Stephen King: ‘How many have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys?’
An essay written by Stephen King and available by Kindle download discusses gun violence in America, in response to the most recent mass murders and the current debate on gun control — which some are unsure will lead to a renewed assault weapons ban.
In the essay, King claims he does not believe in a “culture of violence” in America. He also believes that gun control will not solve American’s problems but that it can save thousands of lives.
The essay begins by detailing King’s view on how mass shootings narratives are all essentially the same and that they always end with a failure to enact any change, as “any bills to change existing gun laws, including those that make it possible for almost anyone in America to purchase a high-capacity assault weapon, quietly disappear into the legislative swamp,” he writes.
The media, he claims also ensures that “We will be shown the superstars of America’s unbalanced and disaffected time and time again: Harris, Klebold, Cho, Mohammed, Malvo, Lanza. These are the guys we remember, not the victims.”
Throughout the essay, King does not have kind words for the National Rifle Association. “The NRA doesn’t come right out and say the victims are also to blame for thinking they could live in America without a gun on their person or in their purse, but the implication is hard to miss,” he asserts. Later in the essay, he writes, “One only wishes Wayne LaPierre and his NRA board of directors could be drafted to some of these scenes, where they would be required to put on booties and rubber gloves and help clean up the blood, the brains, and the chunks of intestine” of shooting victims.
King also discusses a story he wrote in high school about a boy who shoots his algebra teacher and takes a class hostage. A decade later, he edited and published it — but pulled it after four adolescents, two of whom killed fellow students and a teacher, two of whom took classrooms hostage, were found to have copies of Rage. He says the book did not “turn them into killers” although “I did see Rage as a possible accelerant, which is why I pulled it from sale,” he explained
King claims he doesn’t believe that “repeal, or even modification, would solve the problem of gun violence in America” but that “I also believe strict gun control would save thousands of lives.”
“I also don’t believe the NRA’s assertion…that America’s so-called ‘culture of violence’ plays a significant role in kid-on-kid school shootings…Let me be frank: The idea that America exists in a culture of violence is bullshit.” He even went as far to say that “Americans have very little interest in entertainment featuring gunplay.”
To gun owners who balk at the suggestion of any limits on what kind of guns Americans can purchase, he said, “No one wants to take away your hunting rifles. No one wants to take away your shotguns. No one wants to take away your revolvers,” but that we had to ask “How many have to die before we will give up these dangerous toys? Do the murders have to be in the mall where you shop? In your own neighborhood? In your own family? One hopes for a little more public spirit and citizenship than that, even in this politically double-fucked country.”
King then discussed Australia, where the 1996 mass murder of 35 people with an AR-15 rifle (along with over 20 wounded) led to bans or regulations on automatic weapons and a large gun buyback program that resulted in the return of 600,000 weapons. “Homicides by firearm have declined almost 60 percent in Australia,” he writes.
While some have argued the rate was already declining, others say it started to decline at a much faster rate, reported Slate last month.
King concludes that the only way to get increased gun control is for gun advocates to support them: “If enough American gun-owners urge Congress to do the right thing, and insist the NRA climb aboard, the results might surprise you.”
[Image: Author Stephen King on Shutterstock]