I had been out of college for not even a month when 36-year-old William Eric Krost killed his three children, then himself, at his trailer near Gadsden, Alabama.
Although I didn’t set foot inside the home as part of my work covering the cops beat that Saturday afternoon, I watched sheriff’s deputies enter and exit, always with pain in their eyes. I spoke with neighbors who just couldn’t believe what happened while they slept across the street.
And I listened to the principal of two of the children describe her pain at the loss of these bright students. She also knew the youngest, who couldn’t wait to join her siblings at school.
Through the next week, I spoke with more neighbors who raised money and organized a candlelight vigil, and I even sat with the children’s mother as she cried in the newspaper lobby.
Somewhere along the way, I had my first nightmare related to journalism.
All of that is to say, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch is dead wrong.
Loesch told Conservative Political Action Conference attendees this week the news media play a role in the tragedies such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre of Feb. 14.
“Many in legacy media love mass shootings,” she said, pointing out the reporters in the room. “Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media in the back.”
Lest you think Loesch may claim she is taken out of context or meant something else, the NRA doubled down with a video posted to Twitter on Friday with Colion Noir saying, “No one on this planet benefits more from mass shootings or motivates people to become mass shooters than our mainstream media.”
I’m going to need y’all to sit down and shut up a minute while I make myself crystal clear: There is absolutely no part of me that wants a mass shooting here or anyplace near here.
The last thing I want to cover is a mass shooting, particularly at a school. I am absolutely horrified at the thought of doing such a thing, or of any of my reporters doing such a thing. And the fact that these have become so commonplace in our society that I’ve actually had to consider how we might do it is nauseating.
Each Monday morning, our staff gathers to discuss what we’ve been doing and where we’re headed. Recently business has been pretty good, all things considered. What I enjoy most about these meetings isn’t what we talk about, but that we’re together in the first place.
I genuinely love the team we have assembled here. They’re real people with a love of Newton County. To suggest they’d want to see this place put through anything like that is disgusting, and frankly they should receive an apology I know there’s no chance in hell they’ll receive.
But I don’t hold this against the NRA itself, not the rank-and-file members who simply believe in protecting their rights. My grandfather was a long-term member until his death. But the group’s leadership is out of control because they don’t know how to respond to a groundswell of opposition that is rising from people who don’t want to see any more mass shootings.That isn’t a creation of the media. It’s a creation of the fact people keep using guns to kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time. And if the NRA wants to preserve the Second Amendment, its time would be best spent not denigrating the First Amendment, but by being a part of the solution to this very real problem.
David Clemons is the editor
and publisher of The Covington News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.