Several dominant narratives across the ideological spectrum have emerged in response to the Parkland, Florida high school shooting. The death of the 17 students and faculty at
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have raised a fierce national debate centered around a core question:
How do we make sure what happened at Parkland never happens again?
Lots of people have opinions on the subject. We need tighter gun control laws. We need a less restrictive approach to involuntarily committing the mentally ill.
It's particularly interesting to note how these proposed solutions tend to break along ideological lines.
Generally, the left side of the spectrum has been vocal about the need for tighter gun control legislation in Congress.
We are grieving with Parkland. But we are not powerless. Caring for our kids is our first job. And until we can honestly say that we're doing enough to keep them safe from harm, including long overdue, common-sense gun safety laws that most Americans want, then we have to change.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 15, 2018
Maybe, just maybe, after 18 school shootings in America in just 43 days of 2018 the Congress might want to consider common-sense gun safety legislation and save innocent lives.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 14, 2018
Mainstream media outlets, politicians, pundits and even students at Stoneman Douglas High School have all urged the need for more restrictive gun control laws.
I was hiding in a closet for 2 hours. It was about guns. You weren't there, you don't know how it felt. Guns give these disgusting people the ability to kill other human beings. This IS about guns and this is about all the people who had their life abruptly ended because of guns. https://t.co/XnzhvuN1zd— carly (@car_nove) February 15, 2018
Another talking point coming from the left in the wake of Parkland? Renewed scrutiny on the National Rifle Association's role as an obstacle to gun control legislation.
We must take on the NRA and pass commonsense legislation to keep our children safe.⁰— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) February 18, 2018
-Tighten background checks⁰
-End the gun show loophole
⁰-Crack down on people who buy guns legally for people who can’t⁰
-Ban civilian sale of semiautomatic assault weapons
American author and intellectual Sam Harris minces no words when it comes to the gun rights advocacy group. In a tweet, Harris calls the NRA "a dangerous cult."
The real mystery in the aftermath of shootings like this, is that the NRA retains any political influence at all. It should be recognized for what it is: a dangerous cult.— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) February 15, 2018
Shannon Watts, an advisory member of Everytown for Gun Safety, has consistently criticized the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety is a nonprofit that advocates for stricter gun control legislation.
Reminder that right now this dangerous @NRA-priority legislation is moving through Congress. Concealed Carry Reciprocity would upend your state’s gun laws - no matter where you live. It’s the NRA’s dream and a nightmare for public safety.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) February 19, 2018
Join us: Text ACT to 64433 #ThrowThemOut https://t.co/Pl1TMNItMR
Let's take a look at the conversations taking place on the right.
Conservatives and Republicans have pushed back on the left's focus on gun control as the root cause of the Parkland shooting.
Every decent person is horrified by what happened yesterday in Parkland. Every thoughtful person knows something horrible is going on in American society. Tragedies like this happen for a reason and it probably doesn't have much to do with guns. #Tucker @FoxNews— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) February 16, 2018
The right's counter-narrative to the left's attack on gun control has been to focus on a need for mental health reforms. One example comes from the President.
So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2018
Author, Second Amendment advocate and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch advanced the same narrative, raising the issue of whether the mental health treatment received by the Parkland shooter was adequate.
Many questions remain, including:— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) February 16, 2018
Multiple reports that murderer had at some point received mental health treatment. When, why did that stop, what meds used?
How could protocol change to better follow up on the massive red flags exhibited by this murderer?
Former Trump administration aide Sebastian Gorka was more direct in pushing back against cries from the left for stricter gun control laws. In response to reports that the Parkland shooter, a former mental health clinic patient, had been out of treatment for more than a year, Gorka said this was because "after 1970s, the Left made the institutionalization of the mentally ill almost impossible."
Because, after 1970s, the Left made the institutionalization of the mentally ill almost impossible. https://t.co/fWO2jcbhqY— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) February 15, 2018
Another narrative that's emerged on the right? Blaming the FBI for not preventing the massacre by the Parkland shooter.
In an interview with NRATV, Dana Loesch said she hopes "that people are marching to the FBI offices." She said the Parkland shooter was "reported over 30 times." Loesch was apparently referring to a CNN story which cited law enforcement being called to the shooter's residence 39 times.
"I hope that people are marching to the FBI Offices. This is a question that I've not seen #MSM cover: why is it that this individual was reported over 30 times…why is it that none of these questions are being brought up?"— NRATV (@NRATV) February 19, 2018
–@DLoesch #NRA pic.twitter.com/24BNQvVN9H
Ann Coulter had a more strident take.
Warned in advance, FBI couldn't find future school shooter Nikolas Cruz because he was hiding under the name Nikolas Cruz.— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) February 16, 2018
An admittedly small contingent of Republicans are raising a wholly different issue.
VIDEO GAMES/RAP MUSIC
Have video games and rap culture might have desensitized our culture to the value of human life and thus contributed to an environment which made the Parkland shooting possible?
Bevin dismissed the notion that lax gun control was responsible for Parkland. "G
Additionally, former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina
“We have a culture thing here that we’re not discussing. I mean, when I grew up it was Andy Griffith and you never had school shootings and we still had prayer in school and we drove to school with guns in the car … Today, we are in a different time when the movie industry, the rap industry, radio in general talks about these things that are common now and we have almost desensitized it."
"Now we have to worry about kids eating Tide Pods instead of discipline. We go after parents who discipline their children. When I was in school, the principal had a paddle. It was called the Board of Education, and he used it on all the students. We have changed the mindset today and so it’s scary now that students would even contemplate this type of behavior. We have a cultural shift.”
While much of the national conversation on Parkland has been heated and polarized, there is some common ground.
One idea that's gained traction among both left and right: The argument that media publicizing mass shooter's names is harmful because it gives them the notoriety they desire and encourages future copycats.
On the right, Editor in chief Ben Shapiro announced the Daily Wire would no longer be publishing the name or photo of Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz.
Studies suggest that mass shooters thrive on media attention. To deprive them of that oxygen, @realDailyWire will no longer publish the names or photographs of mass shooters.— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) February 19, 2018
Dilbert creator, and prominent Trump Supporter, Scott Adams agreed to follow his lead.
I'm in. I will no longer publish the names or images of mass shooters in my blog, Periscopes, and social media accounts. https://t.co/TOFwjt6FQk— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) February 20, 2018
Former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou was of a similar mindset.
DEAR NATIONAL MEDIA: Can you provide ONE good reason to feature the face of the #Parkland mass murderer?? Study after study reaffirms that copycats are motivated when they see other killers get the spotlight.— Peter Daou (@peterdaou) February 19, 2018
There's obviously a lot more daylight than common ground between left and right on many issues. And the debate over how to prevent mass shootings is certainly one of them.