It is hard to deny that currently, mass shootings continue to be in the highlight of the social issues that perpetrate the peaceful existence of many societies, affecting many countries worldwide. When it comes to the case of United States, one of the most famous massacres that happened at the Columbine school in 1999 seems to serve as the pattern for the contemporary mass shooters who decide to claim the lives of their fellow students and peers, opening the deadly gunfire in their schools and universities. Even though some might claim that there is no “epidemic of mass school shootings” (Levitz, 2018), it is still possible to note that in the US, cases of mass shooting in schools and colleges occur regularly. The disproportionate representation of the cases of mass shooting in the media, the lenient policy regarding personal firearms, as well as the overall rates of criminal activity can prove that the risks of mass shootings have definitely not lowered, and this highly adverse phenomenon is still on the rise in the United States.
It is crucial to address the mixed perceptions of the context of the mass shooting in schools that happen because of their disproportionate coverage in the media. According to Hiltzik (2017), mass shootings have become more frequent “and worse.” The author of the narrative published in Los Angeles editorial proves that the amount of days between the mass shootings decreases, thus marking the higher frequency of these deadly incidents. The article appeals to the research of William P. Gardner, an epidemiologist who created a chart that shows the number of days between the massacres. Accordingly, the representation of the data in the form of a graph directly proves that the frequency of mass shootings is growing exponentially. The research of the scholar also demonstrates that the difference between the implications of various types of shootings. While smaller-scale shootings result in fewer victims, they occur more frequently.
At the same time, large-scale mass shootings seem to be less common, but in fact, they result in the higher death tolls (Hiltzik, 2017). The same evidence can be found in the article by Duwe (2017). The author notes that the statistics that analyze the prevalence of mass shootings can prove that they result in much deadlier consequences, and accordingly, they seem more common. The author implies that the deadlier is the shooting, the more extensive coverage in the media it receives. In this case, it is evident that even if the general rates of large-scale mass shootings might not grow, the death tolls do. Accordingly, it is possible to note that the agenda of mass shooting did not cease, and such incidents are still on the rise in the US and internationally.
The analysis of the media coverage proves that the news sources create a disproportionate representation of the incidents of mass shootings, assessing the “newsworthiness” of each case (Schildkraut, Elsass, & Meredith, 2018). As a result, it is evident that media coverage can create a distorted image of the real trends in mass shootings. Media sources influence the audience’s perception of the context of mass shooting, covering the events that resulted in the high number of deaths, at the same time omitting the representation of smaller-scale shootings. In this case, it is evident that even though the frequency of different types of mass shootings is not similar, the death tolls continually rise, triggering the conclusion that mass shootings pose a real danger for the contemporary society.
Another fact that contributes to the argumentation regarding the prevalence of mass shootings is related to the lenient policy regarding personal firearms. For instance, Webster (2017) notes that having read about the incidents of mass shootings and thus striving to protect themselves from potential dangers, many people started buying firearms. In this case, the extensive press coverage and publicity that highlighted the occurrence of mass shootings stimulated the buying behaviors of the citizens who decided to purchase handguns. Webster (2017) states that with the more extensive coverage of mass shootings in the press, more people became the handgun owners. Such a policy of leniency regarding the ownership of personal firearms undoubtedly creates an agenda for increased risks of mass shootings.
Carrying guns in public places became legal and reasonable, and accordingly, it is not possible to completely control and restrict their use. As a result, the dangers of deadly incidents even increased because the mass shooters are likely to be mentally unstable people. The analysis of the typical shooter profile implies that the perpetrators tend to be single males, unemployed or having low-profile jobs, previous convicts or having a criminal history (Gill et al., 2017). Since the overall criminal activity did not cease, it is evident that the risks of mass shootings did not disappear. With the more lenient gun culture and common ownership of firearms, it is not possible to talk about the decrease in mass shootings, and such cases are still prevalent.
Taking everything into consideration, it is evident that regardless of mixed perceptions and evaluations of different types of mass shootings, the agenda of such incidents is still urgent. The debate about the frequency of the massacres emerged because of the disproportionate representation of the cases of mass shooting in the media. While the media coverage is mostly concerned with the description of only the large-scale mass shootings that result in high death tolls, some researchers try to convince the public that the general rates of such incidents are decreasing. Yet, the assessment of the frequency of smaller-scale mass shootings proves that they are even more prevalent than before, but they are less covered in the media. The introduction of the lenient policy regarding the ownership of personal firearms also creates heightened risks for mass shootings that can present substantial risks to the public. The common ownership of firearms makes mass shootings easier for gun holders who have a criminal history or unstable psyche. All in all, these factors prove that the risks of mass shootings have not disappeared, and the public massacres are now on the rise.