Movie Review: Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire

Kris Koenig’s Kickstarter funded documentary, Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire, started life as a film about the state of gun control in California. But thanks to the post-Newtown gun control fervor on a national level, the project blossomed to encompass the entire debate and not just the trainwreck that is California. The film is coming out on June 20th with Ice-T as the narrator, but they gave us an advance copy to review. So, will those of us who invested be getting our money’s worth of 2A-defending goodness? . . .

The entire time I was watching this film, I kept asking myself “would my mother watch this?” As many of you know, my mom is a staunch gun control advocate and firmly under the spell of the MAIG/Brady/HuffPo/CSGV anti-gun axis. And the reason I was using her as a litmus test was that she’s pretty much the poster child for the kind of low-information voter who might be swayed by the right argument — hopefully at least some of the audience who will see the movie. But honestly, I just don’t see that happening.

The documentary is smoothly polished, well thought out and it cogently presents the argument that gun rights are a fundamental civil right. The producers provide support in both historical and legal terms. They even went so far as to include a re-enactment of the Battle of Athens, courtesy of Bagwell Entertainment, to bring the story to life.

The addition of Ice-T as a narrator was a nice touch, keeping the movie as far away from the “old fat white guy” stereotype as possible. And throughout the film, Kris obviously  opted for as many non-OFWG representatives as possible to speak about guns, which is fantastic for our image. But in this case, Ice-T may not have been the best choice. Morgan Freeman he is not, and his speaking style becomes distracting at times.

As for content, for someone who believes in gun rights, this film was a confirmation of all of your beliefs. It presented all of the arguments that I found personally persuasive when I was formulating my own position on firearms, and does it in a way that’s approachable and logical.

But that I think might be the documentary’s downfall: it’s heavily weighted toward the pro-2A side. Even the title of the film, “Civil Rights Under Fire,” portrays gun control as an assault on American’s fundamental civil rights. And while I agree that it is, that’s probably not a title that will be packing the theaters with many Moms Demand Action members.

Gun control advocates will be looking for a “balanced” examination, something closer to the “investigation” of the AR-15 that CNBC released recently. A vehicle in which the Brady Campaign and MAIG will be allowed their time on the soapbox to preach their message of civilian disarmament, and be treated as valid opinions. But the only time that happens is in one segment where a Brady Campaign spokesman discusses the features that make a firearm an “assault weapon.” And after every feature Kris immediately follows it up with a swift and succinct rebuttal from gun guys pointing out how idiotic the Bradys’ opinion is.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it almost as much as watching Carolyn McCarthy talking about the shoulder thing that goes up. But for a gun control advocate, it’s like watching someone kick your puppy.

Yes, documentaries are supposed to advance an idea or agenda based on evidence provided, and Kris’ film does that beautifully. But for that same reason, I can very easily see the gun control advocates labeling this as “propaganda” and advising their true believers that anyone who even watches it is a whackjob. It’s a film that presents facts, history and logic in a debate where emotion has swayed so many people into abandoning their right to self defense, and while it tries to pluck those same emotional strings it falls short in that sense. Emotion based voters, like my mom, will not be swayed.

This film is fantastic for those who love their firearms-related civil rights. It will strengthen the resolve of gun owners to fight for their rights, and it might even get some people off the fence who were previously ambivalent to the cause. But I don’t see this making any progress among those who have long been drinking the civilian disarmament Kool-Aid.

Overall Rating: * * * *