Factcheck: NRA blames media for gun violence

At a Friday “press conference” (no questions were allowed), National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre provided the gun lobby’s explanation for the shooting deaths of 28 people a week ago today in Newtown, Conn. Among LaPierre’s culprits: the media. Here is a breakdown of ways the NRA says media causes gun violence, along with a factcheck.

Media inspires copycats:

The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment?

How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave — while provoking others to try to make their mark?

The NRA may be on to something here: 2011 research found that “The potential copycat effects of highly publicized crimes might be diminished with more restrained reporting.”

Media ignores video games as a cause of violence:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.

Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here’s one: it’s called Kindergarten Killers. It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn’t or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it?

A preliminary database tour corroborates LaPierre’s contention that media coverage of ‘Kindergarten Killer’ has been slight,” Erik Wemple writes in The Washington Post. As John Herrman explains in BuzzFeed: “Kindergarten Killer is neither a popular game nor is it available for sale; by any reasonable standard, it’s hardly a game at all”

Media overcovers crime:

In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.

Crime indeed is a great interest of many media organizations. Of course, rampant gun use gives them plenty to work with: Here’s a list of mass shootings in 2012. It has been updated to include one that occurred in Pennsylvania Friday.

Compared to other topics, though, crime occupies a small percentage of news time

Media demonizes guns and gun owners:

And throughout it all, too many in our national media … their corporate owners … and their stockholders … act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators. Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws and fill the national debate with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.

The media call semi-automatic firearms “machine guns” — they claim these civilian semi-automatic firearms are used by the military, and they tell us that the .223 round is one of the most powerful rifle calibers … when all of these claims are factually untrue. They don’t know what they’re talking about!

Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban — or one more law imposed on peaceful, lawful people — will protect us where 20,000 others have failed!

The Poynter Institute has tried to educate journalists on guns and gun control, and will continue to do so.

Media writes bad headlines:

As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It is now time for us to assume responsibility for their safety at school. The only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away … or a minute away?

Now, I can imagine the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow morning: “More guns,” you’ll claim, “are the NRA’s answer to everything!” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools. But since when did the word “gun” automatically become a bad word?

Columbine had an armed guard. The headlines, sadly, often write themselves.

We have made it easy to comment on posts, however we require civility and encourage full names to that end (first initial, last name is OK). Please read our guidelines here before commenting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    No, it was Oceania. There was no Europa, as there were only three superstates in the book. Maybe you shifted the field back to real life without telling me.

    I am still not sure where your Newspeak comment came from, but I enjoy a discussion about 1984 way more than the other discussion.

  • Jimmy D’Alessio

    it was “Oceana” , and “Europa” , and the answer is Neither !

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Did you fight Eurasia or Eastasia?

  • Jimmy D’Alessio

    “Newspeak” From 1984 , it’s Finally Here !

  • Jimmy D’Alessio

    “Repeal The First Amendment , It Has Killed More Than All Wars Combined”

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    So, Roadchaser, mind sharing exactly what that clarifies? What facts is that article supposed to verify? That part you quoted mentions only grant money for putting resource officers at schools. Even at Columbine, just having an officer present didn’t stop the shootings.

    My point was, is, and remains that getting sucked into these debates about weapon semantics accomplishes little. The NRA’s idea that pointing out one flaw in terminology somehow discredits an entire set of points is fairly silly.

  • Roadchaser

    April 2000 “Marking the first anniversary of the shooting deaths at Columbine
    High School, President Clinton announced $120 million in new federal
    grants Saturday to place more police officers in schools and help even
    the youngest kids cope with their problems.”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2000/apr/16/news/mn-20323

    It is best just to take the time to verify the facts instead that same old lazy name calling.. .

  • fjpoblam

    I wonder how well the growth rate of mass murders would corelate with the growth rate of NRA membership.

  • Smores

    I don’t understand what the workable alternative is to giving crimes like Sandy Hook a lot of coverage. If I pretend like La Pierre is arguing in good faith (haha, right), what does he suggest we do when 28 people are killed, 26 of them innocent victims at an elementary school? Should newspapers and broadcast media politely not mention it, for fear of hurting gun owners’ feelings? Should we decline to remark on what kind of gun was used — or even that a gun was used? Should we have covered it one day and then never mentioned it again. Maybe we could have run it in the middle of the sports section.

  • http://ca.linkedin.com/in/redsevenone Martin G. Smith

    I wonder how many rewrites Mr. LaPierre’s statement went through to come up with that.

    There is a simple solution, in fact there was a cartoon that got it right. But as I am Canadian, people of the United States with its 52 separate State constitutions will likely discount the suggestion.

    Change the wording of the US Constitution, the one that is supposed to be why the United States of America is ‘United’ from ‘The right to bear arms’ to The right to bare arms’, then maybe cooler heads will prevail.

    To quote, loosely, the Senior Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Innoye: ‘If you are standing in the middle of a room and everyone is laughing at you, it is best to check and see if you left the house wearing pants’.

  • davemorris

    …and where most crime occurs.

  • pguinnessy

    The flaw with the above chart is that its looking at all media. If they looked at local news then crime would be a much higher statistic. And that’s where most of the population gets its news from.

  • http://twitter.com/kpkpkp Kevin Pierce

    The NRA’s hair is on fire, and they are trying to put it out with a hammer.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    Also, other than potentially inspiring copycats, none of the examples listed here “cause” gun violence. Calling a semi-automatic weapon a machine gun doesn’t cause gun violence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.knilands Robert Knilands

    That would be interesting. But it probably isn’t worth verifying. It’s a discreditation tactic the NRA and its drones like to use. Even if someone did say that, it has little to no bearing on the overall discussion.

    Think about it. We now have people insisting guns should be required in schools. This argument long ago moved past individual gun rights. In retrospect, I am not sure it has ever truly been about individual gun rights. We have a lobbyist organization that long ago expanded outside its alleged scope. This debate has been about getting politicians to cave, and they have done just that.

  • Donald_W_Meyers

    Could you verify LaPierre’s claim that someone said the .223-caliber round was the most-powerful round? A true, rigorous fact-check would look for his sources and point out whether he’s making a correct statement or pulling things out of thin air.