- Posted December 17, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Newtown school shooting: Thoughts and tributes
School Shootings: Gun Control or Psychopath Control
Stricter gun control is, without doubt, one absolute weapon that can be implemented to prevent future attacks of this nature, but is it going to be enough. Are we seeing the whole picture regarding gun related violence? Well, most industrialized nations with strict gun control laws have had only a tiny fraction of violent crimes when compared to the US. So, gun control seems to be effective in curbing such violence. Gun advocates would rationalize that if not a gun, a keen and willing psychopath would find another weapon to commit the same crime, but it goes without saying that a psychopath will not be able to do the same amount of damage with a knife.
But it does raise an important question. Is dealing with Psychopaths equally important as dealing with Gun Control? After all, the US not only has more guns and gun related crimes, but it seems to have more psychopaths, in general, when compared to the rest of the world.
First, let's define who a psychopath is. According to Wikipedia: characterized by
shallow emotions (including reduced fear, a lack of empathy, and stress tolerance),
cold-heartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility,
impulsivity, criminality, antisocial behavior, a lack of remorse, and a parasitic lifestyle.
For me, all this is just over-complicated ramblings of a shrink. Simply, for me, a psychopath is someone who feels no remorse at taking another person's life. And Adam Lanza was a psychopath, as was the recent cinema theater shooter, and the slew of shooters who came before them.
I come from India. A country with 1.2 Billion people. A vast majority of them are below poverty level. Desperation levels are pretty high when compared to the average American. At the same time, there are more middle-class-to-wealthy people in India than in the US who are capable of acquiring guns if required. But there hasn't been a single crime of this nature in India, and there probably will never be one - at least not in the foreseeable future. There are terrorists from other countries who waltz into my country and kill hundreds on regular basis, as was the case with the recent Mumbai Taj Hotel massacres, but you'll never see a layman walk into a school or a cinema hall and shoot at people.
So, what's the difference between India and the US? Could it be gun control laws. Frankly, I believe that even if India didn’t have any gun control laws, you still wouldn’t see such an offence being committed and I could be wrong. But there is an inherent need to look into the psychology of people more than just gun control. So that raises the question once again: what is the difference in psychology of an Indian versus an American.
An average Indian is very family oriented. A family oriented man would never commit such a crime. Firstly, a family oriented person is connected to people by empathy. A psychopath is the exact opposite. He lives only for himself. He feels no empathy for others. So, a key to cut down psychopathic behavior is a return to family values and familial connections. It’s no secret that the American family system is broken. An overwhelming percentage of American kids are put through parental separation/divorce and foster homes. On the flip side, divorce, runaway kids and high-school dropouts are so rare in India, every case becomes the talk of the town when it does happen. Things may be changing, but that’s again, ironically, a result of Indians aping the west. First and foremost, the American family system needs to be fixed.
Let’s go deeper than that. I’ve been a keen observer of the American school system since my kids, aged 9 and 6, go to school in America. There are some interesting differences between the Indian school system that I grew up in, and the American school system. I’m not referring to the academics. The American curriculum is at least advanced if not more, both in content and the way it is administered, as the Indian counterpart. But the key difference is in the way discipline is enforced. Frankly, there is no system of discipline in American public schools. My son was openly bullied for years. ‘F’ words and other profanities are often uttered by kids as young as eight or nine. The teachers turn a deaf ear. When we were in school, a similar offence would warrant at least an office visit to the principal’s office. We were taught to respect teachers as we respect parents. But in American schools, neither form of respect is stressed. Hence, kids grow up being disrespectful to their teachers and their own parents. In short, psychopathic tendencies need to be purged from a very young age or it would lead to dire consequences at a later age.
But even discipline from a very young age may not fix the problem. What is more important is to fix the value system. Recently, at a parent teacher conference, I asked the teacher if there was a ‘moral science’ class in American schools. She looked at me with a blank expression. “You mean science lab?” she asked. The fact is, it’s just not the schools, even the books, the fables and the fairy tales have very little moral values in them. Most western fables focus on the glamour side of story-telling – the princess stories and how she found her prince if an oft-repeated theme. In Indian folktales and fables, every story has a moral. I still live by quite a few of them, at least subconsciously. Is it time to revamp English folklore, at least for the sake of kids?
And last, but not least, the media system needs to be fixed. As a famous actor recently pointed, the media focuses on the perpetrator of such crimes. We hardly ever hear the names or stories of the victims. It’s almost as if the media idolizes the perpetrator and inspires future generations of psychopaths to repeat the crime.
So, in conclusion, gun control is absolutely needed and without much delay. But the problem needs to be fixed from the grass-root level by nipping the young psychopath in the bud. And a focused look into other cultures and their value systems can be very revealing and rewarding!
Siddharth Katragadda is the author of two award-winning volumes of poetry, an acclaimed artist and filmmaker. Visit his website at: www.siddharthfilms.com or http://www.facebook.com/GirlupstairsTheFilm