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Grassroots Alert: Vol. 8, No. 4 1/26/2001


A study by theMedia Research Center (MRC) documents the palpable anti-gun bias of the major television networks in reporting firearm-related news. Released last year, the study examined 653 morning and evening news stories from July 1, 1997, to June 30, 1999, and found that stories advocating gun control onABC,CBS,CNN, andNBC outpaced those opposing by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1. It also showed that the bias advocating more restrictions on law-abiding gun owners is accompanied by an apparent unwillingness to cover stories that the pro-Second Amendment community would like to see.

For example, over the past several years, whenNRA spokesmen had been invited to comment on the debate over gun control on news programs, they regularly pointed out the failure of theClinton-Gore Administration to prosecute armed violent felons. But the MRC study showed that TV reporters mentioned the drop in federal prosecutions under Clinton only eight times during the period studied. Similarly, NRA has been promoting real crime-fighting programs such as the "Project Exile" prosecution model, which originated in Richmond, Va., for several years. The networks, however, mentioned this program a mere three times over the period studied. "Project Exile"—a cooperative effort among local, state, and federal law enforcement and prosecutors—targets violent felons who violate firearm laws, seeks the most stringent penalties available, and has been credited with a dramatic reduction in Richmond`s violent gun-related crime.

The lawful, defensive use of firearms by law-abiding citizens is a subject that has also been widely ignored, according to the MRC. Although award-winning criminologistGary Kleck has estimated that firearms are used as often as 2.5 million times a year for protection, the networks reported such acts only 12 times out of the 653 firearm-related stories covered.

And while NRA constantly points out that passing new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners does nothing to reduce crime, especially in light of the countless laws that are violated in every high-profile shooting, this argument was mentioned only five times over the study period.

This study complements another MRC study released in 1994. The 1994 study focused solely on evening news programs from December 1, 1991, to November 30, 1993, and found that 62% of the 107 stories examined devoted substantially more time to anti-gun arguments than pro-gun. It also found that news commentators who endorsed gun control outnumbered those opposed by nearly 2 to 1, and the anti-gun bias was even more distinct when the story concerned the Brady bill, expanding to 3 to 1 against the pro-Second Amendment view. Of course, advocates of our Right to Keep and Bear Arms have been painfully aware of this institutional bias for years, but as more studies report what we already know to be a problem, perhaps the networks will begin to take notice. If they don`t, more and more viewers will desert them for more objective news sources. If you would like more information on the MRC and its study, go to its website at www.mrc.org.


Two ofPresident George W. Bush`s cabinet nominees are still under attack from extremist organizations, so keep contacting your U.S. Senators and urge them to support and vote for confirmation ofJohn Ashcroft forU.S. Attorney General, andGale Norton forSecretary of the Interior.

The attacks on Ashcroft, one of the most qualified candidates for U.S. Attorney General this country has ever seen, have ranged from the ridiculous to the outrageous, and the most recent shot fired at the former Missouri Attorney General, Governor, and U.S. Senator is a mixture of both. TheViolence Policy Center (VPC), a tiny, radical anti-gun group best known for wild distortions of the truth, has called on Ashcroft to resign his membership with NRA.VPC Executive Director Josh Sugarmann stated this curious demand is because of NRA`s "views regarding law enforcement."

Of course, NRA has been one of the strongest supporters of this nation`s law enforcement community for more than a century, and since the early 1960s, our Association has served as the nation`s leading firearms and marksmanship trainer for America`s men and women in blue. Today, approximately 10,000 NRA-certified instructors offer training nationwide, reaching an estimated 450,000 law enforcement officers annually. NRA also offers special benefits for its members in law enforcement, including special insurance coverage, discounts on body armor, and a scholarship fund for their children. It is hard to imagine how VPC can find these kinds of "views regarding law enforcement" so objectionable. Joining VPC in this strange demand isU.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D). Feinstein stated, "To have an attorney general that is a present member of the NRA certainly shows a bias." Her comment, ironically, exposes Feinstein`s own extreme bias. Her statement implies she would not support Ashcroft`s nomination due to his membership in an organization made up of more than 4.2 million law-abiding Americans, simply because she does not agree with NRA`s efforts to defend the Second Amendment. Ashcroft`s confirmation is still pending in theSenate Judiciary Committee.

Gale Norton has not faced quite as public an attack, but she continues to be assailed by radical "environmentalist" groups. Norton breezed through theEnergy and Natural Resources Committee on an 18 to 2 vote, but she can still use your call of support before the confirmation vote by the full Senate.

Continue to call, write, fax, and e-mail your U.S. Senators today, both in their D.C., and closest local offices, and urge them to support and vote for confirmation of John Ashcroft as U.S. Attorney General and Gale Norton as Secretary of the Interior. You can find contact information for your U.S. Senators by using the "Write Your Reps" tool at www.NRAILA.org, or by calling the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at 800-392-8683.

CPAC 2001

NRA Members are invited to join us for CPAC 2001—the 28th Annual Conservative Political Action Conference, February 15-17, 2001, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. CPAC is the nation`s premier annual gathering of conservative leaders, celebrities, elected officials, and grassroots activists, and this year`s event promises to be the biggest and best ever! Invited speakers for this year`s conference include: President George W. Bush; Vice President Dick Cheney; U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.); NRA President Charlton Heston; NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre; NRA First Vice President Kayne Robinson; NRA Director Ted Nugent; American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene (also an NRA Director); Col. Oliver North (also an NRA Director); Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist (also an NRA Director); and a host of others. CPAC is co-sponsored by more than 60 leading conservative organizations, and by the NRA. Make plans now to attend CPAC 2001 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, February 15-17, 2001, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. For additional information, or to register for the conference, call (800) 752-4391, or visit CPAC online at www.cpac.org. When registering, be sure to request the special discounted rates for NRA members. Also, through the CPAC student scholarship program, students with valid school ID attend CPAC for free!



On Wednesday, the Senate Courts and Criminal Code Committee passed SB 72, the Reckless Lawsuit Protection Act, which would protect firearm manufacturers from frivolous, politically-motivated lawsuits aimed at bankrupting them. The full Senate is expected to consider the bill as early as next Thursday. Contact your State Senator at (800) 382-9467 and urge him to support SB 72.


On Wednesday, the Senate passed House File 43, the NRA-backed Dove Hunting bill, on a 26 to 24 vote. The bill now goes to Governor Tom Vilsack`s (D) desk. Call Governor Vilsack`s office at (515) 281-5211 and urge him to sign House File 43.


As early as next Monday afternoon, the House Judiciary B Committee may consider HB 558, a bill that seeks to repeal a state requirement that licensed dealers keep records of lawful ammunition purchases. Call committee members first thing Monday morning at (601) 359-1541 and urge them to support HB 558. For a list of committee members, please call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.


Right to Carry bills have been filed by Sen. Shannon Robinson (D)—SB 148—and Rep. Judy Vanderstar Russell (R)—HB 277. SB 148 must first go to the Senate Public Affairs Committee, and HB 277 to the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee. Call members of these committees (Senate Public Affairs Committee at (505) 986-4504 & House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee at (505) 986-4326) and urge them to support SB 148 and HB 277, respectively. For a list of committee members, please call the NRA-ILA Grassroots Division at (800) 392-8683.


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.