U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- When a mass murder happens with the use of firearms, the media is quick to blame the gun and call for its ban. Mainstream media forgets is one of the driving factors in almost every mass killing is that murderers want notoriety for their heinous act of violence, and that is precisely what the media gives them.
The moment the killer is identified, their name and picture are on the cover of every paper and magazine in the country. The media digs into their background, highlighting their twisted ideas, and publishes parts of their manifesto. It gives them exactly what the killers want.
This idea isn’t just my theory. Academics have done multiple peer-reviewed studies into if the media coverage of mass shootings creates copycats. All studies I have found show that naming the killer and showing their picture does inspire others to murder.
According to a study by Jason Silva of William Paterson University and Emily Greene-Colozzi of City University of New York, “[F]ame-seeking shooters were more likely to receive media coverage than their counterparts, thereby reinforcing their initial motivations.”
The Silva Greene-Colozzi study looked at mass shootings from 1966 to 2018. When Columbine happened, the media started posting the killers’ faces and names everywhere. Other mentally disturbed people latched on to the idea if they wanted their name to go down in history, they needed to carry out similar attacks. It is like a virus; the carrier is the mainstream media highlighting these killers’ evil deeds.
Most of the killers and loaners suffer from some type of narcissism. They crave fame and look for anything to get their name in the media. By carrying out a mass killing, not only can they get the media to talk about them, but they can get the President of the United States to hold a press conference about them. Our President is quick to exploit any situation for political gain.
A 2015 study called Contagion in Mass Killings and School Shootings showed that media coverage of mass shootings increased the chances of another mass shooting in the next two weeks following the attack. Then there is a 2017 study called Mass Killings in the United States from 2006 to 2013: Social Contagion or Random Clusters believes that coverage of mass shootings increases the chances of another mass shooting within the following year. That study was by Adam Lankford who is extremely anti-gun, but even he agrees that media coverage leads to more mass killings.
It just isn’t academic studies that argue media coverage of mass killers inspire others. The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has pointed out the copycat syndrome of mass shootings. You will notice that other mass killings are referenced if you read these killers’ sick twisted manifestos.
A few groups are trying to get the media to stop using names and pictures of killers. The FBI joined forces with the University of Texas to launch Don’t Name Them. There are plenty of resources on their site to show why mass killers shouldn’t be named. There is also No Notoriety which was founded by the parents of two people killed in a mass shooting. Both groups have pleaded with the media to stop using the killers’ names and pictures. But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
You might wonder, “If the evidence is clear that the coverage of mass killings leads to other mass killings, why does the media keep doing it?”
Well, the old adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” still rings true today. The mainstream media doesn’t care about the murders that they may inspire. The mainstream media only cares about ratings. It doesn’t matter if it is a right-wing or left-wing network; the bottom line is all that matters.
Nothing will change until viewers start calling out the vile practices of these media companies. Every time they blame the gun, we need to fight back by showing the hard data that they are more responsible for inspiring the killer than a tool. We must shame them by using the same rhetoric they use towards groups like the NRA and GOA. We need to fight back.
Will it stop the mainstream media as a whole? Probably not, but maybe we can change a few outlets’ coverages of these tragic events.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.