Mainstream media outlets are predictably falling into the same pattern of gun-violence denial after Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas by the obligatory “lone wolf” at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
We’ve heard and read ad nauseam about the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, who killed himself after killing 58 and injuring 489 people. The stories about the victims’ lives are leading national and local news. Paddock’s family is getting their say, and, of course, they just can’t believe it. All other news—like Donald Trump’s failed and extremely awkward visit to Puerto Rico—is secondary to the “national tragedy” we must relive day after day for a week or so for no discernible purpose, except to increase the profits of media companies.
Most important, we’re once again getting told that it’s way too early to talk about gun-control reform, which is reported with stoic, grim sentences by breathless reporters on the scene.
The fact that Paddock legally had 23 weapons in this room, including semiautomatic rifles and a device that could turn them into full automatic weapons, gets mentioned, but that’s certainly not the focus of the reporting. Sure, the predictable left and right pundits are weighing in with their predictable stances, but the false equivalency between the two sides—Steve Bannon, the alt-right extremist and gun rights fanatic, gets a larger voice than pundits with the obvious reasonable logic that 23 guns in a hotel room is just simply wrong—cancels out any real discourse.
We’ve been here before. Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Orlando, the list goes on. We’ll be here again.
But it’s long past time the media develop new strategies in its mass-shooting coverage. It is morally obscene that our culture allows anyone to own as many weapons as Paddock did without a legitimate reason if there even is one. Why is it so difficult for the mainstream media to simply say openly that in its main coverage?
The Republicans, the National Rifle Association and the country’s Second Amendment fanatics aren’t a side in an argument. They are just as responsible for the mass shooting as Paddock himself. This also needs to be stated as a fact. If someone not only sanctions but also symbolically celebrates in a political sense weapons only designed for killing people, then that person is morally reprehensible and “evil” as well.
Is creating the circumstances under which someone can kill and maim as many people as Paddock did Sunday night actually an argument? No, it’s a clear endorsement of murder.
The initial description of Paddock was that he was a “lone wolf” and there was no way to stop him. That’s a lie, or as Trump would put it, “fake news.” Sensible gun-control laws could have stopped him, but the Republican Party, owned and controlled by the gun lobby and its money, deliberately ensure that another mass shooting like the one in Las Vegas is just around the corner. With all respect to the dead and their families, that’s the main story.