When Conspiracy Theorists Align with the Existing Laws: The Public and Counterpublic Rhetoric of Gun Control After Sandy Hook
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Opening ParagraphIn the United States, we experience tragic events behind the barrel of the gun. According to Rood, "the gun debate has been at the forefront of American politics for the last 50 years." One shooting that tore at America's heartstrings was the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which claimed the lives of 26 people, a majority of whom were children. The gun debate was significantly prominent in the months following Sandy Hook. I have categorized four New York Times articles published after that fateful day on December 14, 2012, in relation to their viewpoint of the ever-present issue of stricter gun laws. I argue that by dividing multiple audiences into strong/weak publics and counterpublics it can reveal how small screens allow extremely divisive discourse in response to a complex social issue. My analysis contributes to rhetorical theory by exposing the complexity of counterpublics and how screens can bring to light extremely polarized counterpublics. My analysis addresses the opposing viewpoints of family members of Sandy Hook victims, politicians for stricter gun laws, politicians against laws, as well as conspiracy theorists who are extreme Second Amendment supporters.