The Norman Lear Center Gun Safety Guide recently explored the impact of popular children’s shows and the iconic police procedural series, Dragnet on gun safety.
The guide discovered that despite being wildly popular, Dragnet, which first aired in 1951, portrayed guns in a problematic way. The show featured officers brandishing weapons frequently in tense situations, contributing towards a normalization of gun use and glamorization of guns in entertainment media.
However, it was not just Dragnet that normalized gun usage in popular culture. A lot of other children’s shows, including cartoons, often portrayed characters using guns in the pursuit of justice or as part of the story.
The rise of action movies and video games also had a significant effect on our perception of guns. Many action-movie heroes promoted the idea that “guns solve problems,” which further cemented the idea of guns being a solution to various problems.
The Norman Lear Center guide asserts that these portrayals of guns in entertainment negatively impact the way children perceive firearms, leading to unsafe behaviors and attitudes towards gun safety. It also pointed out that the responsibility lies on the creators and developers of popular media to ensure that they portray gun use in a realistic, responsible, and appropriate manner.
However, the guide also emphasized the role of parents in safeguarding their children against the harmful effects of media portrayals of guns. Parents must teach their children about responsible gun ownership, handling, and storage, regardless of the portrayals they see in media.
Furthermore, parents should also limit the amount of media consumption that portrays guns in a problematic way. They should choose appropriate shows and games that promote gun safety or avoid showing guns altogether.
It is fair to say that the issue of gun safety is far more complex than simply blaming entertainment media. Still, the impact that popular media has on shaping perspectives on guns and gun safety should not be dismissed.
The guide also recommended that creators and developers of entertainment media must take extra caution in how they portray guns and gun use. Guns should be accurately depicted and treated with respect, and avoid glamorizing gun use or depicting it as a problem-solving tool.
While the guide acknowledged that it was impossible to completely eliminate guns from entertainment media, they emphasized the importance of striking a balance between what is necessary for storytelling versus promoting responsible and safe usage.
In conclusion, the Norman Lear Center’s Gun Safety Guide has brought attention to the impact of popular media on gun safety. It has highlighted the need for creators, developers, and parents to take an active role in promoting safe gun use, and for the entertainment industry to be mindful of the messages they send regarding guns.
Guns will continue to be a part of our society, and it’s up to all of us to ensure that they are handled responsibly, and that our children are taught to be safe and mature gun owners. We should embrace the challenge of promoting gun safety, and understand that it is everyone’s responsibility, producers of media and parents alike, to promote responsible gun ownership, usage, and storage.