Self-defense advocate looks to media change

South Florida-based Regis Giles is the creator and owner of the website Girls Just Wanna Have Guns, which promotes women’s self-defense, whether using a gun, Taser, knife, spear, pencil or some form of martial arts. A voice of young conservatives, Giles talked to Variety’s Carole Horst about responsible gun ownership, the media and society’s role in violent acts.

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Do you see a connection between violence depicted in media and real-life violence?
Absolutely. Media violence is overexaggerated and very theatrical, but you see people in the news copying the violent acts in movies and videogames.

Is one form of media — say, videogames — more dangerous than others?
TV news deals with reality, and I don’t feel that it’s as dangerous as violence in other forms of entertainment. When people are watching series and movies, they are relaxing and watching in comfort. They’re observing a story. With violent videogames, they’re actually partaking in and instigating the violent acts.

We’ve become insensitive to violent images. We see the gruesome, vivid images, and for teenagers watching a movie, it’s not socially acceptable to turn your head in fear and terror. It’s socially acceptable to look straight ahead and not have a reaction, because then you’re viewed as the badass.

But don’t most people know that it’s not reality?
We are being desensitized. People obviously realize that it’s not reality, but there’s those gamers and horror-film watchers who end up taking notes. There’s something in some people’s psychosis that goes off. There are many contributing factors.

There’s no way that movies today or videogames can de-glamorize violence, because we are saturated with it. The one response that society needs to take as a whole — if they really want to see violent acts changing in this nation — we need as a society to reject these violent videogames and films. Plenty of studies show that violent videogames, violent cartoons and movies and TV shows that are introduced to kids increase the level of violence in those kids.

Are you talking about censorship?
I believe in a free society. Movie producers, TV show producers, videogame programmers — they’re not going to change their violent content or games, because it’s making them money. I think this is a free nation; they should be able to make money on whatever society wants. But society needs to change itself in order to force and regulate the corporations and creative minds from producing (violent content), or things are not going to change.

Aside from guns, does the media underplay other violence?
When a tragedy like Sandy Hook occurs, they blow it out way more than rapes, hate crimes or any other sort of domestic violence or terrorism. I believe that the news is looking for the dramatic, the overexaggerated and tragic. The whole reason I started my website is to say, “Look ladies, it’s a real issue; we are the weaker sex, we are the most targeted — usually for domestic violence and rape — and we need to do something about it physically. We need to learn how to defend ourselves. We need to learn how to fire a gun, learn jujitsu, learn hand-to-hand combat.” And that’s one goal.

My goal and my mission are to raise awareness about those types of violent acts, and do something about it. Get women active and not tolerate it in their lives and in the lives of other women.

What’s the solution, for Hollywood or for the average citizen?
Society needs to simply reject these violent videogames and redirect their moral compass, and focus in on what’s really important in life and hopefully change for the better. That’s trying to get billions of people to change, and that’s not going to happen overnight.

If we cut off violent movies and violent games, then the re-sensitizing process can begin. We can start treating each other with respect and not as a piece of meat.

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