BELLEVUE, WA – When anti-gunners point fingers of blame for tragic school shootings, there is plenty of room for media sensationalism in that ugly spotlight, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.
“The heartbreaking attack on students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida is made even more terrible because the suspect is getting more than his share of fame,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “His face has been all over television and newspaper front pages, and there is a concern that this kind of attention might inspire somebody else to seek this same kind of infamy.”
Gottlieb pointed to a project at Texas State University’s ALERRT (for Advance Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training) Center called “Don’t Name Them.” It recognizes the responsibility of the press to identify criminal suspects, using their names and likenesses to help in the apprehension, and to report criminal charges. However, beyond that, the “Don’t Name Them” effort encourages the press to instead focus on the victims.
“There are emerging details in this story that strongly suggest Broward County authorities and the FBI may have dropped the ball on the suspect in this shooting,” Gottlieb noted. “But the media will concentrate on stories about gun control, with demands to know how the suspect could legally acquire the gun he used.
“The ‘Don’t Name Them’ campaign might help by discouraging attention seekers from launching a copycat attack just to become famous,” he added. “There has been some research that indicates an increase in such events when an initial incident is sensationalized.
“So it appears,” Gottlieb concluded, “that the media may be partly to blame in all of this. That’s certainly not something I would be proud of. We certainly recognize the duty of the media to legitimately report the news, and the press must remain free to do its job. Maybe all we’re suggesting is that the media be as responsible with their First Amendment rights as they demand gun owners should be when exercising their Second Amendment rights.”