The anti-gun Brady Campaign has developed an app that will remove the names of the perpetrators of mass shootings from the news you read and replace pictures of the shooters and the violence they commit with anti-gun advertising.
The app is called “Zero Minutes of Fame,” and I understand the intent. I worry, too, that the notoriety we give those who commit these acts of violence can inspire other shooters. There has even been research to suggest that mass shootings can be “contagious” in a way.
All that said, I’m not sure that self censorship – that’s what this is app is, a way for people to voluntarily censor the news and images they see – is all that productive. Plus, it doesn’t seem like the app works very well anyway per the reviews I’ve seen.
While there is a risk of inspiring copy cats when any given act of violence gains notoriety, I think that risk is far outweighed by the public’s need to understand what sort of crime was committed, who committed it, and why.
I think we have more to gain from understanding these incidents – or, at least, trying to understand them – than we do from hiding them.
Besides, it’s ironic that perhaps the most prominent anti-gun group in the country is promoting this. Mass shootings aren’t any more common today than they were decades ago. In fact, gun violence has seen a sharp decline in the United States over the last few decades.
If that runs contrary to the impression you’ve gotten from the media’s coverage of gun violence, then you have groups like the Brady Campaign to blame for it given that they’ve been hyping every incidence of violence they can find as a part of their campaigns against guns.
If the Brady campaign is worried about the viral effect of mass shootings, perhaps they should look to their own activism as part of the problem.