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A Blogger’s Worry: Media Getting Better on Guns?

As much as we beat up on the media for getting it wrong, or outright bias, there is a certain amount of buzz that’s necessary for a political gun writer to have something to talk about. Lately that buzz on gun news has been simple and positive. The media is writing stories left and right about the spike in guns sales, but there’s only so much to say about that, and the story formula is pretty much the same — reporter speaks generally of the election, of the FBI reporting the spike in gun sales, then goes an interviews a local gun shop which says something like, “Yep, seeing a lot of sales. Women especially.”

When I started this blog, I never would have believed this could even be a worry. Even though the election went badly for us, this is a positive development, because it’s getting an important meme out there: normal people buy guns. I’ve seen precious few stories that paint these buyers as paranoid militia nuts getting more guns to stow away in their bunkers, thought here have been a few of those, but it’s increasingly coming from outfits that matter little, in naturally hostile media markets. Most articles do speak of anxiety about what the President will do on guns, or speak of unease about the world situation, but it’s rarely painted as delusional paranoia in the majority of stories I’ve run across.

While the media environment is far from perfect, as I can still find the classic bias that’s long been there, it is vastly improved, and keeps improving. The media is starting to get it right on guns. We have been schooling them, and I think our letters, blog posts, and e-mails are making a difference in how journalists approach the issue. This is good, but it does make it more difficult to write on the subject, since the media has long been a foil for political gun bloggers.

I am probably not the only one who is quietly worried by the development. The NRA has long benefitted from a media environment hostile to gun ownership, and while the media is still quite hostile to the NRA, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in a media environment more fair to gun ownership but still hostile to the organization which defends it.

11 Responses to “A Blogger’s Worry: Media Getting Better on Guns?”

  1. Freiheit says:

    I’d call it a problem you want to have.

    I don’t think the media is positive on guns, a few positive stories do not make a trend.

    If it really is a trend, then the bloggers and RKBA orgs can shift their focus. Instead of fighting for general acceptance, start working on specific barriers. For example if the media and general public are OK with firearms, start picking away at supressor regs or AOW and SBR regs. Focus on less free states and catch them up with the nation. Work on something like the uniform traffic laws so state laws can be applied like road signs.

    • Sebastian says:

      I actually think bloggers don’t make much of a difference, because we’re not reaching people the people you need to reach to change the culture. NRA is actually in a much better position to do something about pushing barriers, because they reach a lot more marginal people on the issue. The number is somewhere around 33 million, in terms of their reach. If all 33 million of those people were solid, we’d never lose. But the fact is they are not that solid, and while they might have sympathies toward the Second Amendment, and agree, generally with the NRA position, they are still willing to tolerate an awful lot of gun control, and will even agree with our opponents sometime if asked. Frank Luntz numbers on this aren’t magical; he’s not polling NRA members. He’s polling those 33 million people. But it still matters.

      NRA has something like 1.6 million Facebook followers. They’ve included positive coverage of suppressors on the FB, and it started debate in the comments. Many of their followers have misconceptions. But that’s where the rubber is going to meet the road, and people are going to be forced to think. The challenge is really to wake up those 33 million people and get them involved in the issue, and to develop a deeper understanding. I think blogs have a role in that, but it’s mostly taking them the rest of the way once they start coming in and begin looking for information. We are the rabbit hole, but you still need the rabbit.

  2. beatbox says:

    Interesting. And I agree with your last point. I am sure that the NRA LOVES it when the media blames them as the bogeyman stopping all gun control.

  3. Guav says:

    Thank you for all the time and energy you have devoted to this over the years.

  4. Sebastian says:

    I should clarify, when I say I’m “worried,” it’s mostly because it’s difficult to get people engaged if they think everything is fine. We are certainly not out of the woods yet in terms of threats to our rights. I’m not worried about the development of the media getting better. That’s an unqualified good. But if the coverage is more fair and positive, you’re going to have a lot of newly minted gun owners who think everything is fine, and don’t understand what it took to get here, and perhaps more importantly don’t understand what it will take to stay here, and to move the ball forward even more.

  5. terraformer says:

    The media is starting to get it right on guns. We have been schooling them, and I think our letters, blog posts, and e-mails are making a difference in how journalists approach the issue. This is good, but it does make it more difficult to write on the subject, since the media has long been a foil for political gun bloggers.

    The problem here is people will think, “great, it’s changed and so I can stop writing/blogging/calling/emailing” and the reality is far from it. Everyone has to keep up the pressure. Continue to call out the press when they get it wrong and sing their praises when they get it right.

    Nothing has changed. Winning some battles isn’t winning the war. Keep on writing.

  6. jerry says:

    I fear u r worrying over nothing. A few stories mentioning increased gun sales proves nothing in my opinion. Liberals hate guns, always will. Focus on court appointments his highness will make, judges are the biggest threat to our gun rights, as u well know.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s not just that. I go through a lot of media stories in any given day, most of which you’ll never see on here. The coverage quality has gotten better pretty much across the board on the gun issue. It’s mostly coming from the local papers, rather than the big national papers, but even some of those do more fair stories than they used to. The New York Times and the Washington Post are still predictably hostile, but they also spend a lot less ink on our issue than they used to.

  7. jerry says:

    U may well be right. I must admit I don’t spend much time reading the newspapers, so i haven’t given it much thought. Sigh. One more thing to worry about I guess.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s kind of a good worry to have. I think overall it’s a net good in the long term. In the short term it will be challenging.

      • Harold says:

        One suggestion: start hyping atrocities. Publication of what the BATF started doing with the GCA of ’68 once they had to find something for the no work to do Revenuers after sugar price supports killed the moonshine industry is what got me started in the early-mid-70s.

        But agreed, this a problem to have. Evidence of the renormalization of guns in US society.

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