One thing about modern Disney princess movies is that they’re so easy to label with a message — any message. Look at Frozen. It’s about accepting yourself. It’s about letting your artistic talents flow. It’s about gay rights. It’s about overcoming oppression. It’s about gun control.
Wait. Gun control? Well, gun suppression, more accurately. Nonetheless, insert guns into the narrative, and you’ll see what I mean. Journey with me on a Magical Message Adventure. Lock and load, people!
Picture a fairytale world where there is a great power — magic. From a very young age, Princess Elsa is adept at using magic. So the parents, apparently too busy being royals, haven’t set any particular rules or set boundaries. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.
In this day and age, children aren’t always taught to respect guns, and guns aren’t always carefully secured against curious little hands, as witnessed in the tragic shooting of a mother by her toddler who pulled a loaded gun from her purse.
It’s not the magic – or the gun – that is inherently evil, but the misuse, lack of supervision and irresponsibility that lead to the tragedy. No one watching Frozen is thinking how magic should be banished, even though Elsa nearly killed her own sister. But when a tragic shooting occurs, the knee-jerk reaction is get rid of all guns.
Ah, but back to our story…
King Daddy and Queen Mommy hurry their injured daughter to the magical trolls who are able to heal Anna. Then they advise Mom and Dad that Elsa has a powerful talent, and that she needs to learn to not fear it, but to use it properly. Somehow, however, Mom and Dad get the message that magic is a bad, bad thing and needs to be repressed at all costs. Good people would never use magic.
The analogy here should be pretty obvious. Magic is obviously an established part of Elsa’s world. The trolls know that with the right teaching and attitude, it is a tool that can benefit others. However, the King and Queen are so overcome with their own fear (and understandably so) that they refuse the advice of the trolls, who are the experts here. Instead of guiding their daughter in the proper use of magic, finding her teachers, setting rules and making the effort to accept the magic and its potential benefits and dangers, they make a blanket rule and repress the use of magic.
The first gun was invented in the 17th century, and we have been using them ever since. Certainly, they have been used to kill other people, but so have knives, rocks, and bare hands. Guns are simply easier. Nonetheless, they have also been used responsibly for self-defense, hunting and even recreation for centuries. Millions of people have proven that with training and care, guns are useful tools. Yet when there is a tragic misuse, either accidental or deliberate, the reaction is often to ignore the circumstances around why the gun was used wrongly and instead cry for the blanket solution of banning the guns themselves.
Just like banning Elsa from using magic, banning guns doesn’t work. Guns exist and are an established part of our world. Even if guns were banned from the United States, that would not prevent guns from getting into the hands of criminals. We can’t even secure our own borders against drugs and illegal immigrants; how can we expect to stop any inflow of weapons? So instead of responsible use, we will end up with the guns in the hands of only those who don’t intend to use them for good.
Well, King Daddy and Queen Mommy’s plan of fear and suppression works splendidly. Elsa’s power is completely under control…
Yep. No problem. Nothing to see here, folks.
The analogy gets a little shaky here, admittedly. Law-abiding people who can no longer own guns don’t freak out and start shooting the minute they see a shiny new revolver. However, what we have seen, again and again, is that in areas when gun ownership is “controlled,” i.e., banned or heavily suppressed, there is a rise in violent crime. Chicago is usually the poster child for this argument, as its crime rate is huge for its size, yet it has some of the tightest gun control laws in the country. However, it should be noted that since banning guns in 2013, Los Angeles has seen a 7 percent rise of violent crime, including a 7 percent rise in rape and a 20 percent rise in aggravated assault.
Suppressing Elsa’s magic to make everyone safe just led to the magic getting out of her control. Suppressing guns to make law-abiding citizens safe often leads to an increase in violence and danger to law-abiding citizens.
After Elsa’ magical breakdown, she flees, and in her seclusion, she learns to use her powers responsibly. As she practices and grows more confident, she is able to make beautiful things.
Guns don’t create beautiful palaces or awesome clothing, but they do save lives and protect people. The National Crime Victimization Survey of 2000 showed that in 91 percent of cases where a gun was used in self-defense not a shot was fired. When the person did shoot, they wounded more often than killed. According to the CDC, in 2011, people used guns for self-defense 2.5 million times. However the total gun homicides – including murders by criminals and the mentally ill – was only about 10,000. Rather than banning guns, Kennesaw, Georgia, tried the opposite route – like Switzerland, it requires all households to have at least one gun. Their crime rate has dropped significantly, and it’s the safest city of its size in the U.S.
Guns aren’t for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with having some regulations to ensure to a reasonable degree that only law-abiding responsible people own them. But we have to keep in mind that there are no guarantees that everyone will be safe every time and that no accidents will ever happen. However, just like Elsa’s parent’s suppression of her magic, a policy of fear and banning does not solve the problem.
The magic existed in Frozen, and with respect and control, it was a pretty cool and useful thing. Guns exist, but with education and wise use, they, too, can be both useful and cool.