GUNFOOLERY--How the Mass Media Manipulates
by Lee A. Rutledge
To understand what is really going on, pay close attention. If you want to know what
to do about it, pay closer attention. Step into the slippery, shadowy underworld of Ame-
ricaís great propaganda machine and you will soon see.
An essential fact is that only a relative handful of high-placed individuals control the
lionís share of the countryís mass "entertainment" and "information" industries. They
have an adgenda and they are not conservatives. These few convey the false impression
that the public receives a wide variety of facts, information and opinion from a large number of free-thinking individualists in the print and electronic media.
But most of the information that bombards us day and night in the prints and airways
is filtered through a small monopoly of individuals. One of their primary goals is to shape public opinion by any means, foul or fair.
The Information War
In their all-out wars against guns (and whatever other target they choose), they serve
up maximum doses of outright lies, misrepresentation, suppression of facts, sensa-
tionalism, pure fiction, exaggeration, distortion, half truths, one-sided , slanted viewpoints, and, of course, orchestrated emotion and propaganda--all under the guises of
"news" and "entertaiment." Occasionally, some truth and straight reporting manage to
seep through. It is in every sense an information war and you are the general target. In the case at hand, the specific target is guns--legally owned and constitutionally protected
Undoubtedly the manipulatorsí most serious breach of the public trust is seen in two
critical areas: Suppression of important information (whatís not told is often more impor-
tant than what is), and the abridging of free speech such as arbitrarily censoring or exclu-
ding letters to the editor and the heavily censoring of videotaped interviews for airing--
both actions severely limit or block opposing points of view. The information mo-
guls have been guilty of both for many decades and their intention is to circumvent se-
veral Constitutional amendments including the Second. The name of their game is Con-
trolled Public Opinion and their ultimate goal is political domination. Many in the mass
news media imagine themselves to be The Fourth Estate, a fourth branch of the U.S.
government as they clearly demonstrated during the Clinton Impeachment.
In the end, it all comes down to one basic question--How can a minority with extreme-
ly limited access to the mass news media fight against 36 long years of pervasive lies and
totalitarian state-type indoctrination?
The gun rhetoric and focus was shifted from largely ineffectual and foolish attempts
through the 1960s to legislate the criminal use of guns to aggressively and visciously at-
tacking both law-abiding Americans who own guns and the centuries-old principle of lawful gun ownership. The switchover was accomplished very subtly behind the subter-
fuge of "fighting crime" and by hiding behind the First Amendment to minimize legal
recourse and real debate. They are engaged in cowardly attacks in which they control the
means for answering them.
With confiscation as the ultimate goal, those who employ lies, distortions and pre-
tense to disarm the law-abiding know what the Constitutional framers knew firsthand--
It is quite difficult to impose your will on an armed populace. People without guns are
potential slaves, a fact acknowledged by experts such as Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin.
The media and political persecution of lawful gun owners and the singling out of
specific guns to be labeled as "inherently dangerous" or "criminal guns" is a carefully
planned deception intended to manipulate the publicís attitude about guns in general and,
equally important, to influence and justify dangerous and unconstitutional gun legislation.
The two go hand-in-hand. Edmund Burke (1729-1797), the great British statesman and
philosopher wrote, "Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny!"
From the beginning, the strategy has been to make an end-run around the Constitu-
tonís Second Amendment since it cannot be attacked head on. In I989, during the intense
media/political assault rifle hysteria in California, Assemblywoman MaxineWaters (D-
Los Angeles), speaking to law-abiding gun owners, blurted out, "Weíre going to get all
your guns!" And ". . . to hell with the Constitution!" chirped Assemblyman Michael Roos (D-Los Angeles) when he spoke on a 1989 California radio show. Neither incident
appeared in a telecast or in the Press generally.
Self-serving politicians and media policymakers are the key players, the movers and
shakers of the gun wars. They have been working diligently, sometimes hand-in-hand,
always overtime to eliminate the last line of a famous observation by a recognized ex-
pert, showman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891):
You can fool some of the people all the time,
and all of the people some of the time, but
you canít fool all of the people all of the time!
Barnumís wisdom stands at the heart of why the First Amemdment protects free speech (and, incidently, freedom of the press). Since most Americans do not own guns
for recreational shooting and have no firsthand knowledge of crime, they necessarily de-
pend upon those who dabble in news and information. And thereís the rub. What if
these people strive to fool all the people all the time about guns? What if their primary
tools are misinformation and exaggeration? What if public opinion about guns is largely
the result of lies and manipulated emotion?
In the 1950s, print journalism students were taught that the function of newspapers was threefold: to Inform, Influence and Entertain, with influence downplayed. But that
changed. With the rise of "New Journalism" and "Investigative Journalism" in the lat-
ter 1960s and its offshoots labelled variously "Advocacy Journalism" and the like, the
order of journalismís function was switched to: Influence, Entertain and perhaps Inform.
It became far more important to advance hidden as well as blatant adgendas and, of
course, to sell more papers and to intice more TV viewers to watch television news (and
buy more products) than to accurately inform . Newspapers and TV are businesses first
and public servants second. All of the above had an impact on Americaís Great Gun War
which began in earnest with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963--36
years ago during TVís coming of age.
An obvious and simple fact was stated about the touted Preidential murder rifle in
director Oliver Stoneís 1991 film, "JFK" . Since Lee Harvey Oswald or any other gun purchaser could have walked into any gun store in Texas and bought a rifle anonymously
why would a would-be presidential assassin purchase an arm by mail which could--and
was--rapidly traced back to the purchaser? (And why buy a cheap, unseen rifle to attempt
a presidential assassination anyway? It makes no sense.) It is not enough to say that Oswald was not very bright because the evidence is otherwise.
It would seem that the mail order rifle was or became part of the larger assassination
conspiracy and coverup. It was defnitely used to shift blame from the fable of a lone kil-
ler and his cheap mail-order rifle to another fable that all mail order firearms are poten-
tially problematical. This was accomplished not through facts, proof or reason, but through appeals to the emotions by newspapermen, TV word slingers and lying politi- cians. They hammered night and day at two things: (l.) The President of the United
States was murdered with a cheap $12, mail-order rifle and (2.) all mail-order guns were thereby suspect and potentially dangerous to the public safety.
On such thin appeals and riding a wave of emotion, Congress outlawed the sale of guns through the mails--even though it was never demonstrated that a single mail order-
purchased firearm had ever been used in a crime before November 1963, or even that the
infamous $12 rifle had anything to do with the Presidentís murder. They were after
hearts and minds, not facts and reason. They were interested in poisoning--not enlighten-
ing. And they were after law-abiding citizens--not criminals. They had politicized guns.
The successful tactics employed in 1963 were expanded and applied again and again
over the ensuing years. But the only way that politicians and media manipulators have been able to pass unwarranted legislation aimed at the lawful use of guns has been to
first create an emotionally charged atmosphere. It is difficult to convince non-gun own-
ers about the true politics of Gun Control, but in recent years they have received an edu-
cation through highly publicized media slander trials.
Breaking the Rules
In 1985, for example, General William C. Westmorelandís suit against the CBS news
program, "60 Minutes" went to trial. The Generalís suit was inspired by a "TV Guide"
article which appeared in the May 29-June 4, 1982, issue: "Anatomy of a Smear," by Don
Kowet and Sally Bedell. The front page blurb said it all--"How CBS News Broke the
rules and ĎGotí Gen. Westmoreland." The original "60 Minues" telecast, aired January
23, 1982, was titled "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception." It purported to show that Gen. Westmoreland and his staff conspired to deceive President Lyndon B.
Johnson, the Congress and the American people about how the war in Vietnam was lost.
CBS claimed that Westmoreland "lost the war" by concealing the true numbers of Viet-
cong and North Vietnamese regulars who faced U.S. forces. These VC and NVA con-
sistently outnumbered and finally overwelmed American troops.
"TV Guideís" thrust was to examine how CBS documented the charges they made and
not whether the charges themselves were valid. During their two-month-long study,
the authors found that CBS employed the same gutter tactics that the mass news media
had been using against lawful gun owners for years. CBS had attempted to deceive the
public about Westmorelandís role in the Vietnam War . "TV Guideís" conclusion:
" ĎThe Uncounted Enemyí was often arbitrary and unfair . . . . The networkís lapses in
the making of their documentary also raise larger questions. Are the network news divi-
sions with their immense power to influence the publicís ideas about politics and recent
history, doing enough to keep their own houses in order? If this documentary is any evi-
dence, then the answer may be no."
The "Guide" authors mentioned CBSís "violations of journalistic standards." But
the mediaís ongoing gun war is ample evidence that CBS had in fact simply followed what had long since become acceptable and commonplace in journalistic circles; they
had embraced the dark side of broadcast presentations. An ironic footnote appeared in
a CBS newspaper advertisement in 1999. The following note was emblazoned across a
photo of CBS newspeople: "WARNING: Special Assignment Team on the Loose. . . ." Indeed.
But the mediaís approach to guns has made one-time hatchet jobs like the Westmore-
land attack pale by comparison. In the middle 1980s, without warning, the American pub-
lic was suddenly jarred awake one morning by the opening shots of the Great Assault Ri-
fle War. It was to be state-of-the-art Smear Journalism on a grand scale. It was a story and
situaton made in Advocacy Journalism heaven. Barnum himself could not have asked for
After a few false starts, the greatest media gun campaign of all got underway in Jan-
uary 1989. It became the shining model for all susequent media and political gun attacks.
And it began quite significantly on a schoolyard in Stockton, California, a subburb of the stateís capitol, Sacramento. The incidentís convenient proximity to excitable politicians
allowed them to vent special outrage in their numerous antigun photo ops.
Assaulting the Assault Rifles
What is especially notable is that the Great Assault Rifle Menace came on the heels of
two other long but wornout nationwide gun campaigns--the failed national attempt to ban
all handguns which for more than a decade were painted in the darkest shades of black and labelled Public Enemy No. #1 1/2. This was accomplished by Democrats, mass me-
dia talking heads and a few fellow travellers in Hollywood who could reach millions of
people quickly with their gun messages. But, unfortunately for them, honest debate was
allowed to ensue and the majority of Americans rejected their lies and deceptions. Before
that came the Great Common Rifle Threat on the coattails of the Kennedy assassination.
But this ill-concieved ploy proved to be a hard sell since bank robbers and other real-
world criminals were simply not using rifles in their nefarious professions. The Common
Rifle attacks fizzled about 1970 and in its stead, Handgun Control, Inc. was soon raised up as a political counterpoint to the National Rifle Association and to launch the greatest
handgun war. They also alerted the country that those who would ban guns did not ap-
preciate the rifle slap in the face.
But voters, first in Massachusetts then in California, overwhelmingly defeated ballot
measures to accomplish the bannersí handgun scheme and effectively stopped their all-out attack against the legal ownership of handguns. However, the politicians and the news media learned imporant political lessons: Never again allow the people to vote
on severe gun restrictions--only politicians. And, since all the people canít be fooled all of the time (thanks to free speech), never, never again allow fair discussions and honest
debate about guns whenever these can be controlled and, above all, to hell with the Constitution!
Thus began the 1989 propaganda and deception campaign against rifles in California .
The focus was now shifted back to rifles but much more cleverly than before. This time
semiautomatic rifles were chosen which, like semiautomatic pistols, had been in public
hands since early in the century and had posed no special problems as late as 1988--or
afterward. The difference now was that the latest sporting arms had a military look, in
fact they were replicas of current international military assault rifles but without their
full automatic fire capability. Most importantly, they had a made-in-journalism-heaven
name--"Assault Rifles." They were ideal targets and this time the news and entertainment
media excesses far outstripped the politiicansí.
It is now common knowledge and history that in January 1989 the parolee, Patrick
Purdy, stepped onto the schoolyard in Stockton with his semiautomatic rifle and reintro-
duced a new genre of crime--mass murders at schools. Purdy, assisted by the news media,
inspired a generation of schoolyard killings that has reached from that day to this. Aside
from the "Texas Tower" killings in 1966, there had been no such murders in America be-
fore 1989. Purdy ended up dead at the end of his spree with a mysterious gunshot wound
to the head.
Perhaps "despicable" best describes the subsequent role of the print and electronic me-
dia in that last year of the 1980s, though that seems woefully inadequate. On the first day
they began with basically straightforward reporting as the facts became known. But that
was short-lived. On Day #2, with nothing new or more startling forthcoming, newspaper
writers, radio commentators and TV news readers as well as TV show writers went on a
It was a gubernatorial election year in California and politicians such as Californiaís attorney general, John Van de Kamp (D-Los Angeles), together with would-be politicians
such as Los Angeles police chief Daryl Gates, quickly drew attention to the gun used by
Purdy. It was a replica, a sporting design that copied the Russian AKM military rifle, a
redesigned AK47 and not theí47 itself as widely and erroneously reported. Unlike the real AKM, the replica rifles are semiautomatic only and incapable of full automatic fire.
The federal Alcohol, tobacco and Firearms (ATF) bureau had approved it for sale to
the public in the middle 1970s because it was like any other sporting semiautomatic rifle
except for its looks. The Democrats were then intently focused on demonizing handguns
and had worn out the publicís nerves about rifles at that time. So the great AKM villian
went unnoticed, catching the attention only of the collectors and sportsmen for whom it
was originally intended. These and other replica military rifles were used for target
shooting, informal plinking in remote wilderness areas and similar recreational uses.
Remember the Gun!
In early 1989, the news mediaís town criers had a brief fling with the schoolyard
killer Ďs background and personality then they roared after his murder weapon. He was
quickly forgotten. How many people today even remember his name? But the mass news media and politicians ensured that his rifle would not be forgotten. The gun became the
killer. Within days, perhaps hours of the murders, Democrats in Saramento trotted out a
moribund gun control bill that had failed the previous year because they had not properly
prepared the climate. There had been no defining shooting incident in 1988 which they
could exploit and violent crime in the state had been too routine throughout the year.
They corrected that oversight in 1989. In the blink of an eye, the patched-together
gun legislation was renamed the "Assault Rifle" bill and it was fueled by a media out-
pouring of deception and fear.
By early February 1989, the gun fighting forces could roll out an array of manipulation
weaponry. Only then, as they went into action, did it become clear just how thorough
and how well they had prepared. The first phase of their attack , ironically, came from
Californiaís Department of Justice. The attorney general, who was apparently coordina-
ting closely with Democrat legislators, had been very, very busy. At first he lashed out quietly. His office secretly sent out alarmist letters to politically active chiefs of police,
school administrators, teachersí unions and city councils around he state.
These letters focused on the grave "danger" posed replica assault rifles and solicited
the recipients to endorse the new Sacramento gun legislation just then being trumpeted
to the four corners of the Universe. And the DOJ went a step further. Another letter,
wonder of wonders, went to county officials advising them that they did not have to allow
gun shows on state or county property. Purdy, incidently, did not purchase his gun at a
California gun show; in fact he had bought it in Oregon! All of this extralegal activity
went unreported by the mass news media. Next came the noisy phase.
Newspapers and TV shows intensified their coverage with the rantings of Attorney
General Van de Kamp and police chief Gates as well as comments from Sacramento gun
sponsors and supporters. These included some of the solicitees who acted as though they
had stepped forward on their own hook. At this time, Van de Kamp waved his AKM be-
fore the state legislature and blurted his much-publicized, recycled line, "Who would
want a gun like this? It is only used to KILL!!" It was a loud echo of the Great Handgun
War but appeared in a bigger blaze of publicity. Endorsements by Democrat-dominated
city councils were widely reported and also read into the legislative record during com-
mittee hearings but no mention was made of the fact that none of them had bothered to
hold public hearings or conduct polls of their constituents before passing resolutions in
support of the gun legislation in their names.
Simultaneously, Democrats in Washington, D.C., staged a circus that they called
"Assault Rifle Hearings" thus nationalizing a local occurrence into the Great American
Assault Rifle Problem. It was purely a political/media event--not one to elicit informa-
tion to draft needed legislation, but to bring the replica assault rifles to the attention of
the country and to showcase the left-wing demonizing of the new bogeyman gun.
Democrat democracy in action. Featured were a cast of characters who would become
standard in coming weeks--a handful of political police chiefs rounded up from some-
where, such recognized gun authorities as Stockton school teachers, assorted other pseu-
do gun experts and a sprinkling of real authorities.
A memorable chant was echoed in the national proceedings that apparently originated
with erstwhile police chief Gates in California: "Assault rifles are the gang weapon of
The interesting thing about the above piece of propaganda is that most Los Angeles
gang members didnít even know what an AK-47 was--their actual weapons of choice,
common knowledge among law enforcement officers statewide, had long been the ille-
gal sawed-off shotgun and .22-caliber firearms. But the gangs and others were receiving
an eye-opening , news media-sponsored gun education. And it was also common know-
ledge that copycat crimes are often triggered by intense publicity and the more sensa-
tional the crime (or gun) the greater the probability that some deranged person will try to
In less than a month after the Stockton murders, not only did the little-known assault
rifle become the sensational California child killer then quickly become a national menace, but it was suddenly the favorite gun of gangs as well. It was quite an accom-
plishment--done entirely through the magic of TV, radio and the printed page. Both Van
de Kamp and Gates were well aware that gangs and other criminals were not using mili-
tary-type rifles. In exercising their unethical news blackout trick, mainstream television,
radio and periodical members hid Van de Kampís secret Assault Rifle survey. The state
Department of Justice undertook this survey in December 1988 just a few weeks before
the Stockton murders. Seeking gun data for his gubernatorial run, Van de Kamp queried
542 California law enforcement agencies statewide hoping to illustrate the replica mili-
tary riflesí use in crime.
But the answers came back negative: either they were not being used at all or the use
was so small that no one had bothered to keep statistics. Californiaís governor conducted
two such surveys soon afterward with the same results. All of these surveys were dis-
covered by a state Senator, Don Rogers, R-Bakersfield , who promptly called a press con-
ference and distributed a press release that discussed and detailed the surveys. But the
news people refused to report the surveys.
In April 1989, the Sacramento gun prohibitionists put on their show. It was orche-
strated for maximum news media effect. In the "hearings," those speaking against the
gun legislation were severely restriced in their presentations and browbeaten while those
in favor were given unlimited time and every consideration. News coverage of the pro-
ceedings was extremely biased in favor of the legislation and its supporters. Prior to the
hearings, in February 1989, the gun billís name was slyly changed from "Assault Rifle"
to "Assault Weapons" for psychological effect and to boost the number of sporting arms
named from about 50 to 150. The new list included such items as trap and skeet shotguns.
While all this was transpiring, journalists, instead of questioning this switch, hailed it.
All along, they continued to avoid the the fact that the Stockton killer had purchased his
murder weapon out of state, and absolutely refused to question the relevance of the Sa-
cramento gun legislation. Meanwhile, Democrat-controlled legislatures in other states
followed the lead of Washington and California. In fact, they followed pretty much the
same script. But even though they, too, were given a blizzard of publicity and conveyed
the sought-after impression that the entire country was afflicted with blazing assault ri-
fles, all of their bills failed. None had had a Patrick Purdy incident, an essential element
for success since there was no real "assault rifle" problem.
In California, leading newspapers and telecasts failed again and again to divulge im-
portant details of the Sacramento gun legislation. Since it was aimed at law-abiding gun
owners, the details would have given away the charade.
A key element of the Assault Rifle War was the thorough demonization of semiauto-
matic replica military rifles. The name "assault rifle" was originally coined by Germans
in World War II for a new class of military rifle which they had invented. Among other
features, these innovative arms used less powerful cartridges than earlier main battle ri-
fles. The term "assault rifle" was ready made for latter-day propagandists, the politicians
and TV and radio personalities who exploited it for stereotyping. As with handguns, po-
liticians and media mouthpieces opened their attack on the replica rifles by claiming that
they "had no legitimate recreational or sporting use." Equal time was not allotted to pro-
ponents of the rifles so that that particular charge could hover unchallenged in the air.
Californiaís attorney general laid the groundwork for this particular brand of stereo-
typing with his utteraces and his letters that sought gun bill support from public officials.
Chief Gates did his part by falsely linking replica military rifles to L.A. gangs. To lend
credence to Gatesí contention, Southern California newscasts and newspapers suddenly
began to report a rash of staged drug busts in which AK-47s and the newly introduced Uzi submachine gun were prominently featured in images that purported to show cap-
tured piles of bagged drugs and "bad" drug guns. They thus linked drugs and guns, taking their stereotype beyond mere gang use. It was now guns and gangs and drugs.
But this was not considered to be sufficient by the gun-attack managers. They went
for overkill. Sometime early in February 1989, television news programs began to air a
videotape supplied by none other than Californiaís chief law enforcement officer, the at-
torney general. It was a monstrous hoax. The tape purported to show that the semiauto-
matic replicas had a high rate of fire comparable to a fully automatic sumachine gun (which it does not) and used "powerful" cartridges which classifies the replicas as a pub-
lic menace. (Sound familiar?)
The tape showed both full automatic rifles--real assault rifles--and semiautomatic re-
plicas being fired interchangeably which left the unmistakable impression that the repli- cas could shoot exactly like the real thing. Magic images. The climax was actually em-
barrassing. Guns that used less-powerful cartridges were substituted (discreetly off cam-
era) to explode watermelons in a blood-red display. The real assault rifle cartridges
would not explode the melons. The whole idea, of course, was to exaggerate the power
of assault rifle bullets. What they did show was that no lie is too big. The overall false
message presented by the videotape, though, was that the rifles and their cartridges were
It was quite a leap for a rifle originally approved for public sale by the ATF to school-
yard killer to Americaís newest Public Enemy No.# l. The Department of Justice lie was
shown again and again on ATV screens as though it were true, with no mainstream news
media questions, only total acceptance which gave it a certain amount of credence. As a
postscript, essentially the same videotape was a staple during the 1993 Democrat push for
a national Assault Rifle bill (the "Brady " bill) which was passed into law.
The videotape aside, news and entertainment manipulators relied heavily on their much more subtle, tried and true garbage can of dirty tricks. Print editors employed sup-
pression of important facts, misleading and sensatonal headlines, faked and misleading
photographs and captions, phoney polls, widespread editorializing in straight news stories, use of labelling and loaded words (ie. "gunned down"), one-sided coverage, the
downplaying of important stories by hiding them deep inside the publication or unfavor-
able placement on a page while blaring misinformation on the same subject at the top of
Page One. Also, the grouping together of unrelated stories on the same page to give the
impression that they are related--pieces about shootings in Maine, Florida and Oskosh having absolutely no relation to one another but leaving the impression that an epidemic
of shootings has occurred. And, finally, the censoring of letter to the editor.
All things considered, the TV crowd have the greater potential for twisting minds with
their real-time immediacy and eye-popping images. By 1989, all studio news sets were
equipped with the clever propaganda screen, the split screen shown adjacent to newscas-
ters and facing the camera so that viewers see them both simultaneously. The talking
heads can thereby interact with whatever images are flashed on the little screen and add
to the images.
In the case of guns, commentators talking about crime or mayhem or guns have been
observed to enhance the screen images by use of voice inflection, strident tones, sneering
or exhibiting anger, distain, outrage or whatever while an ominous, bigger-than-life gun
looms on the screen, often pointing more or less threateningly at the viewer. The sug-
gestion is thus made that guns cause crime or at least are intimately connected whether
they are or not. Guilt by association. The truth, unreported by the mainstream press, is
otherwise as proven by the greatest gun study ever undertaken in this country.
The study, done by University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professors, James D.
Wright and Peter H. Rossi, was commissioned by Democrat President Jimmy Carterís
Justice Department. Carter wanted to justify the most severe gun restrictions he could impose on law-abiding gun owners. But, like Van de Kampís assault rifle survey, it
backfired because an honest study was undertaken. The three-volume study , titled
"Weapons, Crime and Violence in America," was published by the Government Print-
ing Office in 1982. The Democrats hated it and have ignored and hidden it for more than
TVís Skunk Works
Television gun prohibitionists finally reached the bottom of their garbage barrel in
1989 with their insidious hidden gun messages. These purely political messages ap-
peared in cartoons (adultís and childrenís), situation comedies, soap operas, dramas,
thrillers, the so-called "true-life" police action shows, and other traditional "entertain-
ment" fare. It was impossible to demand equal time to answer gun messages on shows
like these. But the hidden messages are only part of TVís gun eradication campaign.
Talk shows and biased "Specials" were popular venues for gun demonization. Altoge-
ther, a surprisingly large number of television shows were utilized to sneak in antigun
rhetoric and images. No stone was left unturned.
Amid all of the canned gun hatred, fear-mongering and media hysteria, the scribblers
and sqawkers still found time to engage in the propaganda trick of labelling. In 1989,
the labelling became even more intense than before. Sly references to "the Gun Culture"
and "killer guns" and the like began to creep into telecasts and the print media. Then it
was taken a step further. Whenever a crime occurred in which a gun was involved, the
print and electronic media began to slyly identify the make and caliber of the gun so as
to implicate the manufacturer as well as the type of ammunition (and perhaps the ammu-
Finally, as their "piece de resistance," the mass news media dragged out their
shabby old standby, the phoney gun poll. At strategic times throughout the great 1989
California Gun Hysteria, both TV and hostile periodicals announced that "most Ameri-
cans" wanted more gun laws. Not once did any of these "surveys" reveal (l.) the number
of people actually polled, (2.) where the poll sample was taken, or (3.) the actual ques-
tions asked--all crucial for a reader or viewer to properly judge the validity of the poll.
It is easy to see how some of the people are confused and fooled some of the time by
the news media machine. Unless a person is directly involved with the media target un-
der attack, he must rely on what he reads, hears on radio or sees on television. News-
people allied with politicians are a powerful combinaton. But for all the propaganda they
dumped on the populace in 1989, Californiaís Assault Weapons legislation squeeked
through on only one vote. And key portions of it were overturned on appeal.
Nothwithstanding the mass mediaís best efforts, they could not sway everyone. The
plain fact is that those who would legislate all guns out of existence, are on shaky ground:
they have no case. Theyíve never had a case. That is why they have worked so hard to create one with lies, exaggeration, hiding information and concocting outrageous hoaxes
and creating and exploiting emotional events. The very fact that "The Great Gun Prob-
lem" has to be continually recreated out of thin air tells us that there is no real gun prob-
lem as it has been framed. A real problem needs no massive exaggeration.
Real Problem Solutions
The real problem is the creation of a non-issue--the politicizing of guns for political
purposes. Some of the media dirty tricks cross over into criminal activity. Misrepresen-
tation, fraud and malice can be prosecuted in court. Unfairness on the air can be reported
to the Federal Communications Commission. Boycotting of advertisersí products is still
a potent, viable option. A public campaign to counter media lies and distortions is criti-
cal. The real danger is if the mass news media is allowed to continue their attacks with impunity. If they can get away with the Gun Lie, they can get away with anything. End.