Columns, Opinion

Max vs. Media: The backlash against young people in ‘March for Our Lives’

How should we treat the Parkland shooting survivors? That’s the question pundits seem unable to answer. On one hand, they underwent a major tragedy — losing friends and relatives — and should be treated with deference. On the other hand, they are advocates for gun control and should be criticized for any of their policy prescriptions about gun control.

Cable news clearly can’t walk the thin line between these two hands. Interviewers either praise them without actually discussing or criticizing their gun rights policies or deride them as hapless teenagers who aren’t old enough to form ideas on their own.

It’s undeniable though that these students are shaping national dialogue. During “March for Our Lives,” the conversation surrounding guns extended to the day-to-day violence in America’s cities. The young survivors have specific policy ideas like banning AR-15 style rifles and universal background checks. So why is Laura Ingraham harassing David Hogg?

Ingraham, last week, mocked Hogg on Twitter for not being accepted into four University of California colleges. Ingraham, a Dartmouth graduate, became what conservatives claim to despise, otherwise known as “an Ivy League elitist.” As a Fox News host, you would think she would pick her battles more carefully. We shouldn’t be angry that Ingraham trash talked a 17-year-old, but we should be angry that she treated him as a person with no agency. Hogg can be a target for criticism, but not because his SAT scores weren’t in the 90th percentile.

Ingraham apologized, but only after she lost several advertisers because of her petty tweet. They include TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Hulu, Nutrish, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Atlantis Paradise Island and Stitch Fix. While it may seem encouraging, people will still watch her show and read her tweets. On her show last week, she described Hogg’s contribution on the gun control conversation as a “tantrum.” Along with some of the other Fox News commentators, Ingraham attempts to deride her opponent because of who they are rather than what they stand for. So why don’t we learn the facts about guns in America?

The facts on mass shootings are staggering. Compared to other industrialized countries, America has many more deaths. But mass shootings aren’t the main issue, or even a secondary one, when it comes to gun deaths. Even under a broad definition of a mass shooting — where four or more individuals are shot — the amount of deaths is dwarfed by the total amount of gun deaths. Roughly half of gun deaths are suicides.

But there are points Ingraham could make to effectively counter gun control rights’ advocates.  According to the NRA, there exists 8.5 million and 15 million assault rifles. Banning assault rifles wouldn’t get rid of the underlying issues. If someone wants to kill dozens of people, it would not be difficult to acquire a weapon to do so.

A buyback program could then cost between $12 to $20 billion — if it was effective. But odds are, if you purchased a weapon capable of mass destruction, you aren’t likely to listen to the federal government “stealing your gun” or “stripping away your Second Amendment right.”

These are easy criticisms to make against gun control advocates. However, I believe that America needs stricter gun regulations. Magazine capacity limits, waiting periods and universal background checks should be implemented.

In the meanwhile, why doesn’t Hogg go on Ingraham’s show and have a policy debate? There should be plenty of time given a shortage of potential commercials.

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