In the week since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students are restarting conversations for gun reform with the hashtag #NeverAgain, echoing the demands from gun control advocates for stricter background checks for gun buyers.
Conversations about guns, shootings and gun control spike shortly after shootings happen and fade when the next social issue surfaces. The frequency of media coverage peaked right after the Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Parkland shootings, then went down days later according to GDELT Project, an organization that monitors news coverage around the world.
Politicians, like Rep. Steve Cohen (D—Tenn), have spoken on the latest shooting and contributed to the current conversation on gun control.
“Repeated instances of gun violence with mass casualties have the public shocked and dismayed,” Cohen said. “The only people who appear to let that outrage dissipate are Republican lawmakers beholden to the National Rifle Association. I have had an ‘F’ rating from the NRA and plan to work for sensible gun-control measures, including stiffer background checks in this Congress, and ones stiffer than the milquetoast proposal by the NRA and Trump. I also support efforts to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.”
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) wants to reduce the number of day-to-day homicides, suicides, shootings and mass shootings. Andrew Patrick, CSGV media director, said the dissipation of gun control conversations is happening less because more people are engaged.
“I believe that the Sandy Hook massacre four years ago was sort of a turning point but also a starting point,” Patrick said. “It really built this modern movement that we’re now seeing happen five years later. And as with all social movements, the last people to recognize it are the public officials. You see people acting on this, donating their time and money to these efforts.”
Patrick said CSGV finds ways to prevent gun violence with laws preventing domestic abusers access to guns and by working with academics and research. The organization is using social media to keep the conversation alive. He said Parkland students are leading on this issue and have become a way for the conversation to continue.
“This is a generation that’s kind of grown up since the Sandy Hook shooting, so tragedy has defined their lives,” Patrick said. “They are leading on this issue. They’re tired of it, and they’re the ones we’re going to follow and listen to their message and watch them be the generation that changes this issue.”
Some University of Memphis students agree the issue is overlooked because they said it is easy to avoid conversations on issues like gun control.
“I think it’s easy for people to distance themselves from problems going around the world whether it’s just gun control or anything because the way you hear about it is usually through social media, and it’s just as easy to just switch it off,” said Tasneem Hassouneh, a 17-year-old biomedical engineering major.
Adil Abdurahaman, a 21-year-old biology major, agrees the way to make progress is by having conversations about these issues.
“Walking around in Memphis or any place, if I had just said ‘hey’ to someone, ‘Let me talk to you about this’, ‘What do you think,’ they’d be like, ‘This guy is crazy’,” Abdurahaman said. “But people just need to start treating each other like human beings and trying to get to the bottom of things, just to talk about it.”