It was a year ago today that we learned of the horrific events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We were united in our sorrow and mourned as one nation…for about ten minutes.
In no time flat, anti-gunners in the media put anti-gun activists front and center, starting with then-Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. Almost immediately, Israel blasted the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun rights supporters, blaming us for the atrocity. Somehow, he created a narrative that has stuck for the better part of a year.
Over time, we learned that Israel’s department had dropped the ball repeatedly. They’d mangled things so badly that they bore the lion’s share of responsibility that didn’t rest on the killer’s shoulders. Despite that, the narrative repeated.
Despite the number of mass killings throughout the years, this one didn’t follow the usual cycle. Something changed, but what?
First, we have to remember that Parkland was the third high-profile mass shooting in a string that started with Las Vegas in October 2017. The most deadly mass shooting in modern American history set the stage.
It was followed by Sutherland Springs mass shooting. That event might have sparked everything we see now, except for the revelation that the killer should never have passed a background check in the first place. That took some of the wind out of the sails of the anti-gunners standing ready, but not enough to deject them.
Then Parkland happened.
We saw middle-class kids from a fairly small suburb of affluent Palm Beach as victims, students we could easily see as being our kids. However, unlike something like Newtown, these kids were ready to get political.
That, in and of itself, isn’t unusual. The difference was, the media was ready. They were no longer as good at pretending they were unbiased. They weren’t as willing to go along with the usual flow. They knew they shaped the narrative, so that’s what they did. They put people like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez front and center. They made them into celebrities.
For months, the Parkland kids were everywhere. They were interviewed on every major network, often given softball interviews where they weren’t challenged on their comments.
In turn, though, NRA spokespeople and pro-gun activists were routinely raked over the coals. Don’t believe me? Just watch that joke CNN called a town hall for a prime example.
Through it all, pro-gun speakers were forced to be civil despite being accused of everything up to and including being Hitler. Any outburst was to be taken as evidence that gun people were unstable, but it also meant that we had difficulty being as impassioned as our opposition, and that can hurt too.
As time went on, the public was sick of hearing about Parkland. Yes, it was a tragedy we weren’t likely to forget, but they were tired of it. The problem was, the media needed it. They needed people upset and outraged so they could make a difference in the midterms.
So what really changed? Why are we now seeing a threat to our gun rights as we’ve never seen before?
The answer is that we hit a perfect storm of a series of unfortunate events coupled with a media that is more or less done pretending to be an unbiased presenter of facts.
That leaves the question of how we counter it.