On the day of the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., we published a chart showing the Sisyphean nature of the national gun control discussion. In the immediate aftermath of a shooting, such as the one that took place in Aurora, Colo., mentions of the term “gun control” spike in the news media. In a matter of days, that discussion all but disappears.
This time was supposed to be different. “It is hard to believe this will not be a watershed moment when we start to talk about, deal with and even perhaps legislate on guns,” ABC News’s Z. Byron Wolf wrote. He was one among many in the media who believed the momentum for gun control legislation was strong enough to turn the tide on a familiar pattern.
Blame it on the fiscal cliff, blame it on Christmas, blame it on our ability to forget, but the national discussion about gun control has once again ebbed. Mentions of the term “gun control” on television, in newspapers, and in online media are down to pre-Sandy Hook levels, according to the Nexis database.