Combatting misinformation


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mhdishere
September 21, 2004, 11:45 AM
The other night on the train I had a discussion with an aquaintance about the AWB. He was sure the AWB banned full-auto weapons, and he's certainly not alone in that belief. Once I explained to him what semi-auto meant (he likened it to being like a handgun, where you didn't have to cock it each time), and that you could have two rifles, one with a bayonet lug and one without, one would be banned and the other not, he seemed to understand.

There are lots of people out there who just don't have the information to make an informed decision on these issues. They're told that a .50 cal could take down an airliner and aren't told that the problem would be hitting it at all with one shot from a rifle (as opposed to a machine gun). (For that matter, a .38 puncturing the skin of an airliner at 20k feet would do a world of damage.) They're told that AW's can fire thousands of rounds a minute (my finger would get tired of squeezing that fast). They're told that certain guns have no "legitamate purpose" whatever that is. They don't know any better and they believe what they're told.

Our founding fathers ennumerated a free press among the rights humans are born with. The exercise of that right requires that the people be informed of the issues, not just accept whatever the press says is right. People need to have enough information, aside from the press, to be able to call "B.S." on blatent mis-information when it's found. It also requires that the people running the press themselves be informed, because too many calls of "B.S." mean that the newspaper/TV show/whatever loses its credibility. It's the same with all our rights, with every right comes a responsibility. We all believe we have the right to own arms. I for one understand that I need to learn how to use my arms safely and responsibly, and if I fail to do so I'm going to be held accountable, not the gun, not the manufacturer, but me.

So, what do we do? A lot of us have written letters to the editor giving the facts, but obviously facts aren't enough. On the one hand you have someone pointing out that the AWB was about cosmetic parts of the gun, on the other hand you have a young woman crying because her child was murdered, all while a sound track of an M-60 firing is playing in the background. For a start, how about publicizing people who successfully defended themselves with guns? How about publicizing people who were victimized because they weren't permitted the means to defend themselves? How about publicizing the shooting sports as fun, family oriented passtimes, not as a bunch of yahoos who just want to go out and blow crap up? How about publicizing children who knew about guns and did the right thing when they came across one at a friends house instead of playing with it and causing a tragedy?

So, what are your thoughts?

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Henry Bowman
September 21, 2004, 12:13 PM
The printed press is not very "interactive." Neither is TV. I prefer to get my information in a format or forum where it can be questioned and/or reinforced on a real time (or as close as possible) basis. Printing a few selected letters to the editor a day, week, or month later just doesn't cut it anymore.

If you want to influence people in that printed format where you control the content and point of view, get your own printing press. The printed media still has an unjustified level of credibility over electronic media. ("If someone took the time to write it down, it must be true.") The number 1 best way to shake a sheep's confidence in the printed media is to have them read a report about an even of which they have first hand knowledge. They will be shocked at the inaccuracies -- and that they go forever uncorrected. This specific opportunity does not come along every day and many tidbits fall into the "so what" category. But when it does happen that they are involved in a story and then read the "news" account of it -- they will be shocked and will not want to acknowledge that virtually every breaking news story reported has the same level of inaccuracy.

armoredman
September 21, 2004, 12:21 PM
When it comes to 50 cal and aircraft, explain that WWII fighter planes like the P47 and F-4U carried 6 50 caliber machine guns in their wing armament, and firing 50 cal full auto would sometimes not knock down a tiny little enemy fighter plane, much less a large airliner with modern safety systems and redundancy in controls. The very thought of a single shot 50 cal being an anti-aircraft weapon is right on the edge of ridiculous....

Werewolf
September 21, 2004, 12:27 PM
1) Anti's don't give a hoot about the facts. In my opinion facts just give them a headache and get in the way of how they see the real world.

2) Facts may sway a fence sitter.

Solution is to just keep on plugging along and presenting the facts as opportunities present themselves to those that there may be a chance of swaying our way. Unless you like exercises in frustration presenting facts to dyed in the wool antis is just a waste of time.

Letters to the editor fall somewhere between a waste of time and you might actually make a difference. Most pro-gun letters will not ever get published or will be edited in a way that takes the pro-gun sting out of 'em. Still - they have limited usefullness.

IMO the best way to combat mis-information is to just talk to people. Every fence sitter that goes our way is a person that can sway another fence sitter with facts.

fastbolt
September 21, 2004, 12:38 PM
Facts may sway a fence sitter.

I agree ... with a caveat ...

Facts may sway a reasonable, open-minded fence sitter.

Don't ever count on the news media for unbiased, factual information. They haven't practiced it for most of a century, nor seem interested in it ...

Look at the most recent CBS fiasco.

After listening to a couple of the other major news networks last night, it seems that they're more interested in saving face and regaining the public trust than they are about falsehoods actually having been presented as facts. How quickly they've all tried to forget about the "exploding" truck gas tanks "expose" ... and CNN's "investigative journalism" about something our troops were alleged to have done in Nam ... and the "creative" reporter for the NY Times ...

Besides ... People seldom welcome information contrary to their personal beliefs ... regardless of whether it's factual or merely another's belief.

Just look at organized religion.

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