The Daily Illini

Recognize who to support and who to oppose

By David McDaniel

Since mid-February, we’ve witnessed too many attempts by gun enthusiasts to shame shooting victims into silence.

This isn’t about the Second Amendment. It’s about being caring and compassionate. The National Rifle Association’s response following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting was boilerplate — no response at all until a week later. They started damage control via NRA TV, broadcasting an interview with a former Arizona sheriff comparing students’ #MarchForOurLives protests to rhetoric “from Hitler and Stalin and Lenin.”

A social media smear campaign suggested that one shooting survivor was a hired actor, resulting in death threats and Fox News personality Laura Ingraham dubbing him a “whiner” on Twitter. Sylvester Stallone’s brother Frank posted a (now-deleted) tweet that called the student, among other things, a “rich little bitch.” Tweets targeting this student were liked by Donald Trump, Jr.

Ben Shapiro wrote in The National Review that high schoolers shouldn’t have a voice on gun control because their “emotional centers of the brain are overdeveloped in comparison with the rational centers of the brain.” To him, they can feel emotions, but shouldn’t express them. During an NRA TV interview, NRA board member Ted Nugent hurled abuse at the survivors of the Florida shooting, saying, “the evidence is irrefutable, they have no soul.” He called them “poor, mushy-brained children” and “liars.”

There are easy ways to protest those who abuse and re-traumatize shooting survivors. Boycott companies that advertise on conservative media outlets that purposefully hurt others in pursuit of ratings. Identify political leaders who support mental health services that assist in the healing process and those who don’t. Take note of who helps and who hurts. Remember those names during this November’s elections.

David is a graduate student in Social Work. 

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