No thoughtful television viewer can avoid wondering about the link between the medium's preoccupation with violence and the rise of violent crime in society.
Sarah Brady suggests that Hollywood is therefore an appropriate target for lobbying aimed at reducing TV's gunplay.
Brady is the wife of James Brady, the press secretary to President Ronald Reagan seriously wounded in a 1981 Washington assassination attempt on his boss. She spoke to a Temple Oheb Shalom audience in Baltimore last week about the gun control effort of which she has become a national champion.
Noting a statistic which estimates the average child of 7 has been exposed to some 2,500 homicides on TV, she asserted, "that's appalling. . . . TV molds children, just as it molds society."
Thus she said her organization, Handgun Control, Inc., has been lobbying the TV industry for less violence in programming and, especially, attention within programming to the issues of gun control.
"We're beginning to make some progress," said Brady, noting 27 programs in the current TV season have made some positive reference to the issue.
According to Gwenn Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the organization, some of the shows include "L.A. Law," "Law and Order," "Empty Nest," "Life Goes On," "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Saturday Night Live."
Ironically, Brady said it was not her husband's near death that persuaded her to become politically active, but a subsequent incident involving their son, Scott.
She related how she found him playing in a friend's pickup truck with an apparent toy gun, which turned out to be a loaded .22 caliber pistol.
The incident was dramatized, in fact, in last year's movie on the HBO cable service, "Without Warning: The James Brady Story," in which Joan Allen played Mrs. Brady and Beau Bridges was her wounded husband.
NO LAUGHING MATTER? -- The abuse of human rights around the world is hardly humorous, but the rights organization Amnesty International and the Lifetime Television cable service hope some laughs tonight raise viewers' consciousness about the organization's work.
"Free to Laugh -- A Comedy and Music Special for Amnesty International" can be seen at 10 p.m. on the basic service.
Among the guests scheduled to be welcomed by hosts Roseanne and Tom Arnold are comics Jeff Altman (a Johns Hopkins graduate), Richard Belzer, Wayne Cotter, Nora Dunn, Andrea Martin, Sue Kolinsky, Sinbad and Lily Tomlin, as well as other performers such as Richard Gere, Daryl Hannah, Marlee Matlin, Katey Sagal and Vanessa Williams.