Every time there is a mass shooting in America, all the usual suspects come out and point fingers. The socialists blame guns, the conservatives blame violent media, and everyone blames mental health. Guns are not the problem. Shootings always happen in places where guns arent readily accessible or are thought to be so. Violent media exists in every country and is worse in many countries that do not even have mass stabbings, let alone shootings. There are depressed, suicidal, and mentally ill people all over the world, and yet these attacks mainly happen here. And no, it isnt because other countries have better health systems. They dont. We probably have the best mental health response in the world. So what is the real reason for these attacks? And why do they often happen at schools.
The best explanation I have seen comes from Michael Moore of all people. In his docudrama, Bowling for Columbine, he explores several angles of the aftermath. He somewhat rightly criticizes the NRAs insensitivity in holding a gun show in Colorado right after Columbine, but also affirms that he largely supports responsible gun rights (his current views are a bit different from that). While the film does not draw any clear conclusion, what I got from it was that the media coverage of past events, Columbine, and future events bear a lot of influence on subsequent events.
Indeed, many shooters have cited or shown inspiration and interest in previous attacks. Perhaps they seek posthumous fame, or want to go down a path others have before. We can never know exactly, but time and again, these elements show up. After the recent Oregon community college shooting, it was found that the shooter had an extensive interest in other shootings: the journalists in Virginia and Sandy Hook Elementary. He also noted that “the more people you kill, the more your’re [sic] in the limelight.” citing that media attention was of interest.
Looking back at each shooting it becomes clear that this is the one common thread and the main cause of these attacks. Nothing else fits as conclusively, and only in the US is there a news media obsession with these attacks and violence in general. The solution is obvious, but has some chilling reverberations. Of course, the media should never be censored. I strongly support and encourage free speech. I gladly defend the right of Nazis and antiZionists to speak their nonsense. However, the media should show more discretion. These events are not national tragedies and its clear that the national news saga is what makes it such a draw. Thus, it should be kept locally in local newspapers and media. If the internet blows it up, then so be it.
Meanwhile, the news media seems to have no trouble identifying perpetrators when they arent white. Black Americans commit the vast majority of the 10,000 or so gun murders every year, far out of proportion to their population, even when controlled for poverty and other factors. This probably is worth at least discussing, but the media makes it out that whites are the ones killing everyone. Additionally, whenever an illegal immigrant, or really any third world immigrant, the news media covers up the name and origin at least in the headlines. They often say “Man kills…” or “Richmond, Virginia man rapes…” or dont even reference the perpetrator at all. The manipulations in this respect, and with gun attacks (“gun shoots 10 people”), and dozens of other things demonstrates to us that the news media can alter their influence. And they should. They should stop proliferating information about these tragedies and stop inspiring further attacks. They have blood on their hands and its time that be acknowledged and questioned.
What can we do about this? Not much, unfortunately. Talk to friends and family about this idea. Contact the news media themselves. Write letters to the editor. Talk to the advertisers. And hopefully, one day we can see an end to these attacks.