After any tragedy like the massacre in Newtown, the media tends to cover the details of the misfortune with relentless intensity. After all, it’s a chance to sell papers and improve ratings.
In this case, the media initially zeroed in on “why.” Why did a crazy kid like this have access to a gun in the first place? Who was he? Why did he pick Sandy Hook Elementary School? Why didn’t Lanza’s mother control or commit him if she knew of his dark side?
This time, coverage seemed to shift from unrelenting scrutiny of Lanza, to the question of why these murders happen with such frequency. It’s true, TV cameras continued to plague the anguished citizens of Newtown. But many articles, blogs and TV coverage focused on how to stop these senseless massacres from happening and the crucial importance of doing something now. The media finally began to connect the dots and put these killings in context.
We all know the horrific stats:
Of the approximately 32,000 annual deaths in the US due to firearms, 2,800 victims are kids. That’s more than the number of troops who died in any single year in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
15 of the world’s 25 worst mass shootings in the last 50 years took place in the United States.
An average of 34 lives are lost in the U.S. each day due to gun violence.
Services for the mentally ill have been drastically cut in the last few years.
In this last incident, I think continuing coverage is helping us to stay focused on the big picture and not drop the ball…once again. Coverage that explores why the NRA still wields so much power after so much bloodshed. Why we let polarization keep us from reaching compromises on everything from taxes and spending cuts, to finding a way to keep guns out of the hands of unstable or unsavory people. The potential impact of violence in movies and video games on vulnerable young people. How to deal with mental illness in the face of shrinking budgets.
Continued media coverage can be the catalyst we need to keep the discussion going with our children in high schools and colleges. We can use it as a starting point to suggest possible actions they might take, such as using social media to…
• Create a National Student Movement with demands to regulate all handguns
• Shower school and/or community newspapers with articles voicing their opinions
• Initiate a nationwide boycott of movies and/or video games that glorify gratuitous violence
• Start petitions to put pressure on the president and elected officials to back up their promises with action
We’re at a tipping point. Now’s the time for everyone to take action. I’m sure our kids can generate many more ideas than the ones listed above. This may be the time to give them the reigns and show them the power of democracy in action. Maybe they can do a better job than we did!
“I feel outrage, tears, fears, and anger about this and all the other senseless depraved shootings of late. The only cure is for another revolution of the people to stop the atrocities by rising up and just saying no more. Here on this day, we, the sane people of the United Sates, have had enough of bullies with guns. We storm the government, our government, and with a stroke of the legal pen we change the course of history and prevent the preventable. We do this because we love and are loved, and it seems that no one is willing to protect us, but us.” Robert M. Sacks, Precision Media Group