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To Reduce School Shootings, How About Press Control?

Whenever there is a school shooting, liberals try to capitalize by pushing for more gun control. But a recent story here in Minnesota reinforces a point that we have made before: would-be “shooters” are usually copycats who admire the fame that prior mass murderers have achieved. If we really want to cut down on school shootings, in particular, the most effective measure would be to prohibit news media from reporting on them; or, perhaps, bar them from reporting the name of the shooter.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune attributes the case of a 17-year-old boy in Waseca, Minnesota, who fortunately was stopped before he could carry out a planned mass murder, to the “Columbine effect”:

Multiple bombs. An arsenal of guns. Months of detailed planning for killing his family and then unleashing explosives and bullets on his classmates at Waseca’s junior and senior high school.

It was all meant to happen on April 20, the 15th anniversary of the rampage at Columbine High School, John David LaDue told police.

By chance, LaDue was arrested last week as he was making final preparations for the attack that he was forced to postpone in April when the 20th fell on Easter Sunday. But the shocking details of the arsenal that the 17-year-old high school junior had amassed — undetected and unsuspected — masked another disturbing fact: His fascination with Columbine was hardly unique.

Instead, the portrait of LaDue spelled out in criminal charges is that of just the latest angry, disturbed teen who fell prey to the “Columbine effect,” deciding to vent his frustrations and alienation in a murderous replay of the nation’s most infamous school massacre. …

“Shooters get their inspiration from different places, depending on their own grievances and their own background,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University. “But there’s no doubt that many of these shooters learn from past events.”

Steve Brock, president-elect of National Association of School Psychologists and a member of a national emergency response team who has visited the sites of school violence, including the 2005 shootings in Red Lake, Minn., said LaDue’s plans for Waseca look a lot like Columbine because he had a similar motivation: He wanted the same, shocked attention.

“Young people see these acts and the incredible amount of attention given to it and believe, somehow, they’ll derive some benefit,” said Brock, a professor and school psychology program director at California State University, Sacramento.

Dave Cullen, the author of the book “Columbine,” said disturbed kids see the Littleton, Colo., massacre as “kind of like the template” for outsider students to exact revenge on the chief society they’ve known in their young lives, their schools.

LaDue in fact, “idolized” Columbine shooter Eric Harris and made several references to Harris and fellow shooter Dylan Klebold in a 180-page journal that spelled out details of his plan, according to the criminal complaint. LaDue even “critiqued what Harris and Klebold did right and wrong” during the shooting, law officers revealed.

There is much more, but you get the drift. Adam Lanza, the deeply disturbed young man who carried out the Sandy Hook massacre, was a similar case. He was obsessed with past “shooters” who had, in his view, achieved everlasting fame.

Would censoring news accounts of mass shootings reduce their number? Not overnight, as disturbed youths would still have the examples of Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc., to draw on. But over time, restricting media accounts of mass shootings is the most practical means of cutting down on them.

Would censoring news stories on mass shootings violate the First Amendment? I suppose it would. But liberals have already crossed that bridge when they undertake to violate the Second Amendment. And press control would be a far more effective tool in reducing violence than gun control, which, if anything, exacerbates it. So if we are going to violate the Constitution, we may as well get some benefit out of it. That’s what you should tell your liberal friends next time they use a mass shooting to argue for more gun control.

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