Media Aim at Gun Rights with 'Loaded Coverage,' Report Says

Randy Hall | Staff Writer/Editor | Monday, August 27, 2007

Media Aim at Gun Rights with 'Loaded Coverage,' Report Says

(CNSNews.com) - As gun-control advocates prepared to hold a "National Day of Protest Against Gun Violence" on Tuesday, a group dedicated to correcting misconceptions in the media about social conservatism and religious faith issued a study claiming that news outlets regularly "take potshots" at rights provided by the Second Amendment.

"During the first seven months of 2007, the media waged an intermittent war against the Second Amendment, using a variety of fallacious arguments to make the pitch for gun control," according to "The Media Assault on the Second Amendment," which was released on Monday by the Culture and Media Institute (CMI).

"A crime wave in the big cities, followed by the Virginia Tech tragedy in April, gave the media plenty of ammunition for attacking the right to bear arms," said David Niedrauer, the study's author. "The three major broadcast networks ran at least 650 stories on gun homicides from January through July" but only two on using firearms for self-defense.

"The media first broached the urban crime wave immediately following a March 9 court decision, Parker v. District of Columbia, which struck down D.C.'s handgun ban," said Niedrauer. "ABC, NBC, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today each ran at least one story on the crime wave between March 9 and March 29.""

Soon after, "the media had a field day during the week after the Virginia Tech campus shootings on April 16," said Robert Knight, director of CMI, which is a division of the Media Research Center, the parent organization of Cybercast News Service.

"The major broadcast networks ran nearly 30 stories promoting gun control, with another 24 from CNN, nine in the New York Times and 20 in the Washington Post," Knight said. "The message was delivered with machine-gun regularity: lack of gun control led to the massacre, so more gun laws might prevent another massacre.

"Armen Keteyian of CBS Evening News quoted the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and noted that Virginia Tech - which had recently imposed a total gun ban on campus - had fought Virginia's 'hunting culture' in a desperate effort to 'safeguard the student population,'" Knight added.

However, shooter "Seung-Hui Cho clearly was not deterred by Tech's gun ban," Knight said.

"In their zeal to repeal the Second Amendment," the report indicates, "the media failed to inform their audience of at least four powerful arguments against gun control:

-- "Comparisons between countries are not useful . Unfortunately, direct comparisons based solely on crime rates and gun laws tell very little about whether gun control actually works. Social scientists believe that gun control is only one of many factors that influence rates of violence.

--"Guns are frequently used to stop crimes. To the Founding Fathers, the right to bear arms for self-protection was essential if citizens were to be truly free, but this essential fact rarely saw the light of day in the mainstream media.

-- \ldblquote Most guns used in crimes are illegally acquired. Like it or not, banning guns only takes them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, making it easier for people with no respect for the law to attack their victims.

-- "Gun control laws have no proven effect. At worst, gun control laws leave law-abiding citizens defenseless before rapacious criminals, and at best, they may not affect violence at all."

However, Peter Hamm, communications director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Cybercast News Service that he found the report "chilling," because it criticized the news media for its reporting on gun violence, which he said is a serious problem in today's society.

"Reducing coverage of a problem won't make that problem go away," said Hamm, who asserted that the use of firearms for self-defense "doesn't happen nearly as often" as gun violence in this country.

The very fact that people purchase guns for self-defense - which is rarely reported to the police by firearm owners when it happens - is another sign that gun violence requires such efforts as the National Day of Protest , he added.

Nevertheless, Hamm asserted that activists on the gun-control side of the debate are also frustrated with media coverage of gun violence, because there isn't enough of it, they say.

"I guess if both sides of the argument claim there's not enough of something, that's pretty telling," he said, adding that, in this instance, media coverage is indeed "fair and balanced."

Niedrauer strongly disagreed.

"Why do the media repeatedly make the same faulty assumptions and advance the same shopworn arguments for expensive and intrusive gun-control policies that have no proven effect on crime and render law-abiding citizens helpless to defend themselves?" he asked in the report.

"In a word, ideology," said Niedrauer. "The argument for gun control has always been based more on utopian visions than empirical facts. That, and the left simply does not trust an armed citizenry.""

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