Gun Control Dominates Twitter After School Shooting

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By Leslie Meredith, Senior Writer TechNewsDaily

President Obama speaks out on Twitter about preventing gun violence. Credit: Twitter: @whitehouse

Over three days, the issue of gun control dominated Twitter,

unprecedented in terms of numbers of people and the length of time. The

network is no stranger to political topics, but the outpouring of tweets

following last week's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school

differed from those after previous shootings, such as last summer's

attack in a Colorado movie theater.

A new report from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in

Journalism showed that gun control tweets held steady at close to 30

percent of all U.S. tweets over a three-day period, from the afternoon

of the Dec. 14 massacre through noon on Monday, Dec. 17.

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Never before had gun control so dominated the conversation on Twitter. For instance, after the shooting outside

a Tucson, Ariz., mall in January 2011 that seriously wounded Rep.

Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, tweets about gun laws

represented only 3 percent of Twitter chatter in the U.S., according to

Pew.

And unlike social media debates of the past, this one was decidedly in favor of stricter gun control laws.

On Twitter, the gap was 3-to-1: Sixty-four percent of the tweets called

for reform, versus 21 percent that defended gun rights and 14 percent

that was neutral, Pew said. "Don't pray, change your looney gun laws,"

tweeted @Neiley83, whose view was shared by many on Twitter.

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Tweets counted as defending gun rights tended to make the point that

more laws would not solve the problem. "You really think a gun regulation

bill is going to stop criminals? Hate to break it to you, but they're

not afraid of breaking the law," tweeted @NicoletFinger.

Pew also found that gun control tweets outpaced tweets of sympathy and

prayers by about 3 percent. No other aspect of the event — from

President Barack Obama's public speeches to mental health issues to the

assessment of the media's performance in covering the story — amounted

to more than 8 percent. [See also: How to Avoid Connecticut Shooting Charity Scams.]

The gun lobbyists and their supporters remained silent. As a matter of

policy, the NRA stopped tweeting as soon as the news of the shooting

broke and did not resume until Tuesday of this week.

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"Out of respect for the families

, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning,

prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," the NRA

said in a statement.

The NRA scheduled a press conference for Dec. 21 in

Washington at 10:45 a.m. with live stream on nra.org and on the NRA

Facebook page.

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