Perhaps the confusion arises from initial inaccurate media reports and the fact that police recovered an Izhmash Canta-12 assault shotgun from the trunk of Lanza’s car. But this is no excuse; reaching a firm conclusion that Lanza didn’t use his rifle should require firm evidence, not rumor.
As newspaper editors, we’re often told that we need to be more careful about getting our facts straight. Such concerns are wholly valid, especially in an era where news sources are multiplying without necessarily becoming more credible.
But readers, too, need to hold up their end of the bargain, and learn how to distinguish fact from fancy. One could argue this problem is a much greater threat to the American way of life than gun violence. But if some readers’ confirmation bias is too strong for them to acknowledge facts that don’t fit their preconceived opinions, it’s entirely their own fault.