CNN's good move on gun coverage

CNN’s hiring of The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski, who’s also today’s guest on Cam & Co, as part of the network’s new Guns in America project is making gun control activists like Shannon Watts meltdown, even though the team will also feature Jennifer Mascia of the Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control news site The Trace as one of Gutowski’s counterparts. Watts was on a tirade on social media after word broke on Wednesday, along with other anti-gun activists who incensed that the network would dare to bring on someone who’s not going to simply parrot gun control talking points.

“THIS is who CNN just hired as a commentator on guns,” wrote Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement dedicated to addressing gun violence in the U.S. “Someone who was awarded gun lobby ‘reporter of the year,’ who was a regular guest on the NRA’s extremists NRATV outlet, and friend of Dana and Chris Loesch…”

This sentiment was echoed by many others, with one user saying the hire was like getting “paychecks for the price of innocent lives,” considering his approval rating from the NRA. Another user tweeted “CNN hires gun nut for gun analysis,” while others insisted Gutowski’s hire would end their CNN viewership. “No thanks @CNN,” one user wrote. “I will not be watching ANY of your programs. NONE.”

I honestly don’t think Watts did herself or the movement any favors with her unhinged diatribe, which is perfectly fine by me. But it is a useful reminder of the fact that activists like Watts don’t want a gun control “debate,” because they don’t want their ideological opponents to have a microphone or a platform. They’re terrified of what might happen if the public can hear from analysts like Gutowski who can talk about firearms and gun owners in a way rarely heard on national television. They want to marginalize support for the right to keep and bear arms and gun ownership itself; stigmatize it, denormalize it, delegitimize it, and CNN hiring Gutowski as part of their gun coverage team does the opposite.

I’m really glad that Stephen Gutowski has landed his new gig, and I’m cautiously optimistic to see what CNN’s new project looks like. I’m also really pleased that he could join me on today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co to talk about the Guns in America project, as well as what he expects to see in the next few months in terms of legal and legislative fights over our right to keep and bear arms.

One of the things that we should keep an eye on, according to Gutowski, is the next wave of post-Bruen gun control legislation that’s coming at the state level. The first round saw states like New York and California respond with a flurry of legislation (though California’s sensitive place bill failed on the last day of the session), but other “may issue” states like Maryland, Hawaii, and New Jersey have been a little slower in their response. New Jersey’s bill finally dropped after several months of behind the scenes negotiations and is now heading for a final vote somewhere around Election Day, but Gutowski says there’ll be another wave of carry bills coming with the start of the new year. With federal courts already indicating that many of New York’s laws aren’t going to survive court scrutiny, will the second round of carry bills be tailored more to survive or court a legal challenge?

Check out the entire conversation with Stephen Gutowski below, and be sure to check out The Reload if haven’t already.