It’s going to take a lot more than one YouTube video to end school shootings. But it appears that Logan Paul’s brother Jake was willing to take the first step.
While Logan Paul made headlines for uploading an insensitive video featuring a dead man hanging in Japan's notorious suicide forest, Jake Paul is generating media buzz for a whole different reason: guns.
On March 12, YouTuber Jake Paul uploaded a documentary on the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Titled “It’s Time To End School Shootings,” Paul spoke with a number of students, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, and with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) about gun violence.
At the end of the video, Paul announced his pledge to donate $25,000 to March for Our Lives and introduced five ways to end school shootings. Most of his suggestions seem level-headed enough: Asking for more counselors at schools and pressuring social media companies to monitor and flag extremist behavior. He also called for bulletproof windows on doors.
His other suggestions were more controversial: He proposed the idea of students carrying their own bulletproof shields into the classroom and setting up checkpoints at school entrances.
It should be noted that over the entirety of the video, Paul doesn't once encourage or advocate for gun control reform legislation. (To be fair, despite not mentioning it in the video, his YouTube description does mention “gun control reform.”)
Photo via Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
While Paul seems genuine in his attempt to tackle gun violence, several social media users criticized the YouTube star’s documentary.
Hasan Piker, a host at The Young Turks — a progressive online media network — made one of the most compelling cases against Paul’s video. On Twitter, Piker pointed out Paul basically propped up conservative talking points around gun control. He argued that Paul’s five solutions did not venture anywhere near actually restricting access to guns. Instead, they're solutions often touted by gun rights activists — like the NRA — on Fox News. The only difference is that these talking points and gun rights representatives, who are mostly popular to an older age group, are now being exposed to a younger demographic.
Piker believed this was a perfect opportunity for Paul to use his influential platform to make a change, as well as make up for some of his latest controversies. But the YouTuber missed the mark.
“In its essence, it’s basically a 21-min expanded version of a social media post your gun-loving uncle makes,” Piker tweeted. “Jake Paul obviously did zero [homework] and doesn’t understand the importance of his reach. He had an opportunity and blew it.”
Other people took to Twitter to critique Paul’s video. Some believe it outed him as a gun rights advocate.
It’s not that outlandish to assume Paul is a gun rights advocate.
Paul certainly hasn't made it a secret that he’s into gun culture. In April 2017, Paul uploaded a vlog (that over 19 million people watched) about getting a tattoo of an AR-15 on his thigh. He also pressured his friends to get the same tattoo.
Paul has also posted several photos posing with assault weapons and other guns.
This controversy shouldn’t come off as a surprise. Like his YouTube celebrity brother, Jake Paul is no stranger to scandal. While it’s not a suicide forest scandal or obnoxious behavior in Japan, Paul has made headlines for terrorizing neighborhoods and using the n-word for his videos.
But despite his controversial past — and the fact that his gun control documentary missed the mark — it should be noted that Paul is willing to use his platform to start conversations about sensitive topics.
That’s a good thing. And, perhaps more importantly, Paul seems to be willing to accept and learn from his critics. After receiving backlash for failing to advocate for substantial gun control solutions in his video, he tweeted new suggestions to combat gun violence.
Paul's new idea is another five-point plan that explicitly calls for restrictions on gun access. These include raising the age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, requiring a six-month training course similar to ones taken for a driver’s license, a mandatory mental health evaluation, banning gun shows, and a 30-day waiting period for buying a firearm.
In a tweet, he explained that he refrained from mentioning gun control reform “to simplify some of the steps” he discussed with Parkland students around school shootings. He then explicitly expressed his support for gun control reform.
“Make no mistake, gun reform is an absolutely must ... but is part of the solution,” Paul wrote.
While Paul has quite a problematic history and a whole lot to learn, it's imperative that influencers use their platforms for good. Why? Because influencers can and do influence voters and lawmakers. It's certainly not easy. Celebrities often receive a lot of backlash for making comments about subject matter like this. But what shows real courage is being able to come forward and attempt to start a conversation.
Let’s hope Paul learned from this experience and will continue to dedicate his platform to making a positive impact on gun control.
You can watch his documentary below: