I really have more important things to be doing right now, but in my morning check of social media I saw some references to a big to-do on Rolling Stone magazine’s website about “America’s Gun Violence Epidemic.”
I don’t read Rolling Stone, but I did not have high expectations for a series on guns based on the experience of writer Dan Baum, who has published in Rolling Stone. In his book Gun Guys, which I have previously reviewed, Baum recalls writing an article for Men’s Journal magazine about the Wikieup machine gun shoot, but “for the first time in my twenty-five-year career had an article killed for explicitly political reasons.” What was the reason? “It’s not anti-gun enough,” the editor told him, to satisfy Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, who also publishes Men’s Journal (p. 90).
In the little I have read, Rolling Stone has managed to underwhelm even my low expectations. Perhaps the rest of the series is better, but the only usefulness of the photo essay on “The 5 Most Dangerous Guns in America” is humor. Except that people take this seriously, so it’s not really that funny. It’s actually so bad that, for people who favor greater gun restrictions in America, with friends like these, who needs enemies?
To begin with, the text on the landing page seen above declares: “Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal. Due to a combination of availability, portability and criminal usage the following five types of guns are the country’s most dangerous.” In an attempt to be witty, the writer here simply confuses things. In the first place, if anyone knows that not all guns are the same, it is “gun nuts.” It is people who are anti-gun who think that all guns are created equal — equally bad.
It is the people who are anti-gun who have no real understanding of what different types of guns are and how they work. To wit: in the story taking down women and gun culture, the caption for the first picture say that Julianna Crowder is holding a “concealed handgun.” Huh? She is holding a pistol in front of her in this picture, so in what sense is it “concealed”? Or does the captioner mean that she is holding the handgun that she uses when she carries concealed? Well, any handgun can potentially be concealed, so again, this is just a demonstration of the weakness of the journalism here.
OK, back to the main point: “Contrary to what those who defend the right to own high-powered assault rifles believe, not all guns are created equal.” Looking through the slide show we come to find that, in fact, “high-powered assault rifles” (a subcategory of all rifles) are responsible for comparatively little criminal harm. I’ve made this point before on this blog. So, this language of “high-powered assault rifles” is simply journalistic muckraking meant to stoke the culture of fear around firearms.