Why did school shootings go from being a rare horror to an ongoing phenomenon? A big part of the puzzle is the Columbine Massacre.
While there were school shootings before Columbine, the media frenzy, the live coverage, was a sea change, and police have often found that school shooters studied the Columbine psychos and wanted to be like them.
We know mass shooters imitate each other and inspire copycat attacks. That’s why school shootings continue to pop up.
In the month that followed, 400 related incidents were reported across the country. Students called in bomb threats and praised the shooters’ actions. Some schools feared additional shootings and shut down temporarily.
In 2007, a Virginia Tech student killed 32 students and faculty at the university. Prior to the shooting, he expressed a desire in writing to repeat the shooting at Columbine. Since then, many shooters have cited the Virginia Tech gunman as an inspiration and others have threatened to kill more than the 32 victims killed.
Studies indicate that the more media attention a shooter gets, the more likely the event will inspire a future mass shooter. For example, a 2015 study found that after a mass shooting, there was an increased chance of another one occurring in the next 13 days. A 2017 study found that media coverage of a mass shooting may increase the frequency and lethality of future shootings for much longer than two weeks.
The media knows perfectly well the impact that it has.
Suicides spike after front page coverage of a suicide. After Marilyn Monroe’s death, 197 more people killed themselves than the statistical norm. Suicides rise even after fictional suicides on soap operas. And murders are also influenced by the coverage of real and fictional murders.
The internet makes the genie harder to put back in the bottle, but the media doesn’t even try.
Columbine broke the unspoken rule about covering teenage suicides to avoid the copycat effect. The media breaks it every time since while blaming Republicans for not abolishing the Bill of Rights. The media understands perfectly well that it’s promoting similar mass killings and it wants that to happen because it helps its agenda.