A Distracted Public as Gun Debate Shows



Any time now, Congress will either pass weak gun legislation or none at all, and once again we’ll get a good glimpse at how the American voice has been muted—diluted, really—by a bunch of conflicting noises.

By pretty big numbers, it seems Americans want background checks for people buying guns. Many Americans think the 30 round clips for semi-automatic weapons should be reduced to a smaller number, so the next loony gunman at least has to stop to reload.

 But whether either of those things, or anything else, happens is doubtful, because just as “Gangnam Style” leads to “Harlem Shake” leads to “Why Do We Hate Anne Hathaway’s Perkiness?” there’s always a new diversion. A lot of urgent business gets put aside in this world, like so many past due bils. The “moment” for gun legislation may have passed, at least as it is reflected on YouTube.

I checked Google Trends of YouTube, referencing “gun control” and on a scale of 1 to 100 where the top figure represents the most search interest, gun control in March  ranked a 41. In January, shortly after the Newtown tragedy, the headlines were that President Obama was going to propose new tough gun laws, and the index was at 100.  (Again this month, with more attention to a Newtown and Aurora, Colorado massacres, the index is up to 51.)

To give this a little context—very little, but to the point, I think—“Kim Kardashian Weds Kris Humphries” resulted in an index of 72 in August 2011. “Kim Kardashian Flour Bombed” last March registed a 43. Pregnant  Kim Kardashian ranked a 30 in March.  

So at this point, as measured by searches on YouTube, the second largest search engine there is, gun legislation is, on the interest-o-meter, somewhere between a sham marriage and a proterst prank pulled on a sexy reality-show star.

I know this is a bad comparison. People probably aren’t going to YouTube for gun-type videos as much as they might be for Kim Kardashian-anything.  But the general point is pretty clear. When the Kony video came out in March of 2012, video of that vicious warlord hit 100 as a search term on YouTube. By April “Kony” was a 13. By August, he was down to a 1. Today, Kony does not even show up as a search term.

So when the NRA sneers at the thought of gun laws passing, don’t think they don’t know what they’re talking about. These things pass. If you are in the media business you know they do. The neat graphs and tracking ability of Google and YouTube are evidence of just how much we care, and for just how long.

5 comments about "A Distracted Public as Gun Debate Shows ".
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  1. Steve Gibson from Garage Team Mazda, April 4, 2013 at 4:18 p.m.

    Could also be that enacting new regulations on registered gun owners will do little to solve the issue as they are not the ones going on mass shooting sprees.
    Could be that there are already background checks on people buying a gun.
    BTW - The last loony gunman did stop and reload. 4 times I think.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 4, 2013 at 8:25 p.m.

    The me generation has evolved into the catty me-now generation with increased chaos and mob rule. Remember to run zig zag when the gunfire starts.

  3. K Cruz from Ventana Media Group, April 5, 2013 at 9:13 a.m.


    Good article says it all. Yes, we in the media know exactly how to give the public a daily dose of nonsense or sense and drive people to excitement, then deliver the next distraction we that we should either care about or not care about.

    Warhol 15 seconds of Fame quote is down to one Click.

  4. Richard Gillam from DeskSite, April 5, 2013 at 1:24 p.m.

    The knee-jerk anti-gun reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy was a reflection of extraordinary ignorance and mob rule. A crazy person stole legally owned and registered weapons from a non-crazy person, and then murdered that person, et al. You cannot legislate against this scenario – and to even attempt to is, at best, an emotionally feel good activity abjectly devoid of any literal effect (like clapping in a movie when the bad guy finally gets it in the end); and, at worst, sets a horribly corruptive precedent for anti-Constitutionalist legislation efforts.

    Arbitrarily designating “a bad guy” and then sticking pins & needles into a doll that looks like said bad guy is just plain dumb, (sorry Hollywood). Let’s move the conversation to a place of potentially legitimate impact – thereby demonstrating appropriate reverence for the victims of a mad man and enabling this tragic loss of life to generate meaningful change – not mindless change.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 5, 2013 at 7:19 p.m.

    Not all criminally insane or mentally disturbed people show their cards at the table, not even those who would be deemed ineligible to own firearms. Better odds is not exclusive, but who wouldn't take the odds of being murdered by gun of 1000:1 or less instead of 20:1 ?

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