Everytown Weighed In On Violence On The 4th Two Days Prior

(AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)

We’ve seen a lot of “bloody” Fourth of July weekend headlines this week, many of them for stories which use numbers that are fairly misleading. I’ve seen over five dozen articles all about the bloody 4th, all of them following the same narrative, and as it turns out one of the biggest gun control groups was providing some guidance on reporting.

Suggestions for Covering Holiday Weekend Gun Violence in Context was the name of a press release issued by none other than Everytown for Gun Safety. Dated July 2, 2021, it’s as if they just knew we were going to have a crazed Independence Day weekend. From the release:

Lax gun laws and lingering consequences of the pandemic continue to contribute to gun violence, which remains at higher levels nationally than prior to COVID-19. Going into the long July 4 weekend, many cities are bracing themselves for a potentially violent weekend.

That was the first line. Wow. “Lax gun laws”, check. “Pandemic”, check. Everytown and the ilk has popped out their pocket watches all at the same time, swinging them back and forth in front of our faces. The “lax gun laws” cited in this press release have nothing to do with the violence that occurred in Chicago over the weekend, which caused the Mayor to put out a plea to Uncle Joe for help just the other day. The pandemic? Puh-lease.

The release goes on to highlight 11 different areas and tactics to employ when reporting about the potential for a “gun-violence” filled weekend. The document is thick and full of “you know what”. Do read it on your own. Sections from their sage words:

4) Report on the ways the gun lobby and its allies in Congress and statehouses have undermined law enforcement efforts to combat gun violence.

Gun lobby allies on the state and federal level have worked for years to undermine the law enforcement responsible for enforcing our gun laws, block legislation that would provide them with the tools they need, and pass unpopular policies that make our communities less safe. This year, several states passed permitless carry bills despite opposition from law enforcement and laws explicitly prohibiting and punishing law enforcement for helping to enforce federal gun laws. Gun lobby allies in Congress have proposed eliminating the federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing our gun laws and completely dismantling our federal background check system.

6) Cover the ongoing conversations in the U.S. Senate about background check legislation – and ask senators where they stand.

While federal law requires background checks for all gun sales by licensed gun dealers, it does not require background checks for sales by unlicensed dealers, even in instances when they sell guns to strangers they met online or at gun shows. But after years of inaction, bipartisan conversations continue in the U.S. Senate on background checks legislation, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has committed to putting gun safety legislation on the Senate floor.

7) Report on the ways the COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate key drivers of gun violence as infections decline.

Lack of access to income, suitable housing, and other critical life needs are key drivers of gun violence, and the pandemic has caused widespread economic upheaval while disrupting the delivery of social services. States and cities are just now getting many of these critical supports back on line. Many local gun violence intervention programs — which have seen success in preventing daily gun violence in cities — also experienced unprecedented challenges in their work, including strained funding, social distancing measures, and an expansion of their mission to include preventing the spread of the virus.

Together, these are among the compounding factors that may explain the upward trend.

8) Note the ways that the increase in gun sales over the past year has strained the background check system.

In addition, while the background check system worked as intended and denied a record number of prohibited purchasers during the pandemic, the loopholes in the law have been exacerbated and accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to an unprecedented surge in people seeking firearms, whether from a gun dealer, a stranger online, or companies selling unregulated, do-it-yourself firearm kits.

9) Fact-check efforts to blame increases in gun violence on protests or criminal justice reform.

Attempts to shift blame for increasing gun violence to Black Lives Matter protests or criminal justice reform measures are based in politics, not facts. In reality, many cities saw increases in gun violence in 2020 well before the protests started following the death of George Floyd. Additionally, many cities that have not implemented recent criminal justice reforms also experienced increased rates of violence over the past year, with murder rates increasing in 8 out of 10 larger cities. As explained above, increases in violence are likely due to a mix of factors, including economic upheaval, interruption of social services and a disruption of violence intervention work.

11) Seek out the perspective of gun violence survivors — and use a trauma-informed approach to interviews.

A report released by Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and the Black Mental Health Alliance detailed community trauma in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by gun violence and laid out recommendations for addressing it. In light of the kind of individual, family and community-level trauma discussed in the report, consider taking a trauma-informed approach to conversations with survivors of gun violence.

When seeking out the perspectives of gun violence survivors, keep in mind that survivors have experienced traumatic events and recounting those events can be challenging. Read more from Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma on ways to sensitively interview victims of tragedies here and here.

You can also share resources for gun violence survivors so survivors know where to go to get help.

Those six items are just some of the highlights that are exceptionally notable. What do we have?

The anti-gun group highlights those states that have adopted permitless carry, while refusing to pay any attention to the failures of Chicago’s leadership with their prayer to Biden-Harris, or the Seattle Police Chief begging criminals to put down their arms. It’s all rather ironic that progressive cities are crumbling and still don’t have what it takes to really get the job done. Find me a cop that says permitless carry is bad policy and I’ll find you one that say’s it’s good.

Everytown simply does not care about the Constitution or the fact that by adopting permitless carry, states can remove some of the legal wrongs which disproportionally affect minorities (who are supposed to be the “gold standard” of the progressive constituency, right? Wasn’t it good ol’ Uncle Joe who said “Well I tell you what, if you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black”?).

“Gun lobby allies in Congress have proposed eliminating the federal law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing our gun laws and completely dismantling our federal background check system” is an interesting statement to make. There is no citation for this claim in Everytown’s release. I would have reported, as well as many of my fellow “gun writers”, on measures that aimed to completely dismantle the federal background check system. But, nonetheless, this is apparently a talking point that main stream media is supposed to cover.

“Lack of access to income, suitable housing, and other critical life needs are key drivers of gun violence, and the pandemic has caused widespread economic upheaval…” That’s cute. Who’s responsible for the lack of income and economic upheaval? The virus itself did not cause everything to shut down the way it did. So why not focus on the failures of the administrations that put into effect policy that put people out of work, and how in economically depressed areas added further stress and despair? What leanings does the leadership of those areas have?  Nope, the pandemic made them do it. Grand talking point.

I’m not going to continue to do a full close read of every point that I’ve selected. There is not enough time in the day and you really do get the point. At least I imagine you do. But here’s one more talking point from Everytown that really needs rebutting.

Note the ways that the increase in gun sales over the past year has strained the background check system.

In addition, while the background check system worked as intended and denied a record number of prohibited purchasers during the pandemic, the loopholes in the law have been exacerbated and accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic due to an unprecedented surge in people seeking firearms, whether from a gun dealer, a stranger online, or companies selling unregulated, do-it-yourself firearm kits.

The “strain” on the background system can be attributed to the FBI’s inability to keep up. The NICS system was put in place based off of several promises made, and the FBI not being equipped to keep up their end of the bargain (that is, by being instant) is not something that’s worthy of pointing out, unless their aim was to ask for more funding for enforcement etc.

Instead, Everytown is pointing to “loopholes” in the law. Nowhere is there appreciable evidence that people taking advantage of so-called “loopholes” has contributed to the decline in public safety. But, they think it’s important to throw these fun “facts” around when reporting on the larger than normal numbers of drive-by shootings, gangland violence, and substance fueled confrontations when people gather in bulk.

That’s a portion of the “playbook” from the anti-freedom caucus. It’s very considerate and nice of Everytown to be so forward to put this out there for the prying eyes of the delicate public. They might as well have paid for a billboard that read “Don’t worry about the facts, focus on these items.” The sad thing is that so many press outlets were happy to regurgitate the spin from the anti-gunners, gaslighting the free world and free people in the process. There are plenty of reasons why trust in the media’s at an all time low, and the fact that you can’t tell where gun control groups end and the news media begins is a big one.