In 1997, writer STEPHEN KING demanded that his book Rage-written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman-be pulled from the shelves due to a rash of mass shootings, both tried and true, by teenagers who had read and, apparently, parroted the novel. Now, with the slaughters of Sandy Hook and Aurora still fresh in our memories, King has released Guns, a short Kindle e-book, in which he focuses his lens on the culture of gun violence in America.
While I’m not in agreement with Mr. King on everything in his treatise, I do stand behind this particular excerpt, where he reminds us that we, like he, must be willing to accept responsibility for what we do:
I didn’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.”
Until that happens, shooting sprees will continue. We will see the BREAKING NEWS chyrons, the blurry cell phone videos of running people, the tearful relatives, the rolling hearses. We will also see, time and time and time again, how easy it is for the crazies among us to get their hands on portable and efficient weapons of mass destruction.
(Feature slider photo of Stephen King by Amy Guip.)