The journalists at ABC News offered yet another high profile experiment to terrify the parents of America into not owning guns. In an hour-long special on Friday night, Diane Sawyer and David Muir hid pink guns at the playground of an elementary school in an effort to see if young girls would play with them. Unsurprisingly, the young children did. The Young Gunsprogram also included the obvious revelation that firearms shouldn't be concealed in backpacks and with candy.
Diane Sawyer narrated, "For more than a decade, there has been a powder pink gun on the market." Referencing the location of where Sawyer and co-host David Muir hid guns in backpacks, she explained, "We decided to head back to that school in Saint Petersburg, Florida, specifically to see how girls would react to colorful rifles." [MP3 audio here.] As children arrive to find the guns planted by ABC, Sawyer teased, "Watch as the girls come out to play and grab, rattle, giggle and pull the trigger."
Sawyer began the program by insisting, "And we want to be clear that tonight is not another debate about whether people should or should not have guns."
Yet, the entire premise of this segment is a Pediatrics study on the threat to children by guns. But NBCNews.com found that most of the deaths in the analysis were from crime– not accidents. Additionally, the study included "children" up to the age of 20.
It wasn't until 34 minutes into the program that David Muir conceded, "In fact, accidental shootings of kids in the home are down."
Despite claims that this wasn't an anti-gun attack, ABC News has gone down this road before. On May 21, 1999, Sawyer and crew hid guns in a toy chest to see if children would play with them.
To be fair, 45 minutes into the program, Sawyer included to real-life examples of Americans who defended themselves with firearms. (This was after showcasing two incidents of accidental shootings in the home.)
The host recounted:
SAWYER: And in another part of the country, there's Eric Martin of Saint George, Utah. He's in bed at 4:00 in the morning when a burglar breaks in.
ERIC MARTIN: So as I chased [the burgler] out of the house, he tried to jump over the wall and tripped as he did, rolling to the ground.
SAWYER: And Eric Martin says the gun held him there until the police arrived.
Yet, even after these examples, Sawyer chided, "But there's a kind of paradox in America tonight. Even as violent crime has dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, people tell us over and over, watching local news, they know they have to have a gun at the ready to protect themselves."
Perhaps shows like this one don't help Americans overcome fear?
The journalist closed out the hour by going door-to-door in suburban New Jersey to quiz residents about possible guns in their houses. Standing outside a house, Sawyer began, "If I ask you to show me where you keep them," but the man retorted, "I wouldn't."
If the point of the ABC special is, as Sawyer claimed, "not" about gun control, then maybe the hosts of 20/20 could come up with experiments less ridiculous than hiding guns in backpacks, next to candy and on playgrounds.