This feature appears in the March ‘17 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.
For the mainstream media and the elite classes now grieving over their momentous loss of power in this past election, “fake news” is their new weapon. This new corrosive theme represents the opening salvo of a massive effort to control the remarkably free and open information now available to all Americans on the internet.
With the exponential development and open access to digital communications, there are virtually no bounds on information choices available to free people. All of this is the greatest engine for freedom of expression in the history of human communication.
Consider that the NRA is at the forefront of mastering the digital revolution to penetrate the fog of legacy media disinformation about us and about every aspect of the Second Amendment.
Those avenues of unfettered free speech are among the essential reasons that Donald Trump is president of the United States and that we have pro-Second Amendment majorities in both the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate.
Destroying that freedom is at the center of the “fake news” movement, which is already demanding “gatekeepers,” or “fact checkers” or “curators.”
The defeated elites are trying to convince Americans that censorship is good; that “we the people” are too stupid to discern between fact and fiction, veracity and lies, and news and propaganda.
The truth is when it comes to the Second Amendment and all that the NRA stands for, “fake news” has been the mainstay of the majority of the elite media for as long as I can remember.
For years, we experienced unrelenting “fake news” about the Second Amendment itself—that it simply did not exist. Then came the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2008 and 2010 finding that Americans indeed possess an individual right to keep and bear arms. Many in the media still can’t live with those landmark decisions.
A few phrases from the “fake news” lexicon with the legacy media are a reminder of the wall of disinformation that we have dealt with since the beginning of our fight to save the right to keep and bear arms from extinction.
We’ve seen fraudulent media obsession with “mail-order guns,” “Saturday Night Specials,” “cop-killer bullets,” “plastic guns,” “50-cal. rifles capable of shooting down airliners,” the “iron pipeline with unfettered interstate trafficking of guns,” “ballistic databases,” “the gun show loophole” and “gun ownership as a disease.” It’s an endless list of “fake news” all the time. Let’s not forget “weapons of war” or “Operation Fast and Furious.”
To my mind, the most prolonged, relentless mainstream media “fake news” war was waged on so-called “assault weapons” in the 1990s. The entire campaign was the brainchild of the Violence Policy Center (VPC), which declared that handguns were too numerous in private hands to ban. They needed something else to ban. The VPC declared that semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 were ominous looking, and not owned by many citizens. Besides, it was easy to confuse the non-gun-owning public into thinking they were machine guns. The media obliged.
It was “fake news” on steroids.
When the Senate voted to pass what became known as the Bill Clinton gun ban in 1994, then-U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum summed up all the years of “fake news” in one breath: “[T]he assault weapons that are out there on the streets of America mowing down innocent people day in and day out. … We have pictures of them. The pictures are not quite as ominous as the weapons themselves, but we know those are weapons that every day of the week are killing Americans across this country … designed to spray fire a hail of bullets within seconds. Each has become the weapon of choice for mass murders, drug traffickers, youth gangs. … Right now, there are street gangs and drug kingpins with stockpiles of assault weapons.”
Not a word was true. In fact, a contemporary study by the New England Journal of Medicine of 583 gang-related, drive-by shootings in Los Angeles concluded: “Use of an assault weapon was documented in one incident.”
Gun owners lost that fight—temporarily. Our supporters in Congress wisely included a 10-year automatic sunset if Congress declined to re-enact the law. In fact, because the ban was such a fraud, the gun ban indeed vanished off the books—having had no effect whatsoever on crime that never existed in the first place.
A major reason for the 1994 loss was that the near-unanimous gun-ban media had a virtual monopoly on mass communication. With the advent of the internet, that monopoly is dwarfed by digital access to the truth.
In the new battle to kill open access with the internet, the media and the gun banners want to return to the days of their information monopoly.
We cannot and we will not let that happen. We must continue to work to save the First Amendment to keep the Second Amendment intact.