According to the media hype, mass shootings are more common than ever before. But has gun violence really increased, or is the media misdirecting our attention?
Last Friday, a shooter opened fire near Santa Monica College. The death toll has since risen to five, with the motive of the deceased gunman remaining uncertain. During this same time that Californians were grieving, gun violence was claiming more lives in Chicago. Over the weekend, 2 were killed and another 17 were wounded by gunfire. Despite similar injuries, the stories given were completely different. While the media is focusing largely on isolated, suburban shootings they've forgotten about the turmoil in urban areas, and are consequently reshaping gun activism with every additional tragedy.
There's no question as to why new stations focus on isolated shootings. The stories appeal to viewers' own fears, and viewers take the bait of the obscure idea that you could randomly be shot in a public "safe space." But the media intentionally neglects to focus on the stories that are all too familiar, like crime in Chicago and other cities across the U.S. The dense amount of murders is nothing new to the people of Chicagoland, but that doesn’t make them any less significant. Last year, Chicago had 500 homicides, with the number of Chicago residents being killed by guns outnumbering the number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. New laws and new strategies have been put in place, yet the murder rate is steadily increasing. While new campaigns will inevitably continue to surface, the deserved media attention and knowledge to the nation could drastically improve gun culture in America.
With every story of a suburban shooting, there are a dozen urban stories to match. Yet the face of gun laws has slowly become the rare school shooting and not the issue that is facing millions of people living in urban America. Crime in Chicago has become a norm, and media direction helps perpetuate complacency among viewers toward the issue. Neglecting to paint an accurate picture misinforms viewers who are raising the fight against gun violence in America.
Instead of being swayed through media highlighting of selected crimes, it's time for viewers to take deeper look into the reality of gun violence in America. If gun opponents want to make gains on restricting guns and protecting lives, we need to address the issue in its entirety and not as the media portrays it.