Let’s talk about silencers & how the “gun safety” movement is a lie.

Silencers are in the news, with all manner of breathless fear mongering coming from various outlets.  Why? The Sportsmen’s Heritage  Recreational and Enhancement Act of 2017 (SHARE) passed through committee (on a straight party-line vote, naturally) and has been forwarded to the House of Representatives.  Attached to it is the Hearing Protection Act, which (if successful) will remove silencers from the National Firearms Act and treat them like regular Title I firearms.   Not sure what this means? Don’t worry, I’ll explain.

What’s the big deal?

If you are unfamiliar with the backstory on what silencers are & why they are restricted, David Kopel wrote an excellent article covering the history & politics of silencers.   To sum up: Hiram Maxim invented the sound suppressor back in 1909 and marketed it as a “silencer.”   Here in the US, they are fairly uncommon & if you don’t have the proper paperwork  can send you to prison for a long time.

Wait, what?  Yep, that’s right –  For some reason that nobody can figure out, Congress decided to include them in the National Firearms Act of 1934, resulting in their being treated the same as machineguns, sawed off shotguns, and hand grenades.  Under the NFA, a hollow tube with baffles is considered a Title II firearm & heavily restricted: owning one requires fingerprints, a background check, and a $200 tax stamp.   Violations of Title II firearms laws are a federal felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

With all these hoops to jump through, and harsh penalties, why do people want silencers anyhow?

Despite their portray in popular media, guns are loud.  A single gunshot can be up to 190dB – in comparison, thunder from a nearby storm is around 120dB.  Both are enough to cause immediate, permanent hearing damage because the sound is loud enough to kill hearing tissue.

Silencers are the gun equivalent of a car’s muffler – they function by taking the exhaust gases of combustion & slowing their expansion, cooling them before they escape the muzzle. The typical silencer is not particularly complex – it can’t be, because unlike an automobile muffler, the bullet has to travel in a straight line. Crude examples can be found made from converted oil filters, or can be constructed of a simple pipe, washers & steel or copper wool, and a means to attach it to the firearms barrel.  In a recent episode of The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes is shown with one made from a Maglite:

 

Silencers have many benefits besides the obvious noise reduction for the shooter:

  • Increased situational awareness.  By being able to hear what is going on around you, you are safer.  You are able to communicate with others &
  • Decreased firearms recoil, which means greater accuracy.
  • Less noise pollution in the surrounding area, which is especially important around firing ranges. In some European nations they are considered an essential way to reduce noise pollution & are available without a hassle.  Glock makes a disposable model that’s around $150 that is available in various countries.

In all likelihood, if OSHA had existed when silencers were invented, they’d be mandatory equipment today.

What caused this Silencer Showdown?

It is only in recent years that use of silencers in the American firearms community has changed, largely due to three factors: inflation, military acceptance & information sharing.

Inflation: When Maxim invented the silencer, Pistol models sold for $5, rifle versions were $7, or around $125 in 2017 dollars.  The National Firearms Act added $200 to that cost, effectively banning them from anyone other than the rich –   $200 in 1934 is the equivalent of $4959 in 2017.  Thanks to the magic of inflation, a $200 tax stamp no longer is the hurdle it once was, and in the last decade silencer, short barrel rifle, short barrel shotgun & other NFA purchases have exploded.   Let’s face it, in 1934 $200 on a $5 item was a big deal; but $200 today? That’s a monthly cell phone bill.

Military use: Silencers have been in military service since WWI, where they were issued to snipers & sharpshooters.  In WWII, they were found in various capacities from the Welrod Pistol to the Deslisle Destroyer Carbine to Silenced Sten. Vietnam saw a variant of the S&W M39 called the Mk 22 “Hush Puppy” that was used by SEALs for eliminating guard dogs & sentries, along with Silenced Swedish K “K Guns” used by both Special Forces & CIA personnel.

This continued into the modern era.  Well aware of the advantages that silencers provided, military units made them a requirement on weapons systems solicitations; in the mid 90s the Special Operations Peculiar MODification (SOPMOD) kit had a sound suppressor for each rifle.  When the Global War on Terror ramped up, Special Operations became even more important & capabilities needed to be filled.  The M110 was issued as a designated marksman’s rifle, putting silencers into the hands of riflemen.

Traditional media, Social media & word of mouth: In 2010, there had been a grand total of 285,087 silencers registered since 1934.  That would soon change.

The internet allowed firearms enthusiasts to communicate from around the world.  As such, those with actual experience using silencers, industry representatives & potential buyers were able join together. Information sharing via sites like AR15.com (est 1997), SilencerTalk, (created in 2006), tactical industry publications, & word of mouth allowed end users to become more educated on silencer effectiveness, how to obtain their own, or in some cases make them with ATF approval.  No longer was the NFA a mystery, and a niche market was even created to simplify the process by connecting firearms lawyers with clients.

Social media further spread information, from digital photos taken by service members to companies like Advanced Armament Corporation (AAC), Surefire & Gemtech taking part in  discussions.   These companies leveraged their knowledge gained from servicing military & law enforcement customers into providing better quality products to both law enforcement & civilian buyers.  Detailed specifications allowed comparison shopping. YouTube channels like Hickok45 featured silencer use & others explained the science behind them.   Industry leading manufacturers formed the American Suppressor Association in 2014 to help educate & reform silencer laws at both the state & federal level; through their efforts it is now legal to hunt with a silencer equipped firearm in 42 states.  Finally, large firearms manufacturers entered the market: Remington acquired AAC, SIG-Sauer created their own silencer division, and just this year S&W bought Gemtech.

By 2015, silencer ownership had exploded. CNN noted the drastic increase in silencer sales:

The number of registered silencers surged 38% from last year to 792,282 in February 2015, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. There were 571,750 licenses in March 2014.

A year later there were 900,000 silencers in circulation. In February 2017 there were 1.3 million and the numbers continue to increase.

Even some people at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives have changed their minds on their being restricted, stating in a whitepaper that:

[T]he reason for their inclusion in the NFA is archaic and historical reluctance to removing them from the NFA should be reevaluated.

The Free Beacon has confirmed that silencers are rarely used in crimes, with roughly 44 instances a year.

“Consistent with this low number of prosecution referrals, silencers are very rarely used in criminal shootings,” Turk wrote. “Given the lack of criminality associated with silencers, it is reasonable to conclude that they should not be viewed as a threat to public safety necessitating [National Firearms Act] classification, and should be considered for reclassification under the [Gun Control Act].”

Even in 2014 the ATF was having a difficult time keeping up with the ever increasing demands for NFA items.   Eventually they changed to a 7 day workweek and increased NFA branch personnel nearly threefold in order to try to combat growing delays.   Wait times for NFA transfers continued to increase.  The existing system wasn’t working, and wasn’t helped by a new Obama-era rule change called 41f that further increased paperwork to be processed – wait times were expected to double.  In anticipation of the rules changes, people rushed to get their paperwork in so their purchases would be “grandfathered” – Silencerco reportedly submitted $2,000,000 worth of NFA stamp applications in a single day.  If those were all silencers or machineguns, that’s 10,000 applications.

The ATF whitepaper gives an insider’s view:

The wide acceptance of silencers and corresponding changes in state laws have created substantial demand across the country. This surge in demand has caused ATF to have a  significant backlog on silencer applications. ATF’s processing time is now approximately 8 months. ATF has devoted substantial resources in attempts to reduce processing times, spending over $1 million annually in overtime and temporary duty expenses, and dedicating over 33 additional full-time and contract positions since 2011 to support NFA processing.

Put it another way: by keeping silencers restricted, it’s having a negative effect on law enforcement, because administration is draining resources.  That is money spent on personnel & paperwork and is not spent on criminal investigations.

Things come to a head

Enter the Hearing Protection Act of 2015, which had the objective of changing silencers from Title II weapons, to Title I & treated the same as regular firearms  The HPA eventually picked up 82 cosponsors, but was not passed in the 2015-16 session.  With the 2016 election under way, it was tabled; Clinton had campaigned on increasing firearms restrictions across the board, and was favored to win.

With Trump’s surprise victory & Republican control of both the Senate & House, there was an opportunity.  Donald Trump Jr, an avid hunter, spearheaded efforts to reduce silencer regulations. The Hearing Protection Act was dusted off, reintroduced to the house as HPA 2017. It was then referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, followed by the House Judiciary, where it languished until June, when it was attached to the SHARE Act.  SHARE already had strong bipartisan approval and incorporated a number of changes that the firearms community had been seeking for decades.

So let’s talk about the “gun safety” movement & their objections to this bill.

Naturally the possibility of silencer restrictions being eased has caused a panic in the anti-gun movement & media allies.  Everytown produced a litany of fear mongering nonsense.  The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank panicked and vomited forth a massive amount of hyperbole including talk of howitzers & Stinger missiles (which the NRA quickly debunked). The Huffington Post claims deregulation is a ploy of the gun industry in order to combat the “Trump Slump” (which doesn’t exist, but I’ll address that in another article).

Rather than address each article, let’s talk about…

Common Myths Surrounding Silencers

Myth #1: Silencers completely eliminate the sound of a gunshot! 

Despite their portrayal in movies & television, silencers do not reduce a gunshot to a kitten sneezing.  In fact:

  •  a rifle with a silencer is still as loud as the operations deck of an aircraft carrier;
  • a pistol with a silencer is as loud as a jackhammer.

Even the CEO of ShotSpotter, a system used to detect gunfire in several cities, states that the Shotspotter system can still detect firearms equipped with silencers.

“In regard to gun silencers, it is more accurate to call them suppressors, as they suppress the impulsive sound of gunfire, not wholly eliminate it,” said Ralph Clark, the chief executive of ShotSpotter. “We have successfully if not inadvertently detected confirmed suppressed gunfire within our existing deployments. Although we have not formally tested the theoretical impact to our system, we intend to do some targeted testing in the near future. We believe we will have various options ranging from increasing our sensor array density to developing software/firmware to address the detection of suppressed gunfire if it were to become a widespread issue.”

Despite what some may claim, a silencer will not make a mass shooter more deadly, or hunter less safe.

Myth #2: Restricting them has kept them out of the hands of criminals!

This is a great example of correlation not equaling causation, or the Simpsons example of the tiger-repellent rock.  Strict silencer laws have not, in fact, kept them out of the hands of criminals; rather their use is just not given much media play because criminals breaking the law with heavily restricted items goes against the narrative.  Examples:

Over a half dozen examples in the last two years, with many more probably not even reported on.

So why aren’t criminals using silencers?  Probably because most criminals use small, concealable handguns and adding 9-12″ to the barrel makes them much more difficult to tuck into a belt.

Myth #3: People don’t need silencers, they can just wear earplugs!

First, let’s start with the research: The CDC did a study in 2011 titled, “Noise and Lead Exposures at an Outdoor Firing Range ─ California”.  In it, they stated:

The only potentially effective noise control method to reduce students’ or instructors’ noise exposure from gunfire is through the use of noise suppressors that can be attached to the end of the gun barrel.

The common sense approach to a loud noise is to muffle the item causing it, not to expect everyone in the area to be equipped with ear protection.  It’s only when that is not possible that additional hearing protection is suggested, which is why cars have mufflers instead of expecting drivers & passengers to wear ear plugs.

Second, when carrying a firearm for self defense, it is not possible or practical to wear ear plugs or muffs at all times.  There are over 16 million people with concealed carry permits in the United States, and unknown numbers of people who concealed carry in the 13 states with Constitutional Carry.  Each one runs the risk of permanent hearing loss should they be forced to defend themselves.

In addition, wearing ear plugs or muffs reduces safety, not increases it.  With hearing protection on, all sound is reduced, not just the gunshot, resulting in a loss of situational awareness:

  • Hunters cannot hear other people in the woods.
  • A homeowner inside their house will not be able to effectively hear an intruder’s movements – or police commands if they make entry.
  • Students receiving instruction have to learn to overcome the blast & recoil, rather than concentrating on form & control.
  • The areas surrounding firing ranges have increased levels of noise pollution.

Myth #4: If silencers are easier to get, there will be more criminals using silencers!

While I already addressed this partially with Myth #1 & how guns are still loud even with a silencer attached, this argument really requires a leap in logic to believe.

First, seized firearms figures show that most criminals use small & inexpensive handguns for crime.  The Trace was kind enough to provide data from Chicago PD which had inexpensive models from Ruger, Hi-Point, & other manufacturers dominating.  A stickup artist is not going to add 9-12″ of suppressor to the barrel of their firearm making it harder to conceal… not to mention doubling or tripling the price.

Second, there were also huge numbers of revolvers present, which cannot be effectively silenced due to the gap between the cylinder & the barrel. This throws additional cold water on potential criminal silencer use.

Silencers are a Public Health issue

Obviously the medical community must have something to say about this, right?

Surprise! They’ve been refusing to comment at all.  The silence of medical groups is something that has not gone unnoticed by the firearms community.  You’d think that decriminalizing a device that will prevent medical injury would be a no-brainer for medical professionals, but:

[T]he American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, American College of Surgeons, and the American Academy of Pediatrics not only refuse to support doing away with the outdated restrictions. They won’t even promote the use of suppressors as a valuable public health solution.

Even the group representing ear doctors, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, has decided officially to refuse their support of both this hearing-saving tool and the legislation that would make it widely available to their patients.

Usually eager to try to force further gun control under the guise of “Public Health” the medical community has been strangely quiet. There are no shortage of articles in medical journals advocating for stricter firearms laws, from background checks to “safe storage” to banning assault weapons, none of which have a proven track record of success at effecting, never mind reducing harm.  Yet when it comes to easing access to something that has empirically measurable, demonstrated effectiveness at preventing injury, they have nothing to say.

This, right here, reveals just how bankrupt the “gun safety” movement is.

 

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It’s been an “interesting” time lately. Are we seeing the beginning of a full court press?

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “May you live in interesting times” then you understand why it seems so apropos these days.

In the past 6 weeks we’ve seen a number of highly publicized mass shootings in addition to the usual gang related violence that is reported, then ignored by everyone.

June

On June 17, a deranged idiot decided that he’d try to start a race war by shooting up a the oldest African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Southern United States, in Charleston South Carolina

Dylan Roof, pictured below, was a poster boy of how the system has failed to stop mass shootings yet again.

 

He killed 9 and wounded 1, seeking out South Carolina State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, who was the pastor for the church.

In the days after the shooting took place, the narrative began to take shape – Roof had been arrested for drug possession. Roof was awaiting trial.  Somehow he’d gotten a gun – early reports stated that Roof had been given it by family.  It seemed like this was going to be seized upon as evidence that Universal Background Checks needed to be passed, lest another tragedy like this take place.

Then, just before the UBC bandwagon could reach full speed, law enforcement sources revealed that Roof had purchased the gun at a store and filled out the necessary background check paperwork.

Roof should have been prohibited from buying the gun – under federal law those facing charges where they may be imprisoned for over a year are not allowed to own or purchase firearms.  When Roof filled out his 4473 to purchase the murder weapon, he lied.  This lie should have been caught by the NICS system, but his arresting paperwork hadn’t been filed properly.

The Narrative had changed.  Robbed of their opportunity to blame the “gun show loophole” for this atrocity, the people upset by this pivoted and went after another the Confederate Flag which was prominently featured in Roof’s social media profile and symbolized the racist views expressed in his manifesto.

Ironically, Pinckney had voted against South Carolina’s laws that would have repealed prohibition of  concealed carry in churches without the express approval of church staff.  Obviously the law failed to stop the shooting.

In the aftermath of Charleston, President Obama made a number of statements, but in one televised address he suggested that the US should follow Australia’s example:

When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.

This was important, because Australia did several things: They banned multiple classes of firearms, and they confiscated privately owned weapons under the guise of a mandatory “buy back”.

Never before has this been suggested at such a high level in this country.  Previously politicians may have suggested confiscation obliquely, or in unguarded moment, but for a sitting President to state it outright was an eye opening moment.


July

A few weeks later, on July 16, there was another mass shooting.  In contrast to the Charlestown one, this shooting was carried out by a self-radicalized homegrown Islamic extremist decided to target a Chattanooga, TN recruiting office and then a Navy Reserves center. Local law enforcement chased him down, and killed him shortly thereafter.

FBI officials and the media quickly played down any attempt to classify the shooter as a “terrorist” despite him travelling to Jordan shortly before the attack took place.

FBI Evidence technicians process the scene at the Marine Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, TN. Juxtaposed with the bullet holes from the shooter’s attack  is the “Firearms Prohibited” sticker that graced the front door to the offices,

 

The perpetrator was revealed to be Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, who carried out the attack with an AK-47 style rifle, a pistol, and possibly a shotgun.  Four Marines were killed at the scene while Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith died later at a hospital.

The Brady Center and other antigun groups didn’t waste any time in immediately calling for more gun control, despite not knowing how the firearms were obtained.   The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation stated that

“Some of the weapons were purchased legally and some of them may not have been,”

Attempts were made to try to highlight the need for a renewed assault weapons ban, others wanted to focus on Armslist.  Instead, the public reacted in a wholly unexpected way; they were outraged that military personnel were unable to defend themselves.

Paradoxically, though, people remembered that the military areas were gun free zones – press pool photos and footage showed the front doors of the Marine recruiting center riddled with bullet holes, next to a “Firearms Prohibited” sign.

Despite this, the intended victims fought back.  This was confirmed by statements from various military officials: the Marines did not run, and did not die laying down.  At least one Marine and one Navy officer had fought back with personally owned firearms – despite standing orders prohibiting having them.  No information has been provided on how many lives were saved as a result.

The reaction was swift.  Private citizens showed up in droves to guard the “defenseless” recruiters.   Senior military officials didn’t like that, viewing them as a security threat.  Naturally, it didn’t take long before someone showed off their lack of safe firearms handling skills by having a negligent discharge in the parking lot – and no one was surprised when this individual had previously had firearms confiscated for doing the exact same thing.

Politicians also seized upon the incident – Senator Moran (R-KS) introduced legislation end gun free zones on military installations:

The Safeguarding Service Members’ Second Amendment Rights Act, would repeal bans on military personnel carrying firearms on Armed Forces military installations and Department of Defense (DoD) sites and prohibit the president, secretary of defense and secretaries of military departments from enacting similar restrictions or prohibitions in the future.

Governors in at least a half dozen states ordered that National Guardsmen be armed.    In lieu of active forms of protection, some areas decided that to ‘turtle up’ and stacked sandbags inside recruiters offices.

The antigun side of the debate was not faring well in the court of public opinion.

(Un)fortunately, they soon had another chance to make their opinions heard.


 

On July 23, John Russel Houser opened fire in the Grand 16 movie theater in Lafayette LA, during a showing of Amy Schumer’s “Trainwreck” – killing two, wounding multiple others, then killing himself after seeing the police arrive on scene.

Police outside the Grand 16 theater after the July 23 shooting in Lafayette LA. Source: CNN

Details about the shooter quickly made their way into the media: Houser had been involuntarily committed by his family.  Houser had been convicted of arson.  Houser admired Hitler & the Tea Party, and hated President Obama.

You could practically see the antigun talking heads rubbing their hands with glee over this.   They had their perfect example for why gun laws needed to change.  Clearly there was no way that this guy had gotten his gun legally, right?

Wrong.  Houser bought his gun at a pawn shop after passing a background check.

Turns out that despite a well documented history of domestic violence, arson, and involuntary commitment, Houser was never actually prosecuted.  All of this could have been avoided had he been convicted for arson back in 1989, and “[c]ourt documents filed as part of a divorce say Houser had a history of hospitalizations for mental conditions.”

Usually involuntary commitment makes someone a prohibited person in the eyes of the ATF.  Unfortunately, the system failed in this case too:

That’s because Georgia, where Houser was the subject of a mental health evaluation in 2008, removes mental health records from the federal database used to conduct background checks after five years.

Politics waits for no man, though, so at this time various parties are still spinning and attempting to control the message.

Presidential candidate & Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal  suspended his Presidential campaign to handle situation and urged other states to tighten their reporting of prohibited persons like Louisiana has done.  Reactions to this ranged from New York Times claiming he wanted toughen gun laws (instead of the more accurate description of improving proper reporting compliance) to Wonkette’s ever so classy accusation that he was giving the NRA a rimjob.  A Buzzfeed editor showed her overt bias by stating don’t pray, push for more gun control – and got called out for it, resulting in an apology from her superiors.


There seems to be indications that gun control proponents have decided it’s finally time to start calling for the removal of the 2nd Amendment altogether, or at least curtail it severely.

Legendary attorney Alan Dershowitz stated in an interview:

We have tried an experiment for the last 250 years and it’s failed miserably and we have to start a new approach. The new approach has to be guns should not be available to people generally, except if they have a significant need.

Surprisingly, Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was actually ahead of this wave, stating in early July:

“I’m going to speak out against the uncontrollable use of guns in our country because I believe we can do better,” Clinton said Tuesday in Iowa City.

A few days earlier, she said in Hanover, N.H.: “We have to take on the gun lobby. . . . This is a controversial issue. I am well aware of that. But I think it is the height of irresponsibility not to talk about it.”

President Obama, who stated outright that gun control was his biggest disappointment with his time in office, said that he was going to devote the last 18 months of his term to gun control and that gun ownership was a bigger problem than terrorism

Even Bernie Sanders has gotten in on the gun control bandwagon, saying  “certain types of guns, used to kill people exclusively, not for hunting, they should not be sold in the United States of America” – apparently not realizing that this effectively be every self defense firearm in the country.

Antigun media allies certainly haven’t changed their tune:

Celebrities like Richard Dreyfuss, Judd Apatow and Rebel Wilson have also been sure to add their two cents.

Interestingly enough, the American public doesn’t seem to agree with the media, politicians, or celebrities, as a recent opinion poll revealed that more Americans see guns as the solution, not the problem


 

Fake update: It would appear that I’m not alone in noticing this trend:

Business Insider: The dark reason why guns are virtually guaranteed to be a major issue of the 2016 campaign

After years of ducking presidential-campaign battles over gun laws out of fear of the powerful gun lobby, it appears that Democrats are finally ready to go on the offensive.

Democrats are becoming more and more outspoken about gun violence in the wake of seemingly ever increasing mass shootings, despite the fact that the American public remains as opposed as ever to many gun-control measures

It remains to be seen whether this represents a turning point in election politics, or a repeat of Clinton’s 1994 mistake.

Skipping straight past Media Bias to full Indoctrination, Everytown offers “Workshop”

So it would appear that Everytown For Gun Safety is not satisfied with the current state of public opinion on gun control and has decided to flex their financial muscles by recruiting (indoctrinating) new allies to the fold by having a “workshop” where they can train willing participants in the best ways to manipulate public opinion.  In order to do this, they’ve teamed up with Columbia’s Journalism School:

Apply Now: Covering Gun Violence

Reporting on gun violence – on individual incidents, policy shifts and polarized political debate – is a major challenge for journalists and news organizations. Every day, 86 Americans die of firearm related injuries, including nearly 12,000 murdered with guns each year – a rate 20 times higher than that of other developed countries. Nearly 100 school shootings have occurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary only two years ago.

Yes, why should statistically infrequent and insignificant events be viewed as random & rare?  And why should we examine the underlying causes of these incidents, such as mental health issues, when there is a handy scapegoat available in the form of firearms?  Notice the use of the debunked “100 school shootings” figure to set the tone.

When it comes to reporting on guns, local and regional reporters bear the primary burden. They are often trapped into narrow deadline-driven beats with little time to develop expert sources, investigative angles or broader perspectives. And newsrooms and news managers are unprepared for the overwhelming, spasmodic tragedy of mass shootings. As a consequence, incidents of gun violence are too often viewed in isolation as random, inevitable tragedy rather than part of a wider phenomenon with complex causes but amenable to prevention efforts. (emphasis mine)

Translation: we need to do better to convince the masses that guns are bad.  Our best bet is to brainwash recruit willing participants into seeing the “truth” about the issues (or some facsimile thereof).

To help journalists and news organizations in the Southwest improve their reporting on guns and gun violence, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School is organizing a two-day regional workshop April 17 and 18, 2015 for reporters, editors, news directors, photographers, producers, and bloggers. The workshop, funded by Everytown for Gun Safety, will offer independent expert briefings and specialized reporting skills training to enhance the practical ability of journalists to report on guns and gun violence knowledgeably, ethically and effectively. The workshop will cover such topics as state and federal gun laws; patterns of gun sales and gun trafficking; national trends and polling; education and prevention initiatives; social, economic and public health impacts; and special populations (e.g. children and youth, women and returning veterans.)

Uh-huh.  Sure.  I’m sure it will be “ethically” sound all right.  I’m sure that these “independent expert[s]” will be open to dissenting opinions & give both sides equal play.

The workshop will:

Serve as a forum for improving journalists’ knowledge of guns and gun violence, and the implications of public policies like background check requirements
Explore new research, reporting ideas and best practices with leading public health and policy experts
Confront challenges — and identify opportunities — that exist for local journalists pursuing these stories with limited resources
Provide practical tools to enable journalists to successfully produce meaningful stories on guns and gun violence.

In other words, it will be replete with talking points, bad science, soundbites and pretty graphs.  Actual knowledge like the difference between a fully automatic & semi automatic firearm will probably not be taught.  You can bet that there will be plenty of verbiage on why assault weapons, “high capacity” magazines and the like should be banned though… “for the children” naturally.

Make no mistake, since Everytown is headed by Shannon Watts, former PR wizard for Monsanto & GE Healthcare, this will be replete with the usual PR spin.

Naturally, this will cover old & new media:

Participation is open to reporters, editors, news directors, photographers and producers for print, broadcast and online media. Staff, contract and freelance journalists are eligible to apply. Thirty individuals will be selected for the workshop. Travel stipends of up to $350 for airfare or trainfare, and two nights of lodging, will be provided to 15 selected participants.

Because it’s easier to spread your ideas when you bribe people.

In order to ensure that only “right thinking” journalists attend, here’s some of the weeding out criteria:

To apply, please email Kate Black (kate.black@dartcenter.org) with your resume or CV, full contact information (name, address, city, state, zip, phone number and email address) and a one-page letter of interest that:

1. Describes how and why this workshop is relevant to you and your work;
2. Identifies three issues around guns or gun violence of particular interest to you;
3. Explains a challenge you have encountered in pursuing a story on this topic (or a related one); and
4. Briefly outlines a possible story you might pursue on the topic.

Hm, yes, let’s make sure that only properly screened acolytes may approach the altar.

Looks like I’m not the only person who sees a problem with this either: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/cupp-educating-journalists-guns-article-1.2076455 – of course her opinion and mine diverge because she appears to be mollified by Columbia’s response, whereas I think that their gratuitous bias in the course description is more than enough to cast doubt on their intentions.