It’s time to end America’s gun violence epidemic. Help us change the conversation
Gun violence in America follows a ritualized playbook. Shootings happen, outrage is expressed, debate ensues, preventative measures are suggested. Then the backlash begins. And nothing happens.
It’s clear that the cyclical way the media covers America’s gun violence is letting politicians off the hook. Within days of each massacre, the satellite trucks pack up, the headlines fade and the brief opening for a national conversation ends.
We seem to have reached a settled view about gun violence: the politics are too difficult; it is impossible to bring meaningful reform; and a mass shooting every few weeks is becoming normal.
It’s time for a different approach.
Today, Guardian US launches Break the Cycle, a new series to change the way the media covers American gun violence – and to challenge the orthodoxy that gun reform is a hopeless pursuit. We are asking our readers to support the series by making a contribution.
We want to take issue with the vested interests who distort the terms of the debate for their own benefit. We want to spotlight progress that has been made, and offer possible solutions. We recognise the challenges in changing the terms of the debate – but that is precisely the role of an organisation like the Guardian.
The series begins today with a story about 10 recent victories in gun violence prevention, as well as a profile of what it’s like for survivors of previous mass shootings to watch the coverage of a new one.
To accept that America’s gun violence is an intractable problem is an insult the memory of all of those who have died from gun violence.Research suggests that while Americans support the second amendment right to bear arms, large majorities are also open to considering some measures of control. Partisan agendas are often out of step with shifts in public opinion that are happening on the ground.
Our commitment is to report, over a sustained period, what works to prevent violence. Our coverage will be guided by research and evidence. It will acknowledge that there is much that is wrong with the polarised coverage – on both sides. Dismissing gun owners as paranoid or irrational is one of the fundamental errors of the current debate.
If we want to save lives, we need to recognize that gun owners and gun rights advocates are important partners.
But saving lives is not just a question of how to deal with the grotesque eruptions of mass shootings. More than 36,000 people die from gunshot wounds in America each year – and more than 20,000 of those are suicides. To drive change, we must also examine domestic violence, accidental killings, and the disproportionate burden of gun violence on communities of color.
“This isn’t a guns situation,” the president said, after a gunman with a long history of violent behavior executed men, women, and children with a military-style rifle at a church on a Sunday morning in rural Texas. Except that it is.
Gun violence is uniquely an American disease. The scale of gun ownership and deaths are unrivaled in any other developed country in the world.
Millions of Americans want to do something about gun violence and we want to show them what’s possible, and what’s working.
Caren Teves, mother of Alex, one of the victims of the Aurora movie theatre killings in 2012, says in our opening piece in this series that the sheer horror of mass shootings is a barrier to Americans endorsing political change. “A lot of people don’t want to grasp it, because it’s that awful.” But if, after mass shootings 20 years ago, “we all stood up and said, ‘enough is enough,’ Alex would still be alive. He’d still be here”.
Politicians have taken to insisting after mass shootings that “now is not the time” to talk about reform. Tell that to Caren Teves.
Help us break the cycle and change how we talk about gun violence in America.
via Guardian U.S. http://bit.ly/2szDb9W
November 13, 2017 at 11:09PM