by Aaron Kirkingburg and Jim Irvine
We often hear calls for "common-sense" firearms restrictions. All these restrictions on the transfer, ownership and use of firearms is common sense to those who dislike others' ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights without undue infringement. But what about the First Amendment?
As with all rights, there are limitations. One cannot yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theater. With all the mass killings this year, we got to thinking that maybe there should be some more "common-sense" restrictions on the First Amendment.
For starters, no media outlet should be permitted to mention the killer's name. One of the prime motivators or goals of mass killings is fame or recognition. Only a handful of teenagers have ever graced the cover of TIME Magazine. And who are the only teenagers to appear on that cover twice? They are the cowards who killed innocent people in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. TIME even used large color pictures to honor the killers as they wanted. The victims were given tiny black and white pictures to serve as a border for the killers. Obviously the people at TIME think much more highly of the killers than the victims or their families. We find that disgusting, but your mileage may vary.
So let's demand that our news crews no longer print or say the name of these mass killers. Let us ban the use of their image on TV, in newspapers and on web sites. If the media were focused on reporting the news truthfully, and serving the public as it should be (instead of achieving ratings for their networks or circulation for their papers) there should be no opposition to this move. What better reason to revisit the Constitution, and modify one of our civil liberties, than for the "public good?" If gun owners can be held accountable for the actions of these criminals, then shouldn't the media be as well? It could be argued that our media outlets are MUCH more culpable than gun owners. After all, it is their glorification of these cowards that encourages the next killer to take action!
There are many examples of copycat crimes. The Virginia Tech killer studied and idolized the Columbine killers. His goal was to beat their record, which he did, and the news media made sure you remember him.
The Newtown, Connecticut killer likewise idolized the Virgina Tech killer, and wanted to beat not just his record, but also to exceed the 76 killed in Norway. He failed, but the next killer knows that unless we enact common-sense restrictions on the First Amendment, the media will ensure everlasting fame to the person who can get it done.
Clearly people get ideas from other crimes they have heard about and studied. Killers know they need to get a high body count to assure massive news coverage. They need to set a new record like those at Columbine High School or Virginia Tech to achieve immortal fame. They know the media will help them achieve their goals.
Any way you look at it, publishing the names or pictures of these killers glorifies them in a twisted way.
And twisted is what these people are. And there are others out there who are just as twisted, but are looking for ideas for ways they can become famous. We should not permit news outlets to help them.
Certainly everyone can agree on these reasonable restrictions to the First Amendment.
News outlets actually profit from these tragedies. Like a gruesome car accident, more people tune in when a really heinous crime happens. No matter that we have almost no "news," but rather just speculation and conjecture; people will watch for hours on end.
Advertisers love it too. But it is not right to profit from others' tragedies.
Any news outlet that runs a story about a killing should be required to give all profits for that portion of the show to the victims' families. No corporation should be permitted to make money by using First Amendment rights to expose the pain and trauma of innocent victims.
We need strong criminal punishment for any reporter or editor who allows these new regulations to be broken. We need mandatory sentencing for those who ignore these common-sense restrictions on the First Amendment. That can be followed up by serving several years of community service maintaining the graves of mass shooting victims around the country...at their own expense.
We know that some will dismiss this as just silliness from gun nuts. But after every mass shooting, restrictions are proposed, and too often passed, that restrict Second Amendment rights. Even most anti-gun people admit their proposals would have done nothing to stop the past crime, and are useless at preventing similar crimes in the future. Our proposed restrictions on the First Amendment can make a real difference. They really are commonsense solutions, and it is time to enact them.
Aaron Kirkingburg a Buckeye Firearms Association Minuteman. Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.