The media’s pro-gun-control bias doesn’t just distort news coverage. TV networks have used their primetime entertainment shows to portray gun rights advocates as dishonest, extremist and unconcerned about the loss of innocent lives. At the same time, advocates of gun control are portrayed as caring, upstanding and responsible citizens.
Liberal television executives apparently think that they have the power to change Americans’ attitudes via veiled propaganda on your television screen. In fact, the sometimes not-so-subtle push for gun control really seems to have picked up this year.
As I mentioned in a Townhall.com column in mid-July, the most common bias involves characters making it clear that liking guns is definitely not cool. It is obviously an old theme going back to the “MacGyver” series. This spring on abc’s “The Crossing,” the sheriff’s young son said, “I don’t like guns,” when a deputy suggested he might someday replace his father. The deputy appeared discomforted by the exchange.
In NBC’s “Reverie,” main character Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi) was traumatized by the shooting deaths of her sister and niece. The deaths were played repeatedly throughout the show. In the second episode, which aired in June, Kint threw a gun into the ocean and explained that she has had training with guns. When asked why she threw the gun away, she explained that she “hates guns.” This scene touched on multiple gun control points in just 15 seconds.
Even the History Channel has gotten in on the act with its “Six” program about a Navy seal team. Despite terrorist threats to family, a seal team member tries to convince his wife that she is safer without a gun. Jackie Ortiz (played by Nadine Velazquez), the wife of a seal Team 6 member, asked her husband Ricky Ortiz (played by Juan-Pablo Raba) to teach her how to use a handgun for self-defense after his family was threatened by Islamist militants. She explained that she’s worried about defending herself when he isn’t around to protect the family. Ricky refused, claiming that a gun in the home, used by a trained adult, would endanger the family.
But, despite stiff competition, nbc might be the worst network of all when it comes to anti-gun propaganda in its entertainment programming. Network executives there seem to have given out orders to include some anti-gun/pro-gun-control mention in its television shows.
Take NBC’s “Taken.” This spring, an episode (Season 2, Episode 11) tried to convey to viewers that gun-free zones work because criminals would obey the bans. In that episode, Santana (Jessica Camacho) asks former CIA agent Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) if he is “ok with this whole no-guns thing” as they entered a hospital. Mills replied that it is ok, because the gun-free zonemeans that “bad guys won’t have them either.”
Do people really think that a group of paid, professional killers couldn’t find some way to get guns into a hospital?
A February episode of NBC’s “The Black List” (Season 5, episode 13) began with a group of people accusing a gun maker of providing inexpensive guns that “have no value to anyone but criminals.” They claimed the gun maker was profiting “off blood money,” and that gun “sales drive up homicide rates.” There was even a dig about how the law protects the gun maker from being sued for purposefully killing people. The gun seller’s only response was that everything he was doing was perfectly legal. No one mentioned that poor people, particularly poor minorities, are the most likely victims of violent crime—and that they use inexpensive guns for self-defense.
In February, NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” showed no less egregious bias (Season 5, Episode 13).Gang members threatened a small business owner, whom a police officer advised to leave his permitted, concealed handgun at home. The owner didn’t follow the instructions and ended up being killed by the gang members, his gun lying next to his dead body. To leave nothing to viewer imagination, a later scene showed surveillance camera footage of the businessman being beaten to death because he drew his gun on the gang members.
You certainly wouldn’t know it from watching the show, but having a gun is the safest course of action when confronted by a criminal. The police can’t be there all the time to protect people. The only message the program conveyed was that the man would still be alive if he had left his gun at home.
Of course, NBC is hardly alone. In January, in time for congressional debates over concealed handgun reciprocity, CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0” showed an unhinged concealed handgun permit holder unsuccessfully trying to kill someone. Later, the permit holder proudly proclaimed to the police that it was all right for him to have his gun because of his permit. Of course, there was no mention that permit holders are incredibly law-abiding, or that they are convicted of firearm violations at even lower rates than police.
In ABC’s “Designated Survivor,” the U.S. president (Kiefer Sutherland) took a question from a woman whose daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend who’d been in prison. She claimed that background checks would have stopped the ex-con from buying a gun. But viewers were unlikely to know about the vast quantity of research showing that background checks don’t reduce crime. These background checks are expensive, and again, the costs are most difficult to bear for poor individuals, many of them minorities who are living in high-crime areas.
Ignoring facts, the show took a more “good guy/bad guy” view of the gun debate. On one side were people who were desperately trying to pass a law that everyone agreed would save lives. On the other side were Republicans using lies to derail the bill.
It is bad enough that news networks provide only one side of the gun control debate. But even in entertainment shows, Americans can’t escape the one-sided rhetoric.
Researcher and author John R. Lott Jr. is president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. You can order Lott’s latest book, The War On Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, directly from amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com.