LaPierre vs. Harris in the Tragedy of the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting

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In the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Adam Lanza, the shooter, murdered 20 children and 6 teachers. Some people look at this event as a terrible tragedy because it struck them emotionally that 20 children had died. While others look at this event as a tragedy because it is rare, one of kind and a freak accident that definitely do not happen every day, or even years. According to, the chance of a random shooting to occur at any elementary school in the U.S is 1 in 88,962, and the chance of any elementary child to get killed is roughly around 1 in 23 million, this is less than the chance of hitting a jackpot for an average lottery which is at 1 in 15 million. Wayne LaPierre, who is the National Rifle Association’s vice president, addressed the shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary in his speech “Transcript of speech on Newtown Shooting.” In his speech, he uses excessive amount of pathos to arouse his audience emotionally, and uses strong language with aggressive demeanor to convince the audience to agree with what he has to say. On the other hand, Sam Harris, an author of bestselling books and had his work discussed in major journals such as New York Times and Scientific American. In his article “The Riddle of the Gun”, he provides many statistical values and facts to neutralize people’s feelings towards the shooting. In this paper, I will compare each writer’s strategies and explain its effectiveness. In both articles respectively, the strategies LaPierre and Harris uses are effective towards their own audience but would not have worked the other way around. In LaPierre’s speech, one of the main strategies he uses is pathos while Harris uses logos, although they both worked well to their specific audie... ... middle of paper ... shooting or homicide, a human life or lives are lost. Although both of LaPierre’s and Harris’ compare and contrast strategy have worked well to their respective audiences, Harris’ comparison is more effective towards a wide audience than LaPierre’s because he provides a logic that is unanimously accepted by people. One of the other main strategy LaPierre use in his speech is rhetorical questions, while Harris use it far less. A rhetorical question is a question designed to have one correct answer. LaPierre uses it to force his audience to think alike and agree with him and Harris uses it to establish his views and opinions to show the audience where he stands on the issue. Last but not least, Harris did a better job in prolepsis than LaPierre since he had none. Prolepsis is when the author anticipates the opposition’s best argument and addressing it in advance.

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