What's this? Semi-neutral reporting on the AR-15?

AP Photo/Michael Conroy

I don’t expect anything approaching neutral or balanced from the mainstream media anymore. That hurts because I once defended it vehemently. That was before it became so obvious that I just couldn’t miss it anymore.


Take most reporting on the AR-15. It’s downright laughable the way these weapons are described. Even in reporting about the politics surrounding these weapons, we routinely see an awful lot of anti-gun rhetoric presented as absolute fact.

So imagine my surprise when I saw this report from NBC News.

The AR-15 semi-automatic rifle is one of the most popular guns in the U.S., and one of the most reviled.

It is an emblem of America’s political divisions, beloved by firearm enthusiasts for its versatility and cachet and targeted for bans by gun control advocates who blame it for a rise in mass shootings.

Every time there is a massacre involving an AR-15-style weapon — such as the May 6 shopping mall shooting in Allen, Texas, that killed eight people — the gun draws a new flood of media coverage and public discussion. The stakes, and rhetoric, escalate — and sales, according to the gun industry, remain brisk.

With the frequency of mass shootings increasing, so have calls to restrict sales of semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15, a design originally created for the military that is now copied by a variety of manufacturers under different names. Washington state and Illinois passed bans this year, joining seven other states and Washington, D.C., that prohibit semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15. President Joe Biden says he wants to reinstate a nationwide ban that expired in 2004.

“It is a weapon of war that is really only suitable for soldiers in a combat zone,” said Lindsay Nichols, policy director for the Giffords Law Center, which pushes for gun regulations. “Its ability to kill a lot of people quickly is the reason why we want it banned.”


If it looks like your typical anti-gun hit piece, it’s really not. It just starts out looking that way.

Now, I’m not saying there’s no bias here. There is and if you know where to look for it, you’ll find it.

However, they also point out that any evidence that restrictions on the AR-15 during the Assault Weapon Ban era yielded benefits are shaky at best and they also present a number of arguments as to why such weapons should remain unrestricted.

And they do it without presenting those making such arguments as loons, which is a significant win.

Please don’t get me wrong on this. It’s still NBC News and there’s still an anti-gun bias. The way the story is put together, among other things, make this pretty clear.

Yet it also looks like biased people were at least pretending to care about neutrality for a change, and I want to applaud that whenever I see it. Yes, it’s a pathetically low bar, but considering what we’ve seen of late from the media, especially about AR-15s, it’s still worth noting when that bar is cleared.

NBC News did a halfway decent job for once. Yes, they could do better, but we also know how much worse they can do as well.

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