By Tom McHale
Note from the author: This article was written and submitted before the unspeakable terrorist attack in Orlando, Dallas and Nice. We in no way want to diminish the seriousness of this attack by comparing it to media coverage of street crime or anything other than what it is. When our country suffers a major terrorist attack, I fully expect the news media to cover it in depth, but as exactly what it is – a major terrorist attack. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re seeing, but that’s another story. Our thoughts and prayers are for those families in Orlando, Dallas and Nice, FR. My hope is that after the emotion settles, we can have rational and productive discussion on how to prevent and stop further terrorist attacks like this one. Unfortunately, you know, as well as I do, that many will look to fear-based, feel-good, knee-jerk solutions that won’t accomplish anything, and may even prompt more aggressive attacks in the future. I’ll be doing my best to educate those in my circle of influence and I hope you will as well.
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- Epidemic [ep-i-dem-ik] noun – a rapid spread or increase in the occurrence of something
What do you call a “rapid spread or decrease in the occurrence of something?” Well, if it was the decrease of a bad thing, like crime for instance, I might call it awesome.
Regardless of what we hear on TV, that’s exactly what’s been happening with crime. Dwindling, shrinkage, downturn, ebb, or maybe even waning.
If you’re reading this, you know, as well as I do, that violent crime and murder has dropped like a stone over the past 20 years, yet you’d never know it based on the nightly news. You might also know that the level of gun-related accidents is currently at the lowest level in the history of ever, or at least since people invented the abacus. And you might also know that the level of child accidents and malicious deaths related to guns are at the lowest level since Senator Harry Reid was born, and as far as I know, that was sometime during the mid 15th century, but records are sketchy.
So why do clueless Candy Crush addicts think we’re in the midst of a “gun violence” epidemic?
MSNBCNNFX Is Sensational!
The main reason that John and Jane Q. Kardashian-watcher thinks there is a “gun crime” epidemic is because every crime involving the use of a gun is a genuine media sensation. I don’t like violent crime any more than you do, and I’d be thrilled if we could figure out how to get to zero crime. I don’t see that happening
anytime soon ever, but it sure would be nice.
But let’s get back to the point. If Ponch shoots Jon with a gun, it’s national news and breathless reporters start gushing about the CHiPs “gun violence” epidemic. If Jon hits Ponch with a shovel, it doesn’t make the nightly news, much less The Tolucan Times Crime Beat section. By the way, it would have made a great episode if Jon DID hit Ponch with a shovel. Just sayin, so don’t tase me bro CHiPs fans.
To really put the impact of the excitable media boys and girls into perspective, I’d like to take you on an imaginary journey for just a minute.
When you see a story on your nightly news about Cleetus shooting Arbutus in a drug deal gone bad, think about this. Since the night before, when you saw another sensational story about Arbutus shooting Clem outside a gentleman’s club, 30 people have been murdered by a drunk driver. Not killed. Not accidentally mushed to death. Murdered. If the liquored-up dude or dudette hadn’t voluntarily chosen to get in a vehicle capable of generating a half million foot-pounds of energy, some person or family would still be alive. That’s murder.
Now, just imagine for a minute that the news allocated the same joyful zeal to those stories. Our nightly news would be chock full of headlines and expert commentaries like these:
thrilledsaddened to report yet another senseless slaughter that could have been prevented with some common-sense vodka legislation.”
“With these high-capacity beer cans, people can drink 12 full ounces before reloading. There’s no need for anyone to have that kind of drinking power.”
“You know Katie, our organization has been calling for breathalyzer ejection seats for years, yet our common sense proposals fall on deaf ears.”
“It’s the NBA (National Beer Association) lobby that has a choke-hold on Congress. 137% percent of Americans polled support Universal Beer Checks.”
“High-capacity wine coolers are a senseless threat to us all. Who needs that? They only have one purpose – to get people drunk!”
“There are bars within 19 miles of schools and churches. We need common sense zoning to put a stop to that!”
“It’s just common-sense to develop smart cars that are limited to 12 miles per hour if they sense tequila breath within 50 square feet.”
“It’s easier for someone to walk in and buy a mint julep than a My Little Pony!”
But, unfortunately, even though video footage of drunk driving murder scenes is every bit as gory and sensational as a shooting, the media hacks don’t see that as headline “news.” You know why? I think it’s because they like to drink, so they’re not going to waste any of their moral outrage capacity on that issue.
Hey, selective moral outrage ain’t cheap, so you can’t waste it on things that you like to do on weekends. Guns? That’s different.
Can you imagine the news cycle if the same level of airtime was devoted to drunk driving murder? We’d have to open up 94 new 24-hour news networks just to handle the volume.
Gun Crime and PBR DUIs
I have to admit that the whole “gun crime” movement is a brilliant play by The Billionaire Banners Club. In our modern world of “OK, I’ll endure a four-word headline, if I can get back to the latest episode of Crocheting with People Who Were On TV 25 Years Ago”, it plays really well. If you don’t think about it, at all, then it sounds pretty appealing. Gun crime? Yeah, that sounds bad, so I’ll jump on board the outrage train.
But just for illustrative purposes, let’s continue with the drunk driving metaphor to show what a stupid and pointless concept it really is. Can you imagine hearing things like this on your nightly news?
“Well, Granite-Stone, tonight’s lead story is
fantastic for our ratingstragic. Yet another Miller Lite death in Bender County. Police say that a man was killed by a 12-ounce long-neck driver..”
“Piers, if it weren’t for your courage to speak out on the topic, people would never know about the epidemic of Jim Beam driving…”
“In other news, billionaire Richard Branson donated $50 million of his personal fortune towards Ernest and Julio Gallo driving safety.”
Of course, we’d never see any stories about “Ciroc Appletini deaths” because real journalists enjoy those after a solid day of enlightening the knuckle-dragging public.
As ridiculous and intellectually dishonest as it is, the whole idea of creating a category of crime that’s more evil and dangerous based on what tool someone kills you with is effective to an apathetic public.
It neatly places the emphasis on the object, not the action. Why? No one really wants to solve the real, and much harder, problem of getting people to stop being nasty to each other.
I also find it insanely hypocritical, which is why I immediately want to slap folks who start lecturing me about the problem of “gun crime.” Anytime someone says the words “gun crime” I interrupt and ask them if they’re OK with knife or spatula crime. Invariably, I get a funny look from someone who is clearly thinking, “Knife crime? That’s silly! Who cares if someone is the victim from a knife or a bat? They’re still a victim!” Point made.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not equating drunk driving with what people call “gun crime.” I did choose this comparison because the number of people murdered by someone using a gun is about the same as the number of people murdered because their killer drank too much beer. Strangely though, when someone is killed by a drunk, there’s crickets on the news. When someone is killed with a gun, it becomes a national media event. Hypocritical much? I’m also using the comparison to make a point about the power of language and the volume and frequency with which messages are delivered.
The bottom line? He who controls free network television gets to decide what we’re all outraged about. Think about it.
Oh, one more thing. If you didn’t know, there’s a Pabst Blue Ribbon death epidemic. Be careful out there folks.
Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.