With so many controversies and socio-political issues at the forefront of the news right now, it’s not too surprising Michael Moore is seemingly everywhere. After writing open letters decrying Michigan’s Syrian refugee ban and bashing Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim beliefs, the outspoken documentarian is back with a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter that investigates the root of American’s gun problem, a topic he has explored in depth in the past in films such as “Bowling For Columbine.”
“There is no question that fewer guns will result in fewer gun deaths,” he writes, citing Australia as an important example. Following a series of mass shootings in the 1980s and 1990s, the country passed new legislation that outlawed mostly all guns, reducing the number of gun-related deaths to zero in the year since. Unfortunately, as Moore claims, “…even if we had stronger gun laws, we would still have a few thousand gun deaths in this country. That’s because we have a problem no law can solve.”
While many in the past have claimed Hollywood’s influx of violent programming is part of the problem, Moore combats these claims in a single breath. He writes that Canadians are “watching the same exact violent movies, playing the same exact violent video games and watching the same exact violent TV shows,” yet they aren’t slaughtering their own people. Japan also goes against these beliefs, seeing as how much the Japanese love gore and violence in their pop culture, yet the country only had three gun-related deaths in 2012.
“So what is it about us?” he asks. “It’s clear that the NRA is actually half-right in their slogan, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ We just need to modify that to: ‘Guns don’t kill people — Americans kill people.'” The answer: Fear.
“It’s the fear of getting killed that is getting a lot of us killed. But it’s also other fears that are winding us up and making a few of us go crazy enough to take off on a shooting rampage,” he says. “Unlike in other civilized countries where people take care of each other — with free health care, generous compensation for the unemployed, free or nearly-free college education, strict laws on credit card debt and junk mortgages, serious help and treatment for the mentally ill, aid for aging and infirm people and the list goes on and on. From Ireland to Italy to Norway, from New Zealand to South Korea to Morocco, governments all over the world have discovered that the real way to reduce violence is to simply take care of each other.
“What separates us from everyone else is the way we force the members of our society to live in a constant state of fear: fear of going broke, fear of losing your job, fear of getting sick, fear of getting old and being without.” Moore’s statements here obviously hold some validity, though they also tie directly into his latest documentary, “Where to Invade Next,” which looks to other country’s policies to find out what America could learn to better its political, economical and social spheres. For more on Moore’s guest column, head over to The Hollywood Reporter.