DanielPachecoHuizarRhetoric10514November 2017Gun Violence The United States of America, acountry built on honor, opportunity and freedom. This very motive led Americato become the industrialized nation it is known for. Every block, food markets andnumber of McDonald franchises are serving and providing food. In time, carmanufacturers utilized assembly line productions for a Ford Model T togroundbreaking technology for a Tesla X. Inevitably, a single shot revolution muskettransformed to a military grade assault rifle. To be blunt, America truly was builtfrom the bare minimum to becoming one of the greatest countries. However, froman outside perspective, it would seem naïve to believe America does not suffertragedies. Many would say too many tragedies because America, a developedinfrastructural, lacks drastically in providing basic human necessities Theseinclude but are not limited to financial sustainment, heath coverage,nutrition, and life itself.
The last idea may have confused, or even made onereread the sentence. Yet, 20 children, from Newton, Connecticut, will never beable to experience living the American dream. With continual lack, thereof gun legislation from thegovernment after every incident.
Additionally, those arguing for looser andstricter gun control laws. It seems as if America will always have to addressthe nation of another mass shooting. Despite these tragic losses, America seemsto be overlooking a much larger gun violence problem. Gun violence is the termused to define all gun deaths including homicides, suicide, and accidents. Overtwo-thirds of all gun deaths in the United States are suicides. Media coverage ishalting the effectiveness of current policies in preventing mass shootings andmore importantly gun deaths via suicide. The key reason is how the mediadisplays news coverage in particular, mass shootings. This funnels down to akey factor which involves lobbying and this process then prevents meaningfullegislation.
Therefore, with the implementation of a new perspective fromsociety regarding gun violence, legislation will have a noticeable impact onsuicide deaths in the United States. Historically, the gun control debate is along and controversial one. Gun control laws are any means of restricting thetypes of firearms, who can possess them, the means of obtaining one, and anyadditive attachments onto the weapon. Technically they date back to the firstproduction of a gun, but modernly not until 1791.
In 1791, the Second Amendmentwas fully ratified and the infamous saying, “the right to bear arms” was born. Asyears persisted on, slight changes were made to the Amendment, however, it wasnot until 1968 when real changed occurred. Prior to this year gun legislationwas very loose and not a main concern to the public. The Gun Control Act of1968 stated, ‘”keepingfirearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them becauseof age, criminal background, or incompetence”‘ (Longley).
This was a majorturnaround, for it increased safety by placing an emphasize on the importanceof gun dealer licenses and record keeping. In addition, the list of peoplebanned from purchasing guns expanded to felons and the mentally incompetent. Mostrecently, The Automatic Gunfire Prevention act was introduced in Congress byU.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein. This act prevents the, “sale and possession ofbump stocks and other devices that essentially turn a semiautomatic weapon tofire in fully-automatic mode” (Longley).
Feinstein’s initiation came after thetragic event that occurred in Las Vegas, NV, where Stephen Paddock left 58 deadand at least 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. It would seem out real that in 2017 there is still a debateon the right to purchase an adjustment that could cause so much damage, yet thedebate on guns continues to this day. Thereare always people who want the right to own a gun to feel protected. However,there are also people who want less guns in order to feel safe and protected. The hypocrisy is that both sides wantsecurity, but just different manners. This debate over time seems to die down,yet always picks up after any mass shooting.
Yet, why is it that no discussionof gun control is mentioned after every suicide? There is a significantlygreater amount of deaths. Why is nothing done about it? At first glance, one may not be able torecognize the impact that media sources have. However, as one takes a step backto notice the full picture then will this connection become clearer.
When someonewants to be up to date with world news, where do they go? They either turn onthe television or search it up online and click a link to their favorite mediasource. The publics main knowledge of what is happening comes from the media.There are the outliers that go beyond to find this information on their own.Those very few compared to the many will be dismissed in this argument. Themedia never reports suicide deaths, but is always on top of covering massshootings.
Generally speaking, most are afraid or uncomfortable to talk aboutsuch a sensitive issue. Even if they do cover suicide it is for a glimpsemoment or only when an important global figure is affected by it. This ismainly because society has placed a negative connotation on the word suicide. Thisconnotation has traveled through decades of history and still holds its gloomyvalue to this date.
For these reasons, the public then sees this problem asinsignificant because the media does not cover it. Also, the public only willprioritize this as a problem when it directly affects a loved one, yet, it isnot the same case with mass shootings. For most instances, the public has noconnection with those who passed in a shooting, but we are twice as motivatedto push legislation that prevent future tragedies. Media coverage has a majorrole in the way society views gun violence. Many would argue that themedia does not cover suicides because it promotes copycats. As Janes Pirkis,graduate from the School of Population Health at the University of Melbourne,found evidence to support the Werther Effect. Pirkis describes it as, “…thephenomenon of an observer copying suicidal behavior he or she has seen modelledin the media” (Pirkis).
This argument seems plausible as it rationalizes whymedia sources do not cover suicides. There is evidence that by doing so theyare either causing or preventing the act. However, what many do not realize ishow similar their arguments are in relation to mass shootings. James N Meindland Jonathan W Ivy discovered resembling evidence through general imitation.
Both, Meindl and Ivy have a PhD and leadprograms at the University of Memphis and Pennsylvania University respectively. Meindl and Ivy express general imitationas, “…can help explain theincreased likelihood of people engaging in behaviors similar to those they havebeen made aware of or actually observed”(Meindl, Ivy). It is clear that a sense of imitation ispresent in modern time. Prospective criminals looking to pursue similar acts ofterror are much more likely to follow through with their plan. That is why itis no surprise that an incident like this is becoming more common and each timemore violent. This ideology can easily be transformed into numerical data. Massshootings are averaging to once per month and two of the top five deadliestshootings occurring within the last 35 days (Willingham, Saeed).
Fast andreliable updates on the shooting is good for the public to be aware of thecurrent situation. Yet, they cover everything from the shooters backstory, tothe incident minute by minute, to finally the after effects. The mediaglorifies the shooter with constant attention and the spotlight. It may notseem like this but constant coverage from every news channel makes it seem so. Next,they basically go over exactly how the shooter went about of the shooting.These two factors alone are slightly enough to motivate an individual. Societymust hold media sources accountable in both covering mass shootings andsuicides. Then there are those that would argue thatthe media is only doing their job of reporting the news to the public.
This is solely due to the fact thatAmerica leads globally in the most amount of mass shootings. As stated in theCNN article, “Whilethe United States has about 5% of the world’s population, it had 31%of all public mass shootings” (Willingham, Saeed). Mass shootings areoutrageously common in the United States and that is a problem. A problem thatbenefits media sources. Despite this tragedy it is not the medias fault madmencontinuously are shooting up schools, nightclubs or concerts.
In addition, deepdown society is inclined to bad news, in particular mass shootings. Thisinclination leads to news sources to continue covering such stories because itleads to higher ratings. However, they are taking advantage of their duties asa new source and the public. They can still continue to cover the outbreak; itis a matter of how they cover it. The media’s coverage onsociety’s prioritization, and general imitation creates a repetitive cycle forthe gun violence problem.
Joseph Heath, a philosophy professor at the University of Toronto, wroteabout the way society views certain relations when it suits their interests.Heath stated, “‘there is an almost irresistible temptation to study what wewould like the cause of those problems to be (for whatever reason), to theneglect of the actual causes”(The Economist). The United States insists on studying the gun violence problemin regard to mass shootings, instead of suicide deaths. This is because public views mass shootings as more important incomparison to suicide. They do not want to acknowledge the other deaths thatoccur from guns. Even though, in both situations lives are being taken away fromthe effect of a gun. Additionally, the reason why no legislation is being geared toward preventingsuicide deaths is because it never receives the spotlight it deserves. Although,it is not the best news it still needs to be covered like mass shootings, butit needs to be covered the proper way.
The media does not have to cover everysuicide death, but rather raise awareness to the public of this issue. They canhave a huge impact on the way society views such a sentimental issue and as ofnow they are only adding to the negativity. Society grieves for the losses ofthose in a shooting, but feel pity for those who commit suicide. They made thechoice of taking their life, however, they are just as much human as you are. Themedia needs to demonstrate that this is a problem worth looking at because inthe end they are people in the need of assistance.
Furthermore, constant mediacoverage of only mass shootings, implies legislation only to prevent suchincidents. Therefore, creating an absence of laws that can help those on theverge of committing suicide. Gun violence and the NRA. The NRA and gun violence.
Both terms go hand to hand and are always brought up when discussinglegislation. The National Rifle Association is an organization that advocatesfor gun rights and publically lobbies for or against gun legislation. Asalluded to before the media causes Congress to only direct legislation towardseliminating a gun problem in America. In particular, mass shootings and this iswhen the NRA usually steps in. Their political influence is one that is hard tooversee.
Spending over $200,000,000 since 1998 on political activities,including contributions to candidates/PAC’s, lobbying expenses and independentcampaign expenditures. (Jacobson). One may be awestruck after reading that manyzeros tied to one organization. It is to no surprise how their capital allowsthem to support certain candidates, fund their campaigns or obstructlegislation. Their main influence is defending personal liberty and this valueis rooted into America’s backbone.
However, their biggest influence is thededication their members have, which may result from the extent of money thatis available. Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA, stated, ‘”N.R.A. members are politically engaged and politically active.They call and write elected officials, they show up to vote, and they votebased on the gun issue”‘ (Surowiecki). Now one may be wondering what thesepoints have to do with gun violence and suicide. Why should I care about theNRA and their wealthy mobilized members? Well, their immense power politicallyis one of the prime reasons why legislation progresses so slowly.
The NRA hasthe ability to prevent legislation because of their resources and theseresources have significant influence. They set apart from other advocates whenfighting for what they believe in. NRA members actually make a difference byhaving a voice and this voice is backed up by large amounts of money. In modern times, a voice is important,influential, and can have an impact. The media has this voice, yet it does solittle to make a difference. Politically a voice has all three aspects and mostimportantly, can avert or advance certain legislation. As I have described it mayseem that The National Rifle Association is the villain in society.
A villainthat does not mind the deaths of 49 individuals in a gay nightclub, or over20,000 deaths that occur in the United States due to suicide. Despite theaccusations in no way does the NRA condone or accept the actions modern day massshooters pursue with guns. They are spokesman for the millions of gun fanatics nationwide.Their main interest has always and will continue be to protect individualismand citizen freedom.
However, their actions make it very difficultfor those grieving the deaths of their loved ones to believe so. In addition,media coverage only adds to this detrimental problem. Previously mentioned, themedia only focuses on mass shootings because of this the public only focuses ongun policies in terms of that problem. Their constant lobbying allows no timefor Congress to propose or even ponder the idea of legislation to decrease thesuicide rate by guns in the United States. The National Rifle Association fearsthe government from taking their Second Amendment right and this fear leads to organizedlobbying. Lobbying that creates loose gun policies after every mass shooting.
TheNRA has made gun legislation very casual with no true restrictions. Whereas inCanada or other developing countries gun laws are strict and efficient. For instance,Canada does not have a strong lobbying organization like the NRA in the UnitedStates. Antoon Leenaars, a psychologist, who hasdone an extent of research on the detrimental issue of suicide. Leenaarsdiscovered, “that stricter firearm control laws may well be associated withchanges in suicide rates.
Bill C-51 in Canada appears to have had at least onepositive effect, namely, lowering the rate of suicide by guns” (Leenaars). Canada’sCriminal Law Amendment Act of 1977 (Bill C-51) is a perfect example demonstratinghow gun legislation can impact the amount deaths via gun, in particularsuicides. Additionally, suicide by other means also decreased. Canada issignificantly lower to America in many categories such as, gun death rate, gunownership, and suicides.
Gun legislation in the United States may not be asimpactful and have the exact same results, but it will be a start.Guns will be obtained legally or illegallydue to the effects of the NRA’s lobbying. Yes, the demand for stricter gun lawsdrastically increases right after a shooting, but so does the number of gunspurchased. Both increases have different effects. The increase for stricter gunlaws dies down over time and with a strong opposing lobbying organization thenno legislation is usually passed. However, as citizens become more fearful ofthe world around them they tend to purchase guns.
By doing so they feel more protected.However, David Hemenway, the Harvard InjuryControl Research Center’s director, revealed, ‘”Within the United States, awide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leadsto more homicide,”‘ (Lopez). Inevitably, more deaths will occur and theprobability of another mass shooting is very likely. Additionally, there is evidenceto show that states with higher gun ownership relate to higher rates of suicide(Lopez). Nevertheless, this tragedy will not be broadcasted, instead, it willlead to a repeating cycle. Where the media will report the shooting, the NRAwill halt legislation from progressing and more guns will enter the system. Indirectly, the National Rifle Associationand other lobbying organizations are a main factor in why there is little to nolegislation towards preventing suicide deaths. Their lobbying stems from whatthe media displays, however, mostly it is society and its viewers.
Society’s primitiveviewpoint on suicide does the most damage. It is the way society talks,listens, and acts on problems regarding suicide. It is the current proceduresthat are in place to assist those in need such as clinical treatment and suicideprevention centers.