Anti-Gun Violence Rally

Protesters take part in an anti-gun violence rally in Maryland.

Earlier this month, a duo of mass shootings swept the nation. On the morning of Aug. 3, 2019, a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, took the lives of 22 people. Later that night, a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, took the lives of 10 people (including the shooter). 

The one in Dayton especially hit close to home. As a resident of Beavercreek, Ohio, a suburb of Dayton, I was struck by all the sudden attention drawn on Dayton. I firsthand saw the political polarization between figures such as gun control advocate Dayton mayor Nan Whatley and President Donald Trump. I was honestly appalled that preventing mass shootings became such a political issue. 

To start, mass shootings is one in which a shooter kills at least four victims. This is excluding domestic violence, gang killings or terrorist acts sponsored by an organization. 

Mass shootings have cost the lives of 1,196 people since Aug. 1, 1966, according to the Washington Post. I believe a half-century crisis shouldn’t be solved with political solutions. 

The most popular political solution to mass shootings in recent weeks has been an Assault Weapons Ban, which would ban the manufacture, transfer or possession of semi-automatic firearms for civilian use. 

In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This ten-year long ban outlawed so-called semi-automatic weapons.

On the 20th anniversary of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a Democrat majority Senate rejected a proposal by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) to reauthorize the ban. 

Later, Feinstein introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, which would ban the "sale manufacture, transfer and importation of 205 military-style assault weapons by name." This bill was never voted on. 

So why is an Assault Weapons Ban so unpopular in Congress? Is it really due to the dreaded influence of the NRA (National Rifle Association)? Is it because people like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) really doesn’t care about the lives of innocent people?  

It turns out that an Assault Weapons Ban is an ineffective solution. 

In 1999, the most famous mass shooting in American history, Columbine High School Massacre, took the lives of 12 students and one teacher. This mass shooting occurred under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. 

In 2014, Duke University public policy experts Philip Cook and Kristin Gross wrote that the Federal Assault Weapons Ban contains "no compelling evidence that it saved lives." 

In 2015, UCLA School of Law professor Adam Winkler stated in a Los Angeles Times op-ed that assault weapons bans are "largely ineffectual" since "it is hard for legislators to effectively regulate [guns] without banning half the handguns in the country."

That isn’t to say some political proposals wouldn’t have an effect. Extended background checks and more accountability from the police and federal justice departments would go a long way toward preventing mass shootings. 

The non-political bipartisan situation which would be most effective to ending mass shootings is not to name mass shooters. This article is making sure to abide by this solution, as not once in this article has a mass shooter been named. 

Media coverage, while obviously not intentional, has highlighted the killer, rather than the victims in recent years. 

Citing a Texas State University paper, there were more published pieces about mass shooters than their victims, using a content analysis of The New York Times in the span of 91 mass shootings from 2000 to 2012. 

An American Behavioral Scientist study published in 2018, analyzed 4,934 photos published in the days after three separate mass shootings, and discovered that American newspapers pictured shooters 16 times as often as their victims, on a photo per individual basis.

As an effect, mass shooters have been inspired by the notoriety it brings them. This is because naming mass shooters provides them fame, while giving inspiration and a blueprint for potential mass shooters. 

The Hill reported that over 100 copycat shooters have been inspired by Columbine since 1999.

The Sandy Hook shooter created a 7-by-4-foot sized spreadsheet listing around 500 mass murderers and the weapons they used.

The El Paso shooter was inspired by the Christchurch shooting, citing many of the same white nationalist tropes that the Christchurch shooter used. 

If the media industry uses the proposals of the “Don’t Name Them” and the "No Notoriety" campaigns, it can decrease the influence onto potential mass shooters. This is the bipartisan solution, with no political cost, to mass shootings.

Opinion Editor

Schell-Olsen has been with The News Record since Aug. 2018. He frequently writes about politics, society and elections.