After every mass shooting (when a shooter kills four or more people—excluding themselves, robberies, domestic violence, organized crime and gang violence)—especially after one involving children, America mourns, the tragedy is immediately politicized, and the media sensationalizes the shooter. For a few weeks, it’s all America can think or talk about.
Inevitably, the mainstream media breaks a new story and last week’s tragedy is all but forgotten.
Things felt like they might be different though after a crazed gunman killed 17 students and staff members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. More people than ever (after past tragedies) rallied for gun control. Within days, a student-run political action committee using the hashtags NeverAgain and EnoughIsEnough was formed and a large protest march in Washington D.C. called March for Our Lives was organized. The movement’s main goals were to ban “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines and pass universal background checks; currently, the group is focusing on encouraging people to vote by helping them register. Joined by countless celebrities and politicians, the March for Our Lives campaign and movement gained steam incredibly quick. Even our pro-gun President toyed with the idea of enacting new gun control laws.
March for Our Lives started a GoFundMe page, which collected $3.5 million in donations within four days. George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey both donated $500,000 each to the cause. Held on March 24, 2018, it is estimated that close to 203,000 people attended the rally in Washington D.C. Eight hundred other protests were planned around the United States.
University of Maryland professor and expert in social movements, Dana R. Fisher, says in Vox that the organization’s advertising for the March for Our Lives rally never listed any of the speakers but only stressed who would be performing—Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Common, Demi Lovato, plus more. Fisher took a team out to the march to survey those attending. More than half of the hundreds interviewed weren’t there specifically to support gun control; 57% chose “social welfare,” 54% said “peace,” and 49% responded they were protesting President Trump. (Vox)
Almost 50% of attendees at the March for our Lives self-proclaimed that what brought them out was not gun control, but to protest President Trump.
So, what does that mean exactly?
It means that Americans aren’t as anti-gun as the media would have us believe.
As cited in Ammoland, the most recent Gallup poll shows the number of Americans who feel guns and gun control is the most “important problem facing the U.S.” has dropped to only 6%, after a historic high level of 13% in March 2018—the highest it has been since 1993. In comparison, the poll’s results mention:
In the month after the December 2012 Sandy Hook incident, mentions of guns as the country’s top problem rose from 0% to 4%. Concerns stayed at this level over the next few months as Congress debated new gun-control legislation; in April 7% of Americans named guns as the top problem facing the U.S. That same month, a piece of gun control legislation failed a key vote in the U.S., bringing the legislative effort to a close. After this, mentions of guns fell close to 0%.
As noted from the definition of mass shooting above—from 1982 to June 2018, there have been 102 mass shootings—not the thousands that anti-gun organizations and the media would like you to think.
This seems indicative that after heightened emotions and knee-jerk reactions have settled down, Americans have a more realistic understanding of the legalities of guns, gun ownership and gun use.