“Bowling for Columbine” is an alternately humorous and horrifying film about the United States. The director of the film, Michael Moore, asks a country with 200 million guns, where schools use metal detectors to screen students for weapons: “Are we a nation of gun nuts –or are we just nuts?” He uses the 1999 Columbine shooting of 12 students and a teacher by two teenagers in Colorado as the starting point to examine whether the murder rate would decline with fewer guns on the street. Why else do 11 127 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? Clearly there are serious problems with the law.
The major loophole is people who describe themselves as “private collectors” who can sell guns without background checks at gun shows. Another is that private gun owners also do not have to keep records of whom they sell their guns to. Yet, after comparing gun ownership and gun violence in foreign countries, notably Canada (where there are 7 million gun owners and fewer than 100 gun-related deaths), with gun ownership and gun violence in the United States, Moore concludes that there is not necessarily correlation between gun ownership and gun violence. In search of the reason for America’s trigger mania, Moore discovers a culture of fear, fuelled by the government and media. He says that fear leads Americans to arm themselves, to the benefit of companies making guns and security products.
Rocker Marilyn, whose music is often targeted by conservative anti-violence groups, says in the film: “It is a campaign of fear and consumption. Keep everyone afraid and they will consume.” But while fear might explain why Americans buy guns, it is hardly ever the reason they use them. This, Moore explains, is because of violent US foreign policies that teach American children that killing is an acceptable response to conflict. “Bowling for Columbine” raises provocative questions about the NRA (National Rifle Association), the prevalence of gun violence in the United States and American’s resistance to gun control legislation. It is a “must see film” whether you agree or disagree with Michael Moore’s point of view.