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How Our Media Mislead on Guns

That could be a long post! For now, let’s just note one aspect of the news media’s biased gun coverage: the media frequently paint the National Rifle Association as a sinister, shadowy organization that exercises a mysterious power over legislation. Thus this Yahoo News headline on a Christian Science Monitor article:

This is silly. Obviously, Congress has the “muscle” to pass whatever it wants to, and neither “gun lobby”–either pro or con–has any power to dictate to Congress. What is happening is that the pro-gun control forces don’t have the votes for the unconstitutional legislation they would like to enact. So, rather than acknowledging that gun control is unpopular, our media moguls prefer to attribute its failure to unexplained machinations by the NRA.

Will the ignorance on firearms ever end? If they insist on writing about guns, isn’t it reasonable to expect that news organizations will employ someone, a reporter or editor, who knows something about them?

On Sunday, top gun lobbyists predicted that there’s not enough support in Congress for a new ban on assault weapons and that even curbs on high-capacity magazine clips were in doubt.

There is no such thing as a “magazine clip.” A magazine is a magazine, and a clip is a clip. This whole topic is fraught with stupidity. As we and countless others have explained over and over, banning “high capacity magazines” would be an exercise in futility. First, a ten-round magazine is sufficient to kill ten people. Is it really the goal of gun control legislation to limit deaths to ten per firearm? (A would-be mass murderer can carry at least six or seven firearms.) Doesn’t it make a lot more sense to address mental health issues, violent entertainment, unfettered press coverage and other factors, rather than trying to influence body counts at the margin?

And, second, you can’t even influence body counts: a person with a semiautomatic firearm can substitute one magazine for another in less than two seconds. You can carry at least ten or twenty loaded magazines on your person with no problem whatsoever. So let’s say each of those magazines is restricted to ten bullets: we are now down to 100 to 200 hypothetical victims. Again, is this really the purpose of gun control? Isn’t it obvious that we need to look in a different direction? For example, if we are going to disregard the Constitution, wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to institute press control? If we prohibited newspapers, television networks, etc., from publicizing incidents of mass murder, it would drastically reduce the incentive that mentally ill people perceive to become famous and important by carrying out such acts. This would be far more effective in reducing mass murders than any regulation of guns could possibly be.

In these troubled times, you can count on our news media to be on the wrong side of every issue. The current disputes over gun control, and the absence of similar disputes over press control, demonstrate the truth of that axiom.

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