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Biases Around The Issue of Gun Control in The Media

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Gun violence in the US has been reported to be the cause of thousands of deaths annually. These deaths are as a result of both homicide and suicide cases. Though gun violence is a national disaster, it is more prevalent in the poor neighborhood concerning gang violence. To control the situation, the Federal Government, through the Congress has been trying to implement the gun control policies. Democrats who are viewed as liberals are for regulation on firearm ownership while Republicans regarded as conservatives see gun control laws as an attack on Americans’ rights. Media as a significant player in the delivery of information to the public has at times lacked neutrality when reporting. This may be due to what might be seen as political interference. CNN, Fox News, and Chicago Tribune among other major media outlets have been seen to present different facts when reporting about gun control and the politics behind it. Media has been observed to be giving liberal and conservative ideologies instead of offering facts from both ends. An analysis of different reporting by these media outlets will highlight various such as bias by spin, bias by labeling, bias by omission and lastly bias by selection of sources.

The first bias that can be noted when reporting about gun control is bias through a selection of sources. This is when different media would choose to deliberately leave out information as opposed to their point of view. Democrats have been successful in passing two priority gun control laws but have not been short of sideshows in media reporting. The media claim to be impartial but their guest to discuss the gun control laws is a strong indication of their affiliation. Before the vote, CNN invited Rep. Lucy McBath who is a Democrat to come and give her opinion on federal background checks in regards to gun ownership. The House Representative had lost her son through gun violence, and her emotional appeal was towards what she terms as ‘finding a way, without infringing on people’s second amendments rights.’ (CNN) She recommends background check and vetting saying it would reduce gun firearms deaths. On the other hand, Fox News on February 26th, 2019 invited House Representative Steve Scalise who is a Republican to share his view on gun control legislation. Steve, who is a gun violence survivor, supports gun ownership since in his claim, guns ownership can help save lives. In his interview with Brian from Fox News, was disappointed that the Democrats did not want to hear his reasons in support of making it easier for people to buy guns. (Fox News) The two media houses portray their efforts to push a particular agenda to their viewers. In this case, CNN viewers hold strong opinion on guns control while Fox News viewers are for gun ownership based on what they are fed from their sources of information.

Bias by spin is another way that information is manipulated by the media to push their agenda. Gun control is a crucial matter that needs to be debated soberly, but unfortunately, the liberals and the conservatives through media outlets that support their policies are spinning stories to fit their narrative. In an attempt to reduce gun violence, Democrats have been proposing policies to make it hard for people to own guns, which is a view against Republicans. Chicago Tribune, a newspaper which is deemed to be conservative wrote that; “Police wouldn’t necessarily go after those who don’t comply, but they could arrest anyone they stop who has an outstanding warrant” (Chicago Tribune n.p) This is seen as a bid to show the chaos that would be caused by relinquishing guns back to the authority pending vetting. In an open forum with some of the people affected gun violence, CNN’s Brooke Baldwin sought to air the stories of the affected people and their grieve. They relieved the horror of losing people they know in a very emotional session. At the end of the interviews, Brooke mentions that ‘It is important to remember who you are and why you are on this fight.’ This is by no means any intention to water down the messages being conveyed by the different media channels. What signifies the bias is the consistency in their style of reporting which in this case somehow shows one side of the story and use the incidents as ‘evidence’ to what they are promoting.

The debate about gun control has seen prevalent bias by omission in the media. Media houses have been selective of the people invited to give an opinion on the issue. They have been crafty about how the public perceives this sensitive matter from the lenses of the political divide they support. In 2018, after the Texas school shootings, people who are seen to hold some influence were invited to studios to weigh in the issue while some of their social media were highlighted live on television. CNN during the while trying the capture the mood of the event invited Mark Kelly. Mark is an astronaut, US Navy and a political activist who is husband to former Democrat House representative Gabriele Gifford and personally a

Democrat. When in the studio, Anderson Cooper sought Mark’s opinion on President’s Trump commitment to protect children and secure schools. He responded by saying, ‘I don’t think I heard him say anything today that was like a positive direction to take this issue seriously… I think the only thing he said was that we should fly the flags half staff. ‘ (CNN) Objectively, the channel would have invited an opposing opinion to their opinion. Fox News while highlighting the gun policy issue, invited Tomi Lahren, Kayleigh McEnany and Charlie Kirk who diverged from the topic of either banning or not banning guns and highlight the need to address cultural problems. Tomi says, “I think everybody here because we are first amendment advocates believes that everybody on either side of the issue has the right to speak about these issues and we can come to some kind of consensus.’ 

This is a calculated measure to dilute the intensity of the issue at hand and focus on other matters to illustrate to its viewers how the matter is less urgent or not as important as the opposing side claim.

Another bias that the media is not trying so hard to hide is labeling. This is done the media personality or writer when reporting, introduce a character that would play ‘expert’ or ‘victim’ to steer a conversation. Fox News, in an interview with Dana Loesch, a spokesperson of National Rifle Association (NRA), was advocating for the freedom to own guns. In this context, her advice was sought with regards to the organization she works for which advocates for rights to own guns and has funded numerous research to prove the validity of their point. Dana stated that it makes no sense to disarm law-abiding American citizens saying that it is within their rights to own guns as a way to self-defense and Second Amendment rights protect the same. In regards to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement regarding making guns control a national policy, it would not work since gun owners would not allow the amendments to go through. CNN, on the other hand, has been on frantic effort to show the plight of students in different movements in memory of the Parkland mass shooting. The clip published on their Youtube channel, it shows children matching holding placards with messages such as ‘how much is a child’s life worth.’ This is purposely to evoke emotions behind the tragedy to gain mass support.

Due to the unreliability in the media and the effect it carries to the general public, it is essential to fact-check. To demystify the debate about gun control, here are some facts. The Liberals that are advocating for gun control stating that it will reduce gun violence, Factcheck.org notes that ‘It doesn’t mean that universal background check laws have caused lower mortality rates. A causal relationship between such state laws and firearm deaths hasn’t been established by researchers.’ This means that other factors should be addressed in the fight against gun violence. For the divide that advocates for guns as a measure of self-defense, Factcheck.org in its publication observes that, ‘The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, by far. And it has the highest rate of homicides with guns among advanced countries. But, again, those are statistics and not demonstrative of a causal relationship.’ Both claims cannot, therefore, be held as true or false since there cannot be thorough research to support either.

Comparing the news given in the media, it is clear that one can no longer take what is presented as a matter of fact. It is not entirely that the information is given wrong, but the real meaning could have been lost in the translation by the reporters. As can be seen, political affiliation has dented professionalism and news are crafted to suit their agenda. It is therefore crucial that in matters affecting decision making, policies and laws of the country, that one should take time to listen to the different opinions being flaunted by the stakeholders. There are neutral sources that can act as a medium to fact-check the information in the media and give facts without bias. We should also question the leadership from the decision they make since they are representatives of the people and the legislation passed should reflect the will of the people. The gun control debate has been made to suit a particular class of people without really giving a profound reflection on what is causing the gun violence. The side that calls for guns control may not understand the plight of people who are being attacked by criminals with illegal guns and hence the need to have guns for self-protection. The side that calls for people to be allowed to own guns may also not understand the need to have background checks to ascertain the sobriety and mental condition of the gun owner. Both sides need to have a sober debate. The media gives an accurate reflection of the political system that serves their interests without care of what is happening on the ground. This should sensitize people to be more aware of their rights and demand more, accountability from the media and political leaders. 

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Biases Around The Issue Of Gun Control In The Media. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/biases-around-the-issue-of-gun-control-in-the-media/
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