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The topic of gun control has been a mainstay in the United States for over twenty years now; continuing to grow with every shooting that gets covered on national television. Coming from a family who had no guns in their household, I have never seen the need for people to own weapons that look like they were stolen from an armory. While there have been plenty of people who have contributed to the debate of gun control, famous documentary filmmaker Michael Moore does his best to gather information in his documentary Bowling for Columbine. Even with this documentary being over fifteen years old, it still feels relevant today. With claims from Moore about how America’s gun problem is related to fear, media coverage, and violent history, Moore is able to pull in the viewer for an entertaining two hours. The question of the matter though is whether Moore provides enough information to support the claims made, or if he is just trying to steer the audience in a certain direction.
The United States seems to always be living in fear. With an animation that shows fear as a reason why we formed our country to begin with, Moore really pushes this claim to the audience as to why so many people own guns in the United States. He even goes as far as to see how people in Canada compare to American citizens. He does this by seeing how many houses in a populated area of Canada lock their doors, which to his surprise is not a lot. Yet, only 7 percent of Americans don’t lock their doors. Why is that? Is it because Americans are afraid of being robbed? Of the gun owners in America, 67 percent said they owned guns for protection, so it could be that. I believe Moore makes a good point with this claim and backs it up well with his investigation.
When you turn on the television, what do you see? I mainly see stories about how someone was gunned down on the streets, or how someone tried to rob a gas station with a gun. I never see stories about the local pollution. Moore points out this problem with the media in his documentary when he goes up to a reporter and asks why they aren’t covering the story about how bad the welfare work system is in Flint Michigan. The reporter promptly closes the van door and refuses to answer the question. According to Valerie J. Callanan, “media is a major factor in defining social conditions as problems as well as influencing individuals’ perceptions of reality”. I don’t believe that the only thing happening in our country relates to guns, but that’s what the media makes it out to be. If people only rely on what the media and news have to say, they are going to constantly be shown how “dangerous” the United States is and put fear into the peoples’ minds.
The United States has also had something to fear, and majority of the time we “solve” the problem by doing something violent. Moore points this out in an animated short that shows how we “solved” the problem of Native Americans by killing them all with guns. It is also evident that guns played a part in keeping African Americans and Hispanics “in their place” as stated by Clayton E. Cramer. Violence and guns don’t always fix the problems the United States has though. As stated by Andrew F. Krepinevich, “the United States can look back on Vietnam as the wrong war”. Five of the deadliest shootings in the United States have happened in the past 15 years, as of writing this, so is it surprising that gun control has become such a big issue in the United States since Columbine has happened? Sadly, in my opinion no. Stuff in the United States usually doesn’t get attention until it is out of control, which is what is happening with shootings right now.
Bowling for Columbine makes the viewer rethink how gun control should be taken care of and provides evidence to back up how Moore feels about the issue. Moore can make claims and then follow up with valid information that makes his argument seem logical. Not only that, but Moore is able to bring the problems to the camera and hear out how both sides feel about the problems. From his attempt to ask the reporters questions, to his memorable animation, it is all well put together and is a great documentary overall.
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