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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

MEDIA BIAS by Marshall Lewin

When the so-called “mainstream”
media completely ignore an
important firearm study
by the FBI, there’s got
to be a good reason--doesn’t there?

If you ever needed proof that the media ignore or suppress stories that don’t fit their anti-gun agenda, here it is.

Forget the old New York Times slogan “All the News that’s Fit to Print.” When it comes to the conflict between your firearms, your freedom and the media’s bias against both, their slogan ought to be “Only the News that Fits, We Print.”

How else could the national establishment media outlets--right down to the last one--have completely ignored a recently released FBI report that demolishes many of the anti-gun articles of faith that they’ve printed and parroted without question or conscience for years?

The 176-page report is titled “Violent Encounters: A Study of Felonious Assaults on America’s Law Enforcement Officers.”

Although it was written by three of the FBI’s most respected researchers--recipients of the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Award for Research--and although it represents the culmination of more than 15 years of inquiry into violence against law enforcement officers, the report was received by the media with abject silence.

Why? Maybe because, among other things, the FBI report shows that many of the media’s banal bromides regarding guns and crime are false:

• Criminals do not get their guns through gun shows.

• Criminals do not find “loopholes” in the law through which they get their guns.

• Anti-gun laws do not stop criminals from getting guns; in fact, they don’t even appear to slow criminals down.

15 Years of FBI Research … Ignored The FBI has collected data on law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty since 1945, and in recent decades has made increasing efforts to analyze the data and glean lessons from it.

To that end, in 1992 the FBI released “Killed in the Line of Duty,” a three-year study of 51 cases in which 50 offenders killed 54 law enforcement officers.

In each case, investigators collected all kinds of information on the incident itself. They interviewed the fallen officers’ colleagues, their supervisors and the homicide investigators assigned to their murders.

They interviewed the law officers’ killers. And to make sure those interviews wouldn’t be tainted, they limited the cases they selected for study to those in which the offenders had exhausted all appeals.

Although the 1992 study was well received by the law enforcement community--indeed, one sheriff gave it credit for saving the life of one of his deputies--many felt that it was lacking in one dimension: the point of view of the officers who were killed.

So the FBI opened a new line of inquiry, this time analyzing cases in which law officers had been seriously assaulted, but not killed.

In another three-year study, the researchers examined 40 incidents (out of 625 submitted for review) that involved 52 victim officers and 42 offenders (nine cases involved multiple victims, and three involved multiple offenders).

As in the previous study, to ensure the quality of the information obtained, investigators granted complete anonymity to the victim officers, their departments and the offenders.

The resulting monograph, titled “In the Line of Fire,” was released in 1997.

For the third and final research report, “Violent Encounters,” the FBI analysts culled 40 incidents involving 43 offenders and 50 officers from a pool of approximately 800 cases submitted for consideration by agencies across the country.

Again, the victim officers and offenders were interviewed in depth. Again, extensive information was collected from the crime scenes and case files for each incident. And again, anonymity was guaranteed to all parties.

In this study, however, researchers considered additional questions, including firearm use; marksmanship training and practice; the sources of criminals’ firearms; the ages at which criminals began carrying firearms; when and how they carried; prior involvement in shootings; and so on.

The “Gun Show” Charade You’d never know it to hear the so-called “mainstream” media tell the tale, but this new FBI report shows that what the media have been saying for years about gun shows, so-called “loopholes” and the sources of criminals’ firearms has been false.

A few quotes from the report here are instructive:

“[T]he federal government has passed many laws to restrict and limit firearm purchases. The offenders in this research, how-ever, stated that none of these laws or statutes deterred them.”

“Of the 33 handguns used to assault the officers who participated in the current study, 32 (97 percent) were obtained illegally. Eighteen of these were purchased or traded from other [criminals]; six were obtained during burglaries; four were taken from the victim officers during the incidents of examination; two were stolen during larcenies; one was stolen during a homicide; and one was illegally purchased from a firearm dealer in a store (straw purchase by a female associate). “None of the rifles, shotguns or handguns connected with this study were obtained from gun shows or related activities.”

Indeed, while anti-gun groups and the media wring their hands, complain about “lax laws” and claim that criminals obtain firearms by exploiting deficiencies in current law, the convicted criminals interviewed for this most recent study made it clear that:

a) At the time of the incident under investigation, they were already prohibited from purchasing firearms because of criminal convictions, illicit activity, underage status and other disqualifying factors; and

b) Those disqualifying conditions didn’t make a bit of difference, since the criminals didn’t, and wouldn’t, attempt to obtain firearms through conventional sources.

Again, some passages from the most recent FBI report sum it up succinctly:

“Thirteen of the 43 offenders readily admitted member-ship in street gangs connected with drug trafficking. They stated that they freely exchanged firearms within the gang and viewed them as a necessary tool not only for their criminal activities, but also for protecting their territories. None of these particular gang members obtained their weapons legally. Generally, they obtained the firearms by illegal street purchase, trade, swapping on the street, or as the proceeds of theft, such as burglaries and larcenies. Four officers were assaulted with handguns taken from them.”

One of the authors of the most recent study, Edward F. Davis of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, told the International Association of Chiefs of Police that not one of the criminals who attacked police officers was “hindered by any law--federal, state or local--that has ever been established to prevent gun ownership. They just laughed at gun laws.”

Indeed, as one of the criminals interviewed for “Violent Encounters” explained:

“I never gave a [expletive] about the gun laws that are on the books ... I never went into a gun store or to a gun show or to a pawn shop or anyplace else where firearms are legally bought and sold and picked up a gun, ever. Because I’m a felon, I couldn’t pass a background check ... That’s just common sense, and I think most felons know that. I’m not going to pass a background check, and I’m not even going to try. Why? Because I can break into Joe Blow’s house down the road here ... where it was relatively likely they were gonna have a piece and search the [expletive] from top to bottom until you found your gun.”

When investigators asked this same offender how hard it would be to illegally buy a gun on the street, he replied:

“Sure, the black market, quote, unquote. You can get everything from a cheap little .22-caliber . . . to a .50-caliber Desert Eagle that retails for twenty-two hundred bucks. You can find everything in between . . . whatever you want to get ahold of.”

Another offender told FBI investigators:

“No, we ain’t going to no store to buy [guns]. I mean, you know, you got everybody out there doing their thing as far as being a criminal. You got guys out there that sell drugs. Guys out there that do burglaries and all that stuff. So, there is some gun sellers out there … it’s almost easy as being able to find drugs.”

“Almost as easy as being able to find drugs.” Consider for a moment exactly what that means.

The drugs to which the criminal was referring are completely illegal. They’re outlawed throughout the U.S. under numerous federal and state laws that impose stiff, mandatory sentences for distribution, and in many cases simple possession.

Thus, if anything, illegal drugs should be harder to obtain than firearms--not easier. But they’re not.

So even if firearms were one day outlawed completely--as narcotics currently are--criminals could still get them as easily as a dime bag.

By refusing to admit that, by refusing to publish the truth that FBI researchers spent 15 years to uncover, the national media don’t just divert attention away from the real problems and allow them to grow worse.

They also diminish our liberty and dishonor the brave men and women in blue whose sacrifices served as the reason for this research--and who gave their lives to protect our families and our freedom.

That’s a disgrace.

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