The stereotypical vision of the average gun owner presented by Bloomberg in his recent gun control commercial really aggravated me. It is not this one television ad alone, it is months upon months spent examining the portrayal of the responsibly armed public by the media at large.
They presume to know how I feel, what I think, why I own a gun, and my worst fears when, in reality, they know nothing about me. Multiply that times the millions of gun owners in this country. People are complex, and there are likely as many stories and reasons and feelings as there are legal gun owners.
In the hours and days following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school, the journalists began telling a one-sided tale. I remember listening to Soledad O’Brien, from CNN, interviewing Mary Bono-Mack, a former congresswoman from California, who is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Mrs. Bono-Mack is a well spoken woman, and while Soledad tried to lead her down a trail admitting that increased gun control would have prevented this massacre of young babies, Mrs. Bono-Mack attempted to address alternative concerns such as helping mothers with increased mental health care for their troubled children. Soledad became visibly upset, losing her composure and professionalism, biased to a point she was unable to conduct a fair interview.
Though I do frequent circles where the 2nd Amendment is highly valued, until late December 2012, no one really talked about it casually – not the right to bear arms specifically. Sometimes we would discuss a range day or a new gun purchase, maybe argue about the best gun manufacturer. The 2nd Amendment did not come up as something to argue about or discuss. It was there, like the air – required, necessary, never in question.
Even though the reality of the mental state of the killer was known almost immediately, the media and some politicians branded every gun owner as equal to Adam Lanza. Those of us who own a firearm, and believe we have every right to own that gun, became Adam Lanza in those weeks following Sandy Hook. Fueled by the constant vitriol spewed from the media, I had friends confront me and attack my beliefs as if I had transformed into someone they didn’t know. No matter how calmly and carefully I tried to talk to them, they became extremely angry and insinuated I was heartless, idiotic, or at least naïve in matters of the 2nd Amendment. (These were the ones who told me my .45 was no match for a fighter jet.) I had been friends with a couple of these people for 20 or more years and they always knew I owned guns and enjoyed shooting for sport. As a mother, I was as horrified as anyone could be about the Sandy Hook shooting – I just didn’t believe that punishing legal gun owners who had not done anything wrong would stop this from happening again in the future. It is as if they were hypnotized and could only repeat the same uninformed statements coming from the press – and nothing I said could snap them out of their media induced trance.
In late December and January, I remember every article about the killer’s mother said, “Nancy Lanza, gun enthusiast…” As if there was nothing else that was ever important about this woman. She was a gun enthusiast and probably the only person who knew her son well enough to have suspected anything at all, if one can ever imagine their child causing this type of horror.
Within a month, the News Journal, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, had obtained all the names of persons who had legally obtained permits to own a gun and published a Google Map of the entire database on their website. It is probable that none of those who had their names published ever committed any crime with their gun, and now they were persecuted. Both sides of that community were put at risk as the criminals could make educated decisions on where to conduct their nefarious business. Who were these people that woke up one day and found their names published in a newspaper simply because they may have LEGALLY owned a gun? The News Journal did not ask who they were, they said neighbors have a “right” to know who lives next door. Before the map was published, I’d guess neighbors did know each other the way neighbors do – the good and the bad of living near someone. After the map was published, I wonder if any of those relationships were strained, or – perhaps new friends were made. Either way, what the News Journal published under the guise of “knowledge” actually vilified an entire subsection of their community – again, they presumed to “know” the people represented by the red dots. Yet, those red dots actually represented every single person in the United States of America. They were simply exercising the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Those red dots could have been a young adult during the “Occupy Wall Street” protests exercising his 1st Amendment rights, a young man charged with murder, hearing that he has the right to remain silent exercising his 5th Amendment right, or two ladies hoping to marry as they await the Judicial review of the Defense of Marriage Act (4th Amendment). I do not presume to know any of these people, yet – they are GUARENTEED these rights in our constitution.
The gun owners here in America, who greived with the rest of the nation for the loss of those beautiful babies and their brave educators, had no choice but to stand up and fight in the wake of this nightmare. The media’s ship was listing heavily to the port side as a line of opportunistic politicians stood alongside pouring buckets of water onboard.
As every pro-gun person had their moment in the spotlight, it was spectacular. From my standpoint, a pro-gun blogger with access to hundreds of other pro-gun bloggers and journalists, I was so proud of our community. We banded together, and through unity have been able to communicate an alternate idea, a truth. Cable News shows did invite token gun enthusiasts so they could cite fairness in future discussions. The reality is they brought them on to be a punching bag for the host and whomever their anti-gun guest happened to be that evening.
When Senator Dianne Feinstein released her draft Assault Weapons Ban Bill, the staunch supporters of the 2nd Amendment could not sit quietly by. She reached too far, pushed too hard. We have an obligation to defend ourselves and our country from such an assault and in my opinion — we only used force equal in response to the application of force against us.
After all the hours Cable news has consumed on this topic, the Journalists and their news editors still do not understand gun owners, why we care so much, or how we became so passionate. The broad generalizations continue.
The mainstream media does not know me. Why? They have not asked.