Neil McCabe

Just in time to exploit the one-year anniversary of the Dec. 14 spree-shooting at Newtown, Conn., the December issue of the journal “Pediatrics” runs a study claiming that screen images of guns and gunplay make our children more violent.

The study, “Gun Violence Trends in Movies,” authored by Dan Romer, Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Brad J. Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, has already been cited in editorials calling for federal regulation of movies and video games.

“It’s disturbing that PG-13 movies are filled with so much gun violence,” said Romer. “We know that movies teach children how adults behave, and they make gun use appear exciting and attractive.”

What Romer is really talking about is the idea among liberals that humans are just organisms responding to stimulus in a predictable way. For example, if you see a gun on a table, will you grab the gun and start shooting people?

Romer and Bushman write: “In the wake of recent shooting sprees, legislators and the lay public are dis- cussing possible ways to reduce youth violence. What is conspicuously absent from these discussions, however, is the fact that just seeing a weapon can increase aggression, an effect dubbed the ‘weapons effect.’”

The weapons effect, is not treated as speculation, it is one of the established “facts” upon which the study is based.

To bring the point home, the authors quote the man who discovered the effect in his 1967 study, Professor Leonard Berkowitz: “Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The ?nger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the ?nger.”

Whoa. Hey, really?

Supply siders will no doubt recognize this as a false cognate to Say’s Law: Supply creates demand.

Movie buffs will recognize it as the production-for-use plot twist in the Cary Grant classic “His Girl Friday.”

Others may also recognize the thinking of Romer’s partner Bushman.

Bushman is the man who claims that the Bible makes people violent. Rather, his research led him to conclude that violent scenes depicted in Scripture not only predisposed one to violence, but maybe even called one to violence by what Hebrew National used to call its commercials, “a higher authority.”


Neil McCabe

Neil W. McCabe is a journalist working in Washington. He was a senior reporter for the Human Events newspaper and for many years a reporter for The Pilot, Boston's Catholic paper. In 2009, he deployed to Iraq with the Army as a combat historian for 15 months.