Don’t Commit These 3 Social Media Blunders In Wake Of Mass Shootings

In wake of another mass shooting, social media is buzzing yet again with interesting hot takes on firearms. Ugh.

Decency, as it stands, is dead.

Of course, some Americans—particularly media, Hollywood elites, and others keen on virtue signaling—are lecturing the populace on what measures need to be taken to prevent this from happening again. Their solution? Gun confiscation, sugarcoated as “sensible gun reforms.” They don’t admit it, but that’s what they’re thinking. Plain and simple.

Why no mention of mental health reforms? Better parenting? Reversing a wayward culture that celebrates graphic and sexual violence? Personal responsibility is too difficult of a concept to promote, so let’s scapegoat firearms. Right.

When it comes to social media, the knee-jerk responses—just minutes after blood has been shed and parents not knowing if their child is safe or not—have worsened with each recent mass shooting. It’s grown to intolerable heights. We’re all sick of it, and the dialogue isn’t getting better. Where has reasonable discourse gone? Will it ever return?

I offer three ways to not make social media blunders in response to mass shootings. They can be found below:

Don’t misconstrue facts by gunsplaining if your firearms knowledge is limited or non-existent

In response to any horrific event, opinion makers and reporters take it to social media to blame firearms, political parties (Republican/conservative), and pro-gun groups for the crimes of deranged individuals. They love to throw out lofty statistics to inflate violent crime rates to serve their agenda, although homicides are at an all-time low. (The Washington Post did a decent job disputing Everytown for Gun Safety’s methodology for determining the frequency of mass shootings.)

If you’re reporting on the issue, do it with extreme caution and consideration of the facts—the true facts. Here’s what we know about this killer thus far:

—FBI got a tip on shooter on January 5, but didn’t follow through on protocol.

—Police called his home 39 times since 2010.

—He wrote on YouTube he wanted to be a professional school shooter.

If you lump him in with law-abiding gun owners or NRA members (see point 3), you are doing a shoddy reporting job. Stick with the facts. If you’re a journalist or opinion maker, you sure as hell better know what you’re talking about and not gunsplain. If you’re a reporter or opinion maker, here are some common misconceptions about firearms and firearms deaths:

Suicides account for the most shooting deaths, not mass shootings. This doesn’t negate or downplay the latter’s horrific nature, but it’s important to note. Inflating this to serve an agenda is harmful and dishonest to public discourse.

—There are differences in firearms and their handling. Semi v. fully automatic. Pistol v. rifle. Open carry v. concealed carry. Do you know the difference? Can you confidently report on this?

—Do you know what existing firearms law is? Are you aware of existing laws, federal or state, on background checks, mental health, and the like? Do you see the failure to enforce existing law and the duplicitous nature of proposing new laws? Be sure to study up and get your facts right.

This Google Doc from Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski can guide you when reporting or opining on firearms issues. It provides the differences between firearms classification (automatic v. semi-automatic), open v. concealed carry, and other basic facts for accuracy in reporting. Again, here’s the link.

If you’re a reporter who touts objectivity but decide to go full gun control activist, expect the appropriate constructive criticism. Many opinions and statements regarding firearms come from a place of inexperience or naïveté. Likely, a mainstream media reporter shouting for Australian-like gun control doesn’t understand the Constitution nor can they surmise how violent crime comes in all shapes and forms, even in absence of firearms. Moreover, these reporters likely have never fired a round or gone through the process of purchasing a firearm or taking safety courses. Chances are, they don’t have any friends or know people who are shooting instructors, despite claiming the contrary.

If you are diligent and believe in your profession, consult security experts or firearms instructors. Don’t misconstrue the facts.

Don’t lambast those who offer thoughts and prayers

The second social media blunder, condemning the notion of offering thoughts and prayers, has been lambasted by those eager to push gun control. They accuse their opponents of having no respect or reverence for the deceased, which is false. Examples of such derision include the following:

“If you don’t take immediate action on this, you’re part of the problem!”

“Screw your thoughts and prayers! That won’t save lives!”

These are typical tweets or messages you’ll find across social media in wake of terrible mass shootings. For example, morning TV host Kelly Ripa said it’s not enough to offer this. BBC wrote it’s time for “policy and change” not “thoughts and prayers” The USA Today editorial board issued this piece suggesting doubling up on background checks (which are already in the books) and banning bump stocks, not thoughts and prayers.

Interestingly enough, if you casually look across social media, you’ll see many Americans —even those who aren’t staunchly in favor of gun rights— not buying this rush to push gun control.

On Fox News last night, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said prayers helped him recover after he was nearly gunned down last June here in Alexandria, VA.

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Fox News

@FoxNews

.@SteveScalise on Florida school shooting: “Anytime there’s any kind of tragedy…immediately you’ve got a group of legislators that go run out and start calling for gun control to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens.” @IngrahamAngle

3,984 people are talking about this

What’s wrong with offering thoughts and prayers immediately after a horrific tragedy? Are we not a Judeo-Christian nation? Can’t those grieving find some solace amidst the pain? No, there must be swift action—action that will largely have no effect on mitigating future mass shootings. The Federalist said it best:

It’s understandable that Americans want solutions to mass shootings. No one should be satisfied with what happened in Parkland, Florida. No one should willingly embrace mass shootings as the norm. But it’s deeply unfortunate that in our search for solutions, we have turned on each other. Ridiculing prayer as well as people of faith does nothing to make our kids and our communities safer.

Don’t lump criminals with law-abiding gun owners

Perhaps the most egregious social media blunder people commit in wake of mass shootings is lumping in law-abiding gun owners with evil killers, like this Parkland, Florida, killer. Not surprisingly, the blame has been pitted on the Republican Party, the National Rifle Association, and lawmakers who partake in inaction.

Here’s who’s responsible for the crimes of this sick, twisted kid—according to those in gun control or Democrat circles:

—Republicans, therefore one columnist says their removal from office will rid society of gun violence (So asinine)

—The National Rifle Association, allegedly “a terrorist group” that has blood on its hands for crimes committed by non-members (Ridiculous)

Scapegoating groups or individuals to push your agenda will not only backfire, it’ll reduce your credibility further. As I mentioned earlier, it’s easy to scapegoat your political opponents when you are reluctant to be accountable or hold those accountable for their actions. It’s unfortunate this is the state we’re in now and serious dialogue on this issue can’t be had.

Nobody wants mass shootings to become the norm. Nobody condones this evil behavior by the shooter. Nobody wants kids and schools to be defenseless. If you call for bipartisanship but delegitimize your opponents by lumping innocent people with criminals, forget dialogue and expect chaos with respect to public discourse.

The three aforementioned social media blunders can be avoided in wake of mass shootings. But will members of the media, those in Hollywood, and other opinion makers be open-minded to this prospect? Time will tell if that’s the case. I want to be optimistic, but at this time, I can’t.

About the author

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a media strategist based in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. She has written for The Resurgent since March 2016 and serves as their D.C. Correspondent.

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