Rachael Larimore, a senior editor at Slate, has written an unusual piece for the online publication. It’s titled Bullet Points. You’d be forgiven for expecting it to be another uninformed diatribe against evil conservatives, who if they would only stop licking the boots of their NRA masters, would surely allow common sense legislation to pass that would outlaw guns and prevent crime. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong.
Larimore, who’s been at Slate since 2002, was, as of 2008, the only Republican at the publication. That may have something to do with the fact hat she appears to actually know how to do research on the Internet.
The article does a good job of excoriating the leftist media for being consistently wrong about guns. Not about policy…Larimore only hints at that. It follows, though that you’re unlikely to get policy right when you don’t know even the most basic facts about guns or gun law.
There are many reasons that this cycle repeats as it does. We live in a divided society where people cocoon with like-minded allies, and we’ve stopped listening to the other side. The NRA is powerful. We get distracted and move on to the next shiny thing. But one important point: The mainstream media lobbies hard for gun control, but it is very, very bad at gun journalism. It might be impossible ever to bridge the divide between the gun-control and gun-rights movements. But it’s impossible to start a dialogue when you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.
Media stories in the wake of mass shootings typically feature a laundry list of mistakes that reflect their writers’ inexperience with guns and gun culture. Some of them are small but telling: conflating automatic and semi-automatic weapons, assault rifle and assault weapon, caliber and gauge—all demonstrating a general lack of familiarity with firearms. Some of them are bigger. Like calling for “common-sense gun control” and “universal background checks” after instances in which a shooter purchased a gun legally and passed background checks. Or focusing on mass shootings involving assault weapons—and thereby ignoring statistics that show that far more people die from handguns.
Larimore gets everything right. Finally, she suggests that Slate dedicate a staffer who’s experienced with and knowledgeable about guns to write about them, just as they have about sports or legislation or judicial decisions. Perhaps she has someone in mind. Perhaps Larimore would like the assignment herself. She’s already demonstrated more knowledge about the subject than Slate’s current slate of scribes put together.
Who knows? The time might be right. The Washington Post owns Slate. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. After Bezos took over the Post added The Volokh Conspiracy blog to its stable and UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh is one of the most knowledgeable and brilliant legal minds on the planet when it comes to the Second Amendment.
Perhaps something similar can happen at Slate. Larimore would be a welcome exception to the usual level of ignorance and uninformed bias. A discussion on the issue of gun law changes — one based on fact — would be a refreshing and likely profitable,change for the publication.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.