Accuracy in Media

The Florida high school shooting provides the best opportunity since Newtown to enact gun control legislation, according to many mainstream media outlets.

From the day of the shooting, when they took to Twitter and elsewhere to tell America what it could do with its “thoughts and prayers,” to Wednesday, when they cheered as students protested, lawmakers were accosted and CNN held a town hall meeting at which emotional high schoolers lashed out at Sen. Marco Rubio (R.-Fla.) and Dana Loesch, who was there to represent the National Rifle Association.

The town hall was supposed to be about solutions, but it was clear that only one “solution” would be acceptable.

But the media cheered when Loesch brought up problems with background checks that had allowed dangerous people to obtain weapons, and Scott Israel, the sheriff of Broward County and an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter in 2016, attempted to smear her.

“When NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch tried to pin the blame on loopholes in background checks, Israel said, ‘I understand you’re standing up for the NRA, and I understand that’s what you’re supposed to do. But you just told this group of people you were standing up for them. You’re not standing up for them until you say, ‘I want less weapons.’”

Loopholes are exceptions in laws that allow behavior the law seems to attempt to prevent to continue. These were lapses, not loopholes. Loesch made no secret she was representing the NRA, and there is a considerable bit of opinion and public policy in Florida dedicated to the principle that standing up for people and keeping them safe should involve more, not fewer, weapons.

There are proposals before the Florida legislature, the Washington Post reported, and those proposals “represent a sharp break from the state’s traditional response to mass-casualty gun violence. Though a contested state in presidential elections, Florida has a long history as a laboratory of gun-rights legislation pushed by the powerful National Rifle Association.”

When the Post reported on the students’ protest at the state capitol in Tallahassee, it said their chants in the hallway area were “deafening.” It quoted one girl, 19-year-old senior Tyra Hemens, who kept demanding lawmakers look her in the eye as she held a photo of a slain friend, saying, “He was a boy who got shot in the head because of your laws saying an 18-year-old boy can carry a military-grade weapon to kill.”

The media has moved to close off lines of retreat. Slate ran an article taking on the notion that lax parenting, rather than guns, are the problem. Never mind that the man in custody for the shootings was orphaned and living with the family of a friend or that he was known to have been troubled and likely violent for some time.

The story claims “many in the pro-gun crowd” for asserting that “lack of discipline in the home” is a cause of the country’s “rampant gun violence.”

But what’s being discussed here is a spree killer who was not the subject of “effusive parental coddling” but rather the son of a single mother who had to call police nearly 40 times to control him. His is not the crime discipline in the home could control.

“The idea that oversensitive parenting is responsible for our country’s devastating school shootings is patently ridiculous,” the author wrote. “If anything, the more warm and responsive American parents become, the more well-adjusted our kids will be. But as long as all people have unfettered access to guns, we will always have firearm massacres.”

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