I usually avoid politics here on Mysterious Matters, mostly because I revel in intelligent discussion, and political topics can turn even the most intelligent people into raving lunatics. So, as you read (IF you keep reading) please keep in mind that the following has no hidden agenda.
The topic is guns.
With the rash of highly publicized shootings, from Gabrielle Giffords through Aurora, Colorado, through Newtown, Connecticut, I am thinking a lot about violence in crime fiction. Specifically, I'm thinking about guns. We see a lot of guns on the printed page, lots of vigilantes, lots of lone-wolf protagonists (and villains) whose gun is their best friend.
What is our responsibility with regard to guns and gun violence in the genre?
On the one hand, we never hear that the latest gun spree was motivated by too heavy an immersion in books. Hollywood, yes; video games, yes; but not books or printed fiction. Thank God.
On the other hand, how much responsibility do we have, as industry, in terms of the way we portray guns? I think we use guns, in our books, almost as regularly as they're used in feature films and TV shows. Perhaps they don't make the impression in books that they do on the silver screen, because we can't hear the shots and see the blood. Should we be encouraging writers to develop other methods of self-defense for their protagonists, such as judo or jujitsu? This could lead to some clever, original pots - what could writers come up with if they couldn't have their characters use guns as weapons?
Of course I am not suggesting that we impose any such rule. Writers would balk at having their creativty stifled, and rightfully so. Then there's the "realism" argument, too: How can an author write a good hardboiled tale without guns? But I am thinking more and more that I'd like to read some stellar crime fiction that doesn't have gunplay. Because the gun scenes in what I've been reading lately have been reminding me a lot of Newtown.
I'd love to hear from readers on this. Do you consider violence level when you are selecting a book to buy and read? What about guns - would you purchase a book that include a silhouette of a hero holding a gun on the cover?