The horrific shooting of a community college in Roseburg, Oregon, has pushed America to look for answers.
As what is too often the case for any mass shooting, many of America’s leaders have decided guns are ultimately responsible for the deaths of nine innocent people.
At the same time, guns are getting the brunt of the blame. The actual shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, is getting relatively little attention when compared to previous mass murderers.
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, the chief local law enforcement official in Roseburg, has made it clear to reporters that they “will never hear me mention his [Harper-Mercer’s] name.” Hanlin’s said that his decision to not utter the shooter’s name is due to the sheriff’s desire to deny Harper-Mercer’s wish to gain fame through the slaughter.
The Oregon sheriff does have a point in not wanting to give the killer more attention. From what has been revealed so far, Harper-Mercer had a marked interest in mass shooters like Vester Flannigan and Adam Lanza and could’ve been potentially been inspired to kill by such heinous acts. It also appears that the Roseburg shooter felt like he was a nobody who could only achieve notice through violence.
So it’s a reasonable, and even commendable decision for Hanlin to not indulge the killer’s twisted wish. But it is not commendable for the media and political leaders to overlook the fact that a human being killed nine people, especially in light of the renewed calls for gun control.
Refusing to discuss the shooter, his background and what drove him to kill in favor of hyperbolic talk on how dangerous guns are is asinine. The responsibility for this murder is being taken away from Harper-Mercer and placed on a disembodied gun that somehow wandered into the school on its own accord.
Failing to scrutinize the man who pulled the trigger allows the conversation to center entirely on guns, which is exactly how President Obama and others want it to play out. Even though none of the proposed gun restrictions would have likely prevented the shooting, plus the massacre took place in a state with some of the most stringent restrictions on firearms in the country, those facts don’t matter. (RELATED: Obama: We Need More Gun Control)
Before the public had known any concrete details of the shooting, Obama made a speech placing the blame squarely on guns and called for “common sense gun safety laws” in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. Liberals have already set their sights on exploiting the shooting to try to push gun legislation — forgetting the man behind the trigger helps them in this task.
It’s a great irony that the sheriff who’s largely responsible for calling upon the media to not focus on the shooter has publicly spoken out against gun control.
The media framing also leads to this incredulous softball interview with Harper-Mercer’s father. The killer’s dad, Ian Mercer, abandoned his child at an early age and was by all accounts a terrible parent. But instead of accepting some blame for the tragic shooting or saying how his troubled son was ultimately responsible for the carnage, the elder Mercer said guns were the primary perpetrator and absolved his son of responsibility. (RELATED: Chris Mercer’s Dad Wants To Know Where He Got Those Guns)
I guess guns have the power to possess humans, and Harper-Mercer had no agency when he kept pulling the trigger.
This situation is very different from how the media treated the Charleston, S.C. church shooting back in June. Then, once it was realized that it was more politically favorable to blame “white America” and the Confederate flag for the murder of nine people, the media zeroed in on the killer and was happy to announce his name from sea to shining sea.
Dylann Roof, somehow, was transformed into the living embodiment of every sin committed by white people throughout the centuries. His parents were not given softball interviews and were not able to deflect blame onto firearms.
The reason why Roof got intense scrutiny is because his identification as a white supremacist made it easy to turn his crime into a cornucopia of left-wing advocacy.
Harper-Mercer, on the other hand, appears to have no political affiliations and was raised by his African-American mother. So it’s hard to say he was a neo-Nazi or tea party extremist — except the media has already managed to imply the mixed-race shooter was somehow a white supremacist.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that Harper-Mercer had “white supremacy leanings” — whatever the hell that means. Several news outlets reported that his parting message was “full of hate,” a subtle allusion it was the kind of “hate” the left loves to associate with the right.
If the public was made more aware of the killer’s background, these silly assertions would not be able to be passed off as fact.
However right it may seem to not mention Harper-Mercer’s name, it comes at the price of understanding the situation and is an open invitation to the media to frame the shooting the way they want to frame it.
And we wonder why the Roseburg narrative centers entirely around inanimate objects instead of the sick men who use them to kill innocent people.