Should the media refrain from providing the name of a mass shooter? I try never to mention the name of someone who has committed a horrible crime. They don’t need naming; they need shaming. Unfortunately, most in the media don’t follow that policy.
John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Center and has been on my radio program many times. He has pulled together some very convincing evidence that naming a mass shooter and giving him lots of media coverage is exactly what he craves.
Prosecutors in Florida released the shooter’s cell-phone videos. I have no interest in watching them. Fortunately, John Lott tells us what is on them. Apparently, there are phrases like, “From the wrath of my power they will know who I am” and “with the power of my AR you will all know who I am” and “you will all know what my name is.” He makes it clear that his goal is to kill at least 20 people.
The Sandy Hook killer spent more than two years putting together a report on public shootings. He ended up with a 7-foot-long and 4-foot-wide spreadsheet with names, body counts, and weapons. His goal was to kill more people than the Norwegian man who killed 77 people in July 2011. That is why he targeted the local elementary school. The Aurora, Colorado shooter may have been mentally ill, but he was still competent enough to plan out in detail how he wanted to maximize the number of possible victims and thus get the most attention.
If we really want to stop some of these attacks, we should stop giving so much media coverage to these shooters. At a time when some are calling for “reasonable” gun control policies, perhaps we should be talking about “reasonable” media policies. I would ask news organizations to consider exercising some restraint and to stop giving shooters the publicity they crave.