The purpose of this study was to examine how the media (journalists) use fear as a rhetorical tactic to influence the American public on the topic of gun control. I performed a rhetorical analysis on the news coverage from the New York and Los Angeles Times during the two week period directly following three major shootings. The three shootings were the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Aurora Colorado, and Newtown Connecticut shootings. I randomly chose three articles based on each shooting from the two newspapers. The findings revealed that there were four main themes used by the media to promote two types of fear in their audience. The first type of fear was the fear of firearm violence, the second was the fear of having firearms banned or restricted. The four main themes present were gun control, assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, violence in media and society, and comparison to past tragedies. This study helps people to better understand the media’s effect on their audience using rhetorical tactics.


Atay, Ahmet


Communication Studies


gun control, media, rhetorical tactic, firearms

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2014 Craig A. Day