Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Newtown Shooting Sparked a Gun Control Debate Online When Other Shootings Did Not

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, December 21 2012

The Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism says in a report released Thursday that gun control legislation is being discussed on social media in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings with far greater frequency than it was in the wake of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, or the shooting in Tucson that wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.:

On both blogs and Twitter, the gun policy discussion accounted for almost 30% of the social media conversation examined by PEJ, exceeding even prayers and expressions of sympathy in the three days following the December 14 massacre that left 26 dead at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. And, within that discussion, calls for stricter gun control measures exceeded defenses of current gun laws and policies by more than two to one.

According to an analysis released Thursday by PEJ, discussion of gun laws accounted for only 3 percent of social media conversation after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, with political discourse and “straight facts” accounting for the majority of discussion. When Trayvon Martin's death became an active social media topic in the weeks following his death, only 7 percent of the conversation focused on gun laws.

It’s unclear yet how or if this conversation will manifest as policy, but there does appear to be more public support for gun laws nowthan there was before the tragedy, and the White House as well a number of senators have signaled an interest in new legislation.

Although it’s unclear from the report how the Newtown response exactly compares to other spree shootings this year, such as Aurora, Colorado and Oak Creek, Wisconsin, neither provoked as decisive a pivot towards legislative action as much as Newtown has this last week.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: Hot Spots

How Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is making inroads in China; labor protests among Uber drivers spread to more cities; new data about the prevalence of online harassment; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Reminders

Why the RNC hasn't managed to reboot how Republican campaigns use voter data; new ways of using phone banking to get out the vote; how the UK's digital director is still ahead of the e-govt curve; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Patient Zero

Monica Lewinsky emerges with a mission to fight cyber-bullying; Marc Andreessen explains his political philosophy; tech donors to MayDay PAC get pushback from Congressional incumbents; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Front Pagers

How Facebook's trending topics feed is wrecking political news; debating the FBI's need for an encrypted phone "backdoor"; democratizing crisis data; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Tracking

Questions about whether Whisper is secretly tracking its users' secrets; the FBI's continued push against the new wave of encrypted phones; community service, high-tech-mogul-style; and much, much more. GO

More