Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dear John

(Click on image to enlarge and then boogie on back.)

Clearly I'm not "done" with the Newtown Massacre, but please bear with me.  David Horsey's recent cartoon and column raised some further issues which I feel are worth considering.  Here's what he had to say:

While most Americans spent the weekend in shock and mourning following the shooting deaths of 20 first-graders and six teachers and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., at least a few of our fellow citizens were thinking that killing school kids is a cool idea.

After listing multiple items from the news since last Thursday on people threatening to open fire on schools, he continues:

Apart from the ones who actually started shooting, it is anyone’s guess which of the men in these weekend incidents were serious about killing people and which are just fools who lack brains and empathy. But this quick sampling of news reports indicates there are way too many oddballs among us with violence on their minds and guns within reach.

It is the part about "news reports" which intrigued me.  The initial coverage of the incident was weird, and mostly wrong on the facts:  the suspect was incorrectly identified as his brother;  his mother was identified as a kindergarden teacher at the Sandy Hook school; he used semi-automatic handguns to do the shooting, leaving the semi-automatic rifle in the car.  As the hours and days wore on, the actual facts came out, but for the first twelve hours or so, the public was misinformed about every fifteen minutes by all the media outlets, and they were ALL there.

Libby Spencer noticed the same thing and adds that the behavior on the ground, especially interviewing the children who managed to escape the carnage, was unconscionable.  She's right. 

Libby's associate at The Impolitic, Capt. Fogg, points out that the misinformation continues to pour forth from the media:

Suddenly everyone is an expert on guns and gun law,  but although I'm hardly a "gun advocate" I do advocate the truth and the truth is that although the police and the military do use some autoloading pistols, real military assault rifles have been banned since 1937 and are not "easily available" at your local Bass Pro Shop or Wal-Mart. That dearly beloved ban left store shelves loaded with extended magazines and the kind of weapons it didn't actually ban.  I'll just assume that my Grimm brother here is as ignorant as most journalists who think that BA in journalism grants poetic license and instant expertise on all matters and not just someone looking for ratings by reaching into that bucket of breathless hyperbole and  cheap drama and pulling out plums about "high velocity bullets" without actually knowing anything about ballistics.  Would the victims have been better off being hit by slow moving .45 ACP slugs or faster moving .22 magnums?  Not really.

 Is it any wonder even the best of us are making statements that don't hold up with all this misinformation floating around pretending to be the god's honest truth.  I've been as guilty of that as anyone, as my nephew John continues to point out.  His comments on my post on Incrementalism taught me a few things, as have some of his comments on other posts.  I don't always agree with him or his premises, but I do admit that on some issues he has better information than I do.

Which is not to say that John isn't a brat.  He is.  But I love him dearly because he has taught me a few things, among them that reasonable people can disagree.

Now, if we can just get our vaunted "free press" to do its job, maybe things will be easier when it comes to decision-making on such serious issues as we are now facing.

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Blogger John Gardner said...

rofl. I got about hallway through this and started writing a comment about "how come you don't quote me!?" when I saw you quote capt. fogg above. reading is fundamental!

Although said Capt. isn't correct. the national firearms act (NFA) of 1934 (not 1937) didn't ban those items (short barreled rifles/shotguns, silencers and full-auto), it simply added a federal paper trail and a $200 tax. at the time, that was a lot. but that $200 tax hasn't changed, it is the same today.

Silencers are legal in many states, some states allow SBS/SBR, and some allow full auto. These states basically have state laws with a clause like, "when properly registered in accordance with federal law"

Laws passed in 1986 outlaw the manufacture of new fully auto weapons "for civilians", so any that exist are very valuable. Go troll (which has been crushed due to ban fears) and check out the going prices for legally transferrable machine guns. probably $15,000 or higher, these days.

Like all federal laws, however, there are loopholes. There is a process to become a "class 3" dealer or manufacturer, and then you can have your fun toys back, even in most states that normally outlaw these items.

But, back on topic: I've commented elsewhere that it is interesting that the press likes to argue for limiting the second amendment, but i'v never seen the NRA or any other groups lobbying for limiting of the first when the media publishes information that is so wrong it is funny.

If the nbc nightly news led with a story about "Magic Johnson leading the Green Bay Packers to the World Series", people would lose jobs. But rush to publish information that is completely (and verifiably!) wrong about tragic incidents like this, and everyone just brushes it off.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

You're still a brat.

I linked to your comments.

Brat. Brat. Brat.

3:56 PM  
Blogger John Gardner said...

What makes me cringe is that above, I said "you don't see the NRA...lobbying for limiting of the first..." so, of course later that day, they tried to lay this at the feet of the media, movie and game companies. Derp.

9:49 PM  

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