NRA: We need common sense media control to prevent future school shootings

This new NRA video makes a point, but it’s not the one that some people thought it was making when they saw this tweet:

I’ll include the entire video below but here’s a sample of it:

It’s time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings, because it is killing our kids. It’s time for Congress to step up and pass legislation putting common sense limitations on our mainstream media’s ability to report on these school shootings.

There’s no need to cover these shootings for two weeks straight plastering the kids’ face over and over and over again. Pass a law stopping the media from reporting the killer’s name or showing his face.

You can still report on the shootings … we just need reasonable laws that place limitations on the glory and fame you give to these killers and their twisted motivations…

For people who only got that far into the clip or who didn’t watch it at all, the NRA is clearly on the road to fascism in the United States. But the video doesn’t stop there. After the screen cuts to black for a moment it fades up again and makes a very different point:

You know that feeling of anxiety that shot through your body when I said the government should pass laws to limit the media’s ability to exercise their First Amendment right.

That’s the same feeling gun owners get when they hear people say the same thing about the Second Amendment…

I honestly believe ignoring shooters and not giving them any attention will do more to stop school shootings than any gun control measure ever will.

However, I vehemently disagree with the government infringing on the media’s First Amendment rights the same way I don’t believe the government should infringe on anyone’s Second Amendment rights.

Ah! That’s a very different point. The NRA isn’t advocating for common sense media control, they’re pointing out that the argument itself is a bad one whether it’s applied to the Second Amendment or the First.

They’re also pointing out that the news media is, at least arguably, as responsible for the epidemic of school shooters as the NRA. And that’s not a view limited to the NRA or right-wing media critics. Consider this recent guest piece published at Vox titled, “The media should stop making school shooters famous.

There are a number of problems with the intense media focus on mass shooting perpetrators. First, they are explicitly seeking fame, and the media is helping them to achieve this end. The realization that this route to fame “works” can, in turn, produce more lethal events and foster one-upmanship among perpetrators.

The copycat effect is real. A 2015 study suggests that a mass shooting increases the likelihood of an additional mass shooting in the two-week period following the incident…

An ABC News investigation in 2014 found that in the 14 years after Columbine, at least 17 school shooters — and 36 other students who threatened rampages that were averted —directly cited the Columbine shooting or its perpetrators as partial motivation for the attack. In short, making perpetrators famous has consequences.

The piece goes on to argue for a “No Notoriety” policy which would achieve the same ends described in the NRA clip through voluntary media policies rather than legal limits on reporting. And Vox is hardly alone. Here’s a piece from Psychology Today in 2012 which actually did advocate for passing a law to control the media:

The media appropriately defends its right to participate fully in a marketplace of ideas. The risk of limiting free speech is clear and substantial. And yet I believe when free speech leads to verifiable harm, it’s time to discuss limits. It’s time we found a way to balance the right to speak freely with the responsibility to influence ethically. It’s time we consider passing a law that requires the media to act with…responsibility.

There really is a good case to be made that the media’s focus on school shooters leads to more school shooters. But most of us would agree that passing laws that violate the First Amendment is not the best way to address that problem. It’s better to try to solve the problem through other means, such as voluntary agreements to limit repetition of the shooter’s name or picture, without risking our established freedoms. Supporters of the 2nd Amendment just want the same deference to their rights. Here’s the clip:

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