npr

When bad things happen with firearms, there’s usually an immediate emotional response. People demand that “something must be done” to “protect the children” from the “epidemic of gun violence.” Needless to say (A) what we’re doing now seems to be working pretty well, (B) it’s usually the “children” doing the shooting, and (C) there is no “epidemic.” Nevertheless, the usual gun control activist media outlets never pass up the chance to push the civilian disarmament agenda on the heels of a prominent gun-related news story, and NPR is giving it both barrels (so to speak). Yesterday they were talking up a “study” that claimed gun owners are racists and more likely to shoot black people than white people. Today they are mulling the best way to present mass shooting news in order to make people think more gun control is the solution . . .

From the article:

The researchers were interested not only in whether reading these different news stories would influence people’s views about appropriate gun legislation, but also whether they would have different implications for people’s attitudes toward the mentally ill.

Overall, they found that hearing any of the news stories about the mass shooting increased support for a ban on the sale of high-capacity gun magazines and had a negative impact in respondents’ attitudes toward the mentally ill: They were less willing to have a person with serious mental illness start working closely with them on a job, and they were less willing to have a person with serious mental illness as a neighbor.

But the news stories with different emphases weren’t equivalent in their effects: Those who read the news story that emphasized dangerous guns supported a ban on high-capacity gun magazines more strongly. The two texts did not, however, have significantly different effects when it came to attitudes toward the mentally ill or gun restrictions for people with serious mental illness. This could be because the baseline levels of support for gun restrictions for people with serious mental illness were already high across the board: More than 70 percent of the respondents who didn’t read any of the news stories supported increasing federal funding to enable such restrictions.

What we have here is a how-to instruction manual on twisting people’s emotions in news stories to best manipulate their course of action. A propaganda manual, as it were. Using emotion to steer your readers toward supporting a given position despite any actual evidence or facts.

When Colion Noir asked for calm and rational thought in the wake of the on-air shooting of two TV news workers, he was trying to appeal for people to check their knee-jerk emotions at the door. The only way to solve what little “gun violence” actually happens in the United States is to approach it from a methodical and logical point of view.

Relying purely on emotion to make our decisions for us won’t solve anything, and will do more to hurt everyday Americans than help them. That’s how we wound up with the USA PATRIOT Act, and God knows the last thing we need is another one of those.

66 Responses to NPR On The Best Way to Spin News Stories To Promote Gun Control

  1. That’s their battle plan.

    Nick, just for grins, as you go about your day, ask a few people if they believe gun violence is skyrocketing.

    I’d be very interested in hearing your results of that survey.

    We know the reality, the un-informed don’t.

    That is something we had better start addressing.

    • Geoff, About 6 weeks ago Alan Gottlieb of the SAF spoke our 2A group in San Jose, CA. Room was packed – probably at least 100 attending. Mostly white, male, and gray hair.

      Gottlieb asked for a show-of-hands as to how many thought litigation in support of 2A over the past year was:
      Loosing? About even? Winning in the courts?

      3 raised hands for winning; overwhelming for loosing, and a smattering of about even.

      Correct answer: winning – and not by a little per Gottlieb. He then went into details about the litigation.

      • Gottlieb was asking *pro* 2A folks that question.

        I asked Nick to poll random folks if they were under the impression gun crime was increasing.

        The point I was trying to make was I bet a random, cross section of people believe gun crime is rising.

        You and I know that isn’t so, but I bet a large percentage of the population THINKS IT IS RISING.

        Meaning, how can we communicate to the general public gun crime *isn’t* rising?

        NPR and the media are going to keep repeating the lie crime is increasing until it’s believed to be truth.

        How do we best counter that lie?

        • Geoff,
          The larger issue for me is to win over the hearts and minds of the public re guns. I routinely engage people about enjoyment of target practice, advertise our range’s free public days on community email lists, our cook-outs, the camaraderie, attractive co-eds that show up on Sat, etc. Don’t mention 2A, government overreach, or similar.

          Shooting is Safe, Enjoyable, and Fun. That’s my belief and message.

          Every once in a while, an eavesdropper will cite “killing innocent animals”. Always throws them when I mention I’m Buddhist and don’t hunt (nor condemn those that do – individual choice). But confounds them when I mention the Dalai Lama’s position on firearms or that the Buddha ate meat (according to legend, he died of food poisoning from tainted pork).

          “Guns are evil” comments? Always ask why they believe so. Often ask, “What would persuade you to rethink that? You strike me as someone with an open mind.” Yes, I was in Sales and use those skills.

          “Gun violence is increasing”? I have facts and figures to refute that belief. Are those arguments persuasive? Often seems so, but may be someone just wants to end the conversation. My style is not confrontational, but to provide enough information that those beliefs are challenged.

          I grow very frustrated with many of my fellow gun enthusiasts. Very little uptake on community events to put POTG in a positive light or to even call / email electeds on proposed legislations. Many bitch & whine at 2A & NRA dinners, but fail to act.

          I think of the civil rights and anti-war protests in my college days and what was accomplished. Disappointing not to see that passion and commitment among my peers for something just as, if not more important.

  2. I am so tired of the gun rights argument “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”

    This argument is beyond ignorant. We don’t hear anyone say, lawnmowers don’t mow lawns, people do. This is because if you want to mow a lot of grass in a very short period of time with very little effort or coordination, you’re going to need a lawnmower.

    The NRA has been very efficiently keeping studies and research on gun violence out of the public eye for decades. It’s time for us to realize suicides with guns and gun violence are an issue in the United States.

        • The gun-control side is hoping, since it happened 20 years ago, that people forget why funding was cut (during the Clinton presidency, FYI) and just believe the by-line “NRA bad”.
          When you had doctors coming out and declaring “guns are a virus that need to be eliminated”, or pick up pamphlets from gun-control groups with “funded by CDC” on them, then it is no longer research, but using taxpayer money and facilities to advance a political agenda. Oh, and FYI: there have been plenty of research papers from many other federal agencies, like the justice department, and other universities.

        • @Ben
          Courtesy of the 2016 election, it has been pretty much demonstrated/proven that the significant majority of U.S. major media sources are thoroughly unreliable (i.e., untrustworthy), falsify claimed facts, and are totally prejudiced in presentations/stories (i.e., primarily supporting the liberal/socialist/progressive agenda).
          Citing any direct reference to any U.S. major media outlet, let alone any blog (basing it’s substance on referenced U.S. major media outlet) is absolutely pointless/useless.
          I will settle for a link to any study conducted by a nuetral/unbiased source (e.g., no liberal/conservative think tank, etc.).

    • Ben, a lawnmower will not, without a human to direct it, mow a lawn. Care to try again?

      Last I checked the NRA had not in fact kept or suppressed research. They have successfully lobbied for the restriction of advocacy based research getting federal money. If there is any question in your mind about what I mean by advocacy based research, please google Garen Wintemute and David Hemenway. You can now pop back over to the Mom’s Demand Action facebook group where I’m sure you will feel more at home.

        • Biggest a$$ whupping of my life….

          Dad: “Let the saw do the work.”

          Me: *drops saw* “Go cut.”

        • It’s programmed by a person as well as maintained by a person. There are currently no firearms that can choose to shoot on their own. Some may go off when dropped, but that is not the firearms fault, it’s caused by a design flaw & someone not being careful.

          Sorry but I fail to see how comparing apples to oranges can make a valid point.

        • HE *tried* to make the point “Lawns can’t mow themselves”.

          Buy a robot mower and it damn sure will.

          I shot down HIS faulty analogy.

          Cripes.

        • @Geoff When was the last time a robotic, autonomous gun went off and killed someone? (Secret military trials notwithstanding)

        • Keep in mind the difference between automated system and autonomous systems. Autonomous systems research is well-funded area receiving lots of interest.

          In my area, Google’s autonomous vehicles are seen. NASA’s been successfully testing aircraft landing systems that effectively convert pilots to passengers with better views. The UN is wringing its hands about autonomous killing machines meanwhile drones are becoming more autonomous.

          Firearms are long overdue for a technical makeover. It seems inevitable that tactical point-n-hit will be developed. The more interesting question for me is will civilian ownership be allowed?

    • It’s not an argument, it’s a plain statement of fact. Only hoplophobes, statists, and bleeding-heart leftists try to argue that it’s not.
      Trying to use your lawnmower-analogy to support such an argument, along with accusing the NRA of being complicit in this supposed epidemic of suicides/mass-shootings, is willfully ignorant.

    • “It’s time for us to realize suicides with guns and gun violence are an issue in the United States.”

      Who says they are not if I may ask?

      Oddly enough “gun safety” groups don’t focus on suicides or crime. They hit the same old points, using old out dated info, in their custom made blame the NRA echo chamber.

      Have yet to see a “gun safety” group donate money to a suicide cause or even bring up the fact that something needs to be done that doesn’t have anything to do with a ban of some kind.

      I agree with you to a point. I was almost one of those 22 a day service members. But bans and grabs won’t solve the problem. Last I read there are an estimated 1 billion (I guess) magazines in the US. How’s grabbing those going to help? How are you going to find them all? Who’s really going to turn them in? I won’t.

      instead, it would be nice for “gun safety” groups to actually focus on crime, scucide, and real safety for a change. But as far as I can tell that’s not part of the agenda.

    • Your argument is “beyond ignorant.” A lawn mower will not mow your lawn any more than a gun will shoot your neighbor or a garbage disposer grind up your leftovers. All are mere tools which must be manipulated and directed by a human action. If you put a hammer, a box of nails, and a pile of lumber together in the same room and leave them unsupervised for any period of time, you will return to find the same hammer, the same box of nails, and the same lumber in the same pile. Tools have zero volition.

    • “It’s time for us to realize suicides with guns and gun violence are an issue in the United States.”

      If it is, it’s a diminishing issue. Firearm-related homicides have been on a downward trend for decades, and the vast majority of them are related to gang activity. If you take out the gang violence, the U.S. is statistically one of the safest countries on Earth.

    • Ben,
      I have yet to see gun rights advocates deny gun violence, suicides, or inadvertent accidents. What causes me heartburn is that all the proposed remedies that I’ve read are:
      a. speculative – not fact based
      b. bereft of proportion. Cars kills many more, but no one is advocating banning cars or further restricting driving.
      c. targeting the handful of those that commit gun violence rather than the overwhelming majority of responsible gun owners.

      One definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome. And that seems to describe the position of gun control groups. I don’t understand why those that want reduced gun violence can’t advocate for positions that all of unite on.

      Mandatory life sentences or death sentences for those convicted of possession during a felony? Maybe – though I’m aware of the argument that it encourages killing witnesses. I too am tired of the absence of sensible proposals and demonizing those that enjoy firearms v. dealing with violence.

    • Actually, you’re example is exactly backwards. No one says “my lawnmower is going to mow the lawn on Saturday” they say “I am going to mow my law on Saturday.” With the specific example you gave of lawn mowing everyone I have ever heard talk about mowing a lawn puts the execution of the action on the person doing the mowing. No one talks about the mower doing the mowing, only about the mower being used *by the person* to do the mowing, the person is always the one performing the action.

      When it comes to guns and killing the same applies, even more-so if you consider the imminence of automated lawn mowers for which there is no equivalent with civilian firearms. Anything that one uses to mow a lawn will be called a lawn mower, not everything that can be used to murder is or will be called a gun.

      The fact is that to commit a homicide the most important ingredient is the intent and action of a human being, the implement is a distant second. So I don’t see what I’m ignoring when i say that guns, in fact, do not kill people, any murder is the result of the deliberate action of another person, and that will always the the most important truth when it comes to violence.

      If you say that guns kill people you are putting the blame and responsibility for the killing on the gun itself. THAT is ignorant.

      At least you trolls are trying to sound reasonable now, give willy lunchmeat my regards.

    • Oh, also, focusing on the gun for the remedies to violence, be it suicide or homicide, has never, in any country, yielded positive results. A few countries have broken even and Australia in particular still has more deaths every year because of their gun laws, and Brazil is a total nightmare because of them.

    • Ben,

      Bullshit. Pure unadulterated bullshit. You could not be more full of bullshit if you were rolling in a pile of it out behind a barn.

      Sincerely,
      TStew

      • I will reply here and respond to as many of you as I can.

        First of all, to make the statement “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is defeating your argument right away. Why defend an item that can’t do any damage? If a gun won’t do any damage than why own one? All of the guns I have owned or used were designed with one intent in mind. I agree completely with the person who made the statement that a gun is a tool just like a lawnmower. That is exactly right. No one is suggesting a gun will do damage on its own, without any assistance. But the fact is guns are designed in such a way that they will do sufficient damage.

        In response to the individuals saying “they just want to take our guns”. I don’t think any reasonable person is wanting to take guns away from law abiding citizens. I personally would like to see guns out of the hands of individuals who are contemplating suicide and I would like to see the process of selling a gun taken a little more seriously.

        To all of you who are saying gun violence is on the decline. You are just wrong. You will not find data from reliable sources to confirm those claims. Unless you are making the statistics say what you want them to say. Its very clear that the NRA has been very efficiently keeping studies on gun violence out of the public eye. The studies we do see don’t support your claims.

        I hope all of this makes sense. It is difficult to express your thoughts in a comment like this but thank you all for trying and for keeping the things you believe in out here in discussions and forums and conversations.

        • Yes, there IS reliable data to back up the claim that “gun violence” is on the decline (as is violent crime on the whole).

          Check the links at the top of this article. They link to articles that cite numbers taken directly from the NSSF (for firearm sales), the CDC (for death rates and causes of death) and the FBI (for homicide rates and crime rates).

          You can go from those articles to the same sources and pull the same numbers yourself. Then judge for yourself who is telling the truth.

        • “In response to the individuals saying “they just want to take our guns”. I don’t think any reasonable person is wanting to take guns away from law abiding citizens.”

          Here is Senator Dianne Feinstein in 1995:

          Now, this is an EXACT quote:

          “If I could’ve gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them — Mr. and Mrs. America turn ‘em all in — I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_LaBJvI0BI

          Ben – Now what was that you were saying about “I don’t think any reasonable person is wanting to take guns away from law abiding citizens.”?

        • Close, Geoff, but he got you with the “reasonable person” caveat. Nobody would ever accuse Feinstein of being a reasonable person…

        • “The studies we do see don’t support [declining gun violence] claims.”

          Ben,
          Like TTAG writer Nick Leghorn, I relish data and studies – particularly those that challenge my views. Without proof points, one is advancing a quarrel – not an argument.

          PLEASE provide links to the studies you see or cite them.
          Thanks in advance.

        • Would you consider the FBI’s Universal Crime Reports a reliable source of data? Because their data shows a clear and steady decline in violent crime since 1995 (the first year that they have data available for online).

          https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s

          Here’s the short version: in 1995, the rate of violent crime in the U.S. was 685 per 100,000. In 2013, it was 368 per 100,000. That’s almost a 50% decrease in 18 years, in spite (or perhaps because?) of over a hundred million more firearms entering private hands in the same time frame. How do those stats (assuming you accept the FBI as a reliable source of data) not support the assertion that violent crime is a declining problem in the United States?

        • The iPad I’m typing on could, in the hands of anyone willing to use it in such a fashion, kill people. Beyond that, I stand by my previous comment and am not much willing to engage in a conversation with someone who thinks inanimate objects can kill anything. You’re full of shit. Again. Still. (Copyright RF)

    • @Ben:

      “Hey what are you doing this weekend?”

      “Oh, I have to mow the lawn.”

      Not:

      “Hey what are you doing this weekend?”

      “Oh, the lawnmower is mowing the lawn.”

      “You have a robotic, sentient, lawnmower?”

      If you can’t even get that concept correct, the rest of your comment might as well be built on sand.

      • The entirety of the argument “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a textbook strawman fallacy. What you are doing is giving the impression that you are defeating my argument by actually defeating an argument I never proposed. To break it down for you, you are asserting that my argument is “guns kill people on their own”. This argument is not being made by anyone. In the process of asserting that this is my argument, you are feeling as though you have exposed not only a flawed argument on my part but also a clearly ignorant argument. The problem is no one is suggesting that guns kill people on their own. This is why I brought up the lawnmower analogy. No one is suggesting that a lawnmower mows the lawn on its own. I don’t feel like this is a difficult concept to grasp. I apologize if I have not done well at explaining myself.

        • Ben, I think you might be missing the context of the “guns don’t kill people…” statement. It’s almost always used in the context of gun control legislation. The implication is that those proposing more gun control are blaming the tool, not the user. We already have laws against robbery, assault, and murder, so what is the point of more laws concerning specific tools that may be used to commit those crimes? A person willing to commit a larger offense, such as murder, isn’t going to blink at committing the much minor offense of breaking a gun law or two.

          So the “guns don’t kill people…” line isn’t defending guns by pointing out they’re inanimate, it’s offered as a challenge to the gun controllers to deal with the problem at the source: criminal human behavior.

    • “…you’re going to need a lawnmower.”

      You’re going to need a lawnmower to do what, exactly? Mow that lawn? As in, YOU’RE going to mow the lawn? Lawn mowers don’t mow lawns. People mow lawns. The same logic and fact applies to murders. Fists, hammers, plastic bags, poisons, vehicles, knives, ropes, carbon monoxide, water, baseball bats, firearms, and whatever people can find to kill people don’t kill people. People kill people. Why is that so hard to understand? Is your lawn mower’s gas cap on tight?

  3. During casual conversation recently, my 31 year old daughter said something about a news story she heard on NPR.
    I choked down my soda and asked “you actually listen to and believe NPR?”
    She says “of course”.

    Guys, I tried. I really did. Heck, she even enlisted in the Marine Corps.
    I failed somewhere….

      • “school systems which no longer teach critical thinking or a lack of spankings your choice.”

        Both, grew up in 1950 ‘s, spanked in grade school and at home. Grounded for bad behavior thereafter. Catholic school 12 yrs. & 18 yrs. living at home with critical thinking ability parents. Public schools for the most part do not teach critical thinking nor do they discipline, much less use corporal punishment. Home school or find a good private school.

    • No you didn’t. My little sister was raised by three very conservative, gun owning and gun carrying brothers. When she came out of college, she no longer wanted to shoot with us, we could no longer discuss politics civilly, and she split PA for, God help her, Baltimore. It’s nothing you did.

      • Had an engineering profressor (one of the good ones, could have made a FORTUNE in the private sector but took one for the team to be an educator) tell me once:

        College does one of two things without fail. If you go in leaning left, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people more than willing to indoctrinate you to their cause.

        If you go in leaning right you’ll recognize how batsh1t crazy the rest are and cement yourself as a conservative for life.

      • Same here. Subie included. Our local has a weekly Blues program I enjoy. What I enjoy more, though, is sucking their electrons out of the air without sending in any contributions. I do yell at the radio once in a while, however.

    • They did have Car Talk. And apart from some issues, they seem to be pretty unbiased. I only stopped listening after Sandy Hook because they simply threw out journalistic standards when it came to guns.

  4. Gotta love the way NPR acknowledges that mentally-disturbed people are more likely to commit violent acts, but helpfully notes that the “vast majority” do not do so. It seems to have escaped them that the even more vast majority of guns have never been used to hurt or kill anyone.

  5. Not Properly Reporting (the news)

    Why is the race baiting required? As stated before, a study of studies is not a study. A study involves scientific method applied in a repeatable fashion that can be validated.

    Even if it happened to be true (holding my breath) insight into WHY it is the case is far more important. That leads to an understanding of how violence is applied and in turn how to truly prevent it.

    • Oh, that’s a good one! I’ll add it to my collection:
      Not Particularly Relevant
      New Pravda Radio
      National Palestinian radio
      nearly perpetually ridiculous

      is a great station to hear about the latest heartwarming story about how hiphop is giving the youth of… mongolia (this week) a voice, or how single mom’s in Bangladesh are crowd funding to build a homeless cat shelter, or how gays in wallonia are the group hardest
      hit by climate change, but beyond that, I don’t have much use for it.

  6. Gun violence has dropped precipitously since the 80’s and 90’s, yet the media continues to spin the story that it’s worse than ever. Cities like Chicago and Newark, bastions of local anti gun legislation, see some of the most shootings and murders in the country, but the media never talks about how the policies that have been in place in those cities for decades has only led to their state of decay and they never entertain the possibility of armed civilians using concealed carry as a means for defense.

    I’d like to see these reprobates from the media that live in comfy Manhattan to move to cities like Baltimore, Newark, South Chicago, St. Loius, Detriot, etc. and walk the streets with nothing more than a cell phone and a pepper spray bottle and see if they feel the same way about concealed carry as they did before. They’ll probably feel the need to arm themselves, but won’t support anyone else doing so because “they’re not special, they’re not in the media.”

  7. NPR is one of the most blatant propaganda media vehicles, spinning everything and pushing agendas. The comment boards are loaded with astroturfers, much like many on-line forums.

  8. I listen to NPR quite regularly, I guess I like to know what sort of perpetual bullshit they will promote next, eventually it gets so deep I have to change stations. The other day when it was announced that Walmart was getting out of the business of selling AR’s and other defense long guns, they said they were making room for lower caliber hunting rifles that were more in demand. I don’t think groundhogs and squirrels are the new trend in hunting circles.

  9. I’ve heard from people on the left that NPR leans too far to the right, and vice-versa from people on the right. I take that to mean it’s fairly in the middle, though I do think it tends to be more liberal on hot-button issues, both for better and for worse. But as far as a source of actual news events goes, I find NPR to be invaluable. I use my local affiliate, as well as its rebroadcasts of BBC World Service, as my main source of “current events” on my various drives. I can’t read on the road, obviously. Without it I would be woefully uninformed about what’s happening around the world.

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