There are certain people the media should give special attention to because of their expertise. Economists should generally be sought for their opinions on the economy. Doctors should be consulted on medical news. Scientists should be spoken to on scientific issues.
When it comes to the issue of gun control, however, the media routinely ignores experts and those who’ve studied the issue for years in favor of individuals with compelling stories, like mass shooting survivors.
Fifth Third shooting survivor Whitney Austin is pushing for a new “red flag” gun law in Kentucky which would temporarily take firearms out of the hands of those in danger of harming themselves or others.
Kentucky Senate Bill 229 would give courts the power to temporarily confiscate firearms with due process. Similar state laws that do not have due process protections have drawn the ire of national gun rights groups in the past.
Austin said she’s backing the bill because she saw an opportunity to prevent another tragedy. She knows she can’t undo what happened to her Sept. 6, 2018, but she’s focusing her efforts to stop future tragedies.
“We need to act now,” she said. “We absolutely need to act now, and this allows for that.”
Now, it’s important to note that the shooter in the Fifth Third shooting was reportedly acting bitter about life and made claims in a lawsuit that were considered “borderline delusional,” but there’s been no real evidence anyone would have reported him as being a threat before his shooting.
More importantly, though, is the fact that if anyone had reported him, they could have held him in a psychiatric facility to determine if he represented a threat to others. Clearly, he did, but actual experts could have reached that determination and then spoken with the courts. A judge could have made a truly informed decision.
Instead, red flag laws empower people with no relevant expertise to petition the courts to strip a constitutionally-protected right from someone who has done nothing wrong. More importantly, they may not ever intend to do something wrong.
Yet because a shooting survivor has said something, the media acts like there’s some special meaning attached to her comments, as if she suddenly became an expert.
It’s kind of like the guy who cites his experience as a veteran so as to claim expertise on firearms, only for people to find out that he was a clerical worker of some sort with little actually expertise with guns.
Survivors have relevant stories to tell, sure, but it’s about the experience of being in a mass shooting. Nothing more, nothing less. The Almighty didn’t descend from the heavens on a cloud and instill in them the knowledge of all things crime-related.
The media, however, doesn’t care. See, it’s because they’re manipulative. They want you to listen to her, put yourself in her place, and then back whatever she tells you to back. It’s not about rationality anymore, it’s about emotion. It’s about trying to make you feel so awful for not supporting the anti-gun agenda that you slink away and stay quiet.
Survivors, though, aren’t automatically experts. It’s well past time for the media to stop pretending that they are.