The anti-gun bias in our media is a real thing, and it’s nothing new. For decades now, national newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, along with their counterparts in the broadcast and cable media, have foisted a steady diet of anti-gun attitudes, opinions, and falsehoods in their pages and over their airwaves. Has it worked to turn Americans anti-gun? Well, we have around 80 million gun owners in the United States, nearly 15 million concealed-carry permit holders, and 5 million members in the NRA. Instead of trying to understand those gun-owning Americans, most in our media simply look down on us, and we’re well aware of their condescending attitudes.
Ken Stern, the former CEO of National Public Radio and the author of the new book Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right, certainly sees the smug elitism that emanates unconsciously from the minds of many of his colleagues. As Stern writes in the New York Post, “Gun control and gun rights is one of our most divisive issues, and there are legitimate points on both sides. But media is obsessed with the gun-control side and gives only scant, mostly negative, recognition to the gun-rights sides.”
Where are the stories of individuals using firearms in self-defense? Stern acknowledges that these incidents occur daily across the United States but rarely do they warrant news coverage. “It’s not that these stories are being intentionally suppressed,” he writes. “It’s that these stories don’t reflect their interests and beliefs.”
Kudos to Stern for challenging his own beliefs and viewpoints on gun ownership. From hog hunting in Texas to actually spending time and talking to gun owners, Stern gained a much better idea of who gun owners actually are. In fact, while hunting with a group of strangers, Stern realized that “collectively, we were the equivalent of a bad bar joke: a Hispanic ex-soldier, a young black family man, a Serbian immigrant, and a Jew from D.C.”
Stern says that “none of my new hunting partners fit the caricature of the angry NRA member. Rather, they saw guns as both a shared sport and as a necessary means to protect their families during uncertain times.” Honestly, there are very few NRA members who fit the media caricature. Even a guy like me, who lives in rural America, has a beard, wears a ball cap, and could stand to lose a few pounds doesn’t fit the stereotypical gun owner as portrayed by the media. They need me to be racist, though I’ve cut family members out of my life when they wouldn’t accept my bi-racial kids. They need me to be sexist, but I am blessed to be married to an incredibly strong and independent woman. They need me to be homophobic, even as I support groups like the Pink Pistols and Operation Blazing Sword. They need to paint us all as horrible people, because as wrong as they are, it’s still the best argument they have.
Have you noticed that many gun control advocates really don’t spend a lot of time talking about the specific benefits of their proposed laws? They talk about how necessary they are, how “reasonable” they are, and how anybody who could oppose these proposals is a horrible person who loves their guns more than children. Just don’t ask them to explain why Maryland has a higher crime rate than Virginia, even though it has much more restrictive gun laws. They’d likely tell you it’s because Virginia’s gun laws are fueling violent crime in Maryland, but they probably won’t be able to come up with an explanation as to why Virginia’s gun laws aren’t causing, even more, violence in Virginia itself. They may even go so far as to proclaim that Virginia should adopt Maryland’s gun control laws, even though Virginia is by far the safer state.
Logic like that sounds good inside the bubble, and unfortunately, that’s where most anti-gun media figures live. The good news is, you can break free. It sounds like Ken Stern did it, or was at least partially successful. Maybe one day more of his colleagues will realize they’re trapped in that bubble, too. Until that day, you’ve got NRATV and programs like “Cam & Co.” to amplify the voices of real gun owners across the country.