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Media Equates Gun Owners with Terrorists By: Tanya Metaksa
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, December 18, 2001

DURING the past weeks media hysteria in support of Senate bill S. 860, the McCain-Lieberman ban on gun shows, has been mounting. All the gun-ban groups are copying the Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) fact sheets to promote the legislation. In my article, "Pseudo Republicans" I wrote how AGS’ campaign was exploiting legitimate fears over terrorism to promote closing America’s traditional and legal gun shows.

On December 13 USA Today ran an editorial that began, "Thanks to the political clout of the U.S. gun lobby, a member of the terrorist group Hezbollah, Ali Boumelhem, was able to buy weapons at Michigan gun shows without undergoing a police background check." They ended that diatribe by accusing "the gun lobby" of being an "accessory" to the "next act of terrorism."

Thankfully they gave the Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) the opportunity of responding. He, like all gun owners, knows that when a horrific violent crime occurs, the anti-gun lobby and the media will try to implicate gun owners even though firearms were not involved.

Unlike USA Today, most of the media neglect to print any opposing views. Within a period of two days the group that was formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI), managed to get two unopposed Op-Eds into major newspapers promoting their agenda. On December 13 the New York Times printed an Op-Ed by Brady Center President Michael Barnes, while on December 11 the Los Angeles Times gave Luis Trolley, their Western Director, space to attack Attorney General John Ashcroft for obeying federal law.

The Brady bunch are unhappy that Ashcroft is obeying the Brady Law, which prohibits the use of National Instant Check System (NICS) information of approved firearms purchasers to be shared. The Brady Act – passed in 1993 with great support from the gun-ban lobby – includes language that requires the destruction of all records of transfers that are not denied. The law, however, does allow for the retention and use of records on transfers that are denied.

This distinction between the legitimate gun owner and the person who attempts to purchase a firearm illegally was written into the law to protect law-abiding gun owners from those who have no need to know the gun owner’s identity or the firearms he purchases. Yet, the media, who jealously guard their First Amendment privacy, are following the lead of the gun banners who demand that federal law be violated for the sake of "homeland security."

The gun ban community and its media allies believe that linking al-Qaeda terrorism to law-abiding American gun owners is the way to pass S.860. So when a member of the media legitimizes owning and carrying a firearm, that journalist becomes a pariah and is attacked by his colleagues, as is happening to Geraldo Rivera.

Geraldo was Bill Clinton’s loudest media apologist and was known for capitalizing on sensational news items. After September 11, it didn’t take long for him to realize the value of capitalizing on the war in Afghanistan. When NBC wouldn’t let him become a "war correspondent," he jumped to Fox News, hopped a plane to Afghanistan, and is now using the Tora Bora Mountains as a background for his "war" reports. He is now a familiar media personality from Afghanistan as his reports are carried on many radio stations and Fox News has him reporting by satellite.

One TV interview was almost laughable as he told the world how close to the action he was that "his hair had been parted by an al Qaeda bullet." Now he has admitted publicly that he is carrying a sidearm.

An Associated Press (AP) article carried in many major newspapers covered Rivera’s acknowledgement of his carrying a gun. His revelation has caused great consternation among journalists and colleagues. In fact, one war correspondent was asked by his anchor whether he would carry a gun and he responded that if he did he wouldn’t tell anyone.

Maybe Rivera is learning the value of our Second Amendment. I am sure that although he obviously purchased a firearm, he would rather the government not share the information about his firearms purchase with others. None of those Americans who are purchasing firearms after September 11 – not even Geraldo – consider themselves as "accessories to terrorism" for buying guns for self-defense. They consider it their right. As Wayne LaPierre wrote, "Our nation's 70 million firearms owners are not terrorists, and we must never pay the price for what evil people do."

Tanya K. Metaksa is the former executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. She is the author of Safe, Not Sorry a self-protection manual, published in 1997. She has appeared on numerous talk and interview shows such as "Crossfire," the "Today" show, "Nightline," "This Week with David Brinkley" and the "McNeil-Lehrer Hour," among others.

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