Sunday Book Review: The Bias Against Guns

The Bias Against Guns aims to tell us “Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control is Wrong.” Huh? Anyone who’s even glanced at More Guns, Less Crime knows that SpongeBob SquarePants is more likely to call Squidward Tentacles a bad motherfucker than John Lott is to use the word “almost” to describe a trend. “Why 76.78 Percent of Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control is Wrong.” Now that’s John Lott. Or not. The Bias Against Guns is nothing more than more More Guns, Less Crime. It highlights the mainstream media’s lies and misdirections on the gun show loophole, the assault rifle ban, etc., and then buries the reader in stats proving that jobbing journos are dead wrong. Lott never even touches on the “why” of the matter. Shame. The mainstream media’s bias against guns springs from all the three major areas of American society: technology, economics and culture.

Once upon a time in America, you could count the number of influential news outlets on two hands: CBS, NBC, ABC, TIME, The New York Times, The Washington Post and a few other urban newspapers. The term “mainstream media” (MSM) didn’t even exist; the East Coast cabal dominated the news business so completely that “alternative” media sources were literally and figuratively insignificant.

Technology created this tightly-constricted news funnel. Although the printing press was initially a democratizing influence, the big bang that created Thomas Paine and Co. eventually collapsed. Mass production of newsprint (i.e. information) grew increasingly successful. It required—and rewarded—an enormous infrastructure.

The news companies that “won” the race to provide huge amounts of cheap, timely information made hundreds of millions (back when hundreds of millions of dollars was some serious coin). The rest lived off the crumbs. Or disappeared.

Broadcasting enjoyed the same technological and financial protections, only more so. Not only did the federal government control the strictly limited real estate needed to do business (a.k.a., bandwidth), the radio/TV equipment stokimg the money machine was enormously, endlessly expensive.

The number of people feeding the resulting news beast was large in absolute terms. By any other measure, it was a tiny elite. And to say the news industry was largely comprised of white, upper middle class, college-educated liberals would be like saying that the Black Panthers were mostly angry black men from lower-income communities.

Back in the day, when I watched Ted Turner flick the switch on CNN from the trenches, there wasn’t a single black face in the room. Not one. Equally salient, there wasn’t a conservative amongst us.

The people running CNN were drawn from the same East Coast socio-economic background as the serfs servicing CBS, NBC, The New York Times, etc. They went to the same schools. Listened to the same music. Held the same religious (secular), political (liberal) and moral (sex and drugs and rock and roll) beliefs. And they were, to a man, pro-gun control.

The stance was, in fact, a given. Gun control is good. Less guns, less crime. The NRA are nuts. Done. Did anyone at CNN own a gun? No. Did they look at me like I had pin lice in my eyebrows when I suggested a little range time? Yes. Did they report moves towards increasing gun control without a scintilla of skepticism? Not to coin a phrase, you betcha!

As you’d expect. As East Coast liberals, they’d grown up in non-gun owning households. They went to colleges where they learned that the political system is it (like Coke, of both varieties). It’s the government that brings wealth, peace, justice and order to “the people”—provided the politicians  in charge are more like Kennedy (Democrat) and less like Nixon (Republican).

Which was their job to ensure, by playing political policeman. Go Woodward, go Woodward! It’s your Bernstein, it’s your Bernstein! At best. At worst, the media men realized that they were, in reality, cheerleaders for the status quo; and kept their damn mouths shut. If gun control was the dish of the day, which it was for decades, the mainstream media’s minions served it hot.

There you have it: why almost everything you hear about gun control is wrong. For me, the really interesting part of this equations is, again, the “almost” bit. While the pervasive media bias against guns (or pro gun control) continues to this day, the monolithic media monster perpetuating this perspective is in its death throes. So the “almost” or “truthful” part of the public information provision on gun control is growing.

John Lott, of all people, should realize this. Twenty years ago, his book More Guns, Less Crime wouldn’t have a hope in hell of making the best-seller list. Now, despite the MSM’s anti-gun bias, despite the fact that Lott’s books have more charts than a major metropolitan hospital (written in a style so bloodless a vampire wouldn’t come within a hundred yards), it’s a hit.

Not to put too fine a point on it, the tide has turned against gun control. It’s no coincidence that the trend coincides with the Internet’s growth, and the lessening of the MSM’s death grip on the court of public opinion. Their bias against guns may be no less virulent than it was before, but there are now tens of thousands of voices in the media maelstrom. The MSM is no longer the defining voice on gun control, or a lack thereof.

If John Lott wants that honor, he’s got to shrug that chip off his shoulder, explore life beyonds stats and find a really good editor. Present company included.

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