The shooting massacre at a suburban Denver high school did more than send an entire nation into mourning. It sent us into a headlong search for possible explanations: bad parents, jock culture, dangerous ideas, violent images. All have come under scrutiny, much to the consternation of those who point out that dysfunctional families operating in a society that worships mere athleticism and the regenerative power of violence are enduring features of American culture.
What is different now, they say, is the firepower available to disaffected kids who believe they can solve their problems with a gun.
Sam Guy begs to differ. Days before the shootings at Columbine High School, the director of the Irvine-based Center for Excellence in Traditional Education Values Coalition told the Weekly that a school official's decision to suspend a Mission Viejo girl who brought a cap gun to school was an overreaction. Call it irony: as two well-armed high schoolers roamed the halls of Columbine, Guy's words-including his assertion that "Guns don't kill kids; sex kills kids"-were out there on the streets.
Guy left several messages at the OC Weekly headquarters saying he was concerned his comments could be "misconstrued given recent events" and that he would "like to set the record straight." We contacted him by telephone at an undisclosed location in South County, where he said he was "waiting for people to stop chucking grapefruits at my house."
OC Weekly: How did you react to the news?
Sam Guy: Well, like everyone, I was horrified. My heart goes out to that community. And of course, when something like this happens, you can't help but think of your kids. Are they safe? What are you going to say to them?
What did you tell them?
I don't have any kids.
But you said . . .
I was just saying kids as in, you know, kids. Our kids, you know, the kids.
Right, I can see how you might be confused by that. And really, I think that's what happened with some of my comments in the Weekly the week the shootings took place.
Did you take a lot of heat for them?
Well, yes, as you can expect when you're "quoted" allegedly "saying" that guns don't kill kids, the very week kids get gunned down.
"Allegedly?" Are you saying that you were misquoted?
Oh, not as such. Once again, it's a matter of context. When I said guns don't kill kids, I wasn't saying that guns don't kill kids. I was just saying. You see? Just saying.
What were you saying?
That guns don't kill kids when kids have the proper education about guns. When they learn what guns can do, what they are capable of.
Oh, I think everyone has a pretty good idea. . . .
No, they don't, and if this witch-hunt I see forming continues, it's only going to get worse. As it stands, kids get very little education about guns in school, you know, apart from your Lee Harvey Oswald thing or maybe your Martin Luther King Jr. incident. And I think it's only going to get worse. What's needed is more education. To that end, we are at this moment developing an educational booklet we hope to get into schools by the start of next school year. It's called So, You Want to Go on a Rampage, and it will say in the strongest, most current language that non-supervised shooting sprees are not "cool." The booklet will encourage kids to funnel their frustrations into something productive, like shooting deer or rabbits or birds or gophers or snakes or opossum or skunks or raccoons or abandoned cars. Or to put that energy into political action by fighting for every student's right to pack a gun-with a safety on it, of course-so they might protect themselves at school.
They have to protect themselves at school because guns are so readily available.
No, they have to protect themselves because music is so readily available.
[. . . ]
Yes, it's true. After the Littleton tragedy, the center did some local surveying about the things that would cause a student to go on a killing spree, and the answers came back a resounding "Music, music, music."
Really? When you asked them about the availability of guns . . .
We didn't ask them about that.
What was the point? We know guns aren't the problem. The problem is cultural. Guns get the rap because they happen to be at the business end of the tragedy. Do you blame the Titanic for sinking? No, we blame the iceberg. Do we blame the plane for crashing? No, we blame the terrorist. So why would we blame the gun when what is coming out of that gun is not so much bullets as violent movies, video games and song lyrics? These are the real killers.
You know, it seems to a lot of people that the National Rifle Association and other gun advocates are criticizing a culture their advocacy has created. They've fought for easy access to guns-all types of guns-and now they criticize the fact that people are enamored of guns. It seems they want it both ways. They decry a culture of violence while zealously fighting to defend the absolute icon of that culture: the gun.
I have no idea what you just said. What I know is that Marilyn Manson is killing kids.
That's what our preliminary evidence shows. We talked to 23 kids at Corona del Mar High School and University High School in Irvine-two schools remarkably like Columbine. And a significant portion of them said that Marilyn Manson made the kind of music most likely to make someone kill.
How many said that?
Nine-almost 40 percent. I would allow that this is preliminary, but I think it's clear this woman is having a devastating effect on our children. Which, by the way, is just a trend I've noticed for some time.
And that is . . .
Any time women get involved with rock music, the results are usually tragic. You look as far back as the rise of Janis Joplin, and it coincides with rising U.S. losses in Vietnam. Now there's this Marilyn Manson. To be honest, I was surprised. I thought we'd hear more about Alanis Morrisette pushing kids over the edge. But the more I thought about it, I think Alanis Morrisette would probably only make kids want to kill themselves.
Marilyn Manson is a guy.
Marilyn Manson is a guy. The name is an affectation.
Oh, like Alice Cooper?
Exactly like Alice Cooper. Totally, completely, absolutely a carbon copy of Alice Cooper.
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Did you know that Captain Kangaroo is Alice Cooper's dad?
Yeah, I've heard that, but I don't think . . .
Remember "School's Out"? Man, I loved that song. "School's been blown to pieces." Man, I loved that song. "School's out com-PLETELY." Ah, they don't write them like that anymore.
Research assistance by Jake Sager, an authentic high school student.