The Social Construction Of A Mass Shooting Epidemic

 

 

 

 

 

” The killings of 20 first-grade students and six adult staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, obviously constitutes a terrible, newsworthy event. But the news coverage did more than report the details of what happened at Newtown. It also sought to classify this incident as an instance of a larger problem. The initial news reports described what had happened as “the second deadliest school shooting,” “another mass shooting,” and a “mass killing” (all in stories in the next day’s New York Times) and as “the second deadliest shooting event in U.S. history” (The Washington Post). The Post’s website ranked the 12 “Deadliest U.S. shootings” (the earliest case on their list occurred in 1949), while the Mother Jones website added Newtown to its page “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America” (which included only cases from 1982 to 2012).”

 

    The categorization of “mass shootings” , “mass murders” , “workplace violence” or whatever other clever nomenclature that happens to be in vogue are decided upon by the media that reports on the stories and we would do well to remember that the present day media , the so-called mainstream anyway , are anything but dispassionate observers and reporters of fact .

 

” According to The New Republic, there were 70 mass shootings between 1982 and 2012, leaving 543 people dead. The magazine does not say whether this death toll includes the shooters, who often—but not always—also die. But let us assume that only the shooters’ victims were counted. (Amy Sullivan, the New Republic article’s author, says she believes that is the case.) That works out to about 2.3 incidents and 18 victims’ deaths per year. Last year was an unusually bad year, with 68 people killed in seven mass shootings—a terrible toll, to be sure. But in the context of some 2.5 million deaths from all causes last year, mass shootings, while dramatic, are simply not a major cause of death. And because these events are quite rare, and their number fluctuates from year to year, it is difficult to determine a clear trend. The horrors of 2012 made it easy from some commentators to claim that mass shootings were on the rise, but should there be fewer cases in 2013, it is unlikely that people will note that the problem is growing smaller.”

 

 

    As with most any news items today , how events are portrayed in the media is really more an issue of what particular ax the reporting organization has to grind than it is a fair illustration of the facts .