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Nets Blame Virginia's 'Lax' Gun Laws, Press Bush on Gun Control --4/18/2007


1. Nets Blame Virginia's 'Lax' Gun Laws, Press Bush on Gun Control
Without any regard to how school shootings in recent years have occurred in states and nations with stricter gun laws, ABC, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night focused on Virginia's "lax" gun laws. ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased an upcoming story, "Virginia's controversial gun laws: How lax are they? Brian Ross investigates." Ross confirmed that "Virginia's gun laws, indeed, are regarded by law enforcement officials as among the most lax in the country." Ross relayed how "for gun control advocates, the ease with which Cho [Seung-Hui] was able to legally get his Glock and a box of ammunition reveals the problems with Virginia's gun laws." Over undercover footage recorded by the New York City Police Department (which NBC's Dateline also featured), Ross explained how it shows "it's possible to buy a handgun at a Virginia gun store with no waiting period and only what is called an instant background check." Though Ross aired a condemnatory soundbite from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, he failed to note that Virginia has a lot fewer gun crimes per capita than does New York City. As if the media have nothing to do with "igniting" a debate on guns, Gibson asked President Bush: "After Columbine, there was ignited a national debate on guns. Do you think this is going to rekindle the national debate?" CBS's Katie Couric also pressed Bush.

2. CNN Pursues Gun Control Angle Based on Brady Campaign Spin
On Tuesday, the second day for its new hosts, CNN's American Morning, broadcasting live from the Virginia Tech campus, jumped almost immediately on the gun control angle, citing the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. CNN correspondent Greg Hunter did two live reports on the guns that were used in the massacre, with the first coming a mere 6 minutes after the top of the 7am hour. Hunter asserted that Virginia is "a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence." In his second report, Hunter repeated the Brady Campaign's talking points about Virginia lacking a licence requirement and a waiting period. Hunter didn't bother with the take of gun rights advocates and seemed confused about the Virginia law since he reported that "at gun shows, they do have instant background checks to keep felons from getting guns," but 90 minutes later he insisted that "there's no checks at gun shows."

3. BBC: 'How Many Shootings' Til U.S. Gets 'Serious' on Gun Control?
It didn't take BBC World, a half-hour newscast aired on PBS, long to find a way to criticize America for having too many guns and being unwilling to enact tougher restrictions on guns. After an initial Monday segment on the events at Virginia Tech, the BBC went to Gavin Hewitt, who maintained: "Today's images from Blacksburg are at once horrific but shockingly familiar. Shootings on campuses, in high schools, in shopping malls, have become part of the American landscape." He soon fretted that "attempts to bring in tougher gun laws are often weakened by the powerful National Rifle Association. Even after today's horrific shootings, laws are unlikely to change" because "the gun lobby remains one of the most powerful in America." Anchor Katty Kay cued up a gun control advocate: "The question all around the world, when an incident, a terrible incident like this happens is how many shootings does it take before America has a serious discussion about gun control?"

4. WashPost Channels European Disgust: What Price Gun Rights?
Tuesday's Washington Post featured disgust from abroad for American gun laws. The headline over Kevin Sullivan's roundup of international reaction from London: "Shock, Sympathy, and Denunciation of U.S. Gun Laws: British Newspaper Asks, 'What Price the Right to Bear Arms?'" One British expert even claimed you could easily buy automatic weapons along with your yogurt and bologna at the supermarket: "'I think the reason it happens in America is there's access to weapons -- you can go into a supermarket and get powerful automatic weapons,' Keith Ashcroft, a psychologist, told the Press Association. Ashcroft said he believed such access, along with a culture that makes gun ownership seem normal, increases the likelihood of such attacks in the United States."

5. GMA Airs Hyperbolic Report on 'Moderate' Global Warming Estimate
On Saturday's Good Morning America, correspondent Christianne Klein hyped this past weekend's global warming rallies by reporting hyperbolic and misleading information on the subject of rising sea levels. Reporting from lower Manhattan before a gaggle of environmental activists, she said of the protesters, "Now, where they will stand represents where the Manhattan coastline could be if the sea level rises just ten feet, actually, a moderate estimate for global warming standards."


Nets Blame Virginia's 'Lax' Gun Laws,
Press Bush on Gun Control

Without any regard to how school shootings in recent years have occurred in states and nations with stricter gun laws, including one last year at a college in Quebec, Canada, ABC and CBS on Tuesday night focused stories and questions on Virginia's "lax" gun laws. "How the gunman purchased the murder weapon," ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased an upcoming story, "Virginia's controversial gun laws: How lax are they? Brian Ross investigates." Ross confirmed that "Virginia's gun laws, indeed, are regarded by law enforcement officials as among the most lax in the country." Ross relayed how "for gun control advocates, the ease with which Cho [Seung-Hui] was able to legally get his Glock and a box of ammunition reveals the problems with Virginia's gun laws." Over undercover footage recorded by the New York City Police Department, Ross explained how it shows "it's possible to buy a handgun at a Virginia gun store with no waiting period and only what is called an instant background check." Though Ross aired a condemnatory soundbite from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, he failed to note that Virginia has a lot fewer gun crimes per capita than does New York City.

As if the media have nothing to do with "igniting" a debate on guns (ABCNews.com on Monday posted: "Do you think this incident is a reason to pass stricter gun control legislation?" See: www.mediaresearch.org ), Gibson asked President Bush: "After Columbine, there was ignited a national debate on guns. Do you think this is going to rekindle the national debate?" Over on CBS, Katie Couric, also on scene in Blacksburg, pressed Bush: "As you well know, after events like this, discussions about gun control inevitably follow. Is it too easy, in your view, for unstable people to purchase guns in this country?" Leading into an earlier story from Armen Keteyian, Couric cited "the question I asked the President about gun control. It's something many people are thinking about after the tragedy here at Virginia Tech, especially considering the gunman needed only two IDs and a credit card to buy the weapons and ammunition he used."

CBSNews.com headlined the online version of Keteyian's story, "Virginia Tech Killer Used Easy-To-Get Guns; CBS News: Shooter Used Pistol, Handgun In State With No Registration, Gun-Waiting Period." See: www.cbsnews.com

Showcasing the same undercover video as Ross, on NBC's Dateline Chris Hansen interjected how "gun sales in Virginia have been more than a sticking point with gun control advocates," citing how "many guns bought in Virginia end up on New York streets" -- a contention which would have more relevance if Cho had gone to New York City to unleash his murder spree.
During the 5pm EDT hour of CNN's The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked Bill Schneider: "Is the Virginia Tech tragedy, Bill, likely to put the issue of gun control on the political agenda once again?" Schneider rejected the premise: "I wouldn't bet on it," going on to explain how politicians want to avoid the topic.

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams limited his gun control coverage to one vague question to President Bush ("What do we do about these guns?") and a later story on foreign reaction which included overseas denunciations of America's "gun culture."

All three broadcast networks delivered hour-long newscasts Tuesday night which originated from Blacksburg, Virginia and all three anchors conducted brief interviews with President and Mrs. Bush who attended the 2pm EDT convocation. But Washington, DC's CBS affiliate only carried the first half hour of the CBS Evening News, so I got Couric's question to Bush from the CBSNews.com posting of the interview.

The agenda-fueled ABC story on the April 17 World News:

Charles Gibson: "The massacre here at Virginia Tech is throwing a new spotlight on Virginia's gun laws. When he was Virginia's Governor, Douglas Wilder said it was so easy to buy firearms in his state that Virginia had the unenviable reputation as the gun-running capital of America. Fourteen years later, Seung-Hui Cho had little trouble buying the guns used in yesterday's rampage. Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, joins us."

Brian Ross: "Charlie, Virginia's gun laws, indeed, are regarded by law enforcement officials as among the most lax in the country. The Roanoke firearms store where Seung-Hui Cho bought his murder weapon has a history of selling guns involved in murders. It is the fifth time a gun sold in this store has been used in a homicide, according to gun shop owner John Markell. But he says there was nothing about Cho's manner that raised suspicions. The sale was carried out in just 10 or 15 minutes."
John Markell, owner of Roanoke Firearms: "There were no red flags kicked up in any way. He got a clean bill of health from the state police. There was just no reason for me not to have sold him the gun."
Ross: "Virginia officials say the kind of pistol used in the Virginia Tech shooting, a Glock 9 millimeter handgun, is among the most popular because it is lightweight and easily reloaded."
Nolan Avery, LAX Fire Range Inc: "It's a very simple design. Very easy to use."
Ross: "For gun control advocates, the ease with which Cho was able to legally get his Glock and a box of ammunition reveals the problems with Virginia's gun laws."
Josh Horowitz, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: "Virginia is, 'let's sell it to somebody and let's not find out anything about them.' And I think in this case that may have led to a tragedy."
Ross: "As this undercover footage shows, it's possible to buy a handgun at a Virginia gun store with no waiting period and only what is called an instant background check. This footage was recorded by an undercover team sent to Virginia by the New York City Police Department, which says Virginia is the top source for illegal guns used in crimes committed in New York. The undercover team only had to produce two IDs and fill out a few forms in order to walk out of the store with a handgun."
Ray Kelly, New York City Police Commissioner: "It is, quite frankly, an easy state in which to buy a weapon. The philosophy is that it appears to be an entitlement to own a handgun."
Ross: "But many in Virginia like it that way. And, in fact, some think there should be more guns on campuses. Gun advocates actually brought a lawsuit last year when Virginia Tech and other schools made their campuses weapons-free. Now, some say that if students had been armed, they could have stopped the shootings sooner."
John Velleco, Gun Owners of America: "It's tragic to mandatorily disarm the citizenry and create these gun-free zones which are, in a sense, you know, give these deranged madmen easy targets."
Ross: "Until he walked on the campus with his weapons, everything about Cho's gun purchases was legal under current U.S. and Virginia laws."

Showcasing the same undercover video as Ross, on NBC's Dateline aired at 8pm EDT and re-run at 10pm EDT on MSNBC, Chris Hansen interjected a political policy point into a piece on how Cho Seung-Hui obtained the weapons, reported how "gun sales in Virginia have been more than a sticking point with gun control advocates."

A transcript of the gun control portion of Hansen's April 17 story: "Gun sales in Virginia have been more than a sticking point with gun control advocates, not to mention New York City. NBC News analyst Michael Sheehan oversaw counter-terrorism for the New York City Police Department and says many guns bought in Virginia end up on New York streets."
Michael Sheehan: "It's very easy to buy a handgun with basically simple identification and you have enough money and you're going to walk out with a handgun and ammunition."
Hansen over the same undercover video shown by ABC's Ross: "This video, shot in Virginia by investigators sent by the New York Mayor's office, shows just how easy it may have been for Cho to buy a gun."
[video of exchange between buyer and store clerk]
Hansen: "The investigators used a Virginia resident to purchase a gun that was clearly meant for someone else. That's a violation of the law. And in just a few minutes, the investigators walked out with a gun. In the Virginia Tech case, Cho purchased that 9 millimeter legally and earlier in February he bought a .22 caliber handgun at this local Blacksburg pawnshop. Now he was armed to the hilt...."

CNN Pursues Gun Control Angle Based on
Brady Campaign Spin

On Tuesday, the second day for its new hosts, CNN's American Morning, broadcasting live from the Virginia Tech campus, jumped almost immediately on the gun control angle, citing the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. CNN correspondent Greg Hunter did two live reports on the guns that were used in the massacre, with the first coming a mere 6 minutes after the top of the 7am hour. Hunter asserted that Virginia is "a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence." In his second report, Hunter repeated the Brady Campaign's talking points about Virginia lacking a licence requirement and a waiting period. Hunter didn't bother with the take of gun rights advocates and seemed confused about the Virginia law since he reported that "at gun shows, they do have instant background checks to keep felons from getting guns," but 90 minutes later he insisted that "there's no checks at gun shows."

[This item is based on a posting, by Matthew Balan, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]

A partial transcript of Greg Hunter's first report, which started at 7:06am EDT on April 17:

John Roberts: "I have read some reports that he may have purchased at least one of the guns on Friday the 13th, last Friday. Anything to confirm that?"
Greg Hunter: "Nothing to confirm that, but this is a state that is pretty easy to get a handgun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. You'll remember Jim Brady, who was shot in the head by John Hinckley at that failed assassination attempt in the early '80s. They say this is an easy state to get a gun in, only second only to the state of Georgia.
"And the reason why, there's no waiting. You can walk in and get a gun that day. There's no license requirements, there are no -- where they have gun shows down here in the state, they don't really have any kind of background checks. At gun shows, they do have instant background checks to keep felons from getting guns. And also, someone from out of state with the right ID, like me, can go out and buy a rifle. Not a handgun, but I can go out and buy a rifle today if I want."
Roberts: "Right. But he had handguns."
Hunter: "He had handguns, that's correct."
Roberts: "Right. Yes, I've been to a couple gun shows in the state of Virginia. I live here, and they always say, hey, it's easy to get the gun. Just a quick instant check. Authorities say that gun dealers say that the insta-checks are enough to identify if anyone has a background of felonies. But what could they do to identify someone who perhaps had a grudge or had some reason to go commit violence as this person did yesterday? We don't know if he had any kind of a felony background, but perhaps he didn't. Is there anything to stop a person like that from buying a gun in this state?"
Hunter: "That's just a great unknown. That really is a great unknown. And they tried to do the background checks, but who knows. It's one of those things."
Roberts: "Yes. We should point out, too, the Bradys were advocating the three-day background check."

The key part of Hunter's second report, which started at 8:25am EDT.

Roberts: "Do we know more about how this student got a hold of these weapons or how he could in the State of Virginia get a hold of them?"
Hunter: "Well, the state of Virginia has some pretty easy gun laws -- that's according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Now, just a little bit about the Brady Campaign. That is Jim Brady and Sarah Brady founded this. Jim Brady, of course, was the White House Press Secretary shot in the head by John Hinckley, and they say this is the second easiest state to get a gun, a handgun or a rifle. In this case, a handgun. There is no waiting. There's no license required. But if you get a license, you can buy more than one gun. That's the caveat there. Also, there's no checks at gun shows, and somebody from out of state could buy a rifle. That's neither here or there."

BBC: 'How Many Shootings' Til U.S. Gets
'Serious' on Gun Control?

It didn't take BBC World, a half-hour newscast aired on PBS, long to find a way to criticize America for having too many guns and being unwilling to enact tougher restrictions on guns. After an initial Monday segment on the events at Virginia Tech, the BBC went to Gavin Hewitt, who maintained: "Today's images from Blacksburg are at once horrific but shockingly familiar. Shootings on campuses, in high schools, in shopping malls, have become part of the American landscape." He soon fretted that "attempts to bring in tougher gun laws are often weakened by the powerful National Rifle Association. Even after today's horrific shootings, laws are unlikely to change" because "the gun lobby remains one of the most powerful in America." Anchor Katty Kay cued up a gun control advocate: "The question all around the world, when an incident, a terrible incident like this happens is how many shootings does it take before America has a serious discussion about gun control?"

[This item is based on a transcript produced by Michelle Humphrey for a Monday posting on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]

After continuing with a re-cap of past school shootings, Hewitt's April 16 look at the 'American landscape' concluded:
"In the United States there are 200 million guns in private hands. Many Americans believe it's their right to keep and bear arms, as granted them by the Constitution. Attempts to bring in tougher gun laws are often weakened by the powerful National Rifle Association. Even after today's horrific shootings, laws are unlikely to change.
"However terrible the incidents, many Americans fear that restricting weapons will only leave guns in the hands of criminals, and many are passionate about that right. This was Charlton Heston when President of the National Rifle Association. This was his invitation to those wanting gun control, 'You can take my gun:'"
Video of Heston: "from my cold dead hands."
Hewitt: "In the hours after today's shooting, a White House spokeswoman reminded Americans that the President believes that there is a right for people to bear arms. There is likely to be a new debate about guns, but the gun lobby remains one of the most powerful in America."

The follow-up from anchor Katty Kay to Daniel Vice of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: "The question all around the world, when an incident, a terrible incident like this happens is how many shootings does it take before America has a serious discussion about gun control?"

WashPost Channels European Disgust: What
Price Gun Rights?

Tuesday's Washington Post featured disgust from abroad for American gun laws. The headline over Kevin Sullivan's roundup of international reaction from London: "Shock, Sympathy, and Denunciation of U.S. Gun Laws: British Newspaper Asks, 'What Price the Right to Bear Arms?'" One British expert even claimed you could easily buy automatic weapons along with your yogurt and bologna at the supermarket: "'I think the reason it happens in America is there's access to weapons -- you can go into a supermarket and get powerful automatic weapons,' Keith Ashcroft, a psychologist, told the Press Association. Ashcroft said he believed such access, along with a culture that makes gun ownership seem normal, increases the likelihood of such attacks in the United States."

Guns and butter? That might be true of a big chain store like a Target or Wal-Mart that has both, but "supermarket" isn't usually the term that comes to mind then. You can't buy an automatic weapon at the local Safeway. The psychologist's comment was preceded by this sentence: "In Britain, there was shock at the scale of the killings, but many people said they were not surprised, seeing the United States as a nation obsessed with guns, where firearms are easy to obtain."

[This item is adapted from a posting, by Tim Graham, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The April 17 article chronicled European disgust:

Early editions of Tuesday's London papers were dominated by huge headlines and photos of police hauling the wounded out of a building at Virginia Tech. "Executed at Uni," said the Daily Mirror, using British slang for university. The Daily Mail's headline, meanwhile, asked, "What price the right to bear arms?"

Gun ownership is strictly regulated in Britain. The Home Office, which is in charge of public safety, said gun crime accounts for less than half a percent of all crime recorded by police, according to the Press Association.

In a special report on BBC 24 Monday evening, a commentator, Gavin Hewitt, said mass murder on school campuses had become "part of the American landscape." The network showed video footage of Columbine High School in Colorado and the Amish shooting in Pennsylvania, and noted that the powerful U.S. gun lobby had blocked gun restrictions that Europeans regard as simple common sense. "Even after today's horrific tragedy, laws are unlikely to change," Hewitt said.

In France, news of the shootings dominated the Web pages of every major French newspaper. Bloggers responding to the reports overwhelmingly blamed the tragedy on what they called lax American rules on gun ownership.

"In France, it is incomprehensible for us to understand what could prompt someone to own a handgun," a blogger identified as Aliosha wrote on the Web site of the daily newspaper Liberation, adding that it is "the right (almost the duty) for each American to be able to obtain a weapon without much trouble."

END of Excerpt

For Sullivan's story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Does the Washington Post ever looks at a European social trend and interviews Americans to denounce how backwards the English or the French are for their laws. Or does the liberal press just aim to design a one-way street of denunciation to the American cavemen who have yet to adopt European laws wholesale?

GMA Airs Hyperbolic Report on 'Moderate'
Global Warming Estimate

On Saturday's Good Morning America, correspondent Christianne Klein hyped this past weekend's global warming rallies by reporting hyperbolic and misleading information on the subject of rising sea levels. Reporting from lower Manhattan before a gaggle of environmental activists, she said of the protesters, "Now, where they will stand represents where the Manhattan coastline could be if the sea level rises just ten feet, actually, a moderate estimate for global warming standards."

The site for the protest group: www.seaofpeople.org

A ten foot increase is a moderate estimate? Not quite. As the CATO Institute's Patrick Michaels noted, the much hyped UN report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested a rise of inches, not feet, is likely:
"Under the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's medium-range emission scenario for greenhouse gases, a rise in sea level of between 8 and 17 inches is predicted by 2100....Even 17 inches is likely to be high, because it assumes that the concentration of methane, an important greenhouse gas, is growing rapidly." See: www.cato.org

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On the subject of global warming, Good Morning America has quickly morphed into the most activist network morning show. On Friday, April 20, GMA will take part in an all day event that a recent ABC advertisement described as "a call to action." Additionally, it asserted that "mother nature is sending us a message." The ABC program has also hyped a global warming college tour and the phenomenon of "green weddings."

So, perhaps it's not surprising that Good Morning America has a somewhat skewed impression of what a "moderate estimate" is.

A transcript of the brief segment, which aired at 7:32am on April 14:

Ron Claiborne: "And across the country today, hundreds of rallies are planned to try to spark action on the problem of global warming. ABC's Christianne Klein joins us now from downtown New York with more. Christianne?"
Christianne Klein: "Well, Ron, in just a few hours, this place will be packed with people all wearing blue. Now, where they will stand represents where the Manhattan coastline could be if the sea level rises just ten feet, actually, a moderate estimate for global warming standards. This is just one of 1300 events happening across the country today. The campaign is actually called Step It Up. It was kicked off last night in New Orleans. And the goal is to push Congress to cut global warming pollution by 80 percent by 2050. And just last week, an international group of scientists warned that the Earth is heating up, mostly due to greenhouse gases. They warn 30 percent of species could face extinction. There could be more heat waves, wildfire danger and more intense storms. Now, as individuals, there are many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. By reducing your garbage by just 10 percent, you can actually save more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. Ron?"

-- Brent Baker