Bill Press, the liberal co-host of Crossfire and former California
state Democratic Party chairman, screamed, “Guns, guns, guns” at me when
I was on Crossfire. That verbal assault of a few years ago has been
haunting me these past few weeks as across America the media is on a
feeding frenzy against guns and gun owners.
Since April 15, 1999, when two crazy kids walked into Columbine High
School and killed their schoolmates and teachers with illegal guns, the
media in cahoots with the professional gun banners has been promoting
more legislation designed to eliminate gun ownership. Cogent arguments
against rash proposals, discussions about lack of prosecution,
statistics that show school violence has and continues to decline, and
any notion of the right of self-defense are dismissed by well over 95
percent of the media. Very few journalists are promoting civilian
firearms ownership these days.
An unbelievable surprise last week was Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s
August 11 on-air acknowledgment that she was
changing her mind regarding firearms. Her visit to Israel, where she
found most people openly armed, was a major catalyst to her conversion.
She commented that if someone had been armed in the Atlanta office
building, Mark Barton would have never been able to escape.
Her acknowledgment that guns in the hands of the honest, law-abiding
citizens promotes a feeling of safety and are used to save lives is a
solitary voice in the wilderness. The editorial onslaught following the
neo-Nazi’s assault against the Jewish Community Center is just the
latest in a media cacophony of editorials designed to arouse animosity
against gun owners. The California newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and
the San Francisco Examiner, have included not only multiple news stories
each day about the incident and its aftermath, but have used the crime
to write hate-filled editorials.
Buford Furrow’s crimes were unconscionable; he not only sought out
victims based on religion and race, he most certainly was out to kill as
many people — men, women and children — as possible. His history of
aberrant behavior and commitment to a mental hospital has been told and
retold. We have even found out that doctors could have predicted the
tragedy, but did nothing to prevent it. This is not a failure of gun
laws, but a failure of the American medical and judicial system.
In the past four months it has become glaringly obvious that more
than 90 percent of editorial writers and political commentators are on a
private vendetta against American gun owners and especially the largest
public group of gun owners, the National Rifle Association (NRA). The
“unbiased” press is vilifying law-abiding citizens who own firearms by
questioning their decency and their humanity, thus spewing out venom
that is reminiscent of the McCarthy era in its intensity and
They, in the identical manner of guilt by association used by Joe
McCarthy, are implying that millions upon millions of gun owners
support, encourage and applaud the murderous madness of the Columbine
assassins, Mark Barton, and Buford Furrow. These self-righteous pundits
blatantly use hatred of those who responsibly own and use guns to
promote their political agendas of gun prohibition.
The San Francisco Examiner in its Saturday
editorial accused the
NRA leadership of supporting criminal activity: “The NRA leadership
would rather see the slaughter of innocent children than allow the
government to do anything serious about the lethal weapons that kill
thousands of people every month in robberies, accidents, suicides,
drunken disputes and hate crimes.”
On the same day The Los Angeles Times in an editorial urged Congress
to listen to Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks, who proposed
last Friday “that every assault rifle and Saturday night special handgun
in America should be banned, collected and destroyed.” While applauding
Chief Park’s amazing rhetoric, they viciously attacked both the NRA and
politicians who support the right of law abiding citizens to own
firearms: “For the National Rifle Assn. and its political toadies to go
on pretending that effective measures to reduce this violence are beyond
devising is absurd.” NRA’s Sacramento lobbyist Steve Helsley wrote a
great retort to Chief
Parks and copied the newspaper.
Time magazine’s August 9 issue devotes the cover and seven pages to
“The Atlanta Massacre;” “Get Rid of the Damned Things,” an editorial
masquerading as news written by Roger Rosenblatt takes up an additional
two pages. Mr. Rosenblatt’s contention is that Americans are “tired of
tinkering with a machine that is as good as obsolete” and want to ban
every gun “pistols, semi-autos and automatics” — with the exception of
“hunting rifles and shotguns.” He does admit that there may be serious
constitutional questions, but shrugs that off with a “trade-off
involving the essential underpinnings of American life.” I give up my
rights, Rosenblatt confiscates my 28 gauge Remington 1100, and what do I
or anyone else receive in that trade-off?
The rhetoric is amazingly similar — ban some, ban all, register
guns, register gun owners; the weekly news magazines are leading with
“gun” stories for the second week in a row; the newspapers across the
country are sharing editorials. A Los Angeles Times editorial runs in
the Miami Herald; the electronic media is running the same pictures of
victims over and over again on every network, and every incident of
criminal behavior with guns is being utilized to promote the agenda.
A University of Michigan study
documented the agenda bias of the national media. Brian Patrick, a Ph.D.
candidate, studied 1,500 different articles from the “elite” press
covering the NRA from 1990 to 1998 and compared that coverage with the
coverage of other known national organizations: National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), and
Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI). What he found was that almost 90 percent of
editorials and opinion pieces about the NRA were negative, while those
other groups averaged 52 percent negative coverage. His conclusion: that
the blame lies with editors who condone the use of language “the likes
of which are seldom directed at non-NRA groups.” Why is anyone surprised
that the “elite” press ignored Patrick’s study when it was released?
In addition, studies and articles on mass murders by Northeastern
University Criminal Justice Professor James Fox have been overlooked by
the “elite” media’s spinmeisters. Professor Fox has been studying the
history of mass murder and was quoted as saying that current shootings
do “not signal a new trend in America,” but that current media
coverage promotes that illusion.
His 1998 study, “Multiple Murder: Patterns of Serial and Mass Murder”
(University of Chicago Press), reports that the most mass murders in the
past several decades occurred in 1977: 38 criminals were responsible for
the death of 141 lives. While 1994 had the lowest number of mass
murders: 31 criminals murdering 74 victims.
Professor Fox is hardly reticent about stating the obvious:
- The difference between now and, say, the middle 1980s, is that
when it happens now we have many news channels that will cover it live
and so you’re put right in the middle of the drama. Back then, we
weren’t put in the middle of the drama … and we didn’t have the same
approach to news reporting. We didn’t have CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News
The reality is that we are not experiencing more mass murders,
more hateful people, or more “Guns, guns, guns.” What we have is an
“elite” media hell-bent on demonizing guns and their owners; on ignoring
evidence that does not support their beliefs; on publishing erroneous,
unreliable, or slanted news even when they know it isn’t verifiable –
all in the name of creating a culture based on their notions of truth,
while erasing any signs of a culture based on morality, self-reliance,
and personal freedom.