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Pity the anti-gun lobby
By Dr. Michael S. Brown
The various organizations that make up the anti-gun lobby have suffered an unprecedented series of defeats in the past year. Since many activists are motivated by a deep hatred of guns and gun owners, they will not simply go away. They will instead retool their approach to make use of limited resources.
Public attention is also in limited supply. Just a few years ago, it was the gun rights movement that had a hard time getting through the media blockade to attract the attention of uncommitted voters and viewers. Now the anti-gun lobby must be satisfied with propagandizing its own members to build up a core of supporters to fight the next campaign.
Anti-gun organizations have been forced to fall back on a basic and inexpensive tactic: putting their own slant on the news. There are still large numbers of journalists who will propagate these statements through the wire services and networks. Although the majority of Americans will reject these propaganda projectiles, a small number of natural supporters will listen and reaffirm their own beliefs.
It is both interesting and entertaining to see how they put their own peculiar spin on each news story. One of the newer groups, Join Together, has redesigned their website to help feed what they call "tailored news" to their supporters.
For example, the results of a recent survey were enthusiastically described in a story on the Join Together site headlined: "New Poll Finds Virginians Overwhelmingly Support New Gun Laws." This might be interesting if the poll was designed by a scientifically trained pollster, but it was actually commissioned by Virginians Against Handgun Violence and The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. One can only imagine the slanted way in which questions were asked, since that important detail was left out of the story.
The year 2001 has seen a steep drop in California handgun sales that has the gun haters dancing with joy. A spokesman for the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence says this is "because most Californians don't want handguns anywhere near their kids or their neighborhoods." Apparently, they feel it is better to claim broad public support for their agenda, rather than admit that the drop is due to the punitive gun laws they forced through the California legislature in recent years.
Government studies are always fertile ground for the spinmeisters. A study recently released by the Department of Justice shows a modest increase in the number of criminals who obtain guns from friends, relatives and illegal street sources. Rather than admit the futility of clamping down on legal gun sales, the Brady Bunch claimed a great victory for gun control laws, since fewer criminals obtained their weapons from licensed gun dealers.
The real gem in the study was the fact that only 0.6% of convicted criminals obtained their crime guns at a gun show. As any good gun controller knows, gun shows are the focus of evil in the modern world, if for no other reason than the fact that all those demonic guns and despicable gun owners are gathered together in one place. The claim that large numbers of crime guns come from gun shows has always been false, but it makes a handy weapon to use in the media wars where reporters do not check the accuracy of anti-gun statements.
What could be better than linking gun shows to terrorism? A single middle eastern terrorist was convicted of buying guns at gun shows and shipping them back home to his associates. One might think that the anti-gun lobby would approve of this, since they constantly complain about having too many guns in America. But of course they twisted this report into a call for further restrictions.
Only a true gun-hating fanatic would believe that more gun laws would hinder al Qaeda terrorists in any way, especially in light of the fact that they do not use guns in their attacks.
Another favorite tactic is to attack a particular type of firearm. Over the last few decades, various guns have been labeled as the criminal's "weapon of choice." (Apparently the criminals can't make up their minds.) Fifty-caliber rifles are the latest firearms to be demonized, so it was no coincidence that the terrorist angle was applied here as well.
Shortly after the 9-11 attacks, the anti-gun Violence Policy Center accused the Barrett Firearms Co. of supplying .50 caliber rifles to the terrorists. A simple records check revealed that the rifles had been supplied to anti-Soviet Afghan forces in the 1980's with the approval of the United States government.
One humorous, but revealing aspect of the .50 caliber demonization campaign is the repeated assertion that the rifles are perfect for attacking armored limousines. Since the anti-gun lobby is supported almost entirely by "limousine liberals" they must be terrified of losing their funding.
It is natural for political interest groups to use dramatic events to further their agenda, but a New York anti-hunting organization wins the prize for most creative exploitation of the September 11 attacks. A group called Wildlife Watch has asked that hunting season be canceled, since terrorists in camouflage could lurk about with guns and not arouse suspicion.
While most Americans laugh at the inept propaganda campaign, we should probably have pity on the poor anti-gun lobby. The sole reason for their existence is to eliminate as many guns as possible from the face of the earth. They believe that human beings will renounce their evil ways and abandon violence if only guns can be banished.
This naïve and idealistic view of human nature was badly damaged on September 11. Most Americans now understand that simply being nice and opposing all forms of violence will not protect us from violent people who do not share our beliefs.
Dr. Michael S. Brown is a member of Doctors for Sensible Gun Laws, www.dsgl.org and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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