Ever notice how public figures, especially those advocating for gun rights, stall on talking about policy in the wake of mass shootings in the United States? They do so with good reason. The Washington Post found that “it takes about three weeks for Americans to stop paying attention after a mass shooting”. After analyzing changes in Google Search traffic following prominent mass shootings in the United States, they found that the surge in search traffic for the terms “shooting”, “gun control”, “second amendment”, and “background checks” goes back to pre-shooting normal within about three weeks.
While it’s nice to think that politicians are busy sending “thoughts and prayers”, and giving space and time for the families of victims to heal before talking policy, it’s also a strategic stall to wait until their constituents have moved onto something else: “this is often the unstated goal of gun rights advocates. Allow the passion that immediately follows the attacks to cool, often demanding that politics wait until an appropriate mourning period has passed. Weeks later, most people have moved on to other issues — including members of Congress” (Washington Post).
If politicians were truly concerned with preventing these events, they would follow in the footsteps of other countries that have struck while the iron is hot, such as New Zealand, who only took 6 days to plan new gun laws after the Christchurch shooting (New York Times). If we truly want to honor the memory of those that have been lost to mass shootings and gun-violence at large in the United States, we must harness this peak in interest following an attack to hold people accountable and take measurable steps to prevent future attacks.