When Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association made his dramatic statements about the Newtown shooting, he placed the blame on some familiar suspects: not just insufficient militarization of elementary schools, but movies and video games. "Media conglomerates," he said, "compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes." But Matt Gertz of Media Matters discovered that the NRA is not so opposed to movies that feature people shooting each other. In fact, the NRA's National Firearms Museum features an exhibit called "Hollywood Guns," in which you can check out the actual guns used in some of your favorite films (go to the end of this post for a video of the NRA museum curator proudly showing off the movie guns).
You might respond that the NRA is full of crap when it points the finger at Hollywood, which of course it is. But let's take them at their word for a moment and examine the claim. If movies featuring a lot of gunplay cause real-world violence (there's no actual evidence that this is the case, by the way, but never mind that), then what is it exactly that the NRA believes produces this effect? Is it that the narratives of action films convince people that the most serious problems can be solved with the use of firearms? Is it that movies portray a world in which people are constantly called on to use guns, when that isn't the case in real life? Is it that movies portray gun use not as a horror or a tragedy but as something to be enjoyed? Is it that movies fetishize guns, making them seem like not just practical tools but objects that imbue those who wield them with power and sexiness?
Because it seems pretty clear that rather than thinking those ideas are a problem, the NRA believes them to be true. Not only that, it wants everyone else to believe them, too. Do they think people are dumb enough to buy the argument that the NRA would like to see fewer guns in movies? That they're displeased that every other movie poster features the star holding a gun, as a signal to the potential audience that this is a film with action and excitement? Give me a break.