The gun dilemma: consider culture

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I’m sick of the fighting. Seventeen kids were just killed in Florida and we are fighting about gun control.

This is not a time for you to get on your high horse, point in people’s faces, and say “I told you so.” You know what that makes you? A heartless jerk.

This is not the time for you to go on a long rampage defending your guns. This isn’t about you. This isn’t about your guns. Stop being so self-centered and selfish.

This is about America standing back scratching their heads as white boy after white boy shoots up a school. This is about a culture in America that tells boys to “man up” and “stop crying” instead of letting them deal with their emotions in a healthy way.

This is about a culture where boys feel they need to earn their masculinity by being big, tough, macho and violent.

Ever notice girls aren’t school shooters? This isn’t a coincidence. Why are we not looking at the patterns here? Why are we acting like this is just some random out-of-the-blue-horrible-thing?

Yes, it was horrible. Yes, it was terrible. No, I cannot even imagine what it was like to be in that school that day.

But the best thing to do in a situation like this is to look at the pattern of young boys—most who have been bullied—who prove their manhood by killing other students. It’s violent. It’s out there. But it aligns with the messages boys receive every day on how they are supposed to behave as “men.”

It is too simple of a solution to say all school shooters were mentally insane. It is too easy to say that the problem is guns. Yes, both factors play into the issue. But do you notice that both issues take the blame off the violent, manly, social messages boys receive every day?

Of course, it can’t be the unhealthy way men are supposed to suppress their emotions. It must be something else. Anything else. And so, we pigeonhole our focus on the stupid, idiotic argument of guns that completely ignores the real issue.


It has long been a stereotype and a social norm that boys and men are not supposed to appear weak, vulnerable or emotional. These expectations are passed from one generation to the next as fathers socially and emotionally embarrass their boys for acting “like girls.”

So, while girls are allowed to cry about how a bully made them feel, cry about not feeling loved, accepted or wanted, boys are given no such outlet. Stereotypically, girls are hugged and reminded how much they are loved. While boys are awkwardly given a fist bump to the shoulder and told to “tough it out, kid” or even worse, “just fight back.”

Here is the most problematic dilemma between this active shooter culture in young boys and the constant message boys receive, disproportionally to girls, to fight back to their bullies and stand up for themselves.

This message can unintentionally be twisted out of context and be used to justify going to school and killing their bully, killing the kids that never accepted them, made them feel stupid, weird, or like an outcast.

I am not saying that bullies justify a school shooting. There is no justification for killing 17 kids in a high school.

But in scientific experiments you don’t just look at the adverse effect of two compounds, you go deeper and figure out why A caused B and what factored into the end result.

And like a science experiment, the reasons could be as vast as the ocean. I am not proposing that I have all the answers or that the violent masculine and emotionally suppressive male culture is the only thing to blame in this complex dilemma.

Yes, we should have tighter gun laws so that guns do not get in the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. (No, this isn’t going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens.)

Yes, we should be more mindful of students who show signs of mental disturbance. (But we should already be doing that anyway as, you know, humans who actually care about each other.)

But we also need to deconstruct the social chains that give boys no other way to deal with their emotions than to lash out in violence.