The chart above illustrates the trajectory of support and opposition for a federal “assault weapons ban.” The chart starts in the middle of 1994, when Congress passed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act).The Act banned “assault weapons.” At the time, the mainstream media’s influence on American option was near its height. With the full support of the media, proponents of the AWB were not bothered by . . .
the truth about “assault weapons.” The fact that “assault weapons” accounted for a fraction of violent crime (easily rounded down to zero) and that millions of Americans used the weapons specified for hunting, target practice and self-defense. The fact that the Second Amendment prohibited government infringement on Americans’ gun rights, regardless of firearm type.
Gun control advocates controlled the media, with almost no effective opposition. But that was changing quickly. Conservative talk radio had already begun to make inroads into American culture, and the Internet was just starting to become a viable method of mass communication.
The opponents of the ban managed to include a sunset to the bill ten years in the future. By the time the sunset came due, enough people had learned the truth about “assault weapons” to prevent an extension of the bill.
I recall talking to a former military officer who was a manager in the Civil Service sometime in 1992. He was astounded that the AWB only affected semi-automatic firearms. He had assumed, from the propaganda, that the AWB was solely concerned with fully automatic arms; which had been excessively regulated for 60 years. It only took a minute to explain the folly of the federal AWB..
That’s what has happened to a large plurality of the electorate: they have become educated on the issue. Some 35 percent completely reversed their positions. As they have been exposed to facts and rationality — instead of emotional arguments and falsehoods — they have changed their opinion.
You see the same effect in multiple attempts to pass more infringements on Second Amendment rights. The current campaign for “Universal Background Checks” (UBC) is a case in point. The percentage in favor and against started at about the same level shown for the AWB in 1994. According to selectively worded polls in 2013, Americans were about 80 percent to 90 percent in favor of UBCs . Nearly all the support was based on ignorance, emotional arguments and misleading representation of the actual legislation.
As more and more people are becoming informed on the issue, largely through “alternative media,” support for UBC is eroding. Even in liberal Washington state, with massive funding by Bloomberg and several other wealthy elitists, the actual vote was only 60 percent in favor, an erosion of 20-30 percent. (UBC proponents outspent opponents by 15-1, and the major media in the area actively supported UBCs.)
Clearly emotion-based arguments and lies can sway an electorate to support gun control. But when the facts are disseminated, support diminishes. That’s why the proponents of civilian disarmament push so hard to pass gun control measures quickly.
The good news: once former voters are educated they’re much harder to fool again. Gun control advocates lose a bit of credibility each time this happens. That credibility was built up over decades of biased “reporting.”
Only 6 percent of people say they have a great deal of confidence in the press, about the same level of trust Americans have in Congress, according to a new survey released on Sunday.
The study mirrors past reports that found the public’s trust in mass media has reached historic lows, according to data gathered by the Media Insight Project, a partnership between The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute. The report found faith in the press was just slightly higher than the 4 percent of people who said they trusted Congress.
Alongside the dire findings, the report found respondents valued accuracy above all else, with 85 percent of people saying it was extremely important to avoid errors in coverage. Timeliness and clarity followed closely, with 76 percent and 72 percent respectively saying those attributes were imperative among media sources.
Even more mainstream media skepticism is likely in the future; the liberal press shows no signs of changing its tune. That’s a good thing for those who are Second Amendment supporters, and Americans who own or will consider owning “assault weapons.”
©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.