Did a Mass Killer Get it Right in Pointing to the Media?

Did a Mass Killer Get it Right in Pointing to the Media? – http://huff.to/1LpRW4l

Yes, that is how it works.  The media give the spree killer what he wants, with enough certainty that he’ll stake his life on it, literally, in most cases without being around after to see if the media followed through on their end.

Great men can’t trust the media; spree killers trust the media implicitly.

But we also need to keep in perspective that the psychological effect of these rare events is also an artifact of the media and a reaction disproportionately weighted towards a trivial fraction of gun tragedies is unwarranted.

It’s only news if it’s an anomaly.  The more anomalous an event, the more newsworthy it is deemed.  What that means is the “news” tends to turn priorities upside down. 

The sad, banal gun deaths, car crash deaths and flu deaths involving one death get little attention unless a celebrity is involved, although those are in the tens of thousands of victims each, each year.

On the other hand if you were riding a motorcycle and somehow got killed by a flying squirrel, you would definitely make the news.  That wouldn’t mean though that doing something about squirrels was an urgent priority.

That is however how media logic and the politician logic that follows it tend to operate.

“Assault weapons” are just an artificial class of gun that for operational purposes could be defined as “gun that looks cool but uses weak ammunition”.

Assault weapons are involved in about 4% of gun deaths in the US.

The number of cases in which larger clips were a factor is even more trivial, with no evidence as far as I know that large clips had ever resulted in an additional death.

So how did the gun debate ever get sidetracked into being about assault rifles and large clips?  Most of the damage is done by ordinary handguns, around 75% of gun deaths in the US, and does anybody really think that if Adam Lanza found only his mother’s handguns in his mother’s gun locker that he would have said “screw it, I’m staying home”?

We hear a lot about assault rifles because the name sounds menacing.  Just like pit bulls get most of the bad press although Rottweilers are statistically significantly more dangerous. “Pit bull” conjures images of animals trained to fight in a pit.  Rottweiller…is that German?  The latter name is more a pattern interrupt than something that leads the mind in a direction.

Focussing on an assault rifle is like focussing on the color of the guy’s shirt.

Focussing on spree killers with five or more victims is almost as bad. There are over 30000 gun deaths in the US every year, why is over half the energy put into puzzling over a subset of under 50 deaths per year.  That makes no policy sense. 

Worse, why narrow the focus further to spree killers with five or more victims that use assault rifles and large clips, who could not have been predicted in advance.  Nobody has found a way to reliably distinguish them from millions with similar traits that never shoot anyone. It is the least productive line of enquiry.

Imagine if the resources wasted preparing every school and university for a risk less than death by plane crash were devoted to say, educating on gun safety.  My bet is it would save more than 50 people per year.   


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