The following column was adapted from remarks Farah delivered to
the National Rifle Association Convention in Philadelphia yesterday.
PHILADELPHIA — Three months after I took over as editor of the Sacramento Union,
then, in 1990, the oldest daily in the West, Howard Kurtz, the media
critic of the Washington Post wrote the first column his paper had ever
devoted to my paper in its 145-year history.
Kurtz’s intentions were to sound the alarm on a dangerous development
in California’s state capital. It seemed a daily newspaper was marching
to the beat of its own drummer — not playing by the rules established
in elite and secret conclaves at Columbia University or in studies
commissioned by the Gannett Foundation or the Pew Charitable Trusts.
One of Kurtz’s biggest gripes with me was the fact that I banned the
use of the term “assault weapon” from the pages of the Sacramento Union.
Instead of this phrase, our reporters and editorial writers would be
required to be more precise in their language. Did they mean
“semi-automatic weapons”? Did they mean “fully automatic weapons”? Or
were they simply referring to guns that looked real mean?
What this little anecdote illustrates is that the traditional role of
the press as watchdog of government has been stood on its head. Today,
the watchdogs of the press are more likely to be guarding their
industry’s own politically correct mythologies and pathologies.
The fact is that the establishment press in this country is
constantly bombarding our senses with lies about guns. Even worse is the
way it carefully and systematically censors real news that could
actually end up saving the lives of Americans.
For instance, when was the last time you read a story in your local
newspaper or saw a TV news report about someone who used a gun
defensively and effectively? I can’t remember the last time. Yet, such
incidents occur some 2.5 million times a year.
How often have you heard this argument against gun ownership? Friends
or relatives are the most likely killers — or, more precisely, 58
percent of murder victims are killed by relatives or acquaintances.
According to the broad definition of “acquaintances” used in the
FBI’s reporting, most victims are, indeed, classified as knowing their
killer. However, using such definitions, the FBI includes drug buyers
killing drug dealers, cabdrivers killed by first-time customers, gang
members killing other gang members, prostitutes killed by their clients,
When such non-acquaintance killings are actually taken out of the
equation, it turns out only 17 percent of murder victims were either
family members, friends, neighbors or roommates. Who’s cooking the
numbers? And why?
The media have also whipped up a lot of hysteria about concealed
handgun permits. The perception has been created that, if such permits
were made more readily available, there would be shoot-’em-ups at every
street corner in America.
The fact of the matter is that millions of people already have
concealed handgun permits. Yet only one permit holder has ever been
arrested for using a concealed handgun after a traffic accident and that
case was ruled self-defense.
If you believe the major media, you would think that a household gun
is more likely to kill you or a member of your family than an intruder.
Once again, lies, damn lies and statistics. Overwhelmingly, people
killed in their homes are killed by intruder’s guns, not their own. No
more than 4 percent of gun death victims can be attributed to the
We hear a lot from the news media about “rights” — both real and
imagined. Yet, one of America’s actual, constitutionally guaranteed
rights is under assault by the media as never before. The press responds
to gun issues in Pavlovian-style, with semi-automatic, rapid-fire
The government knows better, the media tell us. Individuals can’t be
trusted to make intelligent and mature decisions about protecting
themselves, the press claims. We’d all be a lot safer if there were
fewer guns around, they suggest.
It makes you wonder: Why is a class of people who make their living
under the protections of the First Amendment, so willing to give up our
rights under the Second Amendment?