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FRESH TALK

We Must Renounce Culture Of Violence

By FRANCES D. KLIMCZAK | FRESH TALK

The Hartford Courant

7:15 PM EST, January 8, 2013

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After the shooting of 20 students and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, something needs to be done. We know that.

Debates over gun control, mental illness and safety dominate the news. We want to know why this happened so that we can prevent it from happening again. The memories of those beautiful children and their teachers must push us toward decisive action.

But I believe we are asking the wrong questions. The answers do not lie in more laws, more resources or more safety measures. There is no one silver bullet that will right the wrongs that brought on this atrocity. No amount of federal and state regulations will stop gun violence. No number of turrets, walls or moats around our schools will keep evil out. To increase security measures is to admit defeat — it is to accept that this violence is normal, and that we must live in fear.

Our problem is that we feed into a self-fulfilling prophecy of violence in this country. Through violent media, our most sought-after form of entertainment, we have become desensitized to violence. We believe the world is a dangerous place, but in reality we are more likely to die of disease than by gunfire — just look at the top 15 causes of death in the United States, which are led by heart disease, cancer and strokes. Homicides of all kinds are 15th.

Next we think we need protection, so we buy one gun, and then another. Before long, the news reports information about another episode of mass violence, and we buy more guns for more protection.

But every dollar we spend in the market of violence is a vote for a violent society. No matter what our intention is, every time we purchase a movie, video game or gun, we say "yes" to a climate of violence.

True change will only come when we examine ourselves, and the way we live as Americans. I do not believe we want a violent society, and I do not believe Americans are violent people. Our world does not have to be dangerous, but we unknowingly make it so when various forms of violent images define our everyday lives.

Although we do have the right to bear arms, this does not mean each and every one of us is entitled to a weapon. We must think critically about what we buy, and why we buy it. Each of us can help reduce the culture of violence in this country by saying "no": No to the video game. No to the movie. And no to the gun.

After Sandy Hook, we must stop drawing satisfaction from violent entertainment. We cannot tolerate it anymore. In honor of those we have lost, we must change our priorities. We must look inside ourselves, and find a way not to contribute to this culture of violence.

Gun control, mental illness and safety are real issues; I do not mean to minimize the importance of those discussions. But as individuals, I believe we can do our part by making peaceful choices, and living through the hearts of the innocent children we have lost.

Frances D. Klimczak, 21, of Canton, is a senior majoring in mathematics at the College of the Holy Cross.

The Courant invites writers younger than 30 to write essays of 650 words or less containing strong views. Please email your submission to freshtalk@courant.com, with your full name, hometown, daytime phone number, age and occupation (or your school's name and your level in school). You can also fax op-eds to 860-520-6941.