Living in the United Kingdom, it can sometimes be difficult to understand the ardent opposition to tighter restrictions on the acquisition of guns across the pond in America. Preventable mass shootings and brutal massacres seem to happen rather regularly in the States yet laws are persistently shut down by their legislature to prevent such occurrences, with public opinion still relatively split. So how does the media cover these devastating attacks on innocent civilians?
A quick look at one of the largest news channels in the US, Fox News, which reaches 94,700,000 American households (81.4% of cable, satellite & telco customers) explains a lot. On their official website, under the tag ‘gun control’, the articles displayed overwhelmingly portray an overwhelmingly negative view on gun control.
Headlines include: “Is there a ‘Gun Control Cult’ Running the White House”, “‘A Cynical Distraction’: Krauthammer Rips Obama for Bringing Up Guns Again”, “Here’s Why Banning Guns Is No Longer An Option”, “Judge Nap: ‘Gun-Free Zones Are the Most Dangerous Places on the Planet” and “‘Laws Cannot Stop Madness’: O’Reilly on Why Increased Gun Control Won’t Work.”
This extremely slanted view from one of the biggest news networks in America, whose renowned slogan states it is “Fair and Balanced” is slightly worrying from an outsiders point of view. This is the content that millions of Americans will be consuming on a daily basis, and it will therefore come as little surprise that as recently as last year, a Gallup poll reported that when asking Americans if they thought residents are safer with a gun in the home, people answered “Yes” by a margin of 63 to 30 percent.
This support of guns in America seems unusual considering the actual facts in regards to if gun control would work. The UK’s Guardian newspaper, who have no vested interest in appealing to a certain American demographic of second amendment supporters, US politicians or lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association have reported on the gun control issues and have found some interesting statistics.
A Guardian article on whether President Obama’s proposals in 2013 to put in place tighter restrictions on the purchase of guns could have prevented recent mass shootings found that:
“Had a range of proposed federal reforms designed to strengthen gun laws been in place, many of those mass shootings could have been less likely to have happened. In nine of the 12 cases where information was available, tougher laws could have prevented killers from obtaining their guns.”
Their report on 1,052 mass shootings in 1,066 days really drums home the importance of something needing to be done. One can only hope that the most recent mass shooting will be the last under the current laws, and something can be agreed in America that will see fewer innocent lives taken – despite biased media coverage for the opposite argument.