The stars aligned. A mass shooting in a movie theater in Colorado still very fresh in people’s minds, the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was the deal-sealing tragedy to usher in a new era of gun control. They had been waiting for a moment like this.
It was the perfect storm of a gun-grab… but it failed. President Obama has admitted to a group of San Francisco donors that he has lost confidence in his ability to get passed any gun control measures of significance. Why? How could such a perfectly-orchestrated effort fall flat? The answer: the information age.
In the weeks following the massacre, the mainstream media reported one major myth regarding the incident: a “military-style assault rifle,” such as an AR-15, was used. Critical analysis quickly uncovered, and spread far and wide across the internet, that not only was an assault rifle not used in the actual killings, but one might not even have been present at all. That proved Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban to be completely irrelevant to preventing a similar massacre, dooming it from the start.
Next, thanks once more to the internet, information regarding gun violence in America was able to travel around the mainstream media’s filter rather than through it. This illuminated the abject failure of gun restrictions to cause a reduction in violence in places like England, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. itself. Once gun control’s abysmal track record on stopping violence came to light far and wide, the narrative of saving lives simply fell apart.
Finally, the moral case for gun rights, often reserved to the hearts and minds of patriotic Americans, was allowed online public exposure. A photo of Rosa Parks with the tagline “I don’t ‘need’ an AR more than Rosa Parks ‘needed’ to sit in the front of that bus” spread like a virus via Facebook, effectively setting in stone the message that We The People have the right to exercise whatever peaceful behavior we so desire without having to justify it to the government.
Times have changed. Any other decade and this would have been an open-and-shut case of national disarmament. This time, however, they underestimated the power of a free people standing up for their rights. And, most of all, they underestimated the unregulated power of the internet. Next time they try to take away a precious Constitutional right through manipulation and deception they’re going to have to try a little harder than that.
Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx
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