The fallout from the tragic shooting in Buffalo, New York, is a product of irresponsible and sensationalistic media coverage which politicians have seized upon to push (once again) for sweeping gun control in the U.S. While it won’t accomplish those ends, their efforts to foment rage are more likely to result in another wayward, deranged actor seeking infamy through horrific acts of violence.
Research shows that violent attacks against innocent people can be contagious, and tragically the Buffalo mass murderer’s manifesto only adds to that growing mountain of evidence.
The alleged killer became radicalized online during COVID-19 lockdowns. He felt isolated and misunderstood until he was inspired by the Christchurch, New Zealand killer. How do we know this? His own 180-page screed, which I only present to you so that we may avoid the traps this killer has set for our public discourse, reveals his twisted journey.
In his barbaric rant, he writes that he “eventually found [the Christchurch, NZ killer’s] manifesto … read it, and found that [he] mostly agreed” with it. He went on to name at least four other murderers whom he researched and began to idolize.
This sick individual was radicalized by the horrific news reports of the mass murderers before him, writing, “Finally I felt awakened … I started to think about committing to an attack. To commit violence. I would follow [another killer’s] lead and the attacks of so many others like him.”
Because the media give a public platform to the ideologies, personalities and attack details of these mass murders, copycats like the alleged Buffalo killer conclude that they too can “becom[e] infamous” and be given a public platform by politicians and media from which to spread their hate to others. In this case, the killer wanted to spread his own manifesto and ideology.
Indeed, the alleged Buffalo killer chose his weapon precisely because he knew it would cause a media frenzy, noting that “the media loves to hate on the AR-15, which may increase media coverage and public outlash.” He knew all too well that his “attack [would] result in calls for the removal of gun rights in the United States,” further promoting his own evil manifesto.
So, as a society we can bash the Second Amendment and the tool used to carry out this heinous crime and thus further the killer’s agenda, or we can deny him that satisfaction, silence this fringe belief held by only a few online radicals, and choose not to exploit this heinous crime to further divisive political agendas.
We urge those calling for action, as the New Zealand government did in enacting a so-called assault weapons ban, to think harder. To all the politicians and news outlets giving the actions and ideology of this mass murderer a platform with which to spread his message, what message are you sending to the next copycat?
When President Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer call for new gun control measures or Anderson Cooper spends an evening show detailing this killer’s particular brand of racism, our society is telling the next murderer: if you kill enough people the right way and write a manifesto, we’ll read it, publicize it, and spread it to millions free of charge, and politicians will use it to further your authoritarian aims.
Compare the Buffalo shooting to the Waukesha, Wisconsin, attack, or your average weekend in Chicago, and you’ll see why these anti-Constitution politicians are playing right into the hands of this murderer. Evil is evil, and sensationalizing it and pitting society against our Constitutional rights won’t stop it in the future.
New York’s concealed carry restrictions, universal background checks, so-called “Assault Weapons” bans, “red flag” gun confiscation laws, magazine capacity limits, and various ammunition restrictions failed to stop this heinous crime and will only continue to put more innocent lives at a disadvantage compared to violent criminals. But right now, Republicans and Democrats likely won’t agree to repeal New York gun laws and to restore the right to self-defense in public.
However, as a society we should be able to bond together, deny calculated mass murderers their stated goal of furthering their ideology with sensationalistic reporting and divisive legislative agendas, and hopefully deter the next sick killer his motivation.
Aidan Johnston is the director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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