I have written about this issue previously, but the recent court ruling in Connecticut allowing a lawsuit against Remington blaming their advertising for the Sandy Hook massacre to go forward forces me to revisit it.
As dumb as many people thought Bushmaster’s “man card” ad was, if it is supposed to be responsible for mass homicide then Remington needs to fire its ad agency because the campaign was a terrible failure.
Including the Sandy Hook massacre of 26 people, the total number of Americans who were murdered with all rifles (including but not limited to AR-15 platform rifles) in 2012 was 298 – 2.3% of the 12,888 murders that year. Both the number (332) and proportion (2.6%) of murders with rifles were higher in 2011 than in 2012, and the number (367) and proportion (2.8%) were higher in 2010 than in 2011. (According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.)
A more likely culprit than gun advertising in understanding mass homicides is the news media. Perhaps the Sandy Hook families should be suing ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN for so excessively publicizing mass murders that they foster copy-cats? Immediately after the Sandy Hook homicides, The Atlantic ran a story suggesting that “The Media Needs to Stop Inspiring Copycat Murders.” More recently there was a host of media coverage in the fall of 2015, such one in Mother Jones — like The Atlantic, no friend of guns — about “How the Media Inspires Mass Shooters.”
I have sympathy for the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. I don’t know how I would react to the loss of one of my children or loved ones. I am sure I would lash out with anger and experience major depression, and then want to do something about it. But a lawsuit goes beyond an emotional outburst, and seems to me to be a waste of time, energy, and money that could be put to better use – perhaps in trying to “cure violence” in the places it is most prevalent.