When the terrible news of the deaths at The Mall in Columbia broke January 25th, U.S. media outlets were quick to blame the weapon used and ask when something will be done to stop “acts of gun violence.”
Typical of this pattern was the way MSNBC mentioned “shooting” or “shootings” eight times in the first six paragraphs of its report on the heinous mall incident. Outlets like CNN, The New York Times, and the Washington Post followed a similar pattern.
We had to look to foreign news outlets – specifically the Daily Mail – to see that a “young mom” and “her fiancé” were targeted by a “jealous ‘ex-boyfriend'” in a “murder-suicide” at the mall.
Turning all firearm-related murders into “shootings” is a subtle change that then increases the number of “shootings” gun control proponents can point to when they demand more gun laws. Think Progress demonstrated this when it ran a January 23rd piece claiming “one school shooting every other school day so far this year.”
To get such a high number of “shootings,” it lumps together murders in which one person was targeted and killed – as at Purdue University on January 21st – and incidents in which random, indiscriminate killing took place. When every murder is a mass “shooting,” the number of such incidents increase enough that Think Progress can point to “at least 7 school shootings” in 2014 alone and “28 school shootings” in 2013.
Breitbart News reported on a similar slant concerning mass shootings earlier this year, after the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence’s Ladd Everett described the criteria for a “mass shooting” as any shooting in which two or more people are killed.
With criteria like this, “shootings” and “mass shootings” are sure to be reported more frequently and accompanied by calls for more gun control.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.