Irresponsible journalism in Florida's permitless carry debate ***Updated***

Daylight! Hangover! #facepalm" by whatleydude is marked with CC BY 2.0 DEED.


WSVN has now amended their initial report with the following correction:

An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that background checks would be eliminated. Federal law requires a background check be conducted of anyone purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.


While that’s not the only issue that author Ryan Petty has with the original report, we do appreciate the station correcting the record when it comes to background checks. – Cam

***Original story***

On Monday, a few Miami area residents held a press conference decrying Florida’s permitless carry bill, Senate Bill 150 (SB 150), sponsored by Florida Senator and former Green Beret Jay Collins (R-Tampa).  [Note: House Bill 543 is the Florida House of Representatives version of the legislation.] Despite the protestations in Miami, this legislation is moving rapidly to the Governor’s desk and to become Florida law.

WSVN reporter, Robin Simmons from the Miami area TV station, covered the press conference and filed a report.

In her opening Ms. Simmons characterizes the group holding the press conference as a group of “local leaders”.  Participants in the press conference included, former Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Retired El Portal Police Chief David Magnusson. While both previously held leadership roles in the community, they are not currently in office. Let’s come back to their comments in a moment.

Ms. Simmons continues her reporting, “House Bill 543 would allow people in Florida who are over 18 years old to carry a concealed loaded gun in most public locations.”  But here Simmons mischaracterizes the legislation, she continues, “it would also allow people to buy guns with no background checks or firearms training.”  This is blatantly false. Firearms purchases are controlled by both federal and state laws that require a background check to be performed before the transfer of any firearm.  Nothing in SB 150 or HB 543 change the process for Floridians to buy or transfer firearms.


Senator Jay Collins, the bill sponsor was quick to call out the irresponsible reporting.

He was joined by colleague, Senator Blaise Ingoglia (R-Spring Hill).

Earlier in the day, I reached out to WSVN via Twitter and directly on their website to alert them to the inaccurate reporting.  I’ve repeated attempts to call this to WSVN’s attention, but they have not responded.  If they update their reporting, we’ll update this article.

For her part Mucarsel-Powell repeated gun control talking points, citing gun control research indicating increases in crime in states where permitless carry has been adopted.  And why wouldn’t she.  She is a senior advisor to gun control group Giffords Courage. As for Mr. Magnusson, he seems to be one of the only law enforcement officials against the bill.  The Florida Sheriff’s Association and the Florida Police Chiefs Association support Florida’s permitless carry legislation.


As importantly as the inaccuracies in the reporting are, the report was completely one sided.  There was no attempt to reach out to supporters of this legislation nor an attempt to fact-check any of the statistics shared during the press conference.  In fact, it would appear that Ms. Simmons just copied and pasted whatever was said during the press conference.  Ms. Mucarsel-Powell rattled off the same disproven statistics about crime in states with permitless carry and Ms. Simmons included them in her reporting–lock, stock and barrel.  No attempt to research the issue, no attempt to seek alternative research, and no attempt to reach out to the bill sponsors or supporters for comment.  Just repeat whatever the gun control activists say.

A simple Google search would have lead Ms. Simmons to a recent report by Rand where they say, “Evidence for the effect of permitless-carry laws on total homicides is inconclusive.”  Rand is no supporter of the Second Amendment, so when they say the data are inconclusive, that should be a sign that the statistics gun control activists cite require some scrutiny.

You might ask, why does this matter?  It matters for several reasons.  First, voters depend on local news for accurate reporting on issues that matter.  Overall, my experience with local journalists has been very positive.  I have been interviewed by countless local reporters and consider most of their work devoid of personal or political bias.  Sure, the local news likes to sensationalize stories. And as much as journalists and newsrooms might protest, the term “if it bleeds, it ledes” is an axiom for a reason.  There is a financial motivation to push stories that generate and feed fear and thus generate views.  Second, distrust of the media, politicians and the political process are at levels that haven’t been seen in decades. Coming off of the misinformation circus during the pandemic, Americans need sources they can trust, not mouthpieces for propagandists.  The press play a vital role, but the level of public trust is a direct result of their adherence to journalistic ethics.  Fair, balanced and accurate reporting are vital to rebuilding trust and to a functioning constitutional republic.  It’s undoubtedly why the first two amendments to the Constitution protect free speech and the right to keep and bear arms.



Join the conversation as a VIP Member