Premium

Media peddles misinformation on lawsuits against gun makers

Media peddles misinformation on lawsuits against gun makers
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

I’m not a huge fan of the term “misinformation” these days. It’s not because it doesn’t exist. It most certainly does. My issue is that the label has been slapped on everything from differences of opinion to outright satire.

Meanwhile, it’s often not applied to the actual misinformation we see from the mainstream media.

Take the recent push by anti-gun states to permit lawsuits against gun companies by blaming their marketing.

The media, however, frames it very differently. Take this piece titled, “Gun rights activists protest bill making it easier to sue gun store owners after mass shootings.”

See, what they’re doing here is misrepresenting these measures, pretending that it’s really just about putting a pathway forward.

But it’s not.

Under federal law, you cannot sue a gun store or gun manufacturer for selling a firearm that is then used by a third party for something malicious. The law came about because anti-gun zealots tried to run gun companies and stores out of business with frivolous lawsuits designed just to bankrupt them.

Yet lately, they’ve tried a different tactic, and that’s where the misinformation comes in.

These bills target the marketing of guns. They’re basically claiming that by marketing to law-abiding citizens who respond to certain kinds of advertising, they’re really marketing guns to criminals and mass shooters.

The laws in question generally don’t even require proof that these killers ever saw any of the marketing, just that the marketing exists.

We see little mention of that in their coverage of the bills, though, which means the media is misrepresenting what’s happening in these bills. The above-linked example is just one, of course, and it’s far from the most egregious example. It’s just the latest I came across.

Yet the misrepresentation is constant, in all states where similar bills have been considered and even passed. Because this misrepresentation is so persistent, it leaves little doubt in my mind that this is, in fact, misinformation rather than someone just getting it wrong.

For me, that’s important.

I don’t think of something as a lie when the statement meets two criteria: Does the speaker know it’s false and is there an intention to deceive?

With the media reports on these bills, either both of these conditions are met or they’re just so colossally bad at their jobs that the incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

For all the media hysteria over misinformation, it’s kind of hard not to roll my eyes at these claims going forward. What they’re really lamenting is that it’s not their own flavor of disinformation. Sure, they might be lies, but since they’re not the ones telling the lies, that is the real problem.

As for me, well, I might get it wrong. I might bite on a story that I probably shouldn’t or misunderstand something and go off on it. I’m human, after all, and I can’t say I will never screw up.

What I won’t do is lie to try and prove my point. My credibility matters way too much to me to permit that to happen. I can own up to mistakes, but you can always believe that anything I write is something I really believe

For these folks, though, it seems as though credibility is irrelevant. They think they have it just because they’re part of the mainstream media and will hold onto it regardless of their actions.

Yet this misinformation is just why people are losing trust in the media.

So yeah, there’s a misinformation problem in this country, but that misinformation is basically the result of the mainstream media being the propaganda arm of Anti-Gun, Inc.