For many Americans this past week has been a roller coaster of emotions in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. I am no different. I was still up last Sunday when the first reports broke. I had the knots in my stomach when the first videos came out. Tears and heartbreak at the stories of fear, pain and loss have been part of my daily routine this last week. As well as immense pride in those who stepped up, protected others and saved lives. There has also been much anger this past week. Not only at the shooter himself, whom I won’t name, but at the painful media bias and firearm illiteracy in the coverage and reporting.
I realize that reporters can’t be expected to be experts on every possible subject they cover. That being said, they do the public a disservice when they don’t even try to give true and informative coverage. Part of that is basic illiteracy and part of it is media bias. There is also the rush to fill the 24 hour news cycle with content and be first with the exclusive.
Sometimes the media bias is glaringly obvious, such as the animation put out by CNN to illustrate the workings of a bump fire stock. However, the animation was missing one crucial component, a bump fire stock. It did, however, include a scope, suppressor and grenade launcher. It would be hard to conceive a more blatant misrepresentation if you tried.
Versus an animation on how it actually works, minus the intentionally inflammatory additions of the suppressor and grenade launcher.
UPDATE: YouTube pulled the legitimate illustration animation, but left the bogus CNN misinformation. Here’s another proper demonstration by bump fire stock inventor, Slide Fire Solutions, Inc.
Media bias comes in many forms, from the personal bias of the journalists, to the selection of so-called “experts,” to the descriptive adjectives they use in their reporting. Sensationalism drives ratings more than facts, but facts SHOULD BE essential. How else can the public make informed decisions on how to direct their political representatives to respond?
A few facts that media coverage has routinely misreported.
1: Automatic Weapons are not now, nor have they ever been banned in the United States. Yes, they are tightly regulated, but with enough money, licensing, background checks, fees and taxes civilians can still own, operate, buy and sell fully automatic weapons. According to the BATFE, there are currently about 500,000 automatic weapons registered to private citizens. You just can’t get anything manufactured after 1986 and some imports have been banned.
2: Automatic weapons are NOT more deadly, per se. Automatic weapons fire is often referred to as “spray and pray,” meaning you are spraying bullets and praying you hit something. The loss of control and accuracy with automatic fire is substantial. Even more so with the bump fire stock, because the entire rifle is moving back and forth in addition to the normal loss of control during high rates of fire. Master Firearms Instructor Tom Russell of the American Firearms Academy, in a comment on bump fire stocks used by the Las Vegas shooter, said, “If anything, this stock probably resulted in less precision and lethality.” Military experts have also said that, while automatic fire does serve a purpose in suppression (keeping the enemy in cover and not firing back), it is inefficient and ineffective at actual engagement of targets.
Note: In consulting with experts, given what has been publicly reported about the shooter’s arms and ammo, ALL have said it could have been much worse. While the loss of life was staggering, all agree that there are multiple ways in which it could, and most likely would, have been far worse without the high fire rate provided by the bump fire stocks.
3: Probably the most egregious level of misinformation comes in the form of mischaracterizing the purpose of the 2nd Amendment. Even spokesmen for the NRA are routinely guilty of this. A few years ago I described what I call,
The American Gun Culture Trinity:
SPORT: Hunting, skeet shooting, 3-gun competitions, etc.
PERSONAL DEFENSE: Self-defense, defense of others.
NATIONAL DEFENSE: An armed population capable of defending this nation, and their liberty in general, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
While many in the media, reluctantly or partially, accept the premise of the first two, they routinely discount the third. As a student of history, the founder’s intent for the 2nd Amendment is quite clear.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The founders repeatedly referred to the “militia” as “the whole of the people.” They had a profound distrust of a profession military and the ability for such to be used as an oppressive force against the people. They believed that an armed population would be greater than any army that could be raised against them. Tench Coxe once wrote, “Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans.” Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
The often misrepresented “well regulated” portion of the 2nd Amendment had a very different meaning in the vernacular of the time. A nation that had just declared its independence, in large part due to oppressive government, firearms regulation and confiscation did not mean “well regulated” in today’s modern sense of government regulated. The phrase was used to indicate something in proper working order, as in a well regulated clock keeping proper time. Well regulated appetites being discipled in moderation, NOT external regulation in the form of government.
In the context of original intent, there is no justification for current gun control laws, much less new ones. The founders understood the inherent risks of such freedom for the people. In various ways they repeatedly expressed the same sentiment and preference for “dangerous freedom” over “peaceful servitude or slavery.” Acknowledging that the risks associated with freedom were preferable to the greater risk of inability to defend against an all powerful and oppressive government. Fears well founded given history’s repeated examples of genocide perpetrated by governments against unarmed populations.
However, the founders also made allowances for changing attitudes in the future. It’s called the amendment process. If the reported polling numbers in support of universal background checks or weapon and accessory bans are correct, then repealing and replacing the 2nd Amendment should be no problem. That would be the proper, constitutional approach rather than continued debate, misrepresentation and unconstitutional laws and regulations.
However, this reveals another media bias and/or illiteracy. Universal Background Checks “sound good,” but few ever report on exactly what all that entails. Bans “sound good” to some, but few ever report on the exact mechanism required to identify, locate and confiscate these banned items. Bans dont work. Alcohol Prohibition, the drug war and the trafficking of black market banned items around the world have all resulted in MORE violence.
Instead of factual informed reporting we get illiterate sound bites and superficial platitudes with no informational substance. Whether the media bias and illiteracy are intentional or just ignorance, the disservice to the American people is profound.