How the Media Misleads the Public
The phenomenon of the media misleading the public is as old as the media itself. Although it is quite prevalent on stories regarding mass homicides it certainly appears in their reporting of other stories. The reasons are many:
- The media wants to run with a story and the first reports are almost always filled with conclusions or assumptions that are later shown to be false.
- The reporter, news writer, news caster, etc. is talking about something they just to not have the knowledge to discuss.
- The news organization is biased.
To a certain extent it is difficult to remove all bias from a news report. News reporters are human beings and human beings have perspectives on issues that are just difficult to completely contain. The natural bias inflamed with inaccurate initial reports, coupled with a topic that the reporter is not qualified to discuss, and escalated with an added dash of hysteria because of the senseless nature of the crime being reported on lays the ground work for those inaccurate statements being accepted by the public as fact.
Immediately after the Aurora shooting and for several days thereafter the news reports stated that the shooter wore head to toe body armor. I immediately knew that was high improbably as no such product exits commercially or within the Military. The media then backed off and referred to it as a bullet proof vest. It was not that either. They were basing their reports on rumor and the plain fact of the matter is most people cannot tell the difference between body armor and a load bearing vest, which is what he was wearing. It would be best to wait for the official police report and I have noted that the Connecticut State Police have tried to keep the information very tightly controlled after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.
The most common misstatements heard in the Newtown and Aurora shootings were:
- He used a machine gun or automatic military rifle which are openly sold in sporting goods stores
- These rifles use high-powered cartridges that have no sporting purpose
- The rifles used in both situations were not machine guns; they were not automatic military rifles.
- Machine guns and automatic weapons are not openly sold in sporting goods stores.
- The rifles expend one round for every pull of the trigger, not the 800 rounds per minute of an automatic military rifle.
- The cartridge fired by these rifles is not high powered.
There are hunters who use these rifles but they use them on small game. Let me explain the history of military rifles. From the inception of the army in 1776 up through the Korean War the U.S. Military used rifles made of wood and steel. These rifles where heavy and high-powered. In World War II and Korea soldiers were armed with rifles that weighed about 10 pounds and fired .30 caliber bullets weighing about 170 grains. These cartridges would easily take the largest game in North America. While these weapons worked well in the fighting that had been done in the wide open spaces of Europe during the first two World Wars they were problematic for a modern armed forces fighting in the Jungle of Vietnam.
The first thing that the Military wanted to address was weight. The wood and steel rifles were heavy and so was their ammunition. Additionally the military realized that in the jungle our troops were not shooting at an enemy that was 1,000 yards away so they did not need the long range capabilities that were present in their current rifles.
So the Army accepted the design of the M16 rifle and the current version, the M4 Carbine, weighs in at about 6.5 pounds and fires a 62 grain bullet which is 2 ¾ times lighter than its predecessor. Therefore it is 2.75 times less powerful than the round used in WWI, WWII, and Korea.
No Civilian Purpose for this Rifle
Let’s discuss this contention. First of all, as I found when I lived in Boise, there are ground vermin that travel in packs, infect farm animals and live stock with disease, and destroy farm land and sometimes their structures. People in those areas find the civilian version of the M4 perfect for the eradication of those varmints.
Secondly, for the competitive shooter the rifle is extremely accurate.
Thirdly, for the recreational shooter the rifle is extremely fun to shoot. I know this statement is abhorrent to many people but there are 4 million NRA shooters as well as millions of others who aren’t members of the NRA who enjoy shooting and we are not trying to restrict what non-shooters do for fun.
Now, as pertinent as the last three reasons are for owning the civilian semi-automatic version of the M4 the most common reason people buy it is for their own personal defense and that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the second amendment is all about. Amendment #2 to the U.S. Constitution has nothing to do with hunting as some people try to infer. It is about defending yourself, your family, and your home from both criminals and tyrannical governments. That is what was going on at the time the 2nd Amendment was added. And if you don’t think that cause rings true today ask the Citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. Now I know there are those who don’t believe that this could ever happen in the U.S. and I hope it doesn’t but the world is changing and not always for the good. For those who don’t believe this may happen you cannot deny that there are events that can occur in this country such as riots and natural disasters where you will be on your own. We saw this after Hurricane Katrina and after the L.A. riots in the mid 1990’s (I refer to call it by the media given moniker, “Rodney King Riots” because that is an injustice to Rodney King. He did not riot and was not happy that people were doing so in his name). During the L.A. riots friends of mine who were shooters were besieged by friends who were not. The non-shooting folks were not asking for just any old gun, they were looking for rifles and shotguns to defend their families. My shooting friends turned them down, not due to spite, but because the folks asking were untrained and that was a liability to their family and other innocent people.
There are also those out there who feel that the 2nd Amendment only refers to muzzle loading muskets because that the extent of technology at the time. Really? That was not only the state of the technology at the time it was also the “state of the art” of technology at the time. It put the civilian gun owner on par with the military, and again, the ability to protect oneself against a tyrannical government was a large part of the 2nd Amendment. In fact the civilian gun owner was on par with the military for almost 200 years because fully automatic arms were not exclusively carried by soldiers until Vietnam. In fact, during the settling of the West the civilian shooter was actually better armed than the military as the civilians had the ability to own a Winchester lever action repeater whereas the military continued to issue single shot rifles until 1892.
There are those who scoff at the need to protect oneself against a tyrannical government by pointing out that we don’t have a tyrannical government and I will point out that the 2nd Amendment guarantees that we won’t.