Thursday, October 15, 2015

Perspective on Mass Shootings

This graphic gives needed perspective on the "epidemic" of mass shootings.  The question an unbiased observer might ask is "Why is such enormous attention given to such a tiny fraction of deaths?

The answer is fairly easy to understand.  The media gains both monetary and political benefits from hyping these shootings.  They gain monetary benefits from increased attention to their programs and advertiser base, but that does not explain why similar mass killings get far less coverage.    Clayton Cramer wrote a paper showing that mass killings with guns gets far more coverage than would be warranted by their numbers.  He explores the political motivations for the media to sensationalize mass shootings.  Though his paper is now 20 years old, it is worth reading to see that the problem was well understood decades ago.

I have not seen a recent study of the amount of time that the old media devote to mass shooting.  But the stated desire of President Obama to politicize the shootings, and the response of the old media to facilitate his desires, is clear.

One of the major reasons that we seem to be having more mass shootings during this administration, is the administration's and the media's desire to use those shootings for political purposes.

Progressives call this "manufacturing consent".   Cramer, in his paper, notes that disproportionate coverage of certain crimes changes the public perception of how much of a danger they are.  From Clayton Cramer:
In balance, coverage of crimes in our society can be a valuable tool for decision making. In the political realm, the electorate and their representatives may make rational governmental decisions based on news coverage. Individuals, properly informed, can make rational decisions about their personal safety. But when the population has been misled, intentionally or not, about the nature of the crimes in a society, and the rarity or commonality of those crimes, their decision making will be anything but rational. When the coverage is simply endless repetition of apparently meaningless tragedies, the numbing effect described by Rep. Ames doubtless takes its toll on our population today.
The gun control playbook found during a freedom of information act action by the Second Amendment Foundation, specifically directs disarmists to appeal to emotions rather than to logic or reason.   From
Key principle number two is to “Tell stories with images and feelings…Our first task is to draw a vivid portrait and make emotional connection. We should rely upon emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence.” It also advocates the use of images of scary looking guns and shooting scenes to make a point.
The problem with the disarmist approach is that emotional levers only have a short working life.  Once people become engaged enough to actually study the issues, support for more restrictions on firearms ownership falls away.  That is why all the disarmists insist on "acting quickly".   If they do not get their restrictions through quickly, they will never go through, because they are irrational.

One of the major strengths of the government system in the United States is that it requires deliberation and it is hard to pass legislation quickly.   Big government proponents have learned to short circuit this safeguard by calling everything an "emergency" and by using mechanisms designed to handle emergencies to pass emotional agendas that would never pass otherwise.  That is what Governor Cuomo did  to pass the "Safe" act in New York.  From 
"Contrary to what the message of necessity said, the NY SAFE Act does not immediately ban the possession or ownership of an estimated one million assault weapons currently in use by New York citizens," the group said. "Nor does it immediately ban the purchase and sale of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices between individuals."

The message of necessity reads: "Some weapons are so dangerous, and some ammunition devices are so lethal, that New York State must act without delay to prohibit their continued sale and possession in the state in order to protect its children, first responders and citizens as soon as possible. This bill, if enacted, would do so by immediately banning the ownership, purchase and sale of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition feeding devices."
The problems with emotionally passed legislation has been known as long as the history of the Republic. 

Definition of disarmist

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.     Link to Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

There is a surprising parallel to this in, of all things, in Man Made Global Warming.

That is:

Deaths in America, 99.4%, Murders, 0.6%. Murders in America 99.8%, Murdered in Mass Shootings, .2%

Atmospheric Gases Other Than CO2, 99.96%, CO2, .04%. Natural CO2, 96.73%, Man Made CO2, 3.27%

But in both cases, a huge amount of concern about a fraction of a fraction.

Wireless.Phil said...

Unfortunately no one will read it.
They believe the hype ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS and the rest feed them.
Hell, they don't even try to read news from web sites outside the USA!

Dean Weingarten said...

You are correct about the parallel to "Global Warming", or as the hype is now known, "Climate Change".

Of course the climate has changed, is changing, and will change for the foreseeable future. It is a question of how much, when, and can we do anything about it?

The problem is that the theory "Climate Change" is not falsifiable, and is therefore not science. If the temperature rises, it is "climate change". If it goes down, it is "climate change". If it does nothing "climate change is about to happen". Everything can be cited to "prove" climate change, because there is no verifiable prediction to "climate change", which all scientists agree is happening all the time, to some degree, with or without mankind being involved.

As a retired Meteorologist, I can say that Anthropogenic Global Warming, and its non-falsifiable offspring "Climate Change", are all hype. The little data that exists is ambiguous at best, and indicates that we have no real ability to modify the climate by cutting back on carbon dioxide production. The models that are used to hype the theory are discredited by the data over the last 18 years.

Anonymous said...

If the Islamist would stop burning down our forests the trees would use up most of the Co2. Plant more trees, grow more plants. and throw the Islamists out.