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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin

FRANKFORT, Kentucky, February 21, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Are guns to blame for school shootings, or is there a serious cultural problem in the United States?

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says it’s not the guns.

“We have a culture that is desensitized to death, that is desensitized to the value of life,” he told reporters, “and we celebrate death through our musical lyrics, we celebrate death through video games that literally reward you with extra points for going back and finishing people off.”

The governor blames the increasingly graphic and realistic depictions of violence in video games, music lyrics, movies and television shows for removing the sense of right and wrong from children’s minds.

“We need to have a frank and honest dialogue about the cultural reasons for young people killing young people,” he said. “It’s not the gun because they could just as easily run kids over while they’re waiting in line to get on the school bus.”

“What is the mindset that’s causing young people to kill other young people? That’s what needs to be addressed.”

Bevin described how, when he was a youngster, teens brought their guns to school to show their friends, sometimes leaving them in unlocked trucks, sometimes storing them in lockers.

“Nobody even thought about shooting the other people with them. So it’s not a gun problem,” he averred.

Bevin warned against a knee-jerk response to add “this rule or that law” against gun ownership. Instead, he wants a conversation about what is shaping the characters of America’s young people.

“Let’s start an honest conversation about what is or is not appropriate to be infusing into our young people,” he said. “I’m a big believer in the Constitution, the First Amendment, and the right to free speech. But there are certain things that are so graphic as (they relate) to violence, and things that are so pornographic as well …”

“We allow (them) a pass under the guise of free speech, which they arguably are. But there is zero redemptive value, there is zero upside to any of this being in the public domain, let alone in the minds and hands and homes of our young people.”

The governor also pointed to the use of psychiatric drugs as a “catalyst” to school shootings.

“There will never be a solution for keeping evil in a box, but we can be a lot smarter by talking about the societal impact of encouraging certain behaviors that have absolutely no upside for America,” he said.

On Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Show, Bevin added that Americans’ mores as a society have shifted to “the degree that (morals) are largely nonexistent.” While repeating the possibility that the consumption of graphic entertainment is “training” children in violence, the governor pointed to the phenomenon of broken homes. He also decried the “lionizing” of school shooters by the media, which could lead another troubled kid to think about getting their “15 minutes of fame.”

Instead of blaming guns, Bevin would like parents, teachers, pastors, and other community leaders to ask what they aren’t doing that was done when there were no school shootings.

In the earlier interview, Bevin told reporters that America had fewer guns per capita “100 and even 50 years ago.” However, according to the National Institute of Justice, “Per capita, the civilian gun stock has roughly doubled since 1968, from one gun per every two persons, to one gun per person.” At the same time, the number of households with guns was at its lowest in 35 years in 2016.  

The gun control debate, never truly dormant, burst into the headlines once again last week when 17 people were shot and killed and 14 wounded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The 19-year-old shooter, a former student at the school, was arrested soon afterward. He has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Although school shootings are arguably a recent phenomenon (there were 28 in the 19th century), they are not unique to the United States. In the past 10 years, there have been school shootings in Canada, Mexico, Germany, Finland, Greece, Norway, Hungry, France, Estonia, Spain, Brazil, China, and Israel.