New gun control laws and reduced mainstream media publicity might be the solution to rampage shootings. In The unmentionable causes of violence, Andrew Stephen claims that if there is anything unique about Cho Seung-hui the Virginia tech shooter, “it wasn’t that he was a paranoid schizophrenic armed with Walther .22 and 9mm Glock pistols and driven by rage but rather it was the ease at which he was able to obtain the weapons” (20). Furthermore, Stephen provides evidence supporting the effect media publicity had on the aftermath of the Virginia tech rampage shooting. Stephen states in his article that Cho was a product of a 21st – century technology that was obsessed with sharing every activity online via the internet. Stephen also explains that Cho knew that if he sent videos of himself to NBC he would completely take over the mainstream media and that the whole world would be watching him within seconds of its release (21).
If one considers all the facts surrounding the Virginia tech shooting, issues such as the videos that were sent to NBC and how it was rapidly spread through the mainstream media, Cho’s easy access to guns and other related stories. One begins to wonder if the mainstream media Cho’s main motivation to go through with his evil plan or that the rampage would have being avoided if Cho had not had access to the weapons used in the attack. The main question is will new gun laws and reduced media publicity solve the problem of rampage shootings? Today in America, many people still believe that they have the right to own guns as it is tantamount to their safety. In a study carried on 1,034 adults by Dr Donna Leinwand after the Tucson rampage shootings. Most of the respondents of the study blamed the shooting rampage on the easy access the perpetrators had to guns and ammunition while some blamed it on the American mental health system. When the respondents were what they thought the solution to the problem was, most of them responded that “stricter gun control laws were indeed the safest solution (4).”
According to Rick Jervis in his article “critics target high round gun magazines,” the perpetrator of the Colorado theatre rampage shooting James Holmes had purchased a large arsenal of high-round gun magazines which he had used in his assault in the theatre. Jervis emphasizes the need to reduce the amount of ammunition that can be bought off the market; he claims that the shooting would have being avoided if James Holmes had not had access to the weapon and ammunition (03a). The results of Leinward’s report are in accordance with the claim of Canton Ray who wrote in his article “Rampage” that the safest and easiest solution is creation and enforcement of stricter gun control laws (12). He also discusses the rampage case perpetrated by Cho Seung-hui as an example of the damage that could be caused if people were allowed to roam about with easy access to guns (13). Ray also claims that even though Virginia tech had banned guns, Cho was still able to smuggle into the school campus the weapons he used to carry out his plan. This statement offers a counter argument to the argument put forward by some student of the school that banning guns from school would not reduce the possibility of a rampage shooting occurring at that school (12). There are no stricter gun control laws because the decision was mainly influenced by liberal lawmakers who do not support an increase in gun-control legislation (Ray 13). It was established by the various studies and researches carried out by Stephen, Leinwand and Ray that the quick and effective method to reduce rampage shootings is the introduction of new gun control laws.
As interesting and compelling as the claims made by Stephen, Leinwand and Ray are, an even more convincing argument was put forward by Kalish Rachael and Kimmel Michael in their article “suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, Aggrieved entitlement and rampage shootings,” where they claim that most of these rampage shootings were in fact a result of a phenomenon they referred to as “hegemonic masculinity” which they said was caused by aggrieved entitlement-a deep desire to retaliate violently when one feels that they have being wronged (455). According to Kalish and Kimmel most of these rampage shootings end in death of the perpetrator(s) as a result of self-inflicted shots (451-54). The effect the mainstream media has on the outcome of these shootings cannot be overlooked. According to Sklaroof Sara, Miron Molly, Fields Helen and Marek Angie C in their article “Horror in red lake” the media attention the whole town got after the rampage shooting at red lake high school in Minnesota perpetrated by Jeff Weiss was so enormous that the security officials of the northern Minnesota community had to ban all national and international news crews from roaming about the town. Even after they were warned not to, some photographers were caught roaming the town, and taking pictures to use for their various news outlets leading to their arrest (28).
Sklaroff et al. claims that all the news crew and mainstream media care about is their ratings and the number of people watching their television broadcasts (29). Sklaroff et al. also claims that it might actually be the media attention these rampage shooters were getting that is actually motivating more people to go on shooting sprees because most of them know that they would become famous just for carrying out these heinous crimes (29). Much like the claims made by Sklaroof et al. in their studies and reports about the effects the mainstream media has on rampage shootings, Roselle Bruce also puts forward another compelling claim in “caution and reactions: lessons from Ft. hood,” where he discusses the massacre at Ft. Hood, in which an army major killed 13 and wounded 42 military and civil personnel. Roselle raised important questions about a little-examined behavioral problem “under-reaction” (51).
According to Roselle, the media seems mostly focused on the question of whether this was a terrorist act or another example of someone “going postal” due to psychological problems (53). Muschert Glenn W also conducted a study which he recorded in his article “media salience and frame changing across shooting events,” this study applies the two dimensional analytical framework suggested by Chyi and McCombs to assess its utility in studying frame-changing across similar events and between more and less salient events (747). A content analysis examines the New York Times reportage of nine rampage shootings occurring between 1997 and 2001, identifying the frame-changing dynamic occurring across events and the core frames present in the coverage (749). Ultimately, the methodological complexities of making cross-case comparisons are explored, including the overlap of measures of frame-changing and salience. Muschert claims that when he used the Chyi and McCombs analytical framework to study all the recent 9 cases of rampage shootings in the United States he discovered that the more publicity a case the higher the fatalities would be in the next recorded case of rampage shooting (761). According to Muschert, the media attention that the press gives to these rampage shootings could actually be an inspiration and motivation to a would-be rampage shooter (766).
Stephen, Leinwand and Ray have all reasoned that rampage shooting might have being avoided if there were no easy access to guns or weapons. Dr Donna Liewand even provided data from a study she carried out to provide the public opinion which also supports her claim. Kimmel and Kalish also provided another interesting claim when they stated that most of these rampage shootings are also motivated by suicide and the need of the perpetrator(s) to retaliate on a society they believe has wronged them. However, the effects of the mainstream media were also discussed by Sklaroff et al. and Roselle Bruce, They all claim that most of these rampage shootings were motivated by the perpetrator(s) desire to become popular and that the press served as medium for that. Bruce, who used the example of a military rampage shooting, placed emphases on some of the statements that the perpetrator of the shooting had made online. Muscehrt Glenn also studied the way New York Times publicized most of the rampage shooting also agreed with Roselle Bruce and Sklaroff Sara’s claims. In any case, whether columbine or Minnesota or Virginia tech, the importance of stricter gun control laws and reduced mainstream media attention cannot be denied – Stephen couldn’t have been any more right. This topic has different sources that agree that new gun laws and mainstream media publicity. However, more research still needs to be done to determine the possibility of an even more agreeable form of solution to the psychological problems that most of these perpetrator(s) had at the time of the rampage shootings. This synthesis paper has made me to realize that perhaps the next available option for this country is to improve their psychological and health services.
Kalish, Racheal and Kimmel, Micheal. “Suicide by mass murder: Masculinity, Aggrieved Entitlement, and Rampage School Shootings” Health Sociology Review 19.4. 2010. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 May. 2013. Canto, Ray. “Rampage.” National Review. 14 May. 2007: Vol. 59 Issue 8, p12-14. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 May. 2013. Stephen, Andrew. “The unmentionable causes of violence.” New Statesman 30 April 2007, Vol. 136 Issue 4842, p20-21. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 18 May. 2013. Muschert, Glenn W. “media salience and frame changing across shooting events” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. Winter 2006, Vol. 83 Issue 4,p747-766. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web.18 May. 2013. Roselle, Bruce. “caution and reactions: Lessons From Ft. Hood.” T+D. April 2010, Vol. 64 Issue 4, p50-52. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web.18 May. 2013. Rick Jervis. “Critics target high-round gun magazines.”
USA Today. 01 October. 2012. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web.18 May. 2013. Donna, Leinwand. “Americans fault gun law system in rampage” USA Today. 19 Jan.2009. Academic search Complete. EBSCO. Web.18 May. 2013. Sklaroff, Sara. Miron, Molly. Fields, Helen. Marek, Angie C. “Horror in red lake” U.S. News & World Report. 04 April. 2005, Vol. 138 Issue 12, p28-29.