April 27, 2016 / 3:40 PM / 3 years ago

Brady Campaign unveils app to scrub mass killers' names from media sites

A heart that bears 26 crosses for each victim is surrounded by lights the Sandy Hook portion of Newtown, Connecticut December 14, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. anti-gun-violence activists on Wednesday introduced a phone app designed to strip notorious mass shooters’ names and photos from news stories, saying that keeping their images out of the public eye could help avert future mass killings.

The Brady Campaign said the software, called “Zero Minutes of Fame” is intended to address research that shows gunmen who carried out attacks in recent years at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, and at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, had researched and possibly drawn inspiration from prior mass shootings.

The software, a plug-in for Google’s Chrome operating system, replaces the names of killers including Adam Lanza and James Holmes with the phrase “(name withheld out of respect for the victims)” and replaces their photos with an image from a Brady Campaign ad on major news outlets’ websites and in Google searchers.

“Instead of rewarding killers and inspiring copycats, we should be lifting up the stories and the lives of victims, heroes, and survivors,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign. The group is named for James Brady, who was wounded in the 1981 attempt to assassinate then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

“Notoriety serves as a reward for these killers and as a call-to-action for others who would seek to do similar harm in the name of infamy,” Gross said in a statement.

Alongside the software, the campaign unveiled a new two-minute online ad encouraging viewers to sign a petition calling on news media organizations to cease publishing shooters’ names and images. The ad shows images of Newtown gunman Lanza, movie theater shooter Holmes and other people who carried out mass shootings in the United States over the past few years.

According to statistics maintained by the group, an average of 298 people have been shot in the United States each day over the past five years, with 90 people dying of their injuries. The majority of those who died of their injuries had committed suicide, according to the group’s analysis of federal health data.

Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Frances Kerry

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