TAYLOR BATTEN: The story of the next mass shooting
Posted November 12, 2018 5:00 a.m. EST
EDITOR'S NOTE: Taylor Batten is editorial page editor of The Charlotte Observer, where this column initially appeared.
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Many of you know that some news outlets are increasingly using robots to write news stories that are completely predictable and formulaic. These include weather summaries, sports recaps and corporate earnings stories.
Along those lines, given that mass shootings are becoming an almost daily occurrence in the United States, we have created a news story template you can use to facilitate writing stories on these common events. Please begin using this, starting with tomorrow’s mass shooting and continuing with each one in the coming weeks and months:
A man armed with a (enter weapon here) and endless ammunition killed (enter number here) and wounded (enter number here) on (day of week), adding to the long list of horrific mass shootings that are now accepted as routine in America. It was the (number here) mass shooting of 2018 and the (number here) just in the last month.
(Suspect’s name here) walked into a (church/school/nightclub/workplace) in (city name here) and began firing. Survivors said the suspect’s firepower was equivalent to that of a small Army platoon. The dead included (enter number here) law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting.
Terrified patrons tried to hide or flee as the gunman coolly went about his business. In the aftermath, distraught family members scrambled to see if their loved ones were among the dead.
Early reports suggest that the man suffered from mental illness and had purchased his guns legally. Authorities later found a stockpile of weapons in his apartment as well as threatening posts on his social media accounts. Those and other warning signs were ignored.
(Enter city name here) residents said they never thought such an incident could happen in their tranquil town.
“This is not something that happens in (enter city name here),” (enter shocked witness’s name here) said. “You never think it’s going to happen to you.”
“We felt so safe (praying/dancing/studying),” (witness name here) said. “This was our safe place.”
Activists said they hoped this rampage would finally be the one that forces Congress and the states to take real action to stem the senseless flow of blood. They pointed to the fact that no civilized nation endures the gun violence America does, and that there are 89 guns for every 100 residents in America. That number in the United Kingdom, by comparison, is less than 3.
Congressional Republicans said it was unfortunate that the victims had not been armed themselves so they could have fired back. They dismissed calls for tighter gun control measures or tougher enforcement of existing law.
“The gun is not to blame,” (enter congressman’s name here) said. “Just because mass shootings plague America like nowhere else in the world, that’s no reason to trample on the rights of Americans to own whatever weaponry they please. That includes basic background checks.”
Polls show that a strong majority of Americans back tougher common-sense gun laws such as closing the so-called gun show loophole and banning bump stocks. But analysts say the NRA has bought much of Congress, so no progress is expected.
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