Interviewers are supposed to be objective. No wait, that’s not it. They’re supposed to be antagonistic. To treat all interviewees as if they’re lying. Which is, more often than not, true. There are two ways to satisfy the remit: assemble people on either side of an issue and let them present their case, or ask tough questions. Here we see msnbc’s Andrea Mitchell feeding the Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence underhand lobs, letting them squirm away from unpalatable (for them) reality and failing to get to the meat of the matter. Let’s break it down . . .
Mitchell starts by saying that the Clackamas shooting is “only the latest in [a] series of mass shootings.” It’s a standard media meme: this event (whatever it may be) is part of a trend. Ideally, a worsening trend like, say, global warming. Or the Syrian conflict. Or anything, really.
Truth be told, mass shootings stretch back to the invention of gunpowder. While it doesn’t make Clackamas any less of a tragedy, there’ve been dozens of mass shootings in Mexico during the last five years. Not to mention what the media doesn’t mention (or know about) in Africa. India. The Philippines. And elsewhere.
Anyway, the gun control industry loves this “another spree killing” meme. In fact, they depend on it. Have done for years. I mean, they can’t very well say something must be done if something doesn’t need to be done. If things are getting better, what’s the point of new gun control laws?
And things are getting better, in terms of violent crime stats in the U.S. So a “mass shooting”—a dubious term here applied to an incident where less people were killed than many drunk driving accidents—is a welcome opportunity for The Brady Campaign and their ilk to wave the bloody shirt.
Mitchell proceeds by taking the Second Amendment off the table. Says so in as many words: “We’re not talking about Second Amendment rights. We’re talking about reasonable background checks.”
Surprising, Mr. Gross is down with that. Here as elsewhere, he’s saying that the Second Amendment protects firearms ownership for hunting, recreation and . . . wait for it . . . self-defense. No question: the goal posts have shifted.
To that end, Gross quickly moves on to his talking point: we need to make the 40 percent of gun sales not subject to a federal background checks subject to federal background checks.
To her credit, Mitchell points out that Clackamas killer Jacob Roberts would have passed a federal background check. Brady counsel John Lowy pushes that inconvenient truth to one side and urges Andrea and her viewers to “look at the big picture.”
Which Gross paints as Americans clamoring for an assault weapon and high-capacity magazine ban. More to the point: close the private sales loophole! ‘Cause “every day there are convicted felons, domestic abusers, dangerously mentally ill who don’t get any background check at all.”
Which is the point that any good interviewer would ask what difference would that make? Where’s the evidence that background checks prevent mass shootings or homicides or suicide (which account for over half of Gross’ “daily murder” stats)?
I don’t expect Andrea Mitchell or her suport staff to [want to] know the stats on the subject. But they are just a quick Google search away. To wit this [via John Lott at foxnews.com]:
Take the numbers for [FBI firearms-related criminal background checks in] 2008, the latest year with data available. The 78,906 initial denials resulted in only 147 cases involving banned individuals trying to purchase guns being referred to prosecutors. Of those 147 cases, prosecutors thought the evidence was strong enough to prosecute only 105, and they won convictions in just 43. But few of these 43 cases involved career criminals or those who posed real threats. The typical case was someone who had a misdemeanor conviction for an offense he didn’t realize prevented him from buying a gun.
Ms. Mitchell (and the person responsible for msnbc’s subtitles) fails to understand the difference between online firearms sales involving an FFL and private sales to individuals who connect via the internet. It’s a conflation of commercial exchanges that the Brady Campaign is actively encouraging.
Which raises—or should raise—another question. The question. Why do some law-abiding, gun owning Americans oppose background checks on private sales?
Background checks put the government in the middle of a private transaction involving citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Whether it’s a fear of registration and confiscation or just a natural aversion to Big Brother intrusion, law-abiding Americans want Uncle Sam to butt out of private firearms sales.
Failing to mention or (Heaven forfend) ask the Brady Boyz about this opposing point-of-view makes the interview a farce.
Once upon a time, the Big Three networks’ news divisions weren’t for sale. Once upon a time, they tried hard to stock their newsrooms with hard-nosed journos. I’m not convinced they succeeded as much as they thought they did, but at least the news divisions paid lip service to the concept of objectivity.
It depresses me that Al Jazeera is now the home of “proper” interviews. Then again, the Internet. The Internet changes everything, as both the Brady Campaign and Andrea Mitchell know. Whether they like it or not.