Under the Gun, a full-length assault on guns and the Second Amendment, er… I mean documentary, premiered on EPIX last night, conveniently during an free preview weekend. As anticipated, it was a screaming endorsement for gun control and a gross demonization of current gun laws that too often go unenforced.
How can we tell it was a grossly biased piece of work? By the lists of reviews that come up when you Google it:
The one honest review I could find had much to say on both the misrepresentation of current gun laws and the censorship of what previous attempts to enact gun control have had in the past:
As an attempt to grapple with the political debate, the movie mostly fails. As it flits from issue to issue, it says too much that is untrue or misleading in the service of promoting gun control. Pro-gun viewers will find it hard to be convinced by something that tries so little to understand, much less represent, their point of view.
The worst mistakes here rise to the level of factual error, and they undermine the film as a whole. There is no law, for example, “making it illegal to sue gun manufacturers”; rather, the law lays out the specific circumstances in which such lawsuits are allowed. These include cases stemming from illegal sales and design defects. The law was enacted amidst a wave of lawsuits against companies whose legally sold guns had eventually been used in crimes.
And even when the film gets its facts right, it often makes little attempt to explore both sides of an issue. While everyday gun owners and activists make numerous appearances—some flattering and some definitely not—pro-gun experts are sorely lacking. Gun-control advocates are well-represented by folks like Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Robyn Thomas of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, and Mark Follman of Mother Jones. Viewers are left believing that there are no similarly well-informed researchers and journalists on the right.
They also miss an opportunity to drive home how badly the attempt to expand background checks flopped in 2013. As they note, one bill would have required background checks on all sales; what they don’t mention is that the legislation was severely watered down before it fizzled out. The compromise that failed to pass (the “Manchin-Toomey” amendment) would have applied only to advertised sales and gun shows, not to transfers among family, acquaintances, etc.
Under the Gun, at best, is an emotionally jarring portrait of Americans whose lives have been wracked by gun violence; much of which is done outside of current laws, while touting the need for more laws these same criminals will continue to ignore. Under the Gun is yet another example of a skewed film aimed at pushing gun-control into the American consciousness through emotions and mistruths.