Reporters aren’t experts on things. In fairness, that’s not their job. Their job is to, well, report on things.
For example, a reporter in Tennessee filed a report on a bill that would change the language in state law about what kind of firearms can be carried in public. Currently, only handguns can be lawfully carried and the new bill would change a single word that would have a profound impact on gun rights.
Where things get hilarious, though, is in the fact that because the reporter wasn’t an expert and apparently didn’t talk to any actual experts, she made a statement I have to laugh at.
A new bill in the Tennessee legislature wants to change concealed carry laws throughout the state to include all firearms.
But opponents, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, are saying the expansion is concerning for law enforcement.
House Bill 1005 seeks to change the reference from “handgun” to simply “firearm,” allowing citizens to publicly carry semi-automatic weapons.
No, seriously, that’s what’s in the report this woman filed.
She claims the new law would allow people to carry semi-automatic guns in public.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens when you don’t understand the topic you’re reporting on in any way, shape, or form.
What she didn’t get is that people have been carrying semi-automatic weapons in public for decades and they’ve been doing it lawfully during that time. The semi-automatic action is over a century old at this point and exists on numerous popular firearms such as pretty much every Glock and many of the most popular firearms from every other handgun manufacturer out there.
Now, I know she’s talking about modern sporting rifles when she says “semi-automatic weapons,” but in reality, those guns are already on the streets.
What’s not funny, though, is that this woman–a person whose job it is to inform people–is wrongly informing the public about information based on her horrible misunderstanding of things.
While folks in Tennessee aren’t likely to worry too much about such things, this comment is indicative of why I have profound concerns about a renewed assault weapon ban. When people are talking about semi-automatic weapons, it’s clear they don’t understand that it’s an action type that includes handguns and shotguns. That action type isn’t exclusive to so-called assault weapons.
So when a reporter feeds into that, it implants this idea that semi-automatic weapons and handguns are mutually exclusive when they’re not.
It also makes it far more difficult to trust the media. For those of us who try our best not to fall victim to Gell-Mann Amnesia, it’s impossible to look at this reporter’s work–to say nothing of the station that employs and supervises her–and not wonder just how much other misinformation they’ve peddled that the public thinks is factually correct but is anything but.
The mistake is hilarious to me. I won’t apologize for that.
But the mistake represents a very troubling fact that we’d best acknowledge and deal with here and now before we run into real problems.