The National Rifle Association is calling for outright censorship as news of yet another school shooting dominates national headlines.
“It’s time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings, because it’s killing our kids,” said Colion Noir, a gun-rights activist and host of an NRA-TV show, in a video posted online less than one week after a school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, left 10 people dead.
The NRA went on a similar offensive in the wake of the Valentine’s Day massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch said at a CNN Town Hall after the Parkland shooting. “I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold.”
It’s also an idea that appeared to be on President Donald Trump’s radar as far back as the Parkland shooting, when he ordered the formation of the School Safety Commission. In addition to age limits for certain firearm purchases, violence in video games, access to mental health treatment, school building security and Obama-era guidance on school discipline, Trump also directed the commission to consider how journalists cover mass shootings.
The notion that the media exacerbates the problem of mass shootings and inspires copycats isn’t just coming from right-wing gun advocates: Research presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention two years ago by Western New Mexico University correlated the three-fold increase in mass shootings between 2000 to 2016 to what they call a “media contagion effect;” where a mass shooting is covered widely and extensively, with a lot of attention paid to the shooter.
Dave Cullen, author of “Columbine.” which focuses on the April 1999 school shooting that left 13 people dead, told CNN’s Brian Stelter after the Parkland shooting that would-be school shooters, much like terrorists, might be motivated to carry out an act of violence just to get national attention.
But what Cullen and others have suggested is that media companies refrain from zeroing in on the shooter to avoid granting them any semblance of “star power.”
Noir, in his TV spot, appropriates language generally used by gun-control advocates, by proposing “common sense limitations” on media coverage of shootings, and also implies that its hypocritical for the left to talk about gun control while exercising their first amendment rights.
“As much as the media loves to pivot the conversation after a mass school shooting to gun control, the pen is mightier than the sword,” Noir said. “I vehemently disagree with the government infringing on first amendment rights, the same way i believe the government shouldn’t infringe on second amendment rights.”