Mass shootings: a cultural narrative

The rest of the civilised world and particularly Australia (with the smugness akin to the reformed smoker), see gun control as the blindingly obvious solution to mass shootings in America. I certainly do, and I’m aware many Americans do too.

Aside from gun control, though, I think there is also an issue to do with narrative within the culture. By this I mean that certain narratives arise within and help to define cultures. They follow an evolutionary path – diversification, sifting, and selection – and those selected for steer societal mores. Once embedded they can be powerful and hard to shift, as each new instance of the pattern beds it in even more, making it seem more just the way things are, and people use it to their own ends.

Mass shooting is now a powerful cultural narrative in the US for the disaffected of a particular type to use like an unimaginative recipe, so that ‘while all the stories are true, some names and identifying details have been changed.’ This knee-jerk narrative has to change, so that going on a shooting spree isn’t the obvious first port of call if you are deeply at odds with the world.

It also has to be said that the public response to these events has also become it’s own narrative.

I don’t know how you go about changing these cultural narratives – we have ones of our own in Australia; I wish I did.

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