The Signal

As shootings accumulate, the hesitation to politicize them approaches zero

The Signal

Not so long ago, those hoping to connect deadly shootings to a political point about gun control did so at their peril. When Virginia congressional candidate Keith Fimian suggested in 2010 that the Virginia Tech shootings might have been averted if some of the students were armed, his opponent savaged him with an ad featuring the brother of one of the victims. (Fimian, a Republican, ended up losing to Rep. Gerry Connolly by fewer than 1,000 votes in a year that was generally unkind to incumbent Democrats.)

While gun violence always inspires some scrutiny of firearm laws, this summer's spate of shootings appears to have eliminated whatever waiting period once existed before politics entered the conversation—particularly for those who oppose stricter laws. Friday's shooting near the Empire State Building was no exception. By noon, the most shared link among Tweets about the shooting, as measured by Yahoo News' in-house Twitter analysis, was a blog post by a conservative New Yorker titled "Empire State Building Shooting Is Proof that Gun Control Doesn't Work." (This measurement does not include the 50-plus tweets the author, Jonathan Stein, directed to different users promoting his post, though there is clearly some effect of self-promotion here.)

Meanwhile, the most-mentioned award goes to actor Marlon Wayans, he of "White Chicks" fame, for this tweet:

Precise figures on the volume of pro- and anti-gun control tweets are difficult for a computer to measure, particularly when it comes to detecting sarcasm, but there is no shortage of tweets expressing either disgust with the availability of guns in America or disgust with those who think making them less available would fix anything. The two sides are united only in their weariness with discussing the politics of shootings in the first place.

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