At least we know the governor has a sense of humor. How else to explain Andrew Cuomo’s assault weapons ban to prevent murder and mayhem, followed immediately by his effort to exempt Hollywood so it can use assault weapons to glamorize murder and mayhem when filming in New York?
It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.
As Albany ponders “technical” revisions to the hastily passed, overly broad gun-control law, one change would ensure that weapons deemed too dangerous for responsible gun owners nevertheless could be wielded by TV and movie characters whose shootouts exemplify the violence that the gun law is supposed to stem.
Bob Kuebler, director of the youth center at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Seventh Street, has seen the impact of film and TV violence on kids.
“When they see murder, they get desensitized,” Kuebler said, expressing a view backed not only by his experience working with kids on the violence-prone Lower West Side, but by numerous studies.
For instance, a 2010 article for the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry concluded that “the research literature is quite compelling that children’s exposure to media violence plays an important role in the etiology of violent behavior” and that “there appears to be a strong correlation between media violence and aggressive behavior within vulnerable ‘at risk’ segments of youth.”
Hollywood’s creation of a culture of violence that it feeds to those at-risk youth is the other side of the gun-control debate, the side liberals are far less eager to take up. That’s why Albany’s politicians can, in one breath, ban some guns and magazines and then, in Kuebler’s words, make it easy for Hollywood to show kids “how to use them and let their imaginations run wild.”
“It’s hypocritical,” he said.
Not every advocate goes that far. While noting that the “visual is everything,” Arlee Daniels is not ready to infringe on the creative process by banning the portrayal of banned guns.
“If our people cannot recognize real from fake, that’s something we have to do on our end,” said Daniels, who has worked with gang members as program coordinator for the Stop the Violence Coalition. He’d rather see Hollywood add postscripts warning that the gun scenes are purely for entertainment and not to be emulated.
But the governor’s concern seems much more prosaic than artistic freedom. He said New York spends a lot to lure production companies and can’t afford to waste that investment by stopping producers from using banned guns in their filming. In other words, it’s about money.
My hunch is that money also comes into play in another way. No Democrat with presidential aspirations wants to offend the Hollywood types whose fundraising soirees are the financial lifeblood of the party.
This way, Cuomo has it both ways: He can woo the party’s liberal base by touting the nation’s most restrictive gun law while simultaneously ensuring Hollywood producers that they can film their gun violence right here.
It’s a win-win for everybody – except the responsible gun owners being made scapegoats and the kids being fed fictionalized gun violence that too many will try to re-enact on the streets.