Our nation is understandably focused on the 20 children and 6 others killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. But this year, over 12,000 people in America — 34 every day — will be killed by guns. Here is just one of their stories:
Linkin Leatham, age 2
Linkin’s parents called their son the “miracle baby” for having overcome several complications at birth and defying doctors’ expectations that he wouldn’t survive. Then, in September, 2-year-old Linkin picked up his father’s handgun and shot himself in the eye, ultimately dying from his wounds. Linkin’s father is a Utah police officer, though the weapon involved in the shooting was not his service weapon.
In his obituary, Linkin is celebrated as a joyful and sweet little boy:
“Linkin enjoyed life to its fullest. He was always smiling, running and playing. Linkin loved trucks, airplanes, the moon and the stars, dancing, smiling and wee-woos (his name for police cars). Linkin’s infectious smile and playful personality always made people laugh and drew others toward him. To know him was to be wrapped around his tiny little finger. In Linkin’s short time on this earth, he has brought immeasurable joy to countless people.”
You can read six other touching and powerful stories of lives taken by guns this year here.
In the wake of a horrific tragedy like the Sandy Hook shooting, 24/7 media coverage is understandable. What’s not understandable — or acceptable — is the relentless media attention on the shooter, which gives him the attention he perhaps wanted (and which others may seek in his footsteps) and distracts us from structural solutions:
Following a shooting at a school in England in early 2009, a forensic psychiatrist told the BBC about his plea to media outlets worldwide:
If you don’t want to propagate more mass murders…
Don’t start the story with sirens blaring.
Don’t have photographs of the killer.
Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.
Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story … not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.
Do localize this story to the affected community and as boring as possible in every other market.
Why don’t we listen?
Please read the full essay here.
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