Anti-gun bias in the media is nothing new, but in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen it’s getting ramped up to new heights. The latest example? An Associated Press story that seems saturated with a negative viewpoint towards the right to keep and bear arms, even if the authors never explicitly come out and say so.
The subtle bias is present from the opening sentence of the AP’s story, which declares that the Supreme Court’s decision “threatens to upend firearms restrictions across the country as activists wage court battles over everything from bans on AR-15-style guns to age limits.”
“Threatens” implies that these laws are good things, as opposed to being unconstitutional infringements on the exercise of a fundamental right. If that were the only bias present, it honestly wouldn’t even be worth talking about, but we’re just getting started. Compare and contrast the first two quotes in the story; one from a pro-2A attorney and one from a gun control litigator.
“The gun rights movement has been given a weapon of mass destruction, and it will annihilate approximately 75% of the gun laws eventually,” said Evan Nappen, a New Jersey gun rights attorney.
… “We will see a lot of tax dollars and government resources that should be used to stop gun crime being used to defend gun laws that are lifesaving and wildly popular,” said Jonathan Lowry, chief counsel and vice president at Brady, the gun control group.
I know Evan and have interviewed him on countless occasions over the years, and while he’s always good for a colorful quote like the one he gave to the AP, I can’t help but wonder what else he had to say that was left out of the AP story in order to include his description of the Bruen decision as a “weapon of mass destruction” that will “annihilate” gun control laws.
Jonathan Lowy (yeah, the AP got his last name wrong), meanwhile, is presented as the voice of “lifesaving and wildly popular” gun control laws, though neither the AP nor Lowy himself offers no evidence whatsoever that the gun control laws he’s defending are effective at reducing violent crime or have garnered the approval of vast majorities of Americans. I’ll give the Associated Press some credit for calling Brady a “gun control group” instead of a “gun safety” or “gun reform” organization, but it still seems to me that the press outlet was writing for an audience that is opposed to the right to keep and bear arms. Here’s another example of the subtle bias at work.
Not all those lawsuits will necessarily be successful. The Texas attorney general, for example, argues the Supreme Court ruling doesn’t affect the state’s age limit law, and more state and local governments can certainly defend their gun laws as being in line with U.S. history.
Adam Skaggs, chief counsel and policy director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, predicted that when the dust settles, only laws “along the margins” will eventually be struck down.
“Most judges are going to see these for what they are, which is overreaching and lacking in any merit,” he said.
There’s a bit of bias by omission going on in this passage, in my opinion. The Associated Press fails to point out that even before the Bruen decision was handed down the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against California’s prohibition on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to under-21s on constitutional grounds. That’s an important distinction to make when the premise of the entire piece is about how Bruen has led to “open season” on gun control laws.
It’s also just a blatant falsehood on the part of Skaggs to claim that the Bruen decision will only lead to a few minor gun control restrictions being struck down, and it’s disappointing that the AP didn’t allow any pro-2A advocate like Nappen to respond to his claim. Is Skaggs calling “may issue” concealed carry a marginal gun law? If so, then why did Giffords and other gun control groups try so hard to keep New York’s law in place? The “good cause” requirement declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court
Besides, as the AP eventually notes a couple of paragraphs later, the Bruen decision is already having an impact on another major priority for gun control groups like Giffords: a ban on so-called assault weapons.
U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Moore, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, said he was sympathetic to the town’s goal of preventing mass shootings like the one that killed 10 people at a grocery store in nearby Boulder last year. But Moore said he didn’t know of “historical precedent” for a law banning “a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” so the gun rights groups have a strong case against the ordinance.
Encouraged by that decision, Taylor D. Rhodes, the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, told The Associated Press that his group was considering going after other gun measures in Colorado, where Democrats hold the majority in the state legislature and the governor’s office.
Referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Rhodes said: “The Bruen decision gave us a 4-ton wrecking ball.”
By coincidence or by design, both Second Amendment supporters quoted by the AP talk about “destruction” or “wrecking”, without any explicit mention of the fact that both are interested in destroying laws that they believe put people at risk, instead of saving lives. Again, the bias is subtle, but it’s there.
Look, this isn’t the worst piece of pro-gun control journalism that I’ve ever seen, and I’m even willing to entertain the idea that the AP reporters weren’t consciously putting an anti-gun spin to their story. But the Supreme Court has said in no uncertain terms that the right to keep and bear arms is both real and of fundamental importance to individual Americans, and that alone should be enough for the mainstream media to quit taking the position, implied or explicitly delivered, that any and all gun control laws are an unquestionable good.