Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gun Control, Tragedies, and Media's Dishonest Intensions

It's appalling to see CNN, MSNBC, and many other news outlets capitalize on the recent mass shooting tragedies by sensationalizing mass murderers. The news casters telling conveniently spun tales that are anywhere from twisting a small fact out of context to outright lies in the guise of journalism. A recent example that I watched was Anderson Cooper 360 (who's show's ironic catch line is, "keeping them honest") on CNN that 'reveals' that there are hidden provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; A.K.A. the Obamacare bill that supports gun rights. The section in question is H.R. 3590-766 Section 2717 subsection C; Protection for Second Amendment Gun Rights which isn't as well hidden as Anderson Cooper reports considering that it took me under a minute to find it after downloading the bill.

Transcript of the show is available on CNN's site for the entire story.

It's ludicrous to report that a legally passed bill signed by the President is a hidden, secret, or otherwise surprise section when it is every senator and President's job to read these bills before voting and signing off on them. If the case were true that the senators and the President did not know about it than that would be a confession of breaking their oaths they took when they took office; to faithfully discharge their duty. At forty seconds in on the video above, Anderson Cooper's field reporter asks healthcare advocate Joan Alker her opinion on how Section 2717 appeared in the bill and her reply is mind blowing, "I don't know, but I assume the NRA put it in at the last minute". It's laughable that CNN resorts to fabricating a conspiracy theory aided by a reputable professional woman like Ms. (I apologize if it is Mrs.) Alker. Despite Ms. Alker's education she manages to sound like she is wearing a tin foil hat when she suggests that the 'NRA' manages to walk into congress to pen in Section 2717 as well as altering the table of contents and simply walk out moments before voting on the bill.

To think that we poke fun at the Weekly World News (and it's parent the National Enquirer) for making up stories. At least there is honesty in dishonesty as we read those stories for the same reason they were written: for the thrill of it.

The news is a business and as a business it does have to make a profit. Profit margins are even more important if you are a publicly traded company that must answer to shareholders. It is sad to say that tragedy sells but it does. On the trail of those tragedies comes follow up stories that can will be milked for every red cent that can be squeezed out of the terrible situation. Time magazine once a reputable name in journalism has slumped further when reporting on 'facts' of how an AR-15 is capable of firing 45 rounds a minute in semiautomatic mode.

Photo Credit to ENDO

I would like to know where Time got the figure for 45 rounds since it's an odd number in the AR world. There are typically 10, 20, and 30 round magazines for the AR-15 pattern rifle and that would be a magazine change to reach the 45 round mark. Even by an untrained person a rate of a round every 1.33 seconds (60 seconds / 30 rounds, mag change, 15 more rounds = 1.33 seconds) is rather slow and is clear that Time never checked their facts by reaching out to a qualified person or company to make a judgement call on an AR-15's rate of fire. For those of you that have never pulled a trigger there is a simple simulation you can try. Stretch a bunch of doubled and tripled over rubber bands between thumb and index finger of your non-dominant hand and rest the pad of your index finger of your dominant hand on the stretched portion of the rubber bands and pull as if pulling a trigger. If you can pull it more than once every 1.33 seconds, congratulations for not being the slow person that Time magazine thanks you are. Another odd statement that Time makes is specifying 'semiautomatic mode' that seem to insinuate that there are modes other than 'Safe' and 'Fire' where AR-15s are semiautomatic only.

Adding to Time's misreporting of facts is the picture they used which is a silhouette of an AK (presumably 47) and not an AR-15; they can't even get the picture of the gun right. Apparently the Times is not in the habit of checking their facts before publishing an article. If I were to speculate like Time magazine then I would say that they find the all mighty dollar more important than fact and truth and willfully misrepresent facts to get more money out of your pocket.

The Society of Professional Journalists outline a code of ethics that are seldom followed in the present day as evident by the blatant lies and half truth told as gospel news. In light of the recent mass murders the section to Minimize Harm are ignored wholesale in favor of their company's profit margins. These so called journalists justify harassment of grieving victims by broadcasting their misery to a nation of curious onlookers to satisfy a perceived public need. Journalists everywhere, pay close attention to the following words as they will morally elevate you among your peers: stop reporting the name and picture of a mass murderer. It is possible to report the crime without making a celebrity out of the killer. It's sad that journalism's peers can not create policy to stop using the mass murderer's name and likeness and worse yet that no method of enforcement or accountability exists.

I want to raise some points for the sake of creating dialogue in the hopes of a positive impact in the wake of the mass murders and the resulting discussion of what can be done about it. Some of the points that I will be making are extreme, but don't think in narrow terms or as a suggestion of an attack on freedom of expression (the fact that I am writing this blog demonstrates my favor for the first amendment). What I hope to accomplish is perspective of our world and how we as people have a certain control and influence over how our media behaves and vice versa. With those disclaimers in place, let me begin.

It is generally agreed that creating celebrities out of mass and serial murderers is a bad idea, but despite this consensus our morbid curiosity creates the loophole for public need in the eyes of journalists. As long as we have a need to know, journalists will continue to tell you in spectacular fashion the latest serial or mass murder committed by X. I would love to be able to say that next time such a story comes on your TV with the inevitable murderer name dropping that you should change the channel, but that would be asking you to ostracize yourself from the world by choosing ignorance. We are faced with the unfortunate situation of let it be for free press or fix it for public safety.

Imagine if the SPJ's code of ethics were not just a suggestion but a set of federal guidelines and laws with an additional clause to omit the likeness and name of serial and mass murderers. With the weight of the government comes accountability for those that break their laws through fines and imprisonment. Federal enforcement would solve one paradox of the viewer's dilemma but it simultaneously creates a second paradox that infringe on the journalist's first amendment in the name of public safety. This hypothetical idea to marginalize the first amendment through specific limitations shouldn't be new to those of you that want to alter the second amendment in the name of public safety, yet somehow the idea of altering the first amendment specific to the press to make the world a safer place doesn't align to your moral compass. You want your government to protect you and are willing to give up your right to arms to do so, but not your right to run your mouth and complain how the world would be a better place without guns all the while expecting someone else to take the responsibility of holding a gun to take on the risk for your protection.

Mr. Colion Noir made some great points on his recent video regarding the mass shootings:

I live in Massachusetts where it is required to obtain a license if you are interested in firearm ownership. Interested individuals must take a basic firearm safety course approved by the state before you can apply for the desired classification license. The class typically costs around $100 and the application is another $100. Assuming you are not a felon, convicted of a DUI, domestic violence, or any one of the disqualifying items on the form than you will have a license mailed to you once you satisfy all the requirements. What I find bananas are the states that only license for CCW or for specific kinds of firearms. This means that residents of those states can purchase firearms without a permit or license as long as the buyer is 21 or older without a criminal record.

After the Colorado tragedy I looked up the gun laws in that state and come to find that Colorado requires you to obtain a Concealed Weapon Permit if you intend to conceal carry but not for purchase and ownership otherwise. The police investigation has discovered that the guns used were legally obtained but considering how lenient Colorado's gun laws are that statement is the same as saying all the clothing he owns were legally purchased. Connecticut does have a licensing system in place, but what the Sandy Hook perpetrator did was steal guns from his own mother. She clearly did not secure them as outlined in Connecticut's law where her unlicensed son shouldn't have had access. When motive is unclear and mental health issues are suspected as leading the would be killers to their brink, where was healthcare advocate Joan Alker on helping the mentally ill and the families to cope with mental illness? She was too busy making outrageous claims of conspiracy to CNN. This country always blames guns along with the perpetrator but what about those who are supposed to be in position to help but didn't because they were too high on their moral high horse about gun control?

It is natural to discuss gun control after a tragedy that was perpetrated by a fire arm, but every public and political discussion seem to blindly revolve around the concept of an 'Assault Weapon'. Under the tense political climate the government desperately wanted to save face by taking some sort of action. When push came to shove the politicians couldn't admit that they lacked the resources to keep everyone safe at all times and the next best thing was a whipping boy called the assault rifle. Politicians uneducated on firearms incorrectly classified semiautomatic sporting rifles as assault rifles because of resemblance in appearance alone. The news media relays this information in their sensational fashion warns an already panicked public to the dangers of these awful instruments of death. Fear begat fear and out of it comes a public outcry for some form of justice, reform, or anything that would make the pubic feel 'safe' again. Spurned by a misinformed and scared public to make an example, the second amendment comes under attack again with the same old assault rifle song and dance. Mr. Colion Noir again has a great video (yet again) that educates you on the difference between and assault rifle and one that looks like one;

To anyone reading this who are on the anti-gun side of the debate, please read on and contemplate the feasibility of getting your hands on an actual assault weapon tomorrow. I want to educate those of you that may not have a clear understanding of just how hard it is to acquire an actual assault (full auto) weapon and hope to once and for all remove the assault weapon debate off of the table so that we can finally begin to have a civil conversation regarding gun control. A full auto firearm falls under a Title II classification and my SBR article shows the difficulties and long wait time to obtain a Title II tax stamp. There are additional restrictions for getting a full auto firearm starting with availability and cost as well as state laws that may prevent ownership altogether. The Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) made sales of full auto firearms illegal to civilians with the caveat that anything manufactured before the act was considered grandfathered and thus the limited supply. The short supply drove prices up reaching tens of thousands of dollars and a full auto 'AR-15' would cost $15,000 or more and it typically would be an M-16, not those 'evil' AR-15s as the media will have you believe.

The next inevitable point that is brought up by people who are 'knowledgeable' about guns are full auto conversions. If you are reading this and feel that you are about to be triumphant, prepare to be disappointed. You will need to replace the current fire control group to a full auto (FA) fire control group with a FA sear. You will also need the proper BCG and a barrel that can handle a high rate of fire. Sounds simple until you realize that the FA sear is a Title II item and requires a tax stamp, the same process as acquiring a tax stamp for any other Title II item such as SBR, SBS, and suppressors. The FA drop-in sears are regulated by FOPA and as a result cost as much as a FA rifle and just as limited in availability. This means that there are no new FA sears that you as a civilian can purchase. Assuming you live in an eligible state for FA ownership and have received your tax stamp and purchased a grandfathered drop-in FA sear for an obscene amount of money, your AR lower may not fit it. Most modern AR-15 lowers are machined with insufficient space to drop in FA fire control group as well as lacking the pin hole on purpose. For those 'knowledgeable' haters who are backpedaling by saying 'yeah I knew that'. I believe you, like I believe Time's report on AR's rate of fire.

I for one do agree with reasonable gun control and I am certain to draw criticism from the pro-gun readers, but think for a moment who you don't want to have a gun and why. I don't mean people you dislike but people who may not be a responsible gun owner. As much as gun control laws maybe a pain to you law abiding citizens they are there specifically to stop people that are considered dangerous or irresponsible from owning one. If those people deemed unfit get their hands on one than those same laws make for felonious penalties. To be clear when I say gun control that I mean a base set of laws that govern a license that will allow an individual to acquire firearms just like a driver's license allows you to operate a vehicle in your license class. No more and no less. A license system for every state will mean that there will be many citizens that will have the right to arms revoked but if the reasons are one of the following, would you say it's a bad reason?

-Convicted of a felony
-Convicted of domestic violence
-DUI (should mirror most state's driving law that scale the license suspension with number of offenses to eventual permanent suspension)
-Violent crime conviction
-Class A Drug conviction (sale, use, distribution, possession)
-Involuntarily committed to a mental institution currently or in the past
-Not a legal US resident or citizen
-Ever been incarcerated for 1 year or longer
-Have outstanding criminal warrants (excluding driving and parking citations)
-Currently being indicted for a felony or violent crime (pending outcome)
-Had a restraining order against you more than once to suggest repeat behavior
-Reported by a mental health professional to be considered as a danger to one self or others (Should have a review period every three months and not a permanent mark)

If you can look at the list above and still say to me what I propose is a bad idea than this stops being a civil discussion about gun control and becomes a stand off of opinions. My list isn't perfect and I can see how it can be exploited to reject a license but that's why it's a discussion. It's time for gun owners to take the rights fight to the government's door instead of waiting to hear what crazy ban idea is conceived next only to bitch about it after the fact. We are badly in need of people that are knowledgeable about guns to be in an effective position to positively lead gun control talks. There are discussions for a new ban right now, but a ban on firearms only affect the law abiding citizens and not the intended criminals. Laws are just like locks that they stop honest people and a criminal by definition isn't.

I want to welcome your opinion and want to encourage positive discussion on gun control and the recent tragedies in the comments. I also want to say that if all you can or want to do is complain, slander, flame, or otherwise just want to troll over mass homicide tragedies and the resulting discussion: you are a soulless dick who I hope will soon fulfill their life long search to be a prison bitch to a pro-gun dude with herpes who's junk looks.....uncomfortable.

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