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This post is not over the gun control debate. Specifically, it is about the ramifications to writers of the laws being proposed and passed regarding that issue.

I recently read the new NY State gun control law, as well as the one submitted in New Jersey.

I write schemes in my work that could be described as shoot-em-ups. Many of us have violent villains, vampires, zombies, private detectives or even law enforcement officers...you name it. Violence in fiction is common. These new laws are troubling because they include language relating to "violent thoughts or impulses of harming others," or demonstrates tendencies toward violent acts.”

Well, from a certain perspective, how could we write our books without having such thoughts?
How could an actor portray a villain on TV, or in a movie, without thinking such thoughts?

I know I'm pushing the limit of intent here, but as a trend it's troubling. The concept of "thoughts" impacting the status of a citizen has to be of concern, regardless of which side of the gun control debate you reside. Mental health diagnosis is far from a science. It is without strict rules or empirical results - open to a broad range of interpretations. Could our work be held against us later?

Imagine being in an automobile accident where grievous injury occurred. I can just visualize some overzealous attorney reading a passage from one of my books to a jury. "Ladies and gentleman, clearly Mr. Nobody has violent tendencies and a disregard for human life!” Before these laws, he probably wouldn't have gotten away with that. Now, the “state” has established a direct, legal correlation between thought and personal liability. 

Even if you feel like firearms are the most evil thing ever invented, what if our thoughts are used to gage worthiness for a driver’s license? After all, automobiles kill people by scores every year. What about a mortgage? Marriage License? Building permit?

We, as authors, are especially vulnerable to this type of legal precedent. We expose our thoughts in writing – publically available forevermore.
While I’m not an attorney, I believe these laws enter new territory regarding expression.

As a writer, I'm concerned this could be a dangerous, very slippery slope.
 

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On the one hand, Joe, I definitely agree.  It's a slippery slope, and gives rise to concepts such as thought police.

On the other, I'm not really too worried.  This is nothing new.  Guns are just the current "outrage du jour".  With every tragedy comes misguided attempts at regulation by well-meaning, but boneheaded (or their converse, attention-seeking lowlife) law makers. With those regulations come court challenges at vague, overreaching language.  Thankfully, in this day and age with social media and the internet, I think it's harder than ever for these measures to just slip by without public awareness.

That being said, I'm not advocating complacency that these things will just 'work themselves out'.  I think it's all of our jobs to keep our eyes open.
 

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I saw a TV show about an author called Michael Peterson. Excerpts from his novels were used as evidence at his trial. The violent thoughts of his characters were treated as evidence that he himself was violent. He was convicted of murder.
 

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I can see the concern but on the other hand people thought the Patriot Act was going to be used for all sorts of nefarious deeds and it hasn't been. Well, that we know of. ;)
 

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Entertainment media has been getting the side eye for thought crime since Columbine was blamed on DOOM and Marilyn Manson. Games and music have survived, and they don't have quite the gravity that literature does. I'm not worried.
 
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