Most people in the media, even at the local level, aren’t gun folks. There are exceptions, of course, but by and large, they’re not.
That’s not an insult, either, because that’s true of most professions. Most welders aren’t gun people either, most likely. In fact, most police officers aren’t, though they’re more knowledgeable about guns in general than most working other jobs.
But the problem with the media is that they often are tasked with determining what’s important in a story when the subject relates to a matter they know nothing about.
When that happens, you get headlines like this: “Suspected gang member arrested with gun and nearly 50 rounds of ammo, Merced police say.”
Now, here’s what happened:
Police said an officer recognized one of the people, identified as 18-year-old Marquis Zaragoza, and patted him down during a search for weapons. During the search, the officers located a loaded gun in Zaragoza’s waistband as well as a high-capacity magazine, according to the release.
Authorities said Zaragoza was also in possession of 49 live rounds. He was arrested and booked into Merced County Jail on suspicion of multiple charges including carrying a loaded firearm, possession of a large-capacity magazine and participation in criminal street gang activity, according to jail records.
Now, keep in mind that Merced County is in California and all of these are crimes in that state. Those are a topic for another time.
Yet the media felt that the number of rounds was what was so troubling, apparently. I mean, 50 whole rounds! What could he possibly want with so many rounds?
What they don’t get is that’s a single box of shells. Based on the photograph included in the story, it’s a single box of ball ammunition that the guy loaded up in his magazines–none of which should have been possible in California considering their gun control laws. Just sayin’.
So why is did this paper find that noteworthy enough to include in the headline? Because they don’t know any different.
To them, 50 rounds is a lot and they want people to be terrified that criminals are running around with so many bullets.
Yet for a gun person, that’s not even a decent range trip. My range is about a half-hour drive from my house, and if I just shot 50 rounds while there, I’d feel like I wasted the trip. I typically carry hundreds of rounds when I go so I can actually enjoy myself.
So to freak about 50 rounds isn’t journalism, it’s alarmism. It’s a way to freak out and, as a result, convince people that 50 rounds is worth being alarmed over.
Most people don’t know that most ammunition comes in a box of 50 or more. Not good defensive ammo–the kind illegal in New Jersey–doesn’t, but most common types do. That’s not alarming, it’s normal, and the media completely missed that.
What’s more, it seems they didn’t even bother to ask anyone is that was a lot. They just knew that if someone has 50 cats then they have too many cats (or something similar) and figured that extrapolated out to include ammunition.
What’s worse is that many of those who will accept this know good and well how much the newspaper gets wrong on matters they truly understand. A prime example of Gell-Mann Amnesia.