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The Trace Series Ends as it Began

Monday, June 24, 2024

The Trace Series Ends as it Began

This is our final installment of a critical analysis of a podcast series from Michael Bloomberg’s online anti-gun propaganda mill, The Trace. The final podcast episode, unsurprisingly, returns to the same theme that opened the series: raw emotionalism. This is the go-to tactic used by anti-gun extremists to promote their agenda.

As we’ve pointed out throughout our coverage of this series, the “journalists” at The Trace don’t seem to have a great deal of respect for facts.  Perhaps they are a product of the modern ideology that promotes the concept of “My Truth,” which is really just what certain folks say when they mean feelings or opinion, not truth.

The podcast has misinformed about the history of Second Amendment jurisprudence, misinformed about gun shows, misinformed about the effect of the 1994 ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, misinformed about the leading cause of death for children in America, and misinformed about the defensive uses of guns.

And those are just a sampling.  They even appeared to misrepresent their own prior reporting.

At one point, the podcast tried to claim that an “unprecedented” increase in firearm purchases was linked to the 2008 Heller decision, ignoring the fact that one of the very “journalists” involved in this podcast had previously attributed several increases in firearm purchases to a number of election cycles (including the 2008 cycle), and the largest increase ever (perhaps THAT one should have been called “unprecedented”) to the COVID pandemic.

They also tried to imply it was NRA that seemingly invented the concept of firearms used for self-defense around the time of Heller, in spite of the fact that guns have always been used for self-defense.  The Trace actually says as much, and even notes an ad from 1913 promoting firearms for self-defense.

But this last episode simply comes full circle, pushing the same strident emotionalism as the first.  The first focused on the 1999 tragedy at Columbine High School, while this last episode focused on the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Emotional arguments, ultimately, are the bread and butter of the anti-gun movement.  The unspeakable horror of tragedies like Columbine and Sandy Hook are obviously motivational.  It’s what you do with that motivation that matters.  If you have a visceral dislike of guns, like those at The Trace and their intended audience, you are motivated to try to eradicate them if a violent criminal or mentally unstable individual uses one to commit a horrific act.

While one of the “journalists” seemed to try to portray himself as not naturally anti-gun by claiming he “grew up around guns and hunting,” he included a caution in just about every episode of this series that “there are repeated mentions of guns,” so one should “take care while you listen.”

If you feel that the mere mention of guns in a podcast about guns by an outlet that purports to report on guns requires a special warning, maybe you are not the neutral “journalist” you think you are.

He also compared the number of people “jihadists have killed” with the number “firearms killed.”  With the former, he attributed responsibility for the killing to the individuals who committed the act, while in the latter, he attributed it to the inanimate objects the killers (actual individuals) used.  Similarly, when talking about the Sandy Hook tragedy, he stated the victims were “killed within minutes by a weapon of war,” completely ignoring the deranged individual actually responsible for committing the heinous crime, not to mention the fact that the firearm used was not a military arm, as he implies.

This is a professional propagandist who knows exactly how to use the English language to the greatest effect, so his choice of words can only be construed as intentional.

When The Trace referred to NRA’s response to Sandy Hook, it carefully cherry-picked only one aspect of it.  NRA’s response was to encourage increasing security measures at schools, carefully noting, “Every school will have a different solution based on its own unique situation.”  We did refer to increasing armed security in schools, but also to building design, access control, information control, and student and teacher training.

All The Trace was interested in, however, was our reference to armed security—which wasn’t even a new idea, as many schools had already implemented such security measures well before Sandy Hook.

The podcast tried to make light of something NRA has said for some time; that the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.  These “journalists” even went so far as to claim that NRA had been “workshopping” the phrase “good guy with a gun” for “years,” even though the trope of the “good guy with a gun” has been commonly used in any number of ways for centuries.  The movie industry has used it—most notably in westerns, war movies, and crime dramas—dating back over a century. It is the general premise behind armed police and security guards, and it is at the very core of the Second Amendment.

It's predictable that The Trace would reject the idea of armed security at schools, as these “journalists” have shown they don’t believe in the defensive use of firearms.  It’s also predictable that they would neglect to mention any other responses NRA suggested to secure our schools, as they want to portray our organization, its millions of members, as well as all law-abiding gun owners, as crazy radicals who believe the answer to every crime problem is gunfire.

The fact is, however, that NRA supports a wide range of solutions to combat crime.  For that matter, even Joe Biden—arguably the most anti-gun president this country has ever seen, and someone folks at The Trace regularly praise for his anti-gun agenda—supports NRA’s position on securing our schools.

While recently speaking to the anti-gun organization Everytown—the gun prohibition lobbying group that, like The Trace, relies on funding from anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg—Biden referred to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.  NRA opposed that law due to anti-gun language contained in it, but there was at least one aspect of it that was strangely familiar, and didn’t actually target guns or law-abiding gun owners.

Biden noted the law gave money to “thousands of schools across the country” for “updating safety plans, installing security equipment, hiring mental health professionals and school resource officers (SRO)…as well as violence intervention teams.”  While all of these responses are in the exact same vein as NRA was promoting after Sandy Hook, putting SROs—who are sworn law enforcement officers, the vast majority of whom are armed—in schools is the embodiment of the “good guy with a gun” idea that The Trace mockingly rejects.

For what it’s worth, the Everytown crowd broke into applause once Biden mentioned SROs.

There were two especially interesting comments made in this last episode.  The first came from anti-gun writer Cameron McWhirter, who spells out why anti-gun extremists are so vested in repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)—the federal law that codified a standard tort principle, making clear that members of the firearms industry cannot be held liable for the third-party criminal misuse of their products.

McWhirter noted, “If there was ever a political situation in which PLCAA was rolled back, they would stop making AR-15s tomorrow because it would just be legally impossible. And, and all, every other gun would be really problematic.”

When he says “legally impossible,” what he really means is financially impossible, as any gun manufacturer that makes AR-15s would be flooded with lawsuits filed by anti-gun lawyers that would bankrupt them.  But what he reveals by noting “every other gun” is that the true goal of repealing the PLCAA is to wipe out every gun manufacturer in America by crushing it under the weight of massive legal bills.

Winning or losing the cases would not matter, as gun makers would simply not be able to afford to stay in business.  After all, if an AR-15 manufacturer can be sued because a criminal illegally acquires their product and commits a heinous act with it, the same can be done to any firearm manufacturer that manufactures any other firearm.

Whether intentional or not, The Trace reveals the true goal of anti-gun extremists when they talk about repealing the PLCAA—a goal supported, or course, by Joe Biden.

Another interesting comment came from anti-gun political activist Robert Spitzer, who also appeared in an earlier episode.  Spitzer suggests there should be a firearm safety Public Service Announcement (PSA) during the Super Bowl.  As the nation’s oldest firearm safety organization that has literally written the book on the safe handling and storage of firearms, NRA would be happy to supply the PSA.

We won’t hold our breath for Spitzer’s call.

As we said, most of this episode focuses on emotional arguments, exploiting tragedies, families of those impacted, and the emotional public response that naturally occurs when the media saturates the airwaves with stories about horrible crimes.  What is ignored, of course, is the fact that public opinion has, for years, been moving away from anti-gun laws as a response to the actions of criminals, especially after people are given time to actually consider what might be an appropriate response.

And this may be the most important takeaway from this propaganda series.  Rarely is it appropriate to let emotions dictate what guides public policy.

Yes, there needs to be a response to crime, but that response must be tempered by reason.  Simply screaming for banning guns owned by millions of law-abiding citizens who are in no way responsible for the actions of the few deranged individuals who grab our nation’s headlines is not a reasoned approach.

But that is exactly what anti-gun extremists like billionaire Michael Bloomberg and the propagandists he funds at The Trace would like to see happen.  They do not approach gun laws with any semblance of reason.  Not even a trace.

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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.