Monday, April 12, 2021

Shocking Gun Violence Coverage From the Guardian

 3/25/21 The Guardian:

We write about gun violence in America as our full-time jobs. Between the two of us, we’ve been doing that for over a decade.

We see that America’s endless gun debate does not treat shooting victims and their families equitably. It is not driven by a focus on what actually works to save lives. It rarely includes the voices of the majority of the victims or any of the people who have a track record of successfully preventing shootings. It is not just biased; it is actively harmful and racist. And it will never make us safer.

We are sad, frustrated and angry. Here’s why:

We focus on “mass shootings”, but that obscures the violence that really drives America’s gun violence crisis. Last year, gun violence in the US killed an estimated 4,000 more people than it did in 2019. More than 500 people died in shootings that included multiple casualties or injuries. And yet, for a full year, there was not a single major news cycle about an American mass shooting....

Labels matter. They inform how we see victims, our level of focus, what we consider as solutions. Between less than 1 and 3% of America’s gun homicide victims die in what we generally consider “mass shootings”. But none of the community shootings last year prompted national debates over what we should do to prevent this kind of violence, and rarely do people dig into the reasons behind a community shooting or the motivation of the shooter – if they’re ever arrested .

We only mourn certain tragedies. Anyone who has spent time with people who have lost family members to gun violence knows that there is a deep equality in grief. Shootings are always sudden and brutal, and the trauma of even a single gun murder or suicide ripples through multiple generations. Yet most grief-stricken families, many of them mourning Black and brown victims, grieve outside of the national spotlight. Joe Biden forcefully denounced gun violence and called for an assault weapon ban. But where is the national mourning for victims of daily gun violence?...

The “solutions” offered today would do little to stem the daily death toll. The assault rifle bans and universal background checks reflexively supported by progressives will do little to decrease the bulk of shooting incidents: suicides and community violence. Approaches that have stronger evidence of saving lives, like intensive city-level support programs for the men and boys most at risk of being shot or becoming shooters, hospital-based violence intervention programs, or even more effective policing strategies, rarely get discussed on a national level. Even Democrats seem to prefer fighting a high-profile, losing battle with Republicans over gun control laws, rather than devoting time and focus to less partisan prevention efforts.

The intense focus on the National Rifle Association (NRA) is missing the point. After more than a two years of bitter infighting, lawsuits and financial turmoil, the NRA is not in great shape. And still, Republican lawmakers’ fierce opposition to passing any gun control bills, or the deep ideological belief in gun rights among millions of Americans, has remained unchanged. There’s still plenty to criticize about the NRA’s political advocacy, but media attention and Democrats’ attacks only inflate its importance.

The way the American media cover mass shootings makes us all collaborators. Even as media outlets try to focus more attention on the victims of shootings, and give perpetrators less notoriety, the fundamental equation of mass shootings has not changed: kill enough people and you will get national attention.

That media coverage feeds people’s most irrational fears. Take school shootings. American children are much more likely to be killed in their own homes or neighborhoods than at school. But instead of a national campaign to prevent domestic violence or provide kids with mental health support, America has a multibillion-dollar school security industry. Some of these security efforts have actively hurt vulnerable children: Following the Columbine tragedy, school discipline was ramped up and more police officers were put in schools, fueling a “school-to-prison” pipeline that disproportionately hurt students of color.

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