REASON: Are the Media Making Mass Shootings Worse?

The short answer is, probably.

REASON has a 12 minute video here exploring that hard question but the numbers are chilling on it. I know that as we cover mass shootings too, they’re horrific events that do need coverage and exploratory examination.

Unfortunately, that coverage is also part of what is sustaining the problem.

The absolute tsunami of attention that is given to these events is intoxicatingly seductive to the attention starved, isolated, violent, and disassociated individuals who are most likely to carry out an attack. The coverage, the amount of people who will be talking about them, is an ultimate high that cannot be replicated outside that extreme outburst of violence.

Sure, we universally cover it as horrific. But the negative coverage isn’t a deterrent because the sheer volume of coverage is the incentive. These people do not, or have stopped, judging life by the positive average that most people do. People, by default, place some value on life. Some life, at least, usually most prioritizing theirs, then their close family and friends, and then assigning a neutral but positive value to people in general.

But that scale is broad, there are people who do not prioritize the continuation of any life, except usually their own. There are far more people who will put no more effort into the sustainment of life than voicing aloud that they’d rather not see bad things happen to people. The percentage of the population who will actively engage and do something, often titled active responders, is lower than we like to imagine. Even some first responders aren’t active responders, despite it being their job.

So while the population as a whole is unlikely to be influenced negatively by this coverage, the population is also rather lackadaisical in the grand scheme. They rely on the efforts of others whose ‘job’ it is, because it certainly isn’t theirs.

Meanwhile, the coverage is like the universe’s greatest hit of methamphetamine to a very small and very dangerous group of addicts who fall into a perverted category of active responders. Those who will use their faculties to destroy and get that high. Some may regret it, at least a little, afterward but that is too late, damage done. The temptation, the motivation, the event are already triggered. The past coverage and knowing the coverage will come is firmly emplaced in their minds and no other possible outcomes, nor the condemnation of the populace, matter in the slightest.

There is no replacing the need to cover world events, but it is also absolutely fueling the rare fires who crave this sort of macabre attention.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.