“Take that f***ktards picture down!” TTAG commentator GE howled underneath Connecticut Gun Control and the Big Lie About Spree Killing. GE’s not alone in his opinion that TTAG shouldn’t post pictures or names of spree killers; our very own Bruce Krafft shares that opinion. I, obviously, do not. I believe that individuals in specific and society in general need to look long and hard at homicidal maniacs. It’s one thing to say that murderers live among us, it’s another to stare them in the face. Looking at the face of evil is one of the best ways to turn civilian disarmament proponents into gun rights advocates. I know. It happened to me. The moment I looked into a knife-wielding mugger’s cold dead eyes I knew that I had no business telling people to be disarmed. Hell, I had no business being disarmed. Am I wrong?

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93 Responses to Question of the Day: Should TTAG Use the Names and Photos of Spree Killers?

  1. No. The benefits of an open discussion out weigh the harm of giving these guys notoriety.

    • *sorry, meant to reply to Chris H*

      I tend to think treating them as “the name we can never mention” gives them an added level of notoriety. They wanted to be remembered as bad people so instead of elevating them to unmentionable status we need to make no mistake who we consider a sick worthless jerkoff.

    • The only thing worse to the truly evil than being remembered as the worst man in history is being forgotten by history altogether.

      Forget the evil doers never forget the victims and survivors.

    • +1. TTAG is a more well informed and mature set of readers IMHO and where those seeking truth and facts go for that resource. The propagandizing and sensationalist MSM do have a responsibility to self-censor so future psychos dont get the notoriety they crave. But of course they would rather dance in the blood of innocents to get ratings.

    • They should all be erased from the history books. Like whats his face that burned down that Greek temple 3,000 years ago.

  2. In my opinion, it’s a very fine line. We need to know who it was and why they did it, but we should definitely do our best to minimize them as well.

    Personally, in conversation I’ve stopped using the names of killers and simply refer to the event in place of it. But if for some reason it’s actually useful to refer to the killer I’m not going to avoid using their name.

    • I agree. I suggest leaving out the names and pictures altogether and if someone wants to know specifics, he can always use Google or Wikipedia to get details. Don’t glorify a monster, but don’t prevent people from educating themselves.

  3. No, don’t publish names or pictures. So many want to be remembered or to have their 15 minutes of fame. Perpetrators of this kind of violence should know they’ll be nameless faceless murderers. Don’t give them the power of “being remembered”.

    • Most of them “off” themselves after the dirty deed, so what notoriety?
      Seriously doubt they got an “atta boy” in an after life.

      Well, except for James Holmes, who recently proposed guilty plea in exchange for taking death penalty off the table. Actually solitary confinement for years on death row while appeals work their way though courts, is a fitting punishment for cold blooded murder

      • Thanks to the media they are guaranteed everlasting notoriety.

        Hopefully in the afterlife they suffer something close to what Dante describes. Or if I had my druthers it’d be something like Kafka’s Penal Colony.

  4. On the one hand, I think media ends up glorifying spree killers in their coverage, which makes copycats more likely (hence these spree shootings happen in groups). I believe one network even assigned the Columbine boys their own theme song.

    On the other hand, I think using this guys name and image months after the event and subsequent media frenzy isn’t that big of a deal.

    • Exactly. An open discussion is a good thing. Pictures and names might as well be used (though I’d prefer if they weren’t), since we need to work through the problems and know what (who) we’re up against.

      The 24/7 media frenzy that follows these things is a huge problem. I’d really appreciate it if a site like TTAG didn’t buy in, despite the lure of pageviews.

      The full-saturation fame machine that follows every “successful” spree killing is disgusting. It’s like pouring gasoline on a bonfire while pretending to be horrified by the destruction. Want to instantly transform yourself into a petty evil god? Just kill enough innocent people, and mission accomplished.

      Somehow that cycle needs to be broken.

  5. Serial killers prey on both fear(which is often how they perceive your refusal to use their name) and on notoriety(the decision to use their name)… take your pick… it makes no difference to them.

  6. I don’t know, I can see both sides of the argument. The side that says not to use their names and pictures don’t want to encourage copy cats, the other side doesn’t want to turn them into “He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named.”

    Personally I don’t think using names and pictures is the root problem, the root problem is the media glorifying these guys as anti-heroes. Knowing their names wouldn’t matter if the media would treat them as pathetic messed up people. Someone not deserving to be feared but to be pitied. These guys don’t want to be pitied, if the result of mass shootings was that the shooter was looked down on as a sad excuse for a human being there probably wouldn’t be copy cats.

    But that’s just my speculation and my opinion.

  7. While I wouldn’t ban the names, I would certainly try to minimize use of either the face or names of those notoriety-seeking killers.

  8. I don’t think so we should prohibit ourselves. We all know who is being talked about. It just makes the myth of “he who must not be named” more powerful. I usually put labels on them, like that insane murderous ba$tard Lanza. But what we should be doing is eliminating their power rather than increasing their notoriety.

  9. I personally would like to see then referred to that does not utilize their names. You could refer to one scumbag as the sandy hook perpetrator.

  10. I used to be among the: ‘Yes, post it!’ crowd but then the more you read about this guy in particular you realize he did it so we would show his picture and so he would be ‘famous’. He had a score sheet of other murderers. So, this sort of thing led, in some significant part, to this mass shooting. Stands to reason it could lead to others.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/18/sandy-hook-gunman-reportedly-compiled-massive-spreadsheet-on-previous-killings/

  11. Not a chance. The murderers should be the focus of our outrage. Their names should be burned into our memory. The gungrabbers would be thrilled beyond belief if we never spoke of them, because then there would only be the guns to talk about. How can we make our argument if we won’t talk about the perpetrators?

    Adam Lanza killed those innocent boys and girls. Keep the discussion focused on the slimy b@stards, not the guns.

    • Ralph,

      It is useful to point the masses to the fact that a deranged criminal killed the victims. And we can do that without saying their names. In fact it is even more useful if we use appropriate substitutes such as “deranged criminal”. This emphasizes the fact that it wasn’t just any Tom, Dick, or Harry (which could be any armed citizen as far as the civilian disarmament crowd is concerned) that killed the victims; it was a sick, violent, lunatic who killed the victims.

      In an exchange with a co-worker or with the masses, we could say, “It wasn’t Jeff (hypothetical spree killer’s name) or a gun that killed the victims, it was a sick, violent, evil criminal who killed the victims.” I hope that illustrates the point.

    • +1. The basement reject-hermit and helpless schoolkid-killer Lanza. The failed student and comic-book copycat loser Holmes. And so on. Give them a brand that confers contempt. And propagate the meme that real shooters and the public will remember them…not.

      • Yup, not into censorship here. Funny watching the commenters who don’t consider themselves control freaks trying to control the Internet through TTAG censorship.

        • Just look at that creepy SOBs face. This will make future killers NOT want to follow in the steps of such a loser. Those effing eyes! Why the hell did the mother give this creature access to firearms?

  12. I think the argument that denying would-be killers any predicted satisfaction in knowing everybody will hear about them in the media might do something, if enough big players join in.

    At the same time, TTAG doesn’t seem to be the same media we’re talking about. You’re a big blog, but its just not the same as having every TV station showing someone’s face and deeds. It’s also a bit niche – guns and gun rights? Not bland enough, too few talking heads.

    Anyway, unless you think setting an example is important enough to shy away from serious discussion, I think TTAG should continue reporting on killers. It wouldn’t be the same if we had to discuss the disarmament campaigns in the context of the massacres by the “ones who shall not be named”. Just seems silly when we I think we pride ourselves on being grown-up here, and not just on guns.

  13. If you can’t handle the truth, don’t read TTAG.

    I have no issue with posting facts, or their names and photos.

  14. I wouldn’t encourage doing anything to further their notoriety, even on TTAG. So no pictures. There are probably more than enough already put out by the media whores.

    And facing the vicious bad guy in person is entirely different from viewing his image on a web page. You don’t have the impact of fearing for your life and safety or that of your companions or loved ones.

  15. Report on them, every relevant factoid from the girl that dumped him as a freshman to the amount of time he spent playing COD, but you can report that with the name redacted and no photo.

    Report them. Study the hell out of them, but don’t publicize them as people, only as artifacts for study.

  16. Use them, but try not to glorify them, which I don’t think this site does. Shame I can’t say the same about network media.

  17. I think its a fine line. For instance Eric Harris and Dylan Keleibold (Columbine) were more popular in school than some might have thought (at least based on my research). I dont personally believe they were trying to make a name for themselves (Kleibold maybe) because they seemed to think than human kind needed to be exterminated. Like we were all a disease. Harris was good at manipulation and both boys had essentially gotten away with previous crimes which does not sound like people trying to make a name for themselves.

    All of that said, of course their will be exceptions but aside from clues they leave behind we will never know their true intentions. Are they glorified by the media? Absoloutley but in the big picture they are dead (sans Holmes) so what does it matter if their name is mentioned. They are not around to reap the bennefits.

  18. Yeah, I don’t want the mainstream press to keep parading these evil little bastards on the evening news and giving them the infamy they crave, but if someone’s trying to extend the “it’ll inspire the next school shooter” logic to the readership of TTAG, well… that argument is a little insulting to us, is my point.

  19. No.

    It’s our mandate to consider the possibilities when it comes to self defense- and like it or not, if you own a gun you may end up facing off against a nutcase like Lanza someday. By discussing the murderer in question, we can collectively learn lessons we can apply against the next son of a bitch .

  20. I don’t want to see their faces or know their names. Don’t make them famous. If it were my blog, I’d refer then like this : The Aurora Theater Shooter, and likely chronic masturbater, entered a not guilty plea today. Or, the Sandy Hook School Shooter, and likely chronic bed wetter, was not a member of the NRA but he appears to have attended an NRA gun safety course at some point. People will want to know what they looked like. A brief description should answer most everyone’s questions. Ugly, skinny, white kid. White, male college student with brown hair, dyed orange, Male, asian collage student. etc.

  21. What is interesting about this debate is that each and every amendment in the Bill of Rights has public safety implications, including the first amendment. I can find a spreadsheet of spree killers over on motherjones, a veritable score sheet for the next adam lanza. Should that be hard to get or censored? Would it make it harder or impossible for the next spree killer to do his/her business?

    I like all my civil liberties thank you very much and when it comes to the first, I tend to think that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  22. I see the points about not giving them notoriety and so forth. But how can we have free discourse if we speak about They Who Must Not Be Named as if they were demonic spirit and calling them out made you vulnerable to demonic possession. They were/are all mortal human beings. Evil human beings, yes, but human beings who’s would be just as dead had an armed citizen ventilated them first. The focus needs to be on how the stop the next one from joining their perverted little club. Know Thy Enemy.

  23. I don’t care, it’s not going to change anything and I doubt they read TTAG. . Just look at that little mongoloid. His mother should have smothered him long ago. On balance, I think there is probably a conspiracy in both Ct and Co. The last two spree killers look like they’re made for TV.

  24. This website needs to be about facts, not useless, feel-good-about-yourself, symbolic gestures. Criminals and lunatics are people who have names and faces. Turning them into amorphous boogey-men and detaching them from their crimes doesn’t do anyone any favors.

    And, as Ralph pointed out, if you stop talking about the perpetrator then people are just going to blame the guns. So if the pro-gun community is going to keep with the whole, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” then not naming killers makes zero sense.

  25. I’m glad that you’re at least asking your readers instead of telling us what we should think/do.
    I’d strongly prefer to not see their faces, and mildly prefer for their names to be repeated as little as possible. Since TTAG’s duty is to report and relay information, I think they can still maintain that goal and link to other sources (as they do now) where the names of those responsible can be found.
    Perhaps you could treat them like expletives? “committed by [name withheld]…”

  26. In a perfect world, I’d have to agree with those that want the fu@@tards’ pics and info banned. Simple fact: they want the notoriety; this is a, if not the, motivator for their Evil deeds.

    However, it isn’t a perfect world; someone, more than likely a gun-crises exploiter, will publish it on the Intarweb, and once that bell is rung….it’s amazing sex crime victims aren’t posted more than they are.

    So, while it’s clear that posting their pics/info only perpetuates spree killers, not posting that info here won’t really matter.

    On our blog, we refer to them by name, but don’t usually include pics. Internal decision more than anything else.

  27. Funny… I think that some Senators talked about here want to be as noticed as much as some of the killers. Yet there’s still links provided to their videos, documents, and websites that people click on thus increasing the number of ‘hits’ they get and making them feel popular.

    Just as the saying that a gun doesn’t kill people, people do, then the same can be said for showing someone a picture of Hitler or another mass murder. (ie, it doesn’t mean that your going to turn them into a killer)

    I say go ahead and show their pictures. Let folks be afraid and know that evil can take many forms that they might not expect. Hopefully it will help them be a bit more cautious and safe.

  28. When their names become a part of every Americans’ vocabulary, the killers have gotten what they wanted. So while I’m not totally opposed to their pictures I definitely say no to their names, at least after the initial reporting.

  29. I think they should all be put down the second they pulled, that way nobody would ever even hear of it outside local news stations and gun rights forums. Side bonus there wouldn’t be any more mass shootings in the US.

    BUT THAT’S JUST CRAZY RIGHT

  30. This being a gun website, gun issues are covered-the good, the bad and the ugly. When heroes are covered for their use of guns we celebrate them and rightfully so. To suggest that mentioning criminals when they commit crimes goes along with celebrating them is myopic. To cite the issue without all the available information, including names and photos when available is to be given partial info which is never a good thing. Often times many here at TTAG complain that the antis never present the issues completely, that they only cover the criminals who use guns, but never mention DGUs. Covering only the positives here would pretty much make us just like those we criticize for doing exactly the opposite. I cannot speak for others, but I personally want as much information on ANY given subject, so that I may draw my own informed conclusions, as opposed to getting half the info with a predetermined point of view. We already have the latter, it is called The Press.

  31. A difficult question. The answer depends on the context.

    A ‘horrific” context full of fear and knee-jerk reactions (as we see the media and government doing) – BIG NO.

    A coward’s way out as in suicide, which most are, also penned as denigrating the taking of someone other lives with them as cowardly and pathetic – A BIG YES.

    Calling them what they are, cowards, pathetic excuses for human beings, fatally twisted and incompetent in all forms of normal human existence – A BIG YES.

    Do you notice how the media never covers the mall incident in Clackamas and rarely the one in Aurora, but they are all over the one in Newton? Why is that?

    I say it is because media profits push FEAR, BODY COUNT and the TYPES of bodies. No “standard” media, no glorification.

    Compare with “Missing White Woman Syndrome”:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome

    And “If it bleeds, it leads”:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IfItBleedsItLeads

    And finally – the media wants us to see the world as a Crapsack because it pays big:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrapsackWorld

  32. Go ahead and put up their picture. The problem with them showing up in the news is the hagiography and near-celebration of them for weeks on end.

    The correct thing to do is put up a picture with a “this was a murdering slime-ball” caption and move on to something important.

  33. Has one of these guys had a picture that didn’t expose them to abuse and scorn? They all look pathetic, showing their pictures shows just how pathetic they are. Keeping them hidden from view just gives them more notoriety.

  34. Am I the only one bothered by the fact that they are hinting at the fact that putting “prefer not to awnser” on gender and self description is indicatory of mass shooter like behavior? Next thing you know that poor transexual kid in college that is still trying to figure out who the are or the person that doesnt want to describe themselves will either find themselves in a chat with the police or some administators? Possibly with punishment involved?

  35. the answer to that question depends on what you think is more likely to occur…

    1. by giving them the notoriety they were willing to pay ANY cost to obtain the media ends up fueling some other guy’s twisted ego somewhere else who might try to “beat the high score”, OR
    2. you cause people to “stare evil in the face” and (hopefully) convince them to start taking responsibility for their own safety.

    which of those options you think is more likely will determine the answer to that question. personally i believe the first option to be the most likely, so i plant myself firmly in the “do not post” camp.

  36. Am I the only one bothered by the fact that their hinting at that putting “prefer not to answer” on a form for gender or self description is indicatory of homicidal tendencies?

    • I wouldn’t be so quick to relate that to a sexuality issue, even though many would see it as such. They check that box as a little act of defiance. What is more disturbing is what people read into it. …. I suppose we’re probably on the same page i guess.

  37. Post them.

    We need to remember the murderous freaks. We need also to post the photos alongside the legislative freaks who are trying to remove our ability to defend ourselves from murderous freaks. Look at the eyes of any of them. I can’t tell the difference, both sets sold their souls. Toss in a few media freaks for good measure.

  38. Hell no.

    It’s your blog though.

    I will never post [REDACTED SCUMBAG’S NAME] or likeness at GunsSaveLife.com though.

    John

  39. Most reputable psychologists agree that spree killers are in it for notoriety/infamy. They see news stories about incidents, the president will have a press conference and talk about them, there will be a push for a “national discussion.” And central to it all is these psychopaths’ pictures and names.

    Call them things like “the psychopath from Newtown,” consistently, across all media outlets (besides local papers and stations) and these kind of things would become less common.

    But their eyes are unsettling so we better post pictures!

  40. Buried as my opinion may be amongst the previous posts, and likely not to be seen by more than a few with much time on their hands, I — as a professional news photographer for over three decades — need to point out that ANY images culled, edited or selected by ANY medium are going to reflect the position of the publisher. Period.

    Pics published from the same event or about the same subject — whether by MSNBC or Brietbart — will reflect the POV of the publisher, including TTAG.

  41. The mainstream media must stop giving names and faces to these beasts. They must start focusing on the victims more, and ignore the names and faces of the beasts. That said, I say in a forum such as this, by all means show their faces and give them names. But don’t try to convince anyone that seeing a beasts’ picture is like looking directly into the eyes of a killer.

  42. Well, I have read all the comments, but I still hold the opinion I expressed in the other thread, I believe many spree killers are motivated by the thought of notoriety and seek out gun-free zones to ensure the number of kills is sufficient to get the coverage they desire.

    We can certainly study them without pictures or names. Simply refer to them by the incident — Sandy Hook psychopath/degenerate.

    I believe the ancient Roman punishment of Damnatio memoriae, the removal of every record of their existence by name right down to the birth certificate would have been a disincentive for many of them.

    Only my opinion, and I could be wrong.

  43. Adam Lanza, every gun owner in this country knows this pathetic psychopaths name. He has made life hell for those of us who live in less than common sense states. He has commanded the attention of our President and most of our elected representatives. He has caused economic turmoil for anyone that wants to purchase anything to do with guns, and a windfall for those who sell or manufacture those products.
    He has set the bar very high for the next cretin that wants to be remembered for something horrific. This kind of carnage will happen again, and it will have to be worse, so that we will all know the name of the offender.
    We can all pretend that repeating the offenders name wont perpetuate the cycle of mass homicides, but we are only kidding ourselves

  44. Are his eyes hollowed out because he’s a homocidal maniac or is this just a photo of a kid on way too many psychotropic drugs that his brain can’t handle?

    Seems interesting to me how large a % of the most recent spree killers were also either on or just coming off the same types of drugs that no one really understands how they work and their effects on the human brain.

  45. With everyone screaming for “common sense” solutions to prevent mass shootings why can’t we start by denying the would be mass murderers the gratification they seek? Don’t release a single thing about mass murders except the names of the victims. When we stop making a big deal about bad/crazy people, the mentally ill that seek attention (Histronic Personality Disorder) might seek a different means for getting it…

    There’s no way refusing to release any details on the killer or how a mass murder was committed would prevent ALL copycat type behavior. But wouldn’t it be fair to say that by releasing the information you are likely making the situation worse?

    Nothing is ever black and white, but to me this falls in the dark gray part of the spectrum…

  46. It’s mostly a question of how they get presented. The state media and the anti-gun Gestapo treat them like the subjects of feature stories, while casting their guilt on everyone from the NRA, to Republicans, to you and me. The perps get little actual blame that way, and the next potential psychos get inspiration.

    So if you present them in the literary equivalent of hanging their carcasses in the town square for the birds to eat, I think that would be just fine.

  47. Yes. I love this site and I won’t leave but I do not believe you should give spree killers the fame they want.

  48. Yes, show them. It does humanity no favors to turn our head away from the evil among us. Thinking that these types do it for publicity, is no different than blaming it on video games, or guns, or anything else for that matter. It all seems to me, to be an unwillingness to accept the fact that there is such a thing as good and evil. People scramble to find a reason…. any reason why someone would do such a thing, but there is to rationality for those who just want to watch the world burn. Publicity is only an afterthought in their plans.

    Granted, don’t plaster it all over the front page of everything… but one must know ones enemy.

  49. I recall a scifi author who mentioned a way to reduce infamy driven violence- make the perpetrator an Unperson. All references to them are redacted to a descriptive yet lame tag. “Nutjob #4” or some such.

    It’s not so much discussions like TTAG as it is mainstream media in the days after an incident. Given our constitutional limits on restricting free speech, I’d hazard a guess that the only way to get the TV news media to stop using ratings-boosting phrases like “most dead in a spree killing” & publishing early, incorrect reports would be manifold lawsuits & criminal charges for praising these madmen. Rational people might not call it praise, but a certain flavor of nut would. Want to screw CNN, etc? 4k suits of various flavors (libel/slander for making up details nobody can possibly know yet, incitement to violence, etc) nationwide, plus more in every country they’re carried in. Bloomberg can provide starting capitol. We’ll call it “Spree-trolling” instead of patent trolling.

    Most of these reports from mainstream media mention things like the ‘thousands of rounds’ found in their home, but fail to mention that most of those ‘thousands’ are, say .22lr. Having 2k .22lr is a good supply for a weekend shoot with friends, 2k or rifle/pistol/shotgun can be used in a few weekends in a caliber used for a competitive sport.

  50. People give me crap all the time about my drivers license photo… ‘you look like a serial killer’, thank goodness they never saw my military ID :)….. but for f$$ks sake.. it’s quite hard for me to hold back on this kid. It’s as if he is scared shitless of anyone seeing him, a deer in the headlights. He is absolutely terrified of that camera, or rather the fact that it is taking a photo. The picture alone should cement the fact that he was not seeking publicity, although i do not know the setting in which it was taken.

  51. Honestly, yes.

    Context matters. We use their names and pictures to discuss how they are sick cowards. We look at them as pathetic and pitiable. That is precisely the attention they deserve. We de-sensationalize them.

    So I say as long as we look at them as the sick, weak, cowardly, and pathetic garbage they are we sure as shit can use their names and images. In fact SOMEONE OUGHT TO BE discussing them for what they are to combat other medias sensationalized bullshit. The status of a dark, mysterious, troubled yet powerful super villain is what they desire to achieve and the rest of the media is happy to confer on them. Someone has to undo that.

  52. To dare not speaketh someone’s name or gazeth upon their image is in cultures world-wide the greatest deference you can give acknowledging the power of some person or entitiy and your fear of them or it. Why would you elevate these weak and pathetic trash to that level? Why would you fear them so much that their names and images achieve special status and therefore special treatment. That is what they want. Not the whole world talking about them openly and fearlessly as weak and pathetic trash.

  53. If I had ever seen this person in public, I would have discreetly clicked off the safety and moved out of the area ASAP. This face just screams “WHACKO”.

  54. I think we can discuss the issue without giving them notoriety. I only refer tot hem by the event – “The Aurora Murderer” or “The Newton Mass Murderer”.

  55. You guys initially reported that (and linked to the Facebook page of) Adam Lanza’s brother, Ryan, was the shooter at Sandy Hook (as did many other media outlets); plastering the name of spree shooters all over the internet helps to not only preserve their legacy for generations, but stands a fairly good chance of ruining innocent lives when they log into Facebook one day to find out that they had murdered 27 people.

    With this in mind, please do not feed the notion that all a psychopath needs to do to become world famous is walk into a public, disarmed place and engage in indiscriminate slaughter.

  56. The beginning of these spree killer articles should have a list of the victim names and their pictures.

    Bury the killer’s name and pic at the bottom.

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