At a Friday “press conference” (no questions were allowed), National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre provided the gun lobby’s explanation for the shooting deaths of 28 people a week ago today in Newtown, Conn. Among LaPierre’s culprits: the media. Here is a breakdown of ways the NRA says media causes gun violence, along with a factcheck.
Media inspires copycats:
The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?
How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?
The NRA may be on to something here: 2011 research found that “The potential copycat effects of highly publicized crimes might be diminished with more restrained reporting.”
Media ignores video games as a cause of violence:
And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.
Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?
“A preliminary database tour corroborates LaPierre’s contention that media coverage of ‘Kindergarten Killer’ has been slight,” Erik Wemple writes in The Washington Post. As John Herrman explains in BuzzFeed: “Kindergarten Killer is neither a popular game nor is it available for sale; by any reasonable standard, it’s hardly a game at all”
Media overcovers crime:
In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.
Crime indeed is a great interest of many media organizations. Of course, rampant gun use gives them plenty to work with: Here’s a list of mass shootings in 2012. It has been updated to include one that occurred in Pennsylvania Friday.
Compared to other topics, though, crime occupies a small percentage of news time
Media demonizes guns and gun owners:
And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.
The media call semi-automatic firearms “machine guns” — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers … when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don’t know what they’re talking about!
Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!
The Poynter Institute has tried to educate journalists on guns and gun control, and will continue to do so.
Media writes bad headlines:
As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school. The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away?
Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: “More guns,” you’ll claim, “are the NRA’s answer to everything!” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the word “gun” automatically become a bad word?
Columbine had an armed guard. The headlines, sadly, often write themselves.