Results of a Busier Than Normal Week Speaking to the Media about Guns

I have come to accept that journalists do not contact me unless something is going wrong with guns in America. After all, “79.9 Million Gun Owners Don’t Shoot Anyone” and “399.9 Million Guns Not Harmful” are not exactly headlines. The media is an industry that makes money by attracting attention, and fear draws eyes and ears.

At the same time that most gun owners and guns are unproblematic, there is enough going wrong that I get plenty of calls. Recently, even more so. This post logs four recent contributions I made to various media. It doesn’t include extensive conversations I had with two reporters and a producer that did not go anywhere (yet). Hopefully, those efforts will pay some dividends in the future in terms of those folks having a different and better understanding of guns and gun culture.

Readers of my other blog, Gun Curious, know that I have redoubled my commitment to having brave and empathetic conversations about guns, especially across lines of difference.

I hate that guns have become a wedge issue and partisan symbol in our polarized political system and am trying my best to counter that. I know I am swimming against the tide and just hope that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

My media appearances began with The Chuck ToddCast: Meet the Press. Chuck Todd had a clear POV on the issue but allowed me to say my piece and acknowledged my points a couple of times. Good conversation despite our differences, I would say.

A couple of days later, I got a call from a producer at Sunday Night in America with Trey Gowdy on Fox News. I’ve done TV spots before, but not live and national. I don’t think I embarrassed myself and I learned a couple of things about doing live TV. Hope I shed some light in my brief time and get another opportunity to do better.

Seeing many people characterize the Kansas City porch shooting, upstate New York driveway shooting, Austin H-E-B parking lot shooting, and Charlotte ball-in-the-yard shooting as a product of Stand Your Ground laws allowing people to “shoot first and ask questions later” led me to write a response that was published online in The Hill.

In my opinion essay, I challenged political advocacy groups and academics who call Stand Your Ground “shoot first laws,” but I ended the week talking to Gun Owners Radio and noted that Amazon sells signs that say: “WARNING: We shoot first and ask questions later.” So the problem is not just limited to critics of Stand Your Ground laws.

Thanks for reading beyond the headline. If you appreciate this or some of the other 900+ posts on this blog, please consider supporting my research and writing on American gun culture by liking and sharing my work.

12 comments

  1. I admire your dedication to educating those who hold a bias, however I do believe there is a significant percentage of Americans who are ideologues and regardless of the evidence presented they refuse to acknowledge it nor will it change their minds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I listened to the podcast and what I found interesting is what was never mentioned; that the overwhelming number of gun incidents are perpetuated by a very small minority of people who in general are not what would be considered legal gun owners. They in fact are criminals, and too many on the left just assume that a law will be passed and all of a sudden those people will comply with the law. That is lunacy.
    Two other aspects, 1. where did the numbers for more mass shootings than days of the years come from? I read someplace that people are including gang activity in those numbers which while accurate is very misleading.
    The very real experience that gun banners are never satisfied and we know from that experience that any compromise is one sided and never from the gun banner side. Just look at California, NY and NJ for example. As for mandatory training – 3 days? Who can take off for 3 days? Well off people, what about the semi-poor, can they take off? Add in cost, Cost for the “poor” becomes a factor so now the requirement looks racist and smacks of the laws passed in the South just after the Civil War.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Downside of podcasts is there is no fact checking. Todd was drawing on data from the Gun Violence Archive, which does use a different definition than many of “mass shooting” – it doesn’t require those shot to have died. I think that is a fair definition but people need to be even more clear about what they mean when they say “mass shooting.” Many of those shootings are like regular homicides just taken to the next level (i.e., criminal activity). Of course, we also see shootings done by people who are “law abiding gun owners” until they start shooting innocent people. So, there’s plenty of blame for obfuscation to go around.

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    • It’s a sleight-of-hand, changing the definition of ‘mass shooting,’ to mislead the public into believing there are now two or three Uvaldes every day.

      GVA is a useful source for raw data, but the guy who runs it is openly anti-gun, and GVA regularly misclassifies incidents. I reviewed every entry for accidental deaths for 2019, and found many such errors. For example, several claimed accidents had turned out to be murders, but were still listed. Victims hit by spray bullets during gang shootouts were also recorded as accidental — while the gangbangers didn’t intend to shoot those victims, they fully meant to pull the trigger. (And I suspect those incidents are double counted under mass shootings.)

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  3. Thanks for your efforts to educate people by talking about these sorts of issues and correcting misconceptions, of which there are many in the areas of self defense and firearms. I’ve felt for many years that any side of any issue that has to lie or spin their arguments by using misleading statistics is likely not on the side of the angels. While the pro-gun side gets a bit hyperbolic at times, the anti-gun side is off the charts with this type of dishonest debate. The mass shooting definition is one example, as is the “fact” that mass shootings only happen in the US (hint: they occur elsewhere, in some cases causing more death and injury than in the US). Another example is the fairly recent talking point of “gun violence”being the leading cause of death for children. That point is only arrived at by including older teenagers (16-18 years old, e.g., sometimes even including young adults older than 18) in the totals.
    As far as signs go, the ones I shake my head at the ones that go to state of mind, like the “We shoot first..” and the “We don’t call 911” ones. But I also am puzzled why gun owners feel the need to advertise they have guns by putting decals on the back of their vehicles – I’m sure you have seen many examples. They might as well have a sign that says, “Attention burglars – break into this vehicle first since it is more likely to have a gun in it!”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great piece at The Hill countering the FUD being spread now about SYG, and pretty much a perfect job on Trey Goudy. I’ll need to work up the motivation to endure Chuck Todd.

    Armed Attorneys have also given their usual fantastic take on these incidents:

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  5. I try to keep in mind that the Media has a story they are trying to tell. They interview people in hopes of getting the lines they want, not because they are hoping to learn something.

    I think it might be fun for you to, in a live show, say “How come the media never calls me unless it’s a mass shooting? How come guns are never discussed unless we are discussing crimes?”

    As you said, about 400 million guns didn’t do anything at all today. Why do they only care if it can be portrayed as a problem and a political fight?

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