Newtown School Shootings: This Changes… Nothing?

Cable news follows political lines in its discussion of how to prevent mass killings

Last Updated: December 14, 2012 @ 6:11 PM

It will apparently take more than 28 people dead to shake people out of their well-entrenched positions on gun control.

All agree the shooting spree in Newtown, Conn., is an atrocity, a national tragedy made unfathomable in scope by the fact that so many killed were children. It is only the latest horrific shooting this year, following massacres in Colorado and Wisconsin over the summer. 

On Twitter, supporters of gun control seem to dominate: Both #GunControlNow and NRA have been trending (left), and you can see some of the reactions here.

On cable news, everyone thinks exactly what you would expect them to.

Left-leaning MSNBC has urged more discussion of gun control. Host Alex Wagner questioned whether this would create “political capital” for new gun control legislation.

“There has got to be some kind of measurable change, some kind of reaction,” Wagner said. “One would hope that there will be some political capital to reform the way in which we handle gun and gun violence in this country.”

Several others on the channel have discussed the topic, which included a contentious back and forth between gun owner S.E. Cupp and a gun control advocate. The network's Toure said no tragedy seems large enough for anyone to call for change.

CNN host Piers Morgan voiced a similar opinion on Twitter, repeatedly posting the hashtag “#GunControl” as his producer Jonathan Wald questioned why it wasn’t time to talk about it. His network stuck to the news.

Meanwhile, Fox News largely sidestepped the issue as one guest advocated more guns for school security guards. An expert argued that too many schools in smaller, seemingly safe neighborhoods lack security.

Instead, Fox touched on a separate issue of national importance: mental illness.

“I can come up with nothing short of mental illness,” Mark Furman told Megyn Kelly, saying the shooter wanted “immortality in the most wacked out, bizarre, macabre way.”

“You have people that are going to commit suicide that somehow wanna be less anonymous in the realm of suicide and more famous in the area of homicide.”

Those people are acting more frequently. This marks the fifth school shooting of 2012, following incidents in Wyoming, Oklahoma, Maryland and Ohio.

Eleven of the 20 worst mass shootings over the last 50 years have happened in the United States, and five of them have happened since 2007.

"Just had the horrifying realization that we're developing a list of "go-to" guests for mass shooting coverage," MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted.