By portraying information in a misleading light the media and political advocacy groups have been able to shape public opinion for decades. This is especially true as it refers to the gun control debate. These organizations use a variety of tactics to push conclusions beneficial to their cause. Some of the tactics used can be manipulating polls, cherry picking data, or creating their own definition of facts. At times they outright lie.
A great example of misrepresented data came from a memo that was authored by an anti-gun group called Everytown for Gun Safety. They had made a claim that there had been 18 school shootings since the beginning of 2018. Since these conclusions coincided with many media and political points of views, the statistics were widely shared across the news and social media sites. Influential politicians like Kamala Harris started to repeat this information as fact. Shortly thereafter astute individuals began to dive into Everytown’s statistics and found that while referencing real instances, they were almost always taken out of context.
Of the data referenced one of these shootings was an accidental discharge and 2 were suicides that happened on school property. Others involved things like discharges into the air to scare people or involved personal fights where the intent was not mass murder. By attempting to portray each one of the 18 shooting events like a mass school shooting comparable to the recent tragedy in Florida, Everytown is attempting to make it seem as though an epidemic of school shootings is ongoing. Groups like this and their political allies wish to scare Americans into accepting enhanced regulations. Fear is a powerful motivator and citizens have been shown to give up some of their precious rights to feel safe.
The safety of children should be of paramount importance and must be balanced out with the overall rights granted to us at birth. However, a meaningful debate can never take place as long as false information such as the 18 in 2018 statistic are perpetuated by so many. Only by dealing in truths can solutions be found.
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