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Anti-gun propaganda from the media.

"America's major television networks, its dominant newspapers and its national news magazines are obviously, overwhelmingly anti-gun."

I assure you that I am not going to claim the above statement to be an original observation on my part. Anyone concerned about protecting our right to keep and bear arms has long moaned and groaned over the mass media's unrelenting anti-gun bias.

In an earlier article for Guns & Ammo I looked at the true source of gun hatred, the liberal academic elitists in our colleges and universities. I briefy examined those areas in society where the academic elitists have gained their greatest influence (education, religion, the justice system and the media). In that article I only mentioned the media because this critically important and influential profession is so completely dominated by elitists that it must be examined separately so that its awesome threat to America's gun owners can be appreciated.

In this article I want to explain how so many of todayhs journalists, newscasters, editors etc. came to be anti-gun. I will also explore some of the overt and subtle techniques used by those in the media to eventually sway public opinion against gun ownership and also what we as gun owners can do to fight this media goliath.

Things have changed. In the past the way to enter most professions was to start at the very bottom. You would then work your way up and into your chosen field over many years, gaining experience and responsibilities along the way. The attitudes, biases and points of view that you developed during this process came from many sources: your community, the region of the country where you lived, your faith and--above all-the more experienced co-workers who were fashioning you into a professional.

A would-be journalist of years past most likely would have, while still in his teens, entered his profession as a copyboy. (Yes, I mean copyboy; remember this way many years ago, long before the academic elitists learned how to clone copypersons). The rest of this scenario you can well imagine. It's like the stories that your grandfather may have told you about how he got his start. Remember, however, what worked for grandpa will most likely not work for you today; things have changed, especially in journalism.

Would you like the prestige of being a reporter at some newspaper or TV station? Fine, where is your degree? Forget how grandpa did it, today you must assimilate the wisdom of the ages in four years (not counting summer vacations) at some college or university before you can become a full-fledged journalist. If you do have such a degree, with a major in journalism and a minor in art history, congratulations, you can now begin your career as a journalist. Just think, because of the wonders of modern higher education you-at the age of 22 or 23-have reached a point that took grandpa much longer to achieve. Well, it's understandable, all grandpa had to work with was an accumulating body of both professional and life experiences.

If a journalist's only background (prior to entering the profession) is the university campus, then where else is he going to go to find his opinions? Since the academic community is the most anti-gun collection of fanatics in the cosmos, a young journalist's attitude towards firearms is more than likely going to be negative. Remember that during the past two decades the electronic media, in particular, has exploded all over the country. What with satellites, cable and a seemingly insatiable appetite on the part of most Americans for vegetating in front of the glowing box, the need for more newscasters, reporters and writers has been great. Our campuses have been quick to answer the call be burping out so-called journalists at a rate actually in excess of the media's needs. No time for seasoned experience here, if he or she is willing to style their hair and then be taught to use a blow dryer, then switch on the camera so we can all lean back and watch them read.

If you think that you have detected a note of contempt in my writing thus far, be assured that you are correct. I am very contemptuous of the media whenever it attacks the Second Amendment. I have found it impossible to look upon the media as something like the loyal opposition with a sincere but differing point of view. How can you muster any respect for a group of people who absolutely refuse to examine any attitude other than the one they already possess, especially when most journalists would like you to believe that they are objective and impartial. It is particularly amazing that these supposedly highly educated guardians of the First Amendment continue to rely on their combined monumental ignorance about firearms, firearms law and the growing mountain of authoritative evidence that shows gun control can do nothing more than fulfill the Big Brother aspirations of the elitists in the media and our academic institutions.

My interest in firearms and gun control began in earnest, during the battle over California's anti-gun Proposition 15 in the November 1982 elections. I became particularly interested in the media's coverage of this battle. Since that time I have made it a point to absorb as much media coverage on the subject as possible. Based on my observations, I have been able to discern themes and techniques repeatedly used by the media to sway public opinion against guns, hunters and gun ownership in general. These themes and techniques can be ridiculously overt or diabolically subtle and clever. Sometimes the anti-gun propaganda is subtle enough and clever enough to such in even the most devoted gun enthusiast. Let's now take a look at some of these efforts. I am confident that most of the readers of this magazine have seen them before.

What kind of image does the term "hired gun" conjure up in your mind? I am sure that most, if not all, defenders of the Second Amendment would cringer if someone called them a "hired gun." After all, a hired gun is usually someone who kills for a price. Other labels approximating the implications of the term hired gun would be hit man and assassin.

With the preceding paragraph in mind, would you call Roy Rogers a hired gun? Well, a San Francisco television newscaster did when Roy Rogers announced that he was going to campaign against California's Proposition 15. On the day that Mr. Rogers announced his decision this newscaster began the story by saying "Roy Rogers has decided to become a hired gum for the forces opposing Proposition 15." It is also important to note that this comment was made at the beginning of a news story.

Any good debater knows that if you can be the one that determines what words and terms are to be used during the course of the arguments, then you will have a strong advantage towards winning the debate as well as prejudicing the audience.

The media is not necessarily limited to terms and phrases with established meanings; they will, if they mood strike them, invent new ones. The ability to coin your own new words, terms and phrases allows you to create issues where none had existed before and to sensationalize minor concerns into massive public paranoia. The following example shows how inventive journalists can throw the entire gun owner and hunting fraternities on the defensive by renaming a very "uncommon" item.

Not long ago if you had walked into a gun store and asked for a box of "cop killer" bullets, a blank stare is all you would have received in return from the man behind the counter. Then after you left the store, without these sinister sounding items, the store owner would have undoubltedly phoned the local police to tell them about you and find out exactly what "cop killer" bullets were.

The term cop killer is the name given to armor piercing handgun ammunition by journalists. By simply renaming this highly specialized and restricted ammo then strongly implying that its only purpose is to penetrate the body armor of police officers, an opportunity for gun control (by the means of banning ammunition) was handed to gun control groups.

FACT: No police officer in America has ever been killed by an armor piercing handgun bullet penetrating his body armor. FACT: Armor piercing handgun ammo is made in very small quantities for sale to the police and military. It generally is not available to the public, and until the media discovered it, was nearly unknown to the public, let along criminals. FACT: Armor piercing handgun ammo was developed for law enforcement at the request of police officers. Police wanted a bullet that would more easily penetrate the automobiles of fleeing felons. The purpose of this specialized ammo was not for poking holes in body armor.

Following the considerable publicity about these armor piercing bullets, laws were (and still are) being pushed on the local, state and federal levels to ban the sale and simple possession of this type of ammo. The anti-gunner's particular interest is in laws with the widest possible definition of what constitutes a so-called cop killer bullet. Their goal, to ban as many types of both rifle and handgun rounds as possible. The anti-gunners nearly succeeded on the federal level at having many types of hunting and other sporting bullets banned under a very broad definition of what could be considered an armor piercing projectile. Only a determined effort by the NRA and other pro-gun organization kept this legislation from becoming law.

Oh, there is now a federal law banning the sale of armor piercing ammo to the public and its possession while committing a violent felony, but this alternative legislation (endorsed by the NRA) carefully defines armor piercing ammo without jeopardizing the wide range of bullets used by sportsmen and hunters. There are still some in the anti-gun media who consider this NRA-endorsed alternative legislation to be a setback for the cause of gun-control. What it really is, is a reasonable solution to a problem that simply did not exist in the first place, except in the minds of this country's excitable journalists.

This next anti-gun media ploy falls under the heading of the ridiculously overt. I have seen this technique many times over the years and understand that it has been in general use for some time.

My favority example occurred several months ago. I was watching the local nightly news and when one of the many commercials ended the anchorwoman reappeared on the screen. Behind and to the right of her head was the image of a handgun. Superimposed over the handgun were the words "violent crime." I expected to hear some story about a robbery or murder committed with a handgun, but this is the story that accompanied the rather threatening image and words projected on the screen.

It seems that a man had gone into a bar to spend the evening drinking with friends. Instead he got into an argument with two men also spending their evening in this bar. As the evening wore on more alcohol was consumed by our principals in this story and the argument also continued to grow in intensity. At one point the two men left the bar but waited in the bar's dark parking lot for our original character to emerge. When the man finally did leave the bar he was immediately attacked and murdered by the two men waiting for him in the parking lot. The weapons used were the ragged edges of broken bottles. Handguns had nothing to do with this story!

So, if no handguns were even remotely involved in this crime, why was the image of one shown while this story was being told? The reason is simple. The antigunners in the media want you to think of a gun whenever a crime is committed whether a gun is used or not. Their ultimate goal is to brainwash the public into seeing the gun exclusively as a tool of crime, and nothing else.

What constitutes an arsenal? I am sure that most of the people who will read this article would picture, in their mind, a concrete building housing hundreds if not thousands of firearms along with many crate of ammunition. Now, the exact number of guns needed to constitute an arsenal is subject to debate but the general consensus of opinion is that one much have enough weapons to wage at least a small scale military operation before one can claim to be in possession of an arsenal.

The following TV news segment tells us, however, that the media has its own idea of what should be considered an arsenal.

The news report began with the arrest of a man for some non-firearms related crime. Since this suspect was in his car at the time of the arrest, the immediate area occupied by him in his car was searched for concealed weapons. Such enough, some were found. One rifle and two handguns. The journalist reporting this story referred several times to these three weapons as an "arsenal." There is more: while in the police station (this entire story was reported from the police station long after the arrest) a so-called arsenal consisting of a .308 caliber semi-auto rifle and two revolvers were displayed on a table. The TV camera closely examined these firearms while the police official in attendance stated, "These weapons are similar to the ones taken out of the suspect's car".

Referring to two or three common firearms as an arsenal is a routine practice on the part of the anti-gunners in the media. What they hope to accomplish with this type of ridiculous exaggeration is again to brainwash the public. They hope that over a period of time their audience can be conditioned to view anyone who owns more than one or two guns as either a criminal or some kind of para-military nut in possession of an arsenal.

According to the gun-grabbers in the mass media, if you own a gun, particularly a handgun, the chances of you or a member of your family being injured or killed is considerable. I am sure that you have heard horror stories about what might happen should your children find the gun, or what if late one night you should mistake a neighbor for a prowler? Whenever the subject of gun control comes up, the media is quick to offer up these scenarios in the hope of discouraging non-gun owners from becoming gun owners. Rarely, however, do our hysterical journalists attempt to back these claims with hard facts.

The one thing you must understand about the media is that they can prejudice a story in many ways. In the case of guns and accidents it is more important to examine what they do not tell you. So, let's put the persepctive back into the picture.

Recently, while reading the paper I noted with great interest a report concerning the most common causes of accidental death and injury in America today. Excluding automobile accidents, a list of the top 20 most dangerous items and practices that threaten Americans with death and destruction was provided. Guess what? Firearms did not make the list! Sorry anti-gunners, Americans are too busy multilating themselves with chain saws, power mowers and bicycles to find the time to negliently play with their firearms.

The number one item on this list of the 20 most dangerous items and practices is the chain saw. Each year many thousands of Americans seriously injure and sometimes kill themselves with these powerful machines. I happen to live in an area where the use of chain saws is very common, therefore, I can assure you that when one of these contraptions gets loose, the local emergency hospital is sure to be called upon to display its most impressive skills.

How about the power mower? This labor saving device accounted for more than 70,000 injuries last year. Perhaps power mower control is the answer or if the number of accidents is to be the prime consideration then a power mower ban would be more appropriate.

If you are a concerned parent then please consider this. In order to protect your children, would you favor banning a device that is annually responsible for the deaths of over a thousand children and the injuries of some 30,000 more? If you would favor such a ban then take away your child's bicycle. It is a fact that your child faces far greater danger on his bicycle than from the firearm you keep locked up in your night stand.

The exact number of firearms owned by law-abiding citizens in this country is not known, but conservative estimates place the figure in excess of 50 million. So, when you consider the number of genuine firearms-related accidents (only a few hundred annually) you can see that guns have more than an excellent safety record. Especially when compared to so many other common items to be found in the average home.

I think you can now see why the media does not go into any details after they make the charge that guns should be condemned because of accidents. They just drop their bomb and run hoping that you will not bother to look beyond their claims.

There is a great deal of pro-gun news out there. The media, however, reports little of it. I am certain that many of our journalists intentionally overlook pro-gun stories would not serve the cause of gun control. There are also pro-gun stories right under the noses of journalists that go unreported because our privileged guardians of the First Amendment simply cannot see them. How can they see stories when their minds have been conditioned to respond only to the negative and not the positive?

Annual FBI crime statistics always seem to support the right of private citizens to possess firearms. As a result, you will rarely hear a journalist refer to these statistics. One statistic that I consider extremely important appears to have been totally ignored by the media. Did you know that Americans annually kill three times as many criminals as the police do? I am talking about legal and justifiable self-defense. Obviously it would be rather difficult to convincingly argue for gun control if you began your report with the above ratio. Let's also not forget that the number of felons forced to reconsider their attempts at crime by a citizen bearing a firearm can only be conservatively estimated in the many tens of thousands per year.

Can you find relief from television's anti-gunners by switching to some prime time situation comedy? Not for long, if producers like Norman Lear have anything to say about it. Mr. Lear's ability to produce successful prime time sitcoms is legendary. His anti-gun sentiments are, however, less well known, but from time to time his writters have relegated comedy to the back seat while a serious anti-gun message is presented. The following examples from two of Norman Lear's offerings illustrates how the anti-gun message is interlaced with the laughtrack.

In one episode of "All in the Family," Archie becomes concerned about the growing number of burglaries in his neighborhood. So, he brings home a Luger that he purchased from a friend. Edith, Michael (Meathead) and Gloria are all aghast at the thought of a gun in the house, but Archie keeps it in spite of their objections. Then one evening while the family is out, two burglars break in. These burglars, of course, find the new gun. When Archie and the rest of the family return home they are held captive for a time by the two felons brandishing Archie's Luger. The sequence of events and the dialogue in this trite scenario offered a very clear anti-gun message to the viewer.

The next Lear example involves an episode of "The Jeffersons". George Jefferson becomes concerned about the growing crime rate and decides to purchase a handgun for protection. His wife objects vigorously and orders him not to purchase the gun. Behind his wife's back George attempts to legally secure a handgun in New York City. Finding it next to impossible to get a gun permit in a reasonable amount of time George turns to the black market and buys an illegal revolver. (It is interesting to note that the only realistic element in this episode is when George has to turn to the black market for his gun, because this shows how effective gun control in New York City actually is). Getting back to the show. George now has his gun and the first thing that he does with it is to carelessly leave it out when his wife, daughter-in-law and grandchild return home. With no one looking, the grandchild (a toddler) finds the offending weapon and it goes off. As a result, the now repentant George Jefferson gets rid of his gun.

I could easily fill this magazine with examples of anti-gun TV shows like the two I have just related to you. But, it would be redundant in the extreme. They all present the same picture of the average American as some kind of a boob who is only going to hurt himself or innocent bystanders if, heaven forbid, he should get his hands on a firearm.

This belief that the average American is rather stupid is the dominant attitude on the part of today's crop of journalists and media programmers. Again, it is important to realize that this attitude can be traced to its roots in the academic community.

Some very significant research was recently done on the media by S. Robert Lichten, Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University and Stanley Rothman, Professor of Government at Smith College. Their research was a survey titled "The Media Elite" and its purpose was to uncover the prevailing opinions held by the most influential people in the media concerning the major social and moral issues of the day. Professors Lichten and Rothman were particularly interested in discovering how journalism's leaders felt about social issues having distinct liberal and conservative viewpoints. For example, this survey asked its participants to give their views on such topics as homosexuality, extra-marital sex, abortion, feminism and religion, among others.

The results of this research project are, to say the least, enlightening. On every topic the overwhelming majority of our journalists expressed decidedly liberal viewpoints. In practically every case the leaders of this country's media responded to the survey with opinions far to the left of those held by the average American. But, most importantly, this research has revealed that the beliefs and biases of the media elite are nearly identical to those of the ivory tower, academic elite!

Now for the hard part; what can we do to help those in the media become true objective and impartial observers of society? How can the backward masses hope to bring enlightenment to the intellectually superior? I am afraid that there is little that can be done if all we do is approach the media elite and simply request that they consider our side of the gun control issue.

There is no shortage of pro-gun information; a mountain of such facts and figures exists, but our country's cracker-jack journalists nearly always ignore this information when the issue of gun control crops up on the nightly news. If an investigative reporter needs some background information on the subject of gun control he will usually contact Handgun Control Inc. or The National Coalition to Ban Handguns. He will rarely contact the National Rifle Association or any other state or national organization sympathetic to the pro-gun cause. More often than not, if the NRA is allowed to speak on the news in defense of gun owners it is usually only alloted a small fraction of the time while the proponents of greater gun controls or gun bans receive all the time that they need to make their case.

If we are going to have an effect on the media, we are going to have to view it in a different light. Keep in mind that TV stations and newspapers are businesses and you are a customer. As a customer you have the right to make your dissatisfaction known. Remember, expressing your opinion is a right that is protected by the same First Amendment that protects the privileged few living high atop Mount Media.

But, to whom should you express your opinion? This is critical. I recommend the following procedure. Keep a pencil and paper handy while you are watching television. Then, when a journalist unfairly or inaccurately attacks your Second Amendment rights, begin listing the sponsors of the program. Then write a letter, addressed to the sponsor or sponsors of the program. Just tell them respectfully that you are unhappy with the program that they are paying for. Be sure to explain why and always present facts, figures and sound arguments to counter the inaccuracies and biases of the program. Then with a pocket full of dimes, run down to your local photocopy machine and make three copies of the letter. Send the original to the sponsor, send a copy to the station manager, send a copy to the journalist who presented the offending material and keep a copy for yourself. If enough gun owners and hunters would do this, I assure you that it would be very effective, especially on the local level.

However, keep in mind that I am not in any way suggesting that you boycott the sponsor's products or services. The goal is not to punish the business community but rather to let them know how you feel about the programs that they are paying for. After all, they want you in a happy mood when their commercials come on.

The advantage of this type of letter writing is simply this. If a station manager receives just the one and only letter that you wrote complaining about the anti-gun bias of his programing, he is most likely just going to file your letter in the round file basket with little thought. If his anti-gun sentiments are particularly strong he might even smile knowing that he has ruined the dinner of another backwoods gun-nut. But, a phone call from an upset sponsor is an entirely different matter.

Also, keep in mind that our goal is not to turn the anti-gun bias of those in the media into a pro-gun bias but rather to encourage then to honestly, fairly and accurately present all sides. When the media elite truly becomes impartial and objective on the subject of firearms, we will have nothing to worry about.
COPYRIGHT 1984 InterMedia Outdoors, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Kavey, Fred
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Nov 1, 1984
Words:4446
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