In the coming days, we will hear a familiar profile about the Broward County school shooter. (No, I will not name him, for the reason below.) He was mentally deficient. He was a loner. He expressed violent tendencies. And likely, if the pattern holds, he was prescribed some kind of drugs to control his behavior.
But there is also a media behavioral profile for these situations, and it is perfectly matched to the desires of a deranged person who would like to go out in a blaze of glory.
Here is what the media coverage conveys to every potential shooter out there:
1. You will be famous
We will not only know your name, we will know you by all three of your names. We will know how you were brought up, your supposed grievances, and why it is our fault that you did what you did. And every time this happens again, you will be referenced as to how you rank in the pantheon of such atrocities.
2. The world will come to a stop for you and talk about nothing else for days
You won’t just be famous, you will be the most important person in the world. CNN will even stop fantasizing about Donald Trump being a Russian sleeper agent for a few days and focus solely on you. In fact, the president will have to comment on you, and we will do our best to blame him for you. Congress and state legislatures will hold special hearings and politicians will propose laws and point to your actions as the reason. What else are you ever going to do in your pathetic life that would make you this prominent?
3. A school is the target that will get you the most attention
Sure, church shootings get attention, and so do Vegas concert shootings—but all the most famous mass shooters, the ones whose names come immediately to mind? They hit schools.
And the media even makes up scary statistics about schools, like the one they are using now about there being 18 school shootings this year alone. And don’t worry that you’re getting lumped in with things like suicide in a car in a school parking lot. Nobody remembers those names. It just shows how eager we are to hype anything that has to do with a gun even coming close to a school.
4. You should use an AR-15; they are the most dangerous and cool
Despite our rush to blame this all on the NRA, we know you aren’t a normal gun owner, collector, sportsman—nor do you know anything, really about guns. (That’s okay, neither do we.)
We know you haven’t done the research on velocity, caliber, reloading ease, or any of those pesky details (like I said, neither have we). We’ll just highlight whatever gun freaks us out the most, the one we will talk about all the time, and let you take it from there. Just know, it will boost your ratings on our notoriety scale, and maybe buy you an extra day or two of coverage.
5. No one will shoot back at you at a school—and we’ll make damned sure it stays that way!
Pssssst. Hey, buddy, did you know schools are Gun Free Zones?
Some gun nuts are trying to change that, but don’t worry. We will mock them for the fanatics they are, and make sure that their effort to, say, have a veteran who works in the school have access to a gun, is shot down as the folly that it is.
We will mock the idea mercilessly—how could more guns mean less violence? Set up a situation for a crossfire?
I mean, how is that even logical? You might get hurt!
But don’t worry. It won’t happen. We got this.