When bad things happen with firearms, there’s usually an immediate emotional response. People demand that “something must be done” to “protect the children” from the “epidemic of gun violence.” Needless to say (A) what we’re doing now seems to be working pretty well, (B) it’s usually the “children” doing the shooting, and (C) there is no “epidemic.” Nevertheless, the usual gun control activist media outlets never pass up the chance to push the civilian disarmament agenda on the heels of a prominent gun-related news story, and NPR is giving it both barrels (so to speak). Yesterday they were talking up a “study” that claimed gun owners are racists and more likely to shoot black people than white people. Today they are mulling the best way to present mass shooting news in order to make people think more gun control is the solution . . .
From the article:
The researchers were interested not only in whether reading these different news stories would influence people’s views about appropriate gun legislation, but also whether they would have different implications for people’s attitudes toward the mentally ill.
Overall, they found that hearing any of the news stories about the mass shooting increased support for a ban on the sale of high-capacity gun magazines and had a negative impact in respondents’ attitudes toward the mentally ill: They were less willing to have a person with serious mental illness start working closely with them on a job, and they were less willing to have a person with serious mental illness as a neighbor.
But the news stories with different emphases weren’t equivalent in their effects: Those who read the news story that emphasized dangerous guns supported a ban on high-capacity gun magazines more strongly. The two texts did not, however, have significantly different effects when it came to attitudes toward the mentally ill or gun restrictions for people with serious mental illness. This could be because the baseline levels of support for gun restrictions for people with serious mental illness were already high across the board: More than 70 percent of the respondents who didn’t read any of the news stories supported increasing federal funding to enable such restrictions.
What we have here is a how-to instruction manual on twisting people’s emotions in news stories to best manipulate their course of action. A propaganda manual, as it were. Using emotion to steer your readers toward supporting a given position despite any actual evidence or facts.
When Colion Noir asked for calm and rational thought in the wake of the on-air shooting of two TV news workers, he was trying to appeal for people to check their knee-jerk emotions at the door. The only way to solve what little “gun violence” actually happens in the United States is to approach it from a methodical and logical point of view.
Relying purely on emotion to make our decisions for us won’t solve anything, and will do more to hurt everyday Americans than help them. That’s how we wound up with the USA PATRIOT Act, and God knows the last thing we need is another one of those.