Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Media Smears the Disabled, Misinforms on Social Security Gun Ban

Friday, February 17, 2017

Media Smears the Disabled, Misinforms on Social Security Gun Ban

Last week, the Richmond Times-Dispatch issued an editorial titled, “Time to license guns - for journalists,” which cited an embarrassing string of journalistic blunders to illustrate the media’s dearth of firearms knowledge. The piece concluded, “The ignorance is embarrassing, but it does make the media’s support for gun control a tad more explicable: People fear what they don’t understand.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch is right to point out that ignorance plays a role in the media’s biased coverage of firearms issues. However, given the legacy media’s loathsome reporting of recent legislative efforts to block an 11th-hour Obama-era Social Security Administration (SSA) gun ban, it is difficult to consider the media’s inaccurate firearms coverage as anything but willful.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed H.J.Res.40, which would block an Obama-era rule that would ban certain Social Security beneficiaries from purchasing firearms. Specifically, the SSA rule would send the names of those who receive benefits for a mental health disability, and have had a representative payee designated to receive such benefits, to the FBI for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The rule strips the Second Amendment rights of this class of individual without adequate due process and inaccurately stigmatizes those with a mental health disorder as violent. The measure to block this rule would not remove any names from the NICS, but would simply prevent SSA from adding these beneficiaries’ names to the database going forward; the legislation maintains the status quo. The U.S. House of Representatives passed this legislation on February 2, and the measure now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.

During this legislative effort, many in the media have mischaracterized this legislation and fueled fear and misunderstanding about those with a mental health disorder. And chief among the anti-gun propagandists masquerading as a legitimate news source is the New York Times.

Last September, the Times editorial board lavished praise on their presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, for her plan to address mental illness. In touting Clinton’s program, the Times noted, “Central to Mrs. Clinton's plan is… reducing the stigma attached to mental health treatment.”

Yet, less than six months later, the Times editorial board is doing its very best to stoke baseless prejudice and perpetuate the stigma that those with mental health disorders are violent.

In a February 16 editorial, the board ignorantly wrote of those with mental health disorders, “Allowing them to buy guns poses an inordinate and needless risk to public safety.” This is simply false. Citing actual research on the topic, Duke University Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Jeffrey Swanson recently pointed out that “people with mental illnesses are no more dangerous to others when they have equal access to guns.” Indulging their prejudice against those with mental health disorders is nothing new for the Times editorial board, who have relied heavily on anti-gun research that stigmatizes suicide victims as “killers.”

The Times goes on to lament,

 An existing law bars gun purchases to people “adjudicated as a mental defective” or involuntarily committed to a mental institution. But enforcement of that law has been spotty, because medical records often aren’t added to the federal databases — thus prompting the Obama administration to create the Social Security rule.

The Times manages to cite the correct law, but appears ignorant of what it requires. An adjudication connotes a formal decision-making process before a judge, or a similar body, that includes an opportunity to present a defense or be heard. In other words, a procedure that provides due process. It does not include the mere opinion of a doctor, a diagnosis, or conjecture based on the contents of a medical record, or the hasty guesswork of a government bureaucrat.

In a strident perversion of the English language, the Times called the legislation to cancel the SSA rule “regressive.” This label should come as a surprise to the progressive American Civil Liberties Union, who supports cancellation of the rule. It is also likely to puzzle the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and other disability advocates, who support H.J.Res.40 and are dedicated to progressing the rights of the disabled. In reality, it is the Times’s efforts to foster undue fear of those with mental health disorders that is decidedly regressive.

Unsurprisingly, the crosstown tabloid managed to match the Times’s prejudice, with the New York Daily News running an editorial on the topic with the headline “Gun crazy.”

Though perhaps its foremost purveyors, the New York media does not have a monopoly on bias, and similarly deceptive reporting on H.J.Res.40 could be found in a wide array of publications.

Following the actions of the House and Senate, the reporting of many outlets gave the impression that Congress had passed legislation that broadly reduced background check requirements or weakened the NICS database. A BBC piece implied that the legislation would entirely exempt those with a mental health diagnosis from NICS checks, stating, “The US House of Representatives has voted to scrap regulations that require background checks for gun buyers with mental health issues.” A deceptive Associated Press headline read, “House votes to roll back Obama rule on background checks for gun ownership.”

A Bloomberg editorial contended that in passing H.J.Res.40, the House had voted to “weaken” background checks. MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow took to Twitter to mischaracterize H.J.Res.40, telling her followers, “Senate due to vote today to make it easier for seriously mentally ill people to get guns (I swear I'm not kidding). Already passed House,” and, “It's not legislation that has, like, a loophole for the mentally ill. It's a rule **specifically for** mentally ill people to get guns.” In truth, H.J.Res.40 merely prevents SSA from improperly adding names to the NICS database; it does not remove information from the system.

In a curious piece of misinformation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial board argued that the new SSA rule didn’t implicate the rights of Social Security beneficiaries. The paper claimed the SSA rule “would not have denied guns to mentally ill citizens” and was simply an additional screening procedure.

This episode has further exposed the incredible depths of the mainstream media’s bias against gun rights and gun owners. In recent weeks, some in the media have urged others to abandon the term “fake news,” noting that it has been co-opted and used to point out media bias. Rather than police the language, were the legacy media to dedicate itself to focusing more on the news and less on the fake, this problem would solve itself.

TRENDING NOW
DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

DOJ Releases Biden Gun Confiscation Order Legislation

DOJ has made clear that Garland’s selective definition of “civil rights” has no room for the Second Amendment...

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

News  

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

ATF Targets Pistol Stabilizing Braces in New Rulemaking

On June 7th, ATF published a new notice of proposed rulemaking on its website...

“Serious Errors” in FBI Reports of Shooting Incidents

News  

Monday, June 14, 2021

“Serious Errors” in FBI Reports of Shooting Incidents

Dr. John Lott, Jr. of the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) recently released a paper ...

Everything Comes Back to Gun Control

News  

Monday, June 14, 2021

Everything Comes Back to Gun Control

Gun controllers created a false narrative around semi-automatic rifles...

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Gun Ban Bill

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Nevada: Gov. Sisolak Signs Gun Ban Bill

Yesterday, Governor Steve Sisolak signed Assembly Bill 286 into law. AB 286 essentially bans home-building firearms for personal use by prohibiting private individuals from possessing certain unregulated components commonly used by hobbyists to make their own firearms.

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

California: San Jose Drafting Ordinance to Tax Gun Owners

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

California: San Jose Drafting Ordinance to Tax Gun Owners

Tomorrow, at 2:00PM, the San Jose City Council Rules & Open Government Committee will discuss ROGC 21-616, to direct the City Attorney to begin drafting Mayor Liccardo’s requested proposal to tax gun owners and mandate that they ...

Illinois: Anti-Gun Bills Moving Quickly

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Illinois: Anti-Gun Bills Moving Quickly

House Bill 562, to make it harder to obtain a FOID, and to place onerous restrictions on private transfers, has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee. This bill could be heard at any time. ...

NRA Leadership joins Texas Governor for Special Signing Ceremony of Landmark Bill at The Alamo

News  

Thursday, June 17, 2021

NRA Leadership joins Texas Governor for Special Signing Ceremony of Landmark Bill at The Alamo

NRA Leadership including Wayne LaPierre joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott at the Alamo for the ceremonial signing of a historical NRA-backed constitutional carry bill. 

Virginia: Albemarle County Considering Gun Ban

Friday, June 18, 2021

Virginia: Albemarle County Considering Gun Ban

No summary available

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.