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Ashcroft blames 'culture' for school violence.


Attorney General John Ashcroft Friday blamed the latest spate of school shootings on an "ethic of violence" among America's youth and said the news and entertainment industry and not tighter gun laws could play a role in ending the crisis.
Ashcroft's suggestions on how to deal with guns in the classroom came one day after a teen-age boy opened fire on fellow students at his school in San Diego, California, the second shooting in the same school district this month.

"It prompts us all to think we've got to be more comprehensive in our approach to think of what we can do to curtail this sort ethic of violence that young people seem to embrace. If they are disenchanted or angry they resolve their problem by violence," said Ashcroft in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America" program..

Ashcroft, in a round of morning television interviews, said he did not think stricter gun control laws would prevent shootings in America's schools.

"We have to work toward an era and culture of responsibility. It's more than just additional laws; it's responsibility," said Ashcroft on NBC's "Today" show.

Ashcroft, an arch conservative in President Bush's Cabinet, urged the entertainment and news industry to look at how it could curtail the culture of violence in America's schools.

"The entertainment industry with its video games and the like, which sometimes literally teach shooting and all, we have to ask ourselves how did we as a culture respond to be more responsible," he told ABC.

The news industry, he said, had to examine how it covered school shootings, adding that the Granite Hills High School incident occurred so soon after a similar incident at nearby Santana High School. Both schools are in the same district in the San Diego suburbs.

"Even the news industry has a responsibility to make sure that the way they cover these things doesn't elicit copycat episodes. We can't help but wonder when you have one of these, you have a spate of them," he said.

Ashcroft steered clear on blaming the school shootings on easy access to weapons in America, where an estimated 200 million guns are available.

About 30,000 people die from firearms-related deaths each year in America, and gun control advocates point out that the rate of firearm deaths among children 14 years and younger is nearly 12 times more than in the 25 other industrialized countries combined.

Ashcroft said the Bush administration had funds in the next budget for trigger locks on guns, but he said this was not the answer to ending school violence.

"But I don't think we can kid ourselves that, when you're talking about 18- and 19- and 17-year-olds, that they're incapable of disabling a safety device. This isn't a 2- or 3-year-old that accidentally discharges a weapon," he told NBC. Premium

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