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The Panic Mode Effect

Bob Rogers

Friday, August 31, 2018 – “There’s been another school shooting,” came the report Thursday. Gun owners cringed. Gun controllers rushed to social media to spread the word about needing more gun laws “or something.” Police responded quickly. Four schools went on lockdown. Students at the target school dived under their desks as teachers locked doors and turned off lights urging their wards to stay silent. Despite the hush, one student let out a scream that could alert “the shooter” to the students’ presence, most of whom were already on their smartphones calling home to tell parents of a shooting emergency that would send them screaming out the door to their cars. At least three or more media outlets went to work spreading the word, some of it accurate, most of it incomplete, inaccurate, or without facts. Parents rushed to the scene of the shooting unsure if their children would be alive, dead, or severely wounded.

Then came reality. Four students at Balboa High School were examining a gun brought to the school by one student. The gun unintentionally discharged. No doubt some “witness” told the media he heard what he thought were “firecrackers.” A few reporters, expecting the worse, jotted down the words “war zone” on their notepads then quickly scribbled over the description. Well, not exactly. That “war zone” image was falsely written by this author just for “effect.” Journalists do that all the time.

The point, however, is that Americans are now hair-triggered into panic mode whenever the slightest hint of a school shooting comes across a police scanner and hits the equally on-edge news room reporters. As a country we have become driven into fright before the facts are known. We expect the worst from the least inert suggestion that a gun might be involved in a tragedy…even if there was no tragedy in the first place, but only an accidental discharge of a gun, a vehicle backfire or a slammed door.

In the case of Balboa High School, cause to be nervous following a gun discharge – real or imagined – is reason enough to be cautious. Our complaint here is that we have become pushed into a state of pure terror as a result of any undetermined activity that involves the possibility of a gun going off. On such cases, media has the upper hand. They form pre-conclusions as to what “might” be reality even before it becomes actuality. Snowflake Americans need to become better informed about guns rather than to rely on expressions – often falsely stated by media – that disaster just happened.

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