12/17/2012 06:49 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

It's the Culture, Stupid!

Or rather, it's the stupid culture.

Violence in America is no longer limited to gangsters and gang warfare. It is no longer a back-page story in your newspaper or a closing item on the evening news. It is a recurring, in-your-face, ugly fact of life that has been breeding for several decades in our so-called entertainment industry and our leisure pursuits.

The American Dream is turning into a nightmare, not only because more people own guns, rifles and ammunition, but because they have viciously attractive role models in the movies, on television, on videos and video games. We know that the human brain absorbs these words and images, and draws upon them in real life situations. With an arsenal of weapons in the closet, and this kind of conditioning, the worst is bound to happen. And it is happening, again and again.

But there is one nation that actually has more weapons per capita than America, and that has an insignificant rate of murder and violence. Switzerland!

Switzerland has a population of 7.9 million, and there is estimated to be slightly more than one million rifles and pistols in Swiss homes. But, unbelievably, there are fewer than 100 gun murders per year!

Don't blame it on chocolate and cheese.

Ever since its founding, eight centuries ago, Switzerland has kept a small army but has relied on a civil militia -- that is, a short stint in the military every year for men between 20 and 42. During their service, they are issued an assault rifle which they keep at home; after their service, they keep an automatic rifle and a semi-automatic pistol at home. This is not to shoot up their neighbors, or a stray cow, but to be ready in case of a national emergency.

Besides this, the Swiss love shooting! There are weekend shooting festivals, and target practice beginning with teenagers in school. Guns are part of Swiss history and culture -- handled with care and respect and pleasure.

For Americans, guns are the Wild West, cowboys and Indians, Star Wars and Mafioso.... and maybe some phallic connotations, too. This is the culture we have created, the culture we absorb, the culture that is being promulgated by our frivolous media, and the culture that is dooming us to misery and decline.