As mass shootings make their rounds in the news, the conversation about gun control is on everyone’s minds. However, basic education in firearm safety often is not. Legislators and lobbyists run themselves ragged writing bills they think will pass. It is a game of Democrats and Republicans playing tug-of-war with the repealing and reinstatement of gun laws. It takes over TV and radio with shouty gun-nuts and weepy children. Commentators and journalists often forget the measures and laws to prevent shootings already exist. They forget the main issues contributing to gun violence are poverty and ineffective law enforcement. We will never solve these root issues because the politicians voting on them know little about poverty and law enforcement, and less about firearms. Continue reading “Education in Firearm Safety Will Limit Gun Violence”
Joseph Perkins | @counter_econ
In the wake of national tragedies, governments tend to take action without thinking about the future consequences of those actions or whether they would be effective in stopping a future, similar tragedy. For example, the United States passed the PATRIOT Act in the wake of 9/11 which was a direct assault on all American citizens’ Fourth Amendment right to privacy. Since implementation, multiple studies have shown it was useless in stopping future terrorist attacks.
Without a doubt, mass shootings are a major issue in the United States today. Too often, a gunman opens fire and kills innocent people. As a result, many American citizens and officeholders alike are calling for drastic increases in gun control. They believe that doing so will help to reduce gun violence in America.
To defend this point, two figures are often touted; that there is nearly a mass shooting a day in America and that our country is a radical outlier in mass shootings and violence. Ultimately, though, neither of these points rings true. Both reside on a faulty foundation that involves manipulating the facts.
By Ryan Lau | @agorisms
Nearly two weeks ago now, a gunman opened fire on innocent people at The Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks, California. 12 people died in the attack. Not long before, another crazed individual slaughtered 11 and injured 7 at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The year’s mass shooting count continues to rise. At the same time, so does the number of people crying for gun control. Quite possibly, the copycat effect is in play. Surely, there is a direct connection between these two figures, as many gun control advocates cite incidents such as these, as well as the Parkland school shooting, as evidence to support tighter gun regulations.
The Olden Days of Unlocked Doors
One particular argument, however, takes this sentiment in a quite irrational direction. Through the fear and mass hysteria come cries that we are not a safe country anymore; in the olden days, you could leave your doors unlocked, but now, kids can’t even go to school or a movie anymore without the fear of a shooting. I do not, in any way, seek to belittle the emotions of these children, who have every right to hold fear deeply. But, their fears often come from excessive media coverage, rather than an increased state of danger in America.
First, allow me to preface with the notion that one mass shooting is too many. Similarly, one shooting of any kind is too many; shootings at the hands of police, criminals, terrorists, and deranged school shooters alike are horrific and worth considerable attention. Likewise, so are deaths by the knife, or car, or sword, or bomb, or gas.
We do not, unfortunately, live in a society of daisies and rainbows, where suffering is little more than a myth. Death exists, and without a doubt, is a regrettable part of everyday life. Once again, this is in no way stating that we should show tolerance towards bringers of death: such a suggestion is intolerable. Nonetheless, we must take this into consideration when looking at the following statistics regarding violent crime.
Are We Facing an Epidemic?
First and foremost, the odds of dying in a mass shooting in a given year are far lower than one in a million. In fact, in 2016, there were only 71 deaths from mass shootings (excluding war casualties). Once again, this figure is 71 people too many, but it is clear that we are not living in a culture of mass shootings, where deaths from them are normal and expected. In 2018, though the year is not over, the figure has not changed dramatically, sitting at 68, even after the 23 in recent weeks. With a population of over 325 million and rising, the odds thus lie below 1 in four million of being a victim of a mass shooting.
This definition of mass shooting, though, is relatively narrow. It involves an incident with four or more casualties at the hands of one shooter (or two, acting in tandem). It also excludes domestic violence and gang assaults, as well as awry robberies. Essentially, this is a figure that gives the odds of being the victim of a random act of violence.
Violent Crime’s Steady Decline
What would happen, then, if I was to expand the lens to all acts of violent crime? Perhaps, then, it would become clear that today’s America is far more dangerous than that of the past. Yet, it appears that, compared with 30 years ago, America is actually considerably safer.
Since 1991, the violent crime rate in America has dramatically fallen. Then at 758.2 incidents per 100,000 people, it has nearly halved, now sitting at 382.9 incidents per 100,000. The same pattern occurs when looking at violent crimes committed by youth. In fact, the decline is even more dramatic. In 1993, Americans aged 12-17 committed 1.1 million violent crimes. Since then, however, the figure has fallen to a mere 182,000. Murder and robbery follow a similar pattern, decreasing by about half since the early 1990s.
A Public Misconception: America is Safer
On the contrary, though, public perception of crime has actually taken a turn for the worse. A Pew Research study from the 2016 election polled voters about their perception of crime since 2008. Shockingly, the voters were not capable of determining the truth about crime rates. 59% of those surveyed, including 78% of those who voted for Donald Trump, believed that crime has worsened in the 8 years under President Obama. A plurality of Hillary Clinton voters agreed, despite the fact that both violent crime and property crime has drastically dropped over this span.
Without a doubt, America is safer than it has been in decades. Media, however, often sensationalizes the instances of crime that do occur more than they did previously. Gang violence in Chicago, for example, does not receive the attention that mass shootings in schools do, simply because there are more instances of violence. A media outlet could not possibly report in any detail on the inner happenings of gangs in cities.
The Copycat Effect
What is particularly interesting here, though, is the possibility of the copycat effect. Essentially, this states that when the media focuses so heavily on the name, story, information, and actions of the killer in a mass shooting, it inspires others to copy the action. These copycats may try to outdo the original killer or become more (in)famous.
A 2015 report states that as many as 20 to 30% of mass shootings are the result of the copycat effect. The effect, according to the report, lasts around two weeks. Moreover, it is worth noting that gang violence mass shootings receive less media attention and are less likely to cause a copycat effect. By the law of averages, the percentage must go up for acts such as theater and school shootings. If media did less to focus on and almost memorialize shooters, they could save lives.
Instead, media should place greater emphasis on the stories and legacies of victims. Though America is safer than it has been in decades, we are deeply flawed, with much room to improve. Clearly, the media has a role to play in this path. By reducing the copycat effect, they may save numerous lives. Uncomfortable though it may be, it’s time for the media to have that discussion and begin action.
Perhaps the names and stories of killers are profitable. Perhaps they bring about a larger viewer base over the opposing network. But we at 71 Republic declare that profit is second to human life. Media, upon recognizing the copycat effect, should immediately cease glorifying, or even naming, school shooters in the wake of attacks.
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By Clint Sharp | United States
On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. In only a few short minutes, the young man killed 17 people and injured 17 others with an AR-15 style rifle before being apprehended by police.
This horrid act sparked outrage across the nation. For months, gun control was the main topic of conversation across the nation with walk-outs, protests, debates, and gun bills popping up around every corner. Television, newspapers, and social media outlets streamed nonstop updates on the mass shooting and followed all of the controversy surrounding it. Although many believed that this shooting meant the end of our 2nd Amendment rights, it soon faded from headlines, leaving behind a trail of people still fighting to remove the rights of individuals.
Fast forward to May 18 of the same year, and a very different story is told. 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis killed 10 people and wounded 13 others at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Armed with a sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun and a .38 revolver, the student walked into the school’s art complex and began shooting at approximately 7:40 AM before being brought into custody. Explosives were found at the scene but were unused.
Although this shooting was reported on major news outlets, it was very quickly passed off as old news within a couple of days. So why did a shooting like the one that happened at Stoneman Douglas cause such a national stir while the shooting at Santa Fe was only mentioned in passing? Simply put, it did not match the agenda of the left-wing activists and politicians.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was exactly what the left had hoped for. A young man with known mental issues and of legal age to purchase a gun obtained an assault-style rifle with multiple high-capacity magazines and shot up a school in a conservative state (according to 2016 poll results).
Truly a perfect storm.
From this, they could argue that it was too easy for Cruz to obtain an assault-style rifle. They could argue that he was mentally ill, yet still managed to purchase a firearm due to his age and lack of criminal record. They could argue the purpose of high capacity magazines and assault-style rifles in the hands of non-military personnel and whether they were protected under the 2nd Amendment. The left could appeal to the emotions of the entire nation, after all, is the individual’s freedom worth forfeiting the safety of our children?
Santa Fe on the other hand, while still a tragedy, is the antithesis of the Stoneman Douglas shooting. A minor stole a legally obtained pump action shotgun, perhaps the most common long gun in the United States, and a 6-shot revolver from his father. He saws the barrel of the shotgun off, an illegal action, and carries the two guns to school to commit his heinous actions.
This proves that the type of gun, the capacity of the firearm, the age of the shooter, and the means by which the weapons are obtained are mostly arbitrary to the amount of damage that can be caused by an evil individual, thus rendering the left’s points null and void.
It is for this reason that the Santa Fe shooting was swept under the rug. It proved that shootings and mass violence are not caused by assault-style rifles, high capacity magazines, lax gun laws, and the 2nd Amendment, but rather by evil and twisted individuals who desire to be nothing more than the genesis of grief for people all over the nation. It didn’t fit the agenda of the overwhelmingly liberal media so it was only mentioned, not covered.
The act of ignoring this tragic loss of human life brings to question what other things remain hidden in the dark shroud outside of party and ideological agendas, on both the right and the left.
How many people have been murdered silently due to apathy? How many bills have been passed without question because the public did not know?
Until agendas are put aside for the sake of information, more and more will remain hidden from the public and more and more will happen without anyone’s knowledge otherwise.