The media should lead our gun violence debate

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February 14th, 2018: Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida - 17 dead (14 children) May 18th, 2018: Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, Texas - 10 dead (8 children)

 

The time that elapsed between the Parkland and Santa Fe shootings was two months and four days.

In the last 30 days I have seen nothing in my local newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, and barely a mention in the national media on what progress has been made in protecting children in their schools. Florida has passed laws in the wake of Parkland, but these state laws fail to address our national crisis. Our Federal government has done nothing to keep our children safe, and John Cornyn’s fix to the current background check law was a patch that will have no real effect.

The NRA reigns and they are against anything that would have a real, lasting effect in keeping our children safe in their schools. We also have a President that craves NRA support so bad that he also refuses any action to address school shootings.

The children of Parkland are the real heroes. They stood up and demanded the right of all children to be safe in their schools. It had an effect in Florida, but not enough. I don’t know what the children of Santa Fe will do but I know one thing for sure: without our support, they cannot succeed. The politicians use the same old playbook. They say how sorry they are, talk about some things they might do, wait until the grieving is over, and then do nothing. All the while the shootings are happening more often.

 

It takes time to build grassroots organizations, and we no longer have time. But there is one organization that already exists: the newspaper and television media. As it is, they do the same old same old wall to wall coverage for about 24 hours or less which quickly drops off. In the 30 days before the Santa Fe shooting, I did not find one mention of the Parkland shooting or any other mass shooting in my local newspaper or on national television. The day of the shooting and the day after, there was almost nothing else running on the main networks. The day after the Santa Fe shooting, my local newspaper had 12 articles on the shooting.   

There is turmoil in Washington and every day there is a new, more current shiny ball news story to divert attention. Our children’s safety in their schools gets left behind until the next massacre and then the cycle starts over again. The children of the Parkland massacre and their parents went from being victims to being heroes. We all saw it. But for the media, it is business as usual. Instead of leading they follow. The fight to keep our children from being killed and injured in their schools is not getting the everyday focus it deserves.

What am I looking for? A nationwide debate led by the newspapers and the television networks that puts our children’s safety in their schools’ front and center. To me, what would be an ideal outcome is that this dialog would culminate in an organization like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), that is focused on keeping our children safe in their schools. But remember: it took well over a decade before MADD had a significant effect on drunk driving. If we’re going to get a faster solution, which we need, the newspaper and television networks need to be front and center one city and one state at a time.

In Houston it can start with the Houston Chronicle, Channel 2 KPRC, Channel 11 KHOU and Channel 13 KTRK.

 

Even though Santa Fe Texas is 30 miles south of Houston Texas, the Houston Police Chief was at the scene supporting the local police, along with many other police officers from surrounding municipalities. His words sum up what I believe and what I believe parents of school-age children believe, “I’ve hit rock bottom…This isn’t a time for prayers, study, and inaction. It’s a time for prayers, action and the asking of God’s forgiveness for our inaction (especially the elected officials that ran to the cameras today and acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing).”