Guns have not caused me or my loved ones harm, I personally do not even know someone who was killed or shot by a murderer or a criminal. The only people I personally have known that have been harmed by guns has been due to accidents and suicides. Sorry, just being honest, and I'm inclined to think this is pretty normal in the USA.
Valid comments, butIAM
May 17, 2002 9:04 AM
No one really needs a bike either, save for a very small minority of professional cyclists. Think about it that way for a minute.

I grew up with guns in the home, was taught to respect them and use them properly. I hunt and enjoy target shooting, both of which are great family pass times. My children have also been taught about gun safety, storage and have experienced the fun of target shooting.

The great debate to me shouldn't be about banning guns, but about responsible gun ownership and crime control.

Oh yeah, before anyone gets on their soapbox about introducing children to guns, ask yourself this. Where would you rather have your kids? Hanging out at the mall or arcade or spending a day with the family at the range or in the woods learning how to shoot, gun safety and respect. This could be any family activity like cycling or camping as well but don't condemn legal law abiding citizens who are only enjoying their sport because of what some criminal slime does.

One last thing. I have been touched by gun violence. I had a very good friend murdered in a robbery several years ago. My thoughts on guns hasn't changed nor has any of his family's, but our thoughts on criminals and justice sure has.

I must get off my soapbox now, but thanks for listening.
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)weiwentg
May 17, 2002 7:36 PM
as I said, there's the little problem of the study that was done on firearms and their relation to violence (basically, firearms act as a sort of cue to engage in aggressive behavior). the finger does pull the trigger, but the trigger also helps pull the finger.
of course, you sounded like you reject it. then again, a lot of people on the religious right reject scientific studies.
and yes, there was a massacre in Germany. there are many more such incidents here. and not just because the US' population is so much greater.
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)BikeViking at home
May 18, 2002 4:59 AM
THis came up before, but you never addressed it...why is it that persons in the US with concealed carry permits (having to listen to the trigger tell the finger "pulle me" silly!) are the LEAST likely people in this country to commit a crime with a firearm! I have spent a LOT of time with firearms and this "idea" about guns telling peopel to "pull the trigger" is absolute insanity! I have been REALLY pissed off with these firearms in my house and, at no time EVER "heard" that! It's this type of fallacious evidence that people take as fact when it is nowhere NEAR the truth!

I do hear my car tell "Get drunk and speed through a school zone!" Is that bad?
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)weiwentg
May 18, 2002 7:07 AM
once again, don't scorn that of which you have no knowledge.
the study said that firearms can incite people to aggressive acts (watch your temper, now). it did not say that they incite people to commit CRIMES. of course people with concealed carry permits are the least likely to commit CRIMES with a firearm - after all, they applied for the permit, implying that they are law-abiding citizens. what the study says is that the presence of firearms can incite people to violence. which is not good.
cars are neutral objects - their purpose is transport, not destruction. in fact, in one of the control groups, badminton rackets (another neutral object) were placed on the tables. as you might expect there was no effect.
the study was done by Leonard Berkowitz and Anthony Le Page in 1967. very short summary here:
and here:
the full article isn't on the Net, unfortunately.
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)BikeViking at home
May 18, 2002 2:05 PM
Interesting article, but I must disagree with the motives for the researcher. Still looking for constrasting studies, but was this study done with knives and other dangerous implements? With the estimated 300 million firearms in this country, using this example off the "trigger pulling the finger", we SHOULD have more murders than we do. A majority of firearms deaths are suicides, not homicides (16,000+ vs. 10,000). The researcher was also dealing with a particular age group. Does this translate across all age groups or is this evidence anecdotal, yet politically motivated?

This is akin to the lawsuit blaming Ozzy for the deaths of those two teens who had been drinking/smoking pot all day and listening to the same CD over and over again. One of them killed himself and the other was wounded pretty bad, if I remember correctly. Those kids were at fault, not some musicians alleged "secret message. It all gets back to personal responsibility.

People kill people
re: yet another gun article - (Michael Moore Cannes premier)weiwentg
May 19, 2002 9:37 AM
>but I must disagree with the motives for the researcher

to be fair, he is an anti-gun person.

>With the estimated 300 million firearms in this country, using this example off the "trigger pulling the finger", we SHOULD have more murders than we do

thank God you don't.
seriously, now, you can't prove that. the best way to prove it would be to ban and confiscate all firearms :P

>A majority of firearms deaths are suicides, not homicides (16,000+ vs. 10,000).

and indeed, males prefer more lethal methods of suicide. and gun control won't necessarily help here; for all we know, if a suicidal person can't get a gun, s/he'll find some other way.

>Does this translate across all age groups or is this evidence anecdotal, yet politically motivated?

The vast majority of research is done with college students (at least in this country). yes, there are questions as to whether the results can be generalized. generally, it is accepted that the answer is mostly yes. where possible, the study is repeated in other locations and other countries. getting the 'average person' to do a study is difficult: you have to pay them. in the case of college students, you can either make participation in a study a requirement for those taking intro to psychology classes (most subjects are such people) or you can pay them (and you can pay them less than an adult).

>Those kids were at fault, not some musicians alleged "secret message

ultimately, the individual is (usually) responsible, but certain factors can make it easier or harder for the individual to act in certain ways.
in the case of subliminal messages embedded into media, the consensus is that they are not effective at coercion. if the CD contained messages (overt ones) that were severely negative in tone, and they were suicidal to begin with, then the CD could have played a part. of course, if they were suicidal to begin with, they would have been predisposed to getting that CD.
it's not quite akin to the lawsuit, then. Ozzy's not at fault. guns, on the other hand (if the study is correct), can be faulted but not completely.
The truth about murder weaponsmickey-mac
May 18, 2002 4:59 AM
From the Onion, the world's most reliable news source.
The truth about murder weaponsBikeViking at home
May 18, 2002 2:07 PM
Can that doomsday laser bean be attached to the head of an ill-tempered sea bass?

I Love Austin Powers movies!!