Before all the facts about the shooting at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington DC were known, the Associated Press rushed out a piece relaying its shock and disappointment that the gun control debate had “gone cold” despite several mass shootings during Obama’s presidency.
The September 16 piece by the AP’s Nedra Pickler described President Obama as “wearily lamenting” another mass shooting on his watch and being “powerless” to limit the Second Amendment because of “opposition from gun-rights advocates.”
“Obama,” Pickler writes, “has been powerless to get legislation passed despite a string of mass shootings during his presidency.”
This shooting comes a week after two Colorado Senators were successfully recalled, fired by local voters for pushing several strict anti-gun bills through the legislature despite what constituents wanted.
The AP report goes on to mislead as to the public’s support of stricter gun laws.
“Gun owners, aided by their advocates at the National Rifle Association, have successfully fought Obama’s legislation, even though polls show broad support for tougher gun laws,” Pickler writes.
The AP writer does not explain just what she means by this claim, but it is likely she means support for background checks because that is one of the few areas that a large number of Americans do agree on in the gun control debate. Yet, relying on just this would be quite misleading. Aside from background checks, the public’s support for gun control very much depends on the question being asked, how it is being asked, and where that “control” is expected to come from.
As to background checks, a large number of Americans–as much as 81 percent–are for background checks for gun purchases. But this question is fairly meaningless since it is already illegal for gun dealers to sell guns without a background check. Even at those much-maligned gun shows a gun dealer must perform background checks on customers.
For the AP to extrapolate support for background checks that are already required to mean that there is “broad support for tougher gun laws” does not follow.
After all, every state in the union now has some sort of concealed carry law and this has only happened in the last 20 years, all put in place by state legislatures that are far closer to the will of the people than is Washington and its press corps. How could they have done that if Americans want gun owners oppressed by more laws?
Further, while there was a temporary spike in those that felt guns needed more regulation after the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that emotional spike subsided and today the polls show that America is again fairly closely divided on the issue.
Pickler wrote: “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an advocate for stricter gun laws with his group Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns, contributed around $350,000 to support the Colorado Democrats Senate President John Morse and Sen. Angela Giron. The NRA spent roughly the same amount opposing them.”
That is true as far as it goes, but leaves readers with the feeling that the two sides were roughly at parity in outside spending on the recall elections. This is simply untrue as the anti-gun side raised many times more than the pro-gun side did in Colorado.
As the Denver Post reported a few days before the recall election was held, those wanting to oust the two anti-gun Senators raised upwards to $540,000 while the anti-gun advocates raised $3 million! And the anti-gun forces still lost.
That is hardly the “roughly the same” amount of spending as reported by the AP’s Pickler.
Finally, Pickler also quoted several anti-Second Amendment activists in her piece but had not one quote from a pro gun voice.
It certainly seemed that the AP had a particular position to push in this article.