Open Letter to the Media: Stigmatizing Gun Owners

WBST22 ran a story which annoyed me: Impacted by Guns: 2nd Amendment advocates look to shed stigma.

The story purports to be friendly to gun owners, to demonstrate that we shouldn’t be stigmatized by the actions of a few.

I’d like to thank them for their story, which presented at least part of the case for honest gun owners. That’s a rare thing in the vast majority of the media.

But if gun owners bear a stigma, that is on you, the media outlets like you that let baseless claims, about firearms ownership and firearms owners, go unchallenged.

No one knows how many gun owners there are in the United States. Recent guesstimates range from 80 million to more than 120 million. Poll/survey estimates are based on people silly enough to tell total strangers that they have valuable, portable property — popular with thieves — in their homes.

Let’s take that low-ball 80 million. You might note that the CDC reported 14,415 firearms-related homicides in 2016. If each one were committed by a single, discrete gun owner — which you’ll see is not the case — then those murderers would account for a mere 0.018% of owners, eighteen thousandths of one percent.

So yes, we do get annoyed when the media allows smears all of the honest 99.982%.

Shall I smear you because “journalist” Jayson Blair faked and plagiarized stories? Or Sabrina Erdely failed to fact-check anything? Or Mitch Albom “pre-writing” stories to meet deadlines? Mike Barnicle inventing people? Plagiarist Ben Domenech? Shall I go with more, and blame you for things they did?

But, as I said, those 14,415 murders don’t actually represent gun owners. Per federal data, 60% of murderers had prior felony convictions, meaning they couldn’t lawfully own a firearm. DOJ and academic research indicates that 90% of all firearms used in crime are stolen. Being in possession of stolen merchandise doesn’t make one the owner. In fact, just 6% of firearms were obtained through lawful channels.

So: 6% of 14,415 = 865 possible “owners” who murdered. That’s no more than 0.0011% — eleven TEN-thousandths of one percent — of even the low-ball 80 million estimate of gun owners.

When even a supposedly friendly story starts by assuming that gun owners bear a stigma for crimes committed with firearms, then you’ve already failed to present facts.

What else goes unchallenged?

  1. Trump backs off push for raising assault rifle purchase age
    The story is about semiautomatic rifles, not assault rifles. Did anyone on your staff bother to learn the difference before you ran that wire story?
  2. “A gunman dressed in black tactical-style gear and armed with an assault rifle”
    No assault rifle was used there.
  3. “The Las Vegas shooter apparently used bump stocks to make semi-automatic rifles perform more like fully automatic weapons.”
    That is physically impossible.
  4. “Law enforcement veterans say they’re worried about the increasing numbers of untraceable firearms, also known as “ghost guns.””
    Before you posted that, did anyone ask how often homemade unserialized firearms actually turn up in criminal investigations? In California, an forensic investigator with decades of experience was baffled by the appearance of an unserialized AR-pattern rifle because he’d never seen a firearm constructed from an 80% receiver before.
  5. “Critics add that because the weapons aren’t made of metal, they would be undetectable.”
    Before posting that, did anyone bothering noticing that all of the DefCad designs comply with the decades old Undetectable Firearms Act? Or notice that the code isn’t even all for 3D plastic printing, but for machining metal?

No, you just ran fear-mongering stories about firearms without even the slightest due diligence fact-checking.

In better than two decades of writing about firearms, I have seen a lot of news reports about submachine guns being used in crimes. A handful, where the weapon was found in a search but not used, proved out. No report of a submachine gun being used was true.

Let me give you a hint on that:

“A Cleveland police officer facing charges for the alleged physical and sexual assault of his girlfriend is on the run after police say he broke his GPS ankle monitor. […] Authorities later seized more than 60 guns from his home, including five assault rifles and an Israeli Uzi submachine gun.”

If you have a story that claims assault rifles and a submachine gun, but does not mention any charges for National Firearms Act violations, then it’s most likely false. Before posting a story like that, you should ask, “How did they determine the rifles and Uzi were machineguns? Were those NFA weapons registered?”

If the media will not challenge statements and fact-check basic claims, you are not journalists, and the stigma you imposed on honest gun owners will never be scrubbed away.

Here’s another hint: Every time some anti-human/civil rights activist calls for a new gun control law, insist that they answer this question: “Since criminals almost never go through lawful channels, how will this affect them and the crimes they commit?”

If you will not, you are not a journalist; you’re a propagandizing prostitute.


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4 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Media: Stigmatizing Gun Owners”

  1. Well stated. I do want to challenge the author on one point, however.

    “Per federal data, 60% of murderers had prior felony convictions, meaning they couldn’t lawfully own a firearm.”

    Really? The 2nd Amendment, the supreme law on the subject, makes no exception for felons. Isn’t any law establishing “prohibited persons” therefore illegitimate and of no valid force? And lest we think “Oh well, it’s just felons, nobody whose rights I’m concerned about,” keep in mind that repressive countries always expand the definition of “prohibited persons” to sweep up dissidents of all stripes, especially those who challenge the legitimacy of the regime.

    It is of course true that laws restricting gun ownership do exist today, but shouldn’t we refer to them, whenever we do refer to them, by their proper names, illegitimate intrusions on natural rights?

    1. The same principles that relegate those CONVICTED of gross felonies spend time behind bars, lose voting rights, etc, for a time as part of their punishment/rehabilitation also prohibit those persons the normal use of arms. These principles are valid and work toward increasing “the security of a free state”. They are good principles.

      HOWEVER< when things like failing to pay counrt mandated (and not necessarily right or just) child support/alimony, or not paying federally insured student loans or federal taxes, or drivig at a speed in excess of some arbitrarily established number, or driving with a BAC above an arbitrarily established and not necessarily universally applicable number, or being in a found and heated argument, with NO physical contact or direct threat of such, with your wife/girlfriend/significant other/child, or being in simple possession of a handgun in certain states that prohibit or severely regulate them without the requisite, restricted, impossible to get, Nother MayI Card to "grant you permission" to possess such an item.. or, in MY county, to shoot a cat.. even a nuisance feral cat….. all are felony level disqualifying incidents, thus prohibiting yuor lawfull access to arms.. THAT is an egregious violation of the spirit AND intent of the prohibition against ANY infringement upon our God-given right to arms.

      Clean up THOSE travesties, and maybe we can talk for a moment about some "common sense" safety policies for the rest of us……

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