The AP hasn’t really impressed me with its supposed neutrality for a while now, especially when gun rights are involved at all.
Yet they keep on pretending to be just that. The most recent example is looking at gun rights in the US in a five-part series.
Which is fine, in and of itself. They probably should look at them.
Yet there’s a great deal of bias, starting with their basic premise. Let’s start by looking at the beginning of the ending. In particular, the “takeaway” wrap-up article.
In a country shadowed by the threat of mass shootings and neighborhood violence, courts have embraced an increasingly absolute reading of the right to guns. That raises difficult questions about how to protect the full range of freedoms Americans cherish.
With nearly 400 million guns in civilian hands, the violence they enable feels to many like a threat to their right to worship in peace, go to school and be safe at home. To many others, an unfettered right to own and carry guns is essential to protecting those liberties.
With shooting deaths in the U.S. up sharply, the Associated Press examined the rising tensions between those beliefs and the struggle for answers. Here are the key takeaways from each story:
The problem is, the only reason there is an “tension” is because people like the AP continue to pretend there is. They present it as if it’s a given fact and people who don’t know any better swallow it whole.
Sure, there are people who think that, such as one of the pastors the AP talked to in the first part of this series.
His church, in a city where 63 people were killed in shootings last year, presides over a leafy neighborhood of carefully kept homes largely bypassed by the violence. But for a congregation unsettled by the increase in mass shootings and the deaths across town that garner far less attention, the way forward would only be darkened by adding even more guns, Cady says.
“Let us pause for a moment together … just outside the violence of the week ahead, that we might at least acknowledge the violence of the week we have just left behind,” preaches Cady, a father of three. He tells his worshippers of the dread he felt learning that one of those slain in the Tennessee mass shooting was the 9-year-old daughter of that church’s pastor.
“Here we stand … outside of the gate, longing for nothing more than to get to that new life on the other side,” he says. “Yet hell seems to have found us.”
Two men, brothers in Christ but unknown to one another, each determined to exercise their American right to pray without interference.
To one, the right to bear arms – and the proliferation of 400 million guns and thousands of shootings it has enabled – undermines the freedom to worship in peace. To the other, the right to carry a gun is an essential means of protecting fragile religious liberty.
Now, I don’t really see how having the right to defend yourself from those who would commit evil against you and yours somehow undermines the “freedom to worship in peace.” If anything, it would preserve it. After all, if someone wants to hurt members of the church, a disarmed congregation isn’t exactly a deterrent, and don’t say it doesn’t happen. It most definitely does.
The AP presents these as opposites, but the truth of the matter is that there’s no real tension between gun rights and anyone else’s right to do anything else that’s currently lawful. You can practice your faith without concern regardless of whether I have a gun or not. You still have the right to speak freely regardless of whether I’m armed. You have the right to petition your government or travel freely, none of which are inhibited because I or someone else is armed.
Oh, plenty of people think otherwise, but that’s almost universally about feelings.
“I don’t have the freedom to disagree with you if you’re openly carrying a gun,” some have tried to argue, but I’d point out that I cannot lawfully point that gun at you unless you’re a clear and immediate danger to myself or another. Just stating your opinion won’t rise to that level, so you have nothing to fear.
But if you do fear something, well, that’s on you, not me.
When it comes to our rights, there is no collision. There is no conflict. Any attempt to present it as such is nothing but an attempt to create a hierarchy of rights. Once you do that, you establish some as more important than others, which means those of a lower tier can be restricted in the name of those deemed more important.
And that’s not how rights work. It’s not how they should work, either.
And shame on the AP for feeding into that. Can’t say that I’m shocked that they would, but I’m still disappointed to see my already low expectations met yet again.