Another Reason Dealers Shouldn’t Talk to Reporters

Now we have put the term “bling gun” into the vocabulary of reporters, namely the Washington Post. The article refers to the gold plated Desert Eagle that Gilbert Arenas was caught with in the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. That didn’t come from the reporter, it came from the owner of Atlantic Guns in Silver Springs. Nothing like associating legal gun purchases of legitimate collector pieces (a gold plated Desert Eagle is a wall piece, the kind you lock behind a nice piece a glass in a nice felt lined display case) with a term generally associated with people who have large sums of cash and few ways to convert them into legitimate, untraceable assets (gang members and drug dealers). That might lead the public to wonder what kind of people you’re selling guns to up there at Atlantic Guns. That might make them wonder about the legitimacy of the whole industry.

I’ve seen dealers represent the issue very well, but 9 times out of 10 a gun dealer talks to a reporter, they say something stupid. It’s really best if dealers, or really anyone not accustomed to dealing with them, take a policy of not taking to reporters. The few times I’ve been in that situation, I let Bitter deal with them (she’s a professional at this). Sometimes there are reporters looking to do a fair piece, most of the time they are looking for you to slip up so they can make gun owners look bad.

17 thoughts on “Another Reason Dealers Shouldn’t Talk to Reporters”

  1. Silver Spring. No ‘S’.

    Sorry. We get sensitive for some reason about that detail. You should see people react when I say “Pittburg Steelers”

    And Atlantic Guns?! Ya know, there is a reason I don’t shop there. I just had a feeling. They rub me the wrong way. The article isn’t BAD, but it’s not good either.

    But I can understand why the reporter chose that shop. Presumably his/her editor, at their downtown office, said, “Cubby! Get me the scoop! Get a reaction quote from inside the gun industry. Ask about that players arsenal.” So Jimmy Olson got on the subway and toodled up the Red Line to Silver Spring station and walked 4 blocks to the shop on Bonifant Street. I believe that store is the only one accessible by Metro in the whole Metropolitan area.

    I wonder if Gilbert resides in DC MD or VA? Heck he might have BOUGHT that Deagle at that gun store.

  2. So, if “reporters … most of the time … are looking for you to slip up so they can make gun owners look bad”, what would you suggest that gun dealers do when approached by reporters?’

    “No comment.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “That occurred during the Bush administration.”

    Sebastian, I have immense respect for your skills as a blogger, but the attitude you display in this post is what I refer to as PZT – Prag Zero Tolerance …… no one can do it right (except you).

  3. How is this PZT when I said I myself don’t talk to reporters without guidance from a professional? The few times I’ve had the opportunity, I let Bitter handle it. She’s used to dealing with them and knows what not to say. But either way, this isn’t a “prag” vs. “threeper” issue. This is a “reporters don’t have our best interests at heart most of the time” issue. So it’s really, honestly better for gun owners to be very reluctant to talk to them. It’s kind of like the police. Anything you say can and will be used.

    If you’re part of a gun rights organization, some members of that organization are going to be better at talking to the media than others. That’s just the way it is. Those people should handle media relations. Doesn’t matter what faction of the issue you belong to. I don’t exempt myself from that advise either. I wouldn’t talk to a reporter without going through everything in detail with Bitter first, and if I could, I’d just have him talk to her.

  4. Most gun dealers in Maryland, and especially in Mongomery Couty suffer from the battered wife syndrome. We are maybe 4th or 5th most anti-gun state, Chris Van Hollen (one of the co-sponsors of the gunshow bill) has an office in Silver Spring, self defense is practically illegal here. This attitude from some of the older shops is a direct result of that.

  5. I get what you’re saying here, but a gold plated Desert Eagle *is* a bling gun. It’s slightly less silly than a gold plated AK, but that’s not really saying much.

    It was sitting there awaiting someone with more money than sense, and fortuately for this particular dealer, he got his mark. I think a better tact would be to point out that this is yet another reason that Mr. Arenas, despite an enumerated RIght to own a gun, probably shouldn’t have one without direct adult supervision.

    The direct quotes aren’t at all as bad as I thought they were going to be when I read your take. Considering what the reporter wrote in the rest of the piece, a bunch of “no comments” wouldn’t have made a difference.

    That all having been said, yeah, you’re right: think long and hard before talking to the media in places like DC, NYC, etc.

  6. I don’t have any issue with the term “bling gun” between friends, but saying it to a Washington Post reporter is another thing entirely.

  7. Sebastian,

    It’s PZT when you don’t want anyone to do anything, anything. that might disrupt the status quo and upset someone who might be listening.

    And that's what kinda chaps my ass ……. it's the way that you seem to lecture those who are so obviously disinterested in firearms issues as FFL's to not talk to reporters because they may not have the FFLs best interests at heart.

    Don't you think they know that already? And if dealers aren't 'allowed' to talk to reporters, who will?

  8. One thing that consistently annoys me is that people take what I say and take it to extremes that I don’t mean. Because I said FFLs shouldn’t talk to reporters, that means I don’t want them to do anything. No. But what do they have to gain for themselves and the movement by talking to what is, essentially, the enemy?

    1. Sebastian isn’t saying that they shouldn’t ever talk to the press if they have the skills to do so. It’s just that very few do have the skills. I can think of a few dealers off the top of my head who I would refer to a reporter. I can also think of more than a few who I would never recommend in a million years. What Sebastian is encouraging here is that dealers – and other gun owners – recognize their own weaknesses and not put the foot any farther down the throat. Not everyone has the same weaknesses and strengths.

      In this case, I would agree with Sebastian. However, I would also say that any FFL who has been called for comment should do a number of things. The first of which is to contact NSSF (assuming they are a good member of the industry group) and ask for some media training. Now, I don’t know that Bill has done this in the past, but I would safely assume that the guys up there would be willing to lend a hand to a member in need. Assuming the FFL is an NRA member, call NRA-ILA and ask for help. While it’s not an official service of the organization, I’m quite sure Andrew, Rachel, or Alexa would be willing to spend a few minutes to offer up advice. Sometimes the issue isn’t about how hardcore you are, but how willing you are to acknowledge your own limitations and seek help from the community. Dealing with the press isn’t easy. It’s not shameful for people who have no experience dealing with them to ask for a little help. However, not asking for help and digging us all into a hole isn’t something we should be afraid to call out in the community.

  9. Sebastian,

    IF you’ll look back at my previous post, I didn’t say you wanted FFLs to do nothing, I said you didn’t want anyone to do anything that disrupts the status quo and upset someone who might be listening, and I stand by that (witness your stand on open carry).

    Look, I agree that some dealers can come off as kinda dumb ….. or conspiratorial ….. or whatever distasteful attribute you can think of, because I’ve seen them on my tv. But I think it’s very wishful thinking to believe that FFLs are going to defer comment anytime they’re asked a question from the media, even the obviously liberal media. Face it, the requirements to get an FFL don’t include media savvy, and the 10% of FFLs you say can handle the media well goes the other direction, too; there will be 10% that can’t help themselves.

    And Bitter, I agree that FFLs should use all the resources at their disposal. I also think that the firearms groups like NSSF and NRA could be more proactive, and develop some material for their members to have anyway, not just when asked for help.
    I seems to me that the media should be more likely than not to run into a well-informed, prepared FFL if they have questions. That helps all of us.

  10. It’s not really “kinda dumb.” It’s a matter of not having experience dealing with reporters. It’s not something I would have any clue about if I didn’t know Bitter. It’s very easy to say something that can be taken by a hostile reporter the wrong way, and if the reporter is good at what they do, they will put the person at ease and make them think they are friendly.

    And NRA and NSSF do have such material and expertise, but they can’t reach every FFL. My purpose with such things as this post is to point out to other FFLs why talking to reporters without some guidance can backfire. Maybe I have a hard time getting that across without being condescending. I might need to think about how I get my point across better.

  11. I agree the press is largely antagonistic and that most FFL guys can’t handle them. But the reason for both of those is that gun selling and gun owning is not the squeaky clean and upright business you present it to be. The press understands that guns in criminal hands start out with FFL dealers. And they also understand that many FFL dealers are not as scrupulous with the laws as they should be, which is how so much of their product ends up with the bad guys.

    Bling guns are one of the most in-yer-face manifestations of the gun culture gone awry. Serious gun owners have a hard time keeping themselves untainted from this aspect of their society. When rich public figures like Arenas make the news, just like when guns are featured in films and gangsta videos, the legitimate gun owners connot completely escape the damage in public opinion since these guys are simply exercising their 2nd Amendment rights just like everybody else.

    So by all means, avoid the press.

  12. What day would be complete without a visit from the Italian cave troll? Why doesn’t he regale us with tales of his prior (and self-admitted) illegal gun possession? Golly, I wonder how he will react when Chicago has it’s handgun ban overturned?

  13. Sebastian,

    First, a mea culpa and apology. The term I had intended to use was ‘Prag Zero Defects, not Tolerance ….. a case of the Affliction dumping on me. I apologize.

    Second, I don’t believe you intended to sound condescending, it just wound up that way. And as for thinking through the things we say, you and I both can always improve!

  14. The game Army of Two allowed you to bling out every gun in the game.

    Not new, not restricted to any particular culture, not a big deal.

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