“America’s major television networks, its dominantnewspapers and its national news magazines are obviously, overwhelminglyanti-gun.” I assure you that I am not going to claim the above statement to bean original observation on my part.
Anyone concerned about protectingour right to keep and bear arms has long moaned and groaned over themass media’s unrelenting anti-gun bias. In an earlier article for Guns & Ammo I looked at the truesource of gun hatred, the liberal academic elitists in our colleges anduniversities. I briefy examined those areas in society where theacademic elitists have gained their greatest influence (education,religion, the justice system and the media). In that article I onlymentioned the media because this critically important and influentialprofession is so completely dominated by elitists that it must beexamined separately so that its awesome threat to America’s gunowners can be appreciated. In this article I want to explain how so many of todayhsjournalists, newscasters, editors etc.
came to be anti-gun. I will alsoexplore some of the overt and subtle techniques used by those in themedia to eventually sway public opinion against gun ownership and alsowhat we as gun owners can do to fight this media goliath. Things have changed. In the past the way to enter most professionswas to start at the very bottom. You would then work your way up andinto your chosen field over many years, gaining experience andresponsibilities along the way. The attitudes, biases and points ofview that you developed during this process came from many sources: yourcommunity, the region of the country where you lived, your faithand–above all-the more experienced co-workers who were fashioning youinto a professional. A would-be journalist of years past most likely would have, whilestill in his teens, entered his profession as a copyboy. (Yes, I meancopyboy; remember this way many years ago, long before the academicelitists learned how to clone copypersons).
The rest of this scenarioyou can well imagine. It’s like the stories that your grandfathermay have told you about how he got his start. Remember, however, whatworked for grandpa will most likely not work for you today; things havechanged, especially in journalism. Would you like the prestige of being a reporter at some newspaperor TV station? Fine, where is your degree? Forget how grandpa did it,today you must assimilate the wisdom of the ages in four years (notcounting summer vacations) at some college or university before you canbecome a full-fledged journalist. If you do have such a degree, with amajor in journalism and a minor in art history, congratulations, you cannow begin your career as a journalist. Just think, because of thewonders of modern higher education you-at the age of 22 or 23-havereached a point that took grandpa much longer to achieve. Well,it’s understandable, all grandpa had to work with was anaccumulating body of both professional and life experiences. If a journalist’s only background (prior to entering theprofession) is the university campus, then where else is he going to goto find his opinions? Since the academic community is the most anti-guncollection of fanatics in the cosmos, a young journalist’s attitudetowards firearms is more than likely going to be negative.
Remember thatduring the past two decades the electronic media, in particular, hasexploded all over the country. What with satellites, cable and aseemingly insatiable appetite on the part of most Americans forvegetating in front of the glowing box, the need for more newscasters,reporters and writers has been great. Our campuses have been quick toanswer the call be burping out so-called journalists at a rate actuallyin excess of the media’s needs. No time for seasoned experiencehere, if he or she is willing to style their hair and then be taught touse a blow dryer, then switch on the camera so we can all lean back andwatch them read. If you think that you have detected a note of contempt in mywriting thus far, be assured that you are correct.
I am verycontemptuous of the media whenever it attacks the Second Amendment. Ihave found it impossible to look upon the media as something like theloyal opposition with a sincere but differing point of view. How can youmuster any respect for a group of people who absolutely refuse toexamine any attitude other than the one they already possess, especiallywhen most journalists would like you to believe that they are objectiveand impartial. It is particularly amazing that these supposedly highlyeducated guardians of the First Amendment continue to rely on theircombined monumental ignorance about firearms, firearms law and thegrowing mountain of authoritative evidence that shows gun control can donothing more than fulfill the Big Brother aspirations of the elitists inthe media and our academic institutions. My interest in firearms and gun control began in earnest, duringthe battle over California’s anti-gun Proposition 15 in theNovember 1982 elections. I became particularly interested in themedia’s coverage of this battle.
Since that time I have made it apoint to absorb as much media coverage on the subject as possible.Based on my observations, I have been able to discern themes andtechniques repeatedly used by the media to sway public opinion againstguns, hunters and gun ownership in general. These themes and techniquescan be ridiculously overt or diabolically subtle and clever. Sometimesthe anti-gun propaganda is subtle enough and clever enough to such ineven the most devoted gun enthusiast. Let’s now take a look atsome of these efforts. I am confident that most of the readers of thismagazine have seen them before. What kind of image does the term “hired gun” conjure up in your mind? I am sure that most, if not all, defenders of the SecondAmendment would cringer if someone called them a “hired gun.”After all, a hired gun is usually someone who kills for a price.
Otherlabels approximating the implications of the term hired gun would be hitman and assassin. With the preceding paragraph in mind, would you call Roy Rogers ahired gun? Well, a San Francisco television newscaster did when RoyRogers announced that he was going to campaign against California’sProposition 15. On the day that Mr. Rogers announced his decision thisnewscaster began the story by saying “Roy Rogers has decided tobecome a hired gum for the forces opposing Proposition 15.
” It isalso important to note that this comment was made at the beginning of anews story. Any good debater knows that if you can be the one that determineswhat words and terms are to be used during the course of the arguments,then you will have a strong advantage towards winning the debate as wellas prejudicing the audience. The media is not necessarily limited to terms and phrases withestablished meanings; they will, if they mood strike them, invent newones. The ability to coin your own new words, terms and phrases allowsyou to create issues where none had existed before and to sensationalize minor concerns into massive public paranoia. The following exampleshows how inventive journalists can throw the entire gun owner andhunting fraternities on the defensive by renaming a very”uncommon” item. Not long ago if you had walked into a gun store and asked for a boxof “cop killer” bullets, a blank stare is all you would havereceived in return from the man behind the counter. Then after you leftthe store, without these sinister sounding items, the store owner wouldhave undoubltedly phoned the local police to tell them about you andfind out exactly what “cop killer” bullets were.
The term cop killer is the name given to armor piercing handgunammunition by journalists. By simply renaming this highly specializedand restricted ammo then strongly implying that its only purpose is topenetrate the body armor of police officers, an opportunity for guncontrol (by the means of banning ammunition) was handed to gun controlgroups. FACT: No police officer in America has ever been killed by an armorpiercing handgun bullet penetrating his body armor. FACT: Armorpiercing handgun ammo is made in very small quantities for sale to thepolice and military. It generally is not available to the public, anduntil the media discovered it, was nearly unknown to the public, letalong criminals.
FACT: Armor piercing handgun ammo was developed forlaw enforcement at the request of police officers. Police wanted abullet that would more easily penetrate the automobiles of fleeingfelons. The purpose of this specialized ammo was not for poking holesin body armor. Following the considerable publicity about these armor piercingbullets, laws were (and still are) being pushed on the local, state andfederal levels to ban the sale and simple possession of this type ofammo. The anti-gunner’s particular interest is in laws with thewidest possible definition of what constitutes a so-called cop killerbullet. Their goal, to ban as many types of both rifle and handgunrounds as possible. The anti-gunners nearly succeeded on the federallevel at having many types of hunting and other sporting bullets bannedunder a very broad definition of what could be considered an armorpiercing projectile.
Only a determined effort by the NRA and otherpro-gun organization kept this legislation from becoming law. Oh, there is now a federal law banning the sale of armor piercingammo to the public and its possession while committing a violent felony,but this alternative legislation (endorsed by the NRA) carefully definesarmor piercing ammo without jeopardizing the wide range of bullets usedby sportsmen and hunters. There are still some in the anti-gun mediawho consider this NRA-endorsed alternative legislation to be a setbackfor the cause of gun-control. What it really is, is a reasonablesolution to a problem that simply did not exist in the first place,except in the minds of this country’s excitable journalists.
This next anti-gun media ploy falls under the heading of theridiculously overt. I have seen this technique many times over theyears and understand that it has been in general use for some time. My favority example occurred several months ago. I was watchingthe local nightly news and when one of the many commercials ended theanchorwoman reappeared on the screen. Behind and to the right of herhead was the image of a handgun. Superimposed over the handgun were thewords “violent crime.” I expected to hear some story about arobbery or murder committed with a handgun, but this is the story thataccompanied the rather threatening image and words projected on thescreen.
It seems that a man had gone into a bar to spend the eveningdrinking with friends. Instead he got into an argument with two menalso spending their evening in this bar. As the evening wore on morealcohol was consumed by our principals in this story and the argumentalso continued to grow in intensity. At one point the two men left thebar but waited in the bar’s dark parking lot for our originalcharacter to emerge. When the man finally did leave the bar he wasimmediately attacked and murdered by the two men waiting for him in theparking lot.
The weapons used were the ragged edges of broken bottles.Handguns had nothing to do with this story! So, if no handguns were even remotely involved in this crime, whywas the image of one shown while this story was being told? The reasonis simple. The antigunners in the media want you to think of a gunwhenever a crime is committed whether a gun is used or not.
Theirultimate goal is to brainwash the public into seeing the gun exclusivelyas a tool of crime, and nothing else. What constitutes an arsenal? I am sure that most of the people whowill read this article would picture, in their mind, a concrete buildinghousing hundreds if not thousands of firearms along with many crate ofammunition. Now, the exact number of guns needed to constitute anarsenal is subject to debate but the general consensus of opinion isthat one much have enough weapons to wage at least a small scalemilitary operation before one can claim to be in possession of anarsenal. The following TV news segment tells us, however, that the media hasits own idea of what should be considered an arsenal.
The news report began with the arrest of a man for somenon-firearms related crime. Since this suspect was in his car at thetime of the arrest, the immediate area occupied by him in his car wassearched for concealed weapons. Such enough, some were found. Onerifle and two handguns. The journalist reporting this story referredseveral times to these three weapons as an “arsenal.” Thereis more: while in the police station (this entire story was reportedfrom the police station long after the arrest) a so-called arsenalconsisting of a .
308 caliber semi-auto rifle and two revolvers weredisplayed on a table. The TV camera closely examined these firearmswhile the police official in attendance stated, “These weapons aresimilar to the ones taken out of the suspect’s car”. Referring to two or three common firearms as an arsenal is aroutine practice on the part of the anti-gunners in the media. Whatthey hope to accomplish with this type of ridiculous exaggeration isagain to brainwash the public.
They hope that over a period of timetheir audience can be conditioned to view anyone who owns more than oneor two guns as either a criminal or some kind of para-military nut inpossession of an arsenal. According to the gun-grabbers in the mass media, if you own a gun,particularly a handgun, the chances of you or a member of your familybeing injured or killed is considerable. I am sure that you have heardhorror stories about what might happen should your children find thegun, or what if late one night you should mistake a neighbor for aprowler? Whenever the subject of gun control comes up, the media isquick to offer up these scenarios in the hope of discouraging non-gunowners from becoming gun owners.
Rarely, however, do our hysterical journalists attempt to back these claims with hard facts. The one thing you must understand about the media is that they canprejudice a story in many ways. In the case of guns and accidents it ismore important to examine what they do not tell you. So, let’s putthe persepctive back into the picture. Recently, while reading the paper I noted with great interest areport concerning the most common causes of accidental death and injuryin America today. Excluding automobile accidents, a list of the top 20most dangerous items and practices that threaten Americans with deathand destruction was provided. Guess what? Firearms did not make thelist! Sorry anti-gunners, Americans are too busy multilating themselveswith chain saws, power mowers and bicycles to find the time tonegliently play with their firearms. The number one item on this list of the 20 most dangerous items andpractices is the chain saw.
Each year many thousands of Americansseriously injure and sometimes kill themselves with these powerfulmachines. I happen to live in an area where the use of chain saws isvery common, therefore, I can assure you that when one of thesecontraptions gets loose, the local emergency hospital is sure to becalled upon to display its most impressive skills. How about the power mower? This labor saving device accounted formore than 70,000 injuries last year. Perhaps power mower control is theanswer or if the number of accidents is to be the prime considerationthen a power mower ban would be more appropriate. If you are a concerned parent then please consider this. In orderto protect your children, would you favor banning a device that isannually responsible for the deaths of over a thousand children and theinjuries of some 30,000 more? If you would favor such a ban then takeaway your child’s bicycle.
It is a fact that your child faces fargreater danger on his bicycle than from the firearm you keep locked upin your night stand. The exact number of firearms owned by law-abiding citizens in thiscountry is not known, but conservative estimates place the figure inexcess of 50 million. So, when you consider the number of genuinefirearms-related accidents (only a few hundred annually) you can seethat guns have more than an excellent safety record. Especially whencompared to so many other common items to be found in the average home. I think you can now see why the media does not go into any detailsafter they make the charge that guns should be condemned because ofaccidents. They just drop their bomb and run hoping that you will notbother to look beyond their claims.
There is a great deal of pro-gun news out there. The media,however, reports little of it. I am certain that many of ourjournalists intentionally overlook pro-gun stories would not serve thecause of gun control. There are also pro-gun stories right under thenoses of journalists that go unreported because our privileged guardiansof the First Amendment simply cannot see them. How can they see storieswhen their minds have been conditioned to respond only to the negativeand not the positive? Annual FBI crime statistics always seem to support the right ofprivate citizens to possess firearms. As a result, you will rarely heara journalist refer to these statistics. One statistic that I considerextremely important appears to have been totally ignored by the media.Did you know that Americans annually kill three times as many criminalsas the police do? I am talking about legal and justifiable self-defense.
Obviously it would be rather difficult to convincinglyargue for gun control if you began your report with the above ratio.Let’s also not forget that the number of felons forced toreconsider their attempts at crime by a citizen bearing a firearm canonly be conservatively estimated in the many tens of thousands per year. Can you find relief from television’s anti-gunners byswitching to some prime time situation comedy? Not for long, ifproducers like Norman Lear have anything to say about it. Mr.
Lear’s ability to produce successful prime time sitcoms islegendary. His anti-gun sentiments are, however, less well known, butfrom time to time his writters have relegated comedy to the back seatwhile a serious anti-gun message is presented. The following examplesfrom two of Norman Lear’s offerings illustrates how the anti-gunmessage is interlaced with the laughtrack. In one episode of “All in the Family,” Archie becomesconcerned about the growing number of burglaries in his neighborhood.
So, he brings home a Luger that he purchased from a friend. Edith,Michael (Meathead) and Gloria are all aghast at the thought of a gun inthe house, but Archie keeps it in spite of their objections. Then oneevening while the family is out, two burglars break in. These burglars,of course, find the new gun. When Archie and the rest of the familyreturn home they are held captive for a time by the two felonsbrandishing Archie’s Luger. The sequence of events and thedialogue in this trite scenario offered a very clear anti-gun message tothe viewer. The next Lear example involves an episode of “TheJeffersons”. George Jefferson becomes concerned about the growingcrime rate and decides to purchase a handgun for protection.
His wifeobjects vigorously and orders him not to purchase the gun. Behind hiswife’s back George attempts to legally secure a handgun in New YorkCity. Finding it next to impossible to get a gun permit in a reasonableamount of time George turns to the black market and buys an illegalrevolver. (It is interesting to note that the only realistic element inthis episode is when George has to turn to the black market for his gun,because this shows how effective gun control in New York City actuallyis). Getting back to the show. George now has his gun and the firstthing that he does with it is to carelessly leave it out when his wife,daughter-in-law and grandchild return home.
With no one looking, thegrandchild (a toddler) finds the offending weapon and it goes off. As aresult, the now repentant George Jefferson gets rid of his gun. I could easily fill this magazine with examples of anti-gun TVshows like the two I have just related to you. But, it would beredundant in the extreme. They all present the same picture of theaverage American as some kind of a boob who is only going to hurthimself or innocent bystanders if, heaven forbid, he should get hishands on a firearm.
This belief that the average American is rather stupid is thedominant attitude on the part of today’s crop of journalists andmedia programmers. Again, it is important to realize that this attitudecan be traced to its roots in the academic community. Some very significant research was recently done on the media by S.Robert Lichten, Assistant Professor of Political Science at GeorgeWashington University and Stanley Rothman, Professor of Government atSmith College. Their research was a survey titled “The MediaElite” and its purpose was to uncover the prevailing opinions heldby the most influential people in the media concerning the major socialand moral issues of the day. Professors Lichten and Rothman wereparticularly interested in discovering how journalism’s leadersfelt about social issues having distinct liberal and conservativeviewpoints. For example, this survey asked its participants to givetheir views on such topics as homosexuality, extra-marital sex,abortion, feminism and religion, among others. The results of this research project are, to say the least,enlightening.
On every topic the overwhelming majority of ourjournalists expressed decidedly liberal viewpoints. In practicallyevery case the leaders of this country’s media responded to thesurvey with opinions far to the left of those held by the averageAmerican. But, most importantly, this research has revealed that thebeliefs and biases of the media elite are nearly identical to those ofthe ivory tower, academic elite! Now for the hard part; what can we do to help those in the mediabecome true objective and impartial observers of society? How can thebackward masses hope to bring enlightenment to the intellectuallysuperior? I am afraid that there is little that can be done if all wedo is approach the media elite and simply request that they consider ourside of the gun control issue. There is no shortage of pro-gun information; a mountain of suchfacts and figures exists, but our country’s cracker-jackjournalists nearly always ignore this information when the issue of guncontrol crops up on the nightly news. If an investigative reporterneeds some background information on the subject of gun control he willusually contact Handgun Control Inc.
or The National Coalition to BanHandguns. He will rarely contact the National Rifle Association or anyother state or national organization sympathetic to the pro-gun cause.More often than not, if the NRA is allowed to speak on the news indefense of gun owners it is usually only alloted a small fraction of thetime while the proponents of greater gun controls or gun bans receiveall the time that they need to make their case. If we are going to have an effect on the media, we are going tohave to view it in a different light.
Keep in mind that TV stations andnewspapers are businesses and you are a customer. As a customer youhave the right to make your dissatisfaction known. Remember, expressingyour opinion is a right that is protected by the same First Amendmentthat protects the privileged few living high atop Mount Media. But, to whom should you express your opinion? This is critical. Irecommend the following procedure. Keep a pencil and paper handy whileyou are watching television.
Then, when a journalist unfairly orinaccurately attacks your Second Amendment rights, begin listing thesponsors of the program. Then write a letter, addressed to the sponsoror sponsors of the program. Just tell them respectfully that you areunhappy with the program that they are paying for.
Be sure to explainwhy and always present facts, figures and sound arguments to counter theinaccuracies and biases of the program. Then with a pocket full ofdimes, run down to your local photocopy machine and make three copies ofthe letter. Send the original to the sponsor, send a copy to thestation manager, send a copy to the journalist who presented theoffending material and keep a copy for yourself. If enough gun ownersand hunters would do this, I assure you that it would be very effective,especially on the local level. However, keep in mind that I am not in any way suggesting that youboycott the sponsor’s products or services. The goal is not topunish the business community but rather to let them know how you feelabout the programs that they are paying for.
After all, they want youin a happy mood when their commercials come on. The advantage of this type of letter writing is simply this. If astation manager receives just the one and only letter that you wrotecomplaining about the anti-gun bias of his programing, he is most likelyjust going to file your letter in the round file basket with littlethought. If his anti-gun sentiments are particularly strong he mighteven smile knowing that he has ruined the dinner of another backwoodsgun-nut.
But, a phone call from an upset sponsor is an entirelydifferent matter. Also, keep in mind that our goal is not to turn the anti-gun biasof those in the media into a pro-gun bias but rather to encourage thento honestly, fairly and accurately present all sides. When the mediaelite truly becomes impartial and objective on the subject of firearms,we will have nothing to worry about.