Renowned Criminologist: When Media Can’t Demonize Guns, It Ignores Mass Killings

A photo of the arson attack at an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan killed 34 people and injured at least three dozen more. But because the killer used gasoline instead of guns the massacre received comparatively little attention in the states. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Here’s an astute observation for you.  When the mainstream media can’t vilify firearms, it pretty much ignores mass killings. 

Take for instance the arson attack at an animation studio in Kyoto, Japan a little over a week ago that killed 34 people and left at least another three dozen injured, after the initial headline, did you hear much follow-up coverage on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC?

Not really.  And here’s why.  The killer didn’t use a firearm.  Instead, his weapon of choice was gasoline.  

This isn’t my take, although I fully agree with it.  It belongs to James Alan Fox, the Lipman Professor of Criminology, Law and Public Policy at Northeastern University.

In a recent op-ed in USA Today, the professor blasted the media for its uneven coverage of mass killings that don’t involve firearms.  

Fox writes, “Compare the coverage with that of the mosque shootings last March in Christchurch, New Zealand, a location even farther from our shores. U.S. newspapers and wire services featured the Christchurch massacre five times as much as the Kyoto mass murder.”

One could attempt to chalk up the difference in coverage to “terrorism,” in that the Christchurch attack was politically motivated and the arson attack was allegedly a personal vendetta.  But, as Fox explains, to the victims it makes no difference what the motive is and, as such, it shouldn’t make a difference to the media.  

“The Kyoto massacre may not have been an act of terror, but the young victims undoubtedly experienced tremendous terror as the flames swelled around them and smoke invaded their lungs,” he said.  

Fox goes on to say that there have been 391 mass killings since 2006.  Of those, 85 — approximately 1 in 5 — involved a weapon other than a gun. But those attacks didn’t galvanize activists groups and media pundits and politicians to rally around legislation that infringes on constitutionally protected rights.

SEE ALSO: FBI Underreports Good Guys with Guns Stopping Active Shooters 

“Of course, none led to calls for banning gasoline and other accelerants or proposals to limit the size of knives,” observed Fox.  “It is the politics and controversy surrounding gun control that highlight mass shootings above the rest.”

Examples throughout history are easy to cite.  Pretty much everyone remembers Sandy Hook and Aurora and Pulse Nightclub, but how many can recall the 2006 hotel fire in Reno, Nevada that killed 12 or the 1990 nightclub fire in NYC that killed 87?  How many people know that the 1927 Bath School bombing is still the deadliest school attack in U.S. History?  

“Whatever the reason, the lesser attention given to mass killings that do not invoke guns is disrespectful to the victims whose lives are tragically cut short,” laments Fox.  “Is the crime any less serious if there were no gunshots? Are the victims any less dead? In fact, victims of burns, suffocation or stabbing often suffer a much slower and painful death than gunshot victims.”

There is another observation to be made here.  That is, gun control won’t stop mass killings.  Even a sweeping, door-to-door confiscatory ban on firearms won’t stop mass killings.  All it would likely do is increase the number of mass killings and the percentage of mass killings that involve weapons other than firearms.  Because to stop mass killings one needs to have the capacity to stop mass killers dead in their tracks.

As our friend Alan Korwin likes to say, “Making people defenseless does not make criminals and sociopaths harmless.”

Little known fact is that armed responders including concealed carriers stopped 11.5 percent of active shooter incidents in the U.S. from 2000-2017.  Imagine what that percentage could be if all states had permissive concealed carry laws and government and media and Hollywood empowered citizens to bear arms instead of working collectively to demonize guns and disarm America.

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About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Roger July 29, 2019, 2:44 pm

    Don’t forget the Happy Land Social Club fire years ago that killed dozens. Same weapon of mass killing: gasoline.

  • Dan Gore July 28, 2019, 10:54 pm

    This shouldn’t surprise anyone who has 2 brain cells. We all know that it’s all about total control of the American citizens. As Sean Hannity said, journalism’s dead and buried. All to become the propaganda machine for the LEFTIST, Fascist ,Democratic tyrants. Just for instance, the Muller testimony was a fiasco, but they’re still not going to let it rest. Don’t hear anybody saying anything good about the Democrats in the house. I’m not a big fan of Trump, but I hope that this really bites the Democrats in the ass in 2020.

  • pete July 27, 2019, 3:57 pm

    Waaa Waaa Waaa. That incident got plenty of coverage. Get over it.

  • Don Richardson July 27, 2019, 1:48 pm

    Yup, liberalism is a mental illness.

  • DocLoch July 27, 2019, 8:58 am

    Absolutely correct! After all, safety first, right? Isn’t safety first? Yep, safety is always first. That’s definitely what we’re always taught. First before arms. First before legs. First before anything.

  • Didgya Thinkabout July 26, 2019, 8:52 pm

    But who goes first? Cause it’d have to be in the back of everyone’s minds, “What if I cut off my arms and legs and no one else does? What if they all point and laugh and say banal shit like “We never thought you’d go through with it mate!””

  • BillE July 26, 2019, 9:53 am

    I think all “weapons” should be outlawed. To prevent these mass killings we need to outlaw everything which could be used to cause bodily harm. In this particular case, that would be gasoline. Burning gasoline causes global warming anyway so we will also be doing the planet a favor by banning this dangerous and immoral substance. We also need to outlaw knives, at least those made with metal (maybe small plastic knives would be okay if they were properly licensed). We also need to ban sticks picked up in the yard to prevent someone using them to beat or stab someone. It is therefore imperative that everyone cut down and destroy all their trees (but again in an environmentally “safe manner” to prevent our imminent destruction due to global warming). Heck, while we are at it, we should cut off everyone’s arms since they can be used to hit people and everyone’s legs since they can be used to kick people. I’m sure if my modest, “common sense” proposals were implemented, the U.S and the world would truly be a safer place.

  • Zed Noone July 26, 2019, 9:39 am

    It’s worse than that. In Australia, when new gun laws were imposed after a 1996 massacre, the fake metric ‘gun violence’ went to near zero, BUT THE MURDER RATE DID NOT DROP! All violent crime went up! Why?
    People who want to kill, will kill with anything at hand. Their desire to kill is not hampered by the lack of a firearm. They will kill anyway.
    All that was accomplished was to make the average Aussie defenseless against criminals.

    • Mark Jones July 26, 2019, 2:50 pm

      I’d bet the murder rate went up because criminals knew law-abiding citizens didn’t have guns to defend themselves. As the saying goes: When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.

  • joefoam July 26, 2019, 9:20 am

    That’s not the point of the story. The point was that mass murders committed without the use of guns anywhere in the world is largely ignored by the press. Were you even aware of the attack and if so what was your source of information?

  • Paul July 26, 2019, 9:16 am

    Wow Lee you sure know your geography.

  • Hardtimez July 26, 2019, 8:51 am

    Trump supports red flag laws

  • Hardtimez July 26, 2019, 8:49 am

    Actualy Chicagos gun laws are not the most stringent

  • Lee T Macon July 26, 2019, 6:31 am

    Hahahahah anything for a controversy. Japan is not the US. I own several guns legally and I’m a liberal as you people put it. There’s nothing wrong with reporting what’s happening in the US.

    • Willie-O July 26, 2019, 2:11 pm

      The point being that the liberal media sensationalize any event involving a firearm. Period. It fits their overall agenda. If you are indeed a liberal you better be very careful announcing that you own a firearm – your truly liberal partners will vilify and condemn you.

    • Willie-O July 26, 2019, 2:25 pm

      Furthermore, if you truly support the 2nd Amendment you are NOT a liberal. Don’t take my word for it, just ask a few Dimocraps what they think. You may have some liberal positions on certain issues, but true libs will revoke your lib club membership as soon as you announce that you’re pro-2A.

    • Mark Jones July 26, 2019, 2:58 pm

      Perhaps, Lee, you’re not as liberal as you think you are on all issues, or you wouldn’t own guns. And while it’s true there’s nothing wrong with reporting news in the U.S., there is something wrong with biasing news to create the false narrative that guns are the overwhelming reason people kill one another.

    • dave August 13, 2019, 5:56 pm

      You sound like pantifa, boi….

  • Raymond Brandes July 26, 2019, 5:27 am

    And mass shootings that don’t involve an “assault” rifle get under reported as well.

  • John July 26, 2019, 3:38 am

    The one thing that always eats away at me with these Hollywood assholes who live in a bubble or fake world is that they make millions using guns in their films, but then come out as anti gunners when it comes to the everyday citizen carrying a firearm to protect themselves and their families. But yet they have body guards who carry guns. If they want us to rely on the police for our protection, then so should they. The only thing a cop does is get to a scene of a murder in time to chalk your body. Even a cop will tell you that you are on your own when it comes to preventing yourself from any kind of crime. From rapes to home invasions and everything in between. It is shown, that Constitution states, those that allow open and concealed carry without a permit, have a much lower crime rate then states with the most stringent anti gun laws. Chicago is a prime example. No matter how many gun laws you put on the books to prevent law abiding citizens from owning guns, crime rates will do nothing but increase. Criminals and thugs don’t buy their firearms they either steal them or get them on the black market. You will never stop that. And by stopping citizens from buying guns legally, all you will do is to force them to buy them on the black market like a criminal.

  • Old Guy July 26, 2019, 3:30 am

    I sure hope those people who are registered to vote are awake and paying attention to all the Democrats who seek to change our Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

    Our Founding Fathers who had to fight for their freedom passed onto future generations an amazing document, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights which most folks today seriously take for granted.

    The Democrats are seeking to take our rights away and the Republicans are protecting our Republic.

    I do not back or endorse any candidate of any political party who would seek to take away my Constitutional rights from me or my family.

    • Lee Anthony Wagner July 26, 2019, 4:25 pm

      Sir, I totally respect your comments. You and I grew up in a time where we could walk out the door with our bat glove soccer ball etc. noone worried if we didn’t make it home for lunch, they knew we were being fed somewhere, mom knew to be ready anyway, might be her day, lol. Didn’t matter 8 to 18 we looked after eachother. If someone got hurt, we took them home or the closest parent was our ambulance, and we went and told their folks the deal. I think you and anyone that reads this will agree it’s not guns it’s our migration from our most important amendment right of being an American , Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that makes the difference

  • Sepp W July 24, 2019, 6:23 pm

    And I say in the liberal dystopia there are no criminals, only crime. Any other method or manner of inflicting death on innocents, not including a firearm, is ignored, and even encouraged by liberals. Liberals don’t like firearms because they are basically protected by the Constitution, albeit heavily regulated in some form or manner.

    Setting of an explosive device, dousing people with gasoline and igniting it, bashing in someone’s skull with a crowbar, or slitting someone’s throat ear-to-ear with a razor is perfectly acceptable to a liberal. When it comes to firearms though, that is another matter all together.

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