Barry Snell @ Iowa State Daily:
Along with bombs and bombers, guns seem to be all the media wants to talk about these days. Death is sexy to our miscreant media, especially when people are killed on purpose. And when that happens, it’s all the newspapers and news stations will print and broadcast, in turn making these events appear worse than they are in reality.
To understand this, one need only look at the difference in coverage between the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, which killed at least 14 confirmed people and injured 200 more at the time of writing this, versus the coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, which only killed three and injured a hundred others. Texas was on TV for a day, tops, while we’re still hearing about Boston and will for many weeks to come.
Where the media really didn’t care too much about the Texas incident, once a kid was killed at a race, the Boston bombing is now a foil for everything from gun control to immigration in the wake of Sandy Hook, with both sides of the political spectrum using it against the other. What about Texas, you ask? Nothing but crickets chirping from the mainstream media at the moment. Recent studies have shown that people who consume large amounts of mass media often feel more insecure, are less informed, or can’t distinguish between news and what passes as news, what with all the opinion you’ll find in news today.
But when it comes to something as deadly serious as guns and crime, Americans can’t afford the media hyperbole, misinformation and disinformation.
We have a lot of liberal columnists working for the Daily. As a conservative, I’m fine with that; they’re the ones who apply for the job, and conservatives usually don’t. Free market, baby, deal with it. But many of our liberal columnists are my friends, with whom I have spent time outside of work, too. And they, along with everyone else it seems, have an opinion about guns, as you can see by glancing through the last few weeks of the Daily’s Opinion section.
It’s been an eye-opening experience for me. As assistant opinion editor and friend, my columnists are important to me both professionally and personally. It’s all the more clear to me now after doing this job that people often opine a whole lot about stuff they don’t have any personal experience with or expertise on. Like guns.
Every time a gun issue comes up in conversation around Daily people or during a Daily editorial board meeting, opinion editor Michael Belding almost always tells me, “you should write a column about that!” I hesitate in doing so and have so far resisted the urge mostly; I wrote three gun-related columns back in 2011 and early 2012, and that was enough to brand me the “gun guy” by some folks who use such terms as epithets.
The desire of others for me to write gun columns is reasonable, though, and I understand it. I’m as much of a “gun expert” as you’re likely to find around here, so having me write about guns in the paper is perfectly rational. I won’t bore you with my “gun resume,” but suffice it to say that prior to coming to Iowa State in 2011, I made a living with firearms in one way or another for several years of my life, and have a few pieces of paper laying around that say I know a bit about them, too.
Today, however, I’m going to break my silence on the gun issue and speak out once more — and for the last time. This is my final column for the Iowa State Daily.
No experience necessary
In the gun debate, I’ve discovered that one cannot be expert enough about guns. Indeed, when it comes to the gun issue, opinion rules. There doesn’t seem to be any opportunity for any genuine, honest debate on guns, and even liberals would agree with that. I’ve often wondered about this over the years. Is it because my side of the debate is actually loony? I don’t think so; at least, I think I’m pretty normal. Sure, we’ve got some oddballs we all wish would go away, just like any group does.
But all the pro-gun people I know are normal people too — people so normal that nobody knows they’re gun people until they’re told. In fact, there are so many gun owners that if we are all crazy like some suggest, the daily crime rate in America would look more like our crime rate for the entire decade combined, and CNN would actually have something to report on other than the latest gossip.
That is to say, there’s a hundred million of us, owning a few hundred million guns combined, and we contribute to society peacefully every day. Many of us even literally protect society for a living, or used to.
I’ve come to realize after the Sandy Hook shooting that the reason we can’t have a rational gun debate is because the anti-gun side pre-supposes that their pro-gun opponents must first accept that guns are bad in order to have a discussion about guns in the first place. Before we even start the conversation, we’re the bad guys and we have to admit it. Without accepting that guns are bad and supplicating themselves to the anti-gunner, the pro-gunner can’t get a word in edgewise, and is quickly reduced to being called a murderer, or a low, immoral and horrible human being.
It is well worth the time, for every one of us to read the full article that was only partially quoted above. Excellent piece Barry Snell!!!