By the way...I forgot the biggest irony of all in this discussion.
The largest watchdog groups monitoring violence in television, according
to their statements last season, rated the most violent shows on TV as
TNG and DS9, along with Brisco County Jr.
Re: "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg," I will confess to being a
bit of a Twain enthusiast/scholar (if I can abuse that latter term for a
moment in a burst of unjustificed optimism). I've read virtually
everything the man ever wrote, up to and including his journals, which are
fascinating on their own, albeit fragmented (for obvious reasos). He
even wrote many stories that could be considered SF/fantasy outside of
"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." I find myself quoting him
frequently. The man knew how to turn a phrase and make a point.
I have known many, MANY of the people who've written ST, and served
on staff (specifically TNG at the moment), and this (the problem of perfect
people) is how they describe the problem in creating stories with any
degree of conflict.
"Ban guns and only criminals will have them" is one of those quick
and easy catchphrases that's used to gloss over the details of any real
And the problem at hand is that the majority of murders committed in
this country are not committed by hardened (or even softened, or even
lightly par-broiled and kneaded) criminals. They are committed by average
folks who one day get too wound up, too hot, too crazed, too frustrated,
too depressed, and pick up a gun and shoot somebody...usually a spouse,
or a competitor, or the local Post Office. There have been cases where
the person goes out, buys the gun, comes home and starts shooting. This
would be at least sometimes mitigated by a waiting period of a few days,
during which sometimes tempers cool, or other options besides one's own
death and the death of others become available. (And how many times now
have we seen news of a boyfriend or husband killing wife and kids and then
turning the gun on himself?)
Most murders are acts of passion...and the "criminal" line simply
doesn't wash there. (Though certainly they're criminals *after* the
fact.) There was a NEWSWEEK or TIME magazine piece a while back, last
year I believe, where they chronicled one week's worth of murders, and
the majority of them are crimes of passion or suicides.
Yes, as you say, somebody can be killed with a baseball bat or a
knife or a rock...but then you've got to *catch* them first. And you can
only do one at a time. You can't spray a schoolyard with 50 teflon
coated bullets in 30 seconds with a rock. A knife is wonderfully
inefficient. A knife can cut and not kill, or even seriously wound you
if it doesn't go deep enough; a bullet always goes deep enough, and if it
doesn't blow through the other side, ends up bouncing around inside the
body and puncturing internal organs as much as a foot from the point of
entry. Do that with a baseball bat.
My feelings on gun and gun ownership and crime are more or less as
follows: ban assault weapons, they're good for nothing except killing other
human beings in large numbers, you don't go squirrel hunting with an
AK47...permit the ownership of rifles, shotguns, and handguns
(non-automatic), but require permits, the same way you do for fishing or
driving a car, and make sure that the person has to take X-hours of
lessons in proper gun use, the way you practice for a driver's license; if
you're going to own a gun, you should be trained to use it and use it
efficiently...if someone commits a murder with a gun of any kind, throw
the book at them. I'm ambivilant about capital punishment, but I'm all
for life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Put more police on
the streets and OUT OF THEIR CARS, let's see a return to community
police who are known to the folks in the neighborhood.