CNN's Latest Look At The Gun Debate Suffers From Flawed Premise

AP Photo/Ric Feld, File

A couple of weeks ago, CNN’s Chauncey Alcorn managed to completely screw up a story about gun sales in Illinois, claiming that nearly 1-million guns had been sold in the state in the month of April, when the actual figure was a little more than 44-thousand. CNN was forced to do a major rewrite of the story, but they apparently didn’t take Alcorn off of the Second Amendment beat, because now he’s back with another story; this one based on the faulty premise that “the firearms industry and its GOP allies have taken a more inclusive approach to fighting Democrat-led efforts to pass stricter gun laws this year.”

The once-mighty National Rifle Association, whose bankruptcy bid was shot down by a federal judge on May 11, has played a much less-active role in the current gun control debate taking place on Capitol Hill due to its internal corruption scandals and related lawsuits.
In its place, gun rights supporters have found additional political allies among minority-led, pro-Second Amendment groups such as the National African American Gun Association and the DC Project, a women-centered firearms education organization that also trains domestic violence victims to safely and legally defend themselves.
Newsflash for Alcorn: the Second Amendment community has always been inclusive. There’s nothing new about that. Heck, I’ve been interviewing members of groups like the Pink Pistols, Black Guns Matter, and the Well Armed Woman about their Second Amendment advocacy for years now.
What’s changed over the past year isn’t some newfound outreach to minority-led, pro-Second Amendment groups, but the growing number of these groups popping up around the country, as well as the fact that many Americans who’ve purchased firearms for the first time since the Great Gun Run of 2020 began don’t fit CNN’s stereotypical view of gun owners as older white guys who live in rural areas.
The sad part about this CNN story is that there are some interesting nuggets of information within it, even if Alcorn gets the premise of his story backwards. Alcorn, for example, points out a recent study from the University of North Carolina Law School that found Black residents in Wake County were denied a pistol purchase permit almost three times as often as White applicants.
While this data is certainly striking, the conclusions from it are limited,” the study authors noted.
NAAGA says the pistol permit law is a callback to Jim Crow era black codes that allowed local sheriffs to limit or outright bar Black Americans from owning firearms, often leaving them defenseless against the racist terrorism of the Ku Klux Klan and other violent White lynch mobs.
North Carolina’s pistol purchase permitting system isn’t a “callback” to Jim Crow era black codes. It’s a remnant of the Jim Crow era that’s still on the books. According to the UNC Law School study that Alcorn cites, the law was formally put in place back in 1919, requiring applicants to prove to White sheriffs that they were of “good moral character” before they were legally allowed to purchase a handgun. You can imagine how few Black applicants were given the green light to buy a pistol back then, and as the study shows, a century later you can still see the disparate impact that the law has had on Black residents hoping to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
While Alcorn at least acknowledges the fact that groups like the National African American Gun Association are speaking out against these types of discriminatory gun control laws, he never presses gun control groups to explain why they continue to advocate for putting laws like this in place. Instead, he allows groups like Everytown for Gun Safety to simply repeat their talking points, and conflates the pistol purchase permit with background checks on gun sales.
State House lawmakers in North Carolina recently voted to end their pistol permit system, sending the measure to the state senate for a decisive vote.
Anti-gun violence groups such as Everytown say added gun control measures save lives, citing a 2019 Rockefeller Institute of Government study that found homicide rates were 10% lower in states that require background checks for all handgun sales than in states that don’t.
“If more guns made people safer, this would be the safest country on Earth, but that is not our reality,” Becky George, Everytown’s senior adviser of external engagement and programs, told CNN via email. “What we know would make this country safer is ensuring that gun sales go through a background check — and that starts with common-sense federal background check legislation.”
What do Becky George’s comments have to do with North Carolina’s pistol purchase permit system? Nothing at all. In a story that’s ostensibly about the “new” outreach to pro-Second Amendment groups led by Black, Asian American, and female gun owners, Alcorn permits George to bash the idea of gun ownership for all without pressing her to explain why the organization continues to advocate for laws that have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities.
To be fair, Alcorn’s latest piece isn’t as obviously incorrect as his story about Illinois’ gun sales, but it’s still based on a flawed premise; that outreach to all gun owners is something new in the Second Amendment community, when the real story is that more Americans of all races, colors, and creeds are embracing their right to keep and bear arms and finding a home in the 2A community itself.