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If You Purport to Be A Journalist Touting Accuracy, Do Your Job and Cover Guns Fairly

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

CNN Law Enforcement Contributor James Gagliano recently tweeted journalists are committing a nomenclature mistake with respect to coverage about AR-15’s and other firearms they dislike:

Vox’s Aaron Rupar responded and said using “arcane” gun language isn’t necessary because AR’-15’s are bad, scary and worthy of demonization.

He tweeted, “Imagine trying to tell someone whose loved one was gunned down by an AR-15 that they don’t know what they’re talking about because they aren’t familiar with arcane gun terminology. It’s just absurd.”

Perhaps a more fitting profession for Mr. Rupar is gun control activism instead. It suits him better, no?

Mr. Gagliano’s simple ask isn’t demanding or pedantic; it’s a simple request aimed at improving accuracy about firearms coverage for inquiring journalists out there.

Ryan Petty, whose daughter was killed by an AR-15 in the Parkland mass shooting, responded to him saying accuracy in reporting matters when discussing firearms.

Ouch.

Instead of advocating for further restrictions on legal firearms purchases, journalists should get serious about reporting on the root cause of the problem.

It bears repeating: Study after study confirms more gun control legislation wouldn’t have prevented these recent mass shootings in America.

While overall violent crime is historically down, mass shootings continue to happen. Why is this the case? That’s confounding and should be seriously investigated by journalists.

They should be asking, why is this occurring and why don’t gun control laws work ?

One journalist you should follow is Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski. He recently tweeted about two potential root causes of mass shootings: the “running amok” syndrome and the contagion effect:

These are the types of questions journalists should be asking—not cheerleading for extreme, confiscatory gun measures that do little to stop crime.

Stephen also has a handy guide for reporters on firearms nomenclature. I suggest bookmarking it.

Journalists should also ask why these mass shooters— those who exhibit red flags, get glossed over by existing laws, checks, and have criminals pasts— go unnoticed by law enforcement, the public, family members, and others.

In the new book Why Meadow Died: The People and Policies That Created The Parkland Shooter and Endanger America’s Students, Parkland father Andrew Pollack and education expert Max Eden conduct their own investigation into Broward County Public Schools’ and Broward County Police Department’s failure to contain the school shooter.

Together, these men were able to investigate and determine what led to the deaths of Meadow, Andrew’s daughter, and 16 others who died in the nation’s most preventable mass shooting. (I will have a review of the book here at The Resurgent a week from today, but I encourage you to get a copy here.)

If journalists aren’t serious about doing their jobs—especially covering things they personally dislike—citizen journalists or freelance writers will fill the void.

For those handful of journalists interested in accuracy on firearms—and there are several fair-minded ones like Lois Beckett who tilt left—please continue to report accurately on nomenclature, defensive gun use, the positive gun culture, and existing laws in the books.

Accuracy in reporting matters. They want it for tech. They want it for other news topics but not for guns.

Will they continue to behave like activists when covering guns? Unfortunately, yes. They are doing a huge disservice to their profession.

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