I generally do not watch major news broadcasts. The national news programs on of each of the major networks are dominated by partisan hacks who have little interest in actual investigation and even less capacity for basic reason. Unsurprisingly, I stopped tuning in to have my intelligence and my values insulted.
While this does add a measure of peace and tranquility to my life, it does make me rather late to the game in catching the more egregious examples of journalistic malpractice.
The reporting at this link is certainly more of those more egregious examples.
The "story" is how that you can hop online to find a private seller from which to buy a gun and do so without any kind of government interference. Period. This is what passes for journalism: highlight a perfectly legal activity and exclaim that horror that it is allowed. Federal law requires background checks on a firearms sold by dealers-- even at gun shows. But, like every single other product a consumer would buy from a private party, no background check is required to buy a gun from a private party.
"But you could be a selling a gun to a violent criminal!" whines the reporter. Well, the reporter might be a child molester deserving of instant death; the gun seller doesn't know anything about him either. Why is the reporter presumed innocent but the gun buyer deserving of suspicion? The implication, of course, is that anyone buying a "military style weapon" (i.e. a scary black gun) must be up to no good. I wonder if the reporter has ever castigated a car salesman because he's selling a car that might be used in a DUI someday?
The reporter is just getting started. He has the fake purchasers-- called "straw purchasers"-- make some casual remarks about not liking a background check while the transaction is going down. The impression *I* get from the purchaser's remarks is that they didn't think they could pass a background check because of how inept and complicated gov't processes can be. But the reporter takes to task the sellers because they ignored an obvious alarm bell like trying to avoid a background check. It wasn't obvious to me. The only thing obvious was that the reporter has an axe to grind.
The reporter castigates these sellers as if they had just knowingly bought booze for underage kids with liver failure. This, for making a perfectly legal deal between two private parties.
But the reporter is about to be shocked anew when a man brings his pre-teen son to the transaction. The reporter acts as if he witnesses two cases of clear parental negligence by the father: first, he let his son see the transaction and then he lets his son actually *touch* the morally tainted money that is the ill-gotten gain of selling the firearm. Can you believe it? A father taking his son with him instead of ditching him? A father, teaching his son the responsibility of firearms ownership? Letting the son actually touch cash? The parade of parental horrors doesn't end until it is exchanged for the next scene's horror: the seller has the nerve to state that he's not responsible for what the next owner might do with the gun, and that he's selling it because he wants the money.
After painting a scary tale about the scary people selling scary guns to other scary people-- did I mention, it's a perfectly legal activity?-- the reporter gathers all his moral outrage together with his Star Wars Legos and huffs his way to talk to a few politicians about why they haven't done anything. He demands an answer!
Don't blame us, they say. The evil NRA is super-powerful and we are really quite powerless to criminalize the conduct, they say. We keep trying to criminalize anything we don't like (like 32oz sodas in Bloomberg's case), but the people are stubborn and think they should be able to do as they wish, they say.
Because the reporter is somewhere between lead and uranium in density, he never stops to ask how the NRA got so powerful. It's really as simple as this: there are a lot of people who *freely* give money to the NRA to advance their interests against the busybodies like our childish reporter. Unlike the Really Powerful Betters, the NRA actually has to *DO* something for the people to get them to voluntarily give them money. That's a lot tougher than just ramming through another tax. But I digress.
The reporter's high-horse crusade also takes makes a stop at the "if-it-saves-just-one-life" exhibit as well. You know this tactic well: the reporter digs up a case where his proposed policy *may* have made some kind of difference in a tragedy, fallaciously argues that the absence of the policy is the ONLY reason the tragedy occurred, and brings on the tearful victim as the emotional face of the policy. In this case, the reporter uses the person first to say what he can't (after all, he's the straight-down-the-middle, unbiased reporter-- Scout's Honor!) and secondly to make obvious how uncaring and insensitive is someone who disagrees with him.
By itself, the article is really just standard Leftist advocacy not-so-carefully disguised as inept journalism. But I think what really makes me mad isn't the standard journalistic malfeasance that is banal on the major networks. No, I think it's the demonizing of innocent people and the glossing over or far more relevant things-- like people's right to conduct legal transactions with other people without the government interfering.
Private sellers are not the problem! When Frontline delved into this issue with a former BATFE agent, the data showed that criminals mostly do not get the guns from private party, in-person transactions like the kind our huffy reporter wants to end. Instead they get them these ways:
- Straw purchasers. People who can legally own guns buying them for those that can't. It's the firearm equivalent of buying alcohol for the underage, and it's even more illegal.
- Crooked FFL licensees. Not all dealers who are Federally licensed wish to cater to law-abiding types. These FFLs are guilty of felonies by knowingly forging paperwork and selling to those who cannot legally own.
- Unlicensed street dealers who buy guns from one of the first two guys
Criminals have incentive not to buy over the Internet as this huffy reporter demonstrated because such transactions are more easily traced and a face-to-face transaction means there's a witness to the deal. No surprise here-- criminals don't get guns the same way law-abiding owners do. They get them from crooked dealers (already illegal) and family and friends.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us with an angry, childish reporter demonizing law-abiding citizens for legally selling firearms, an activity linked to only the tiniest fraction of that tiny fraction (<10%)of violent crime that actually involves guns. Sure, that .50BMG could shoot down a helicopter-- but it never did. It almost certainly never will. That fact is completely lost on the likes of this NBC reporter.