Within hours of the horrible massacre at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, liberal reporters hijacked the tragedy to advance their anti-gun rights agenda. As they did in the wake of school shootings like Columbine (Back in 2000 the MRC documented, stories advocating gun control outnumbered those in favor of gun rights by a 10 to 1 ratio), the media were quick to heap blame on the NRA and Second Amendment supporters in their quest for more restrictions on guns.
On the very day of the Aurora shooting Time’s Michael Grunwald justified the oncoming push for gun control by the media when he pronounced: “There is nothing wrong with politicizing tragedy....Gun control and the Second Amendment are issues, too, and now seems like a pretty good time to talk about them.”
Brooke Baldwin championed the call for more gun legislation, on the July 20 edition of CNN’s Newsroom, when she hassled Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter: “Why hasn't your party, the Democratic party done more to legislate guns?” and whined that neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney “mentioned gun control in their statements,” and added: “And my question to you is what has to happen for Washington to reinstate the assault weapons ban which expired back in 2004?"
Later that evening Baldwin’s CNN colleague Piers Morgan, on his self-titled show Piers Morgan Tonight, railed: “I fully respect the Second Amendment and every American's desire to defend themselves in their homes. But I simply don't believe the Framers of the Constitution would have ever envisioned a disturbed young man utilizing his right to bear arms by legally buying four guns including an assault weapon capable of firing hundreds of rounds a minute, specifically to murder fellow Americans. There are now almost as many guns in America as there are people, and this can only surely lead to more senseless deaths. Something has to be done, and that debate will start tonight.”
Morgan repeatedly pushed for more restrictions on gun owners, even pressing two eyewitnesses to the shooting to join his crusade: “There's a huge debate going on all around America today about gun control and so on. What is your reaction to the fact that this young man was legally able, in the last two months, to obtain four weapons, including an assault rifle, and so much ammunition and commit this atrocity?”
Later in the show Morgan chastised the only gun-rights guest allowed on his program, Denver University Professor David Kopel: “A lot of people who don't want strengthening gun control have said this is not the day to debate it. I tell you the day to debate it, it would have been yesterday. To have prevented this happening. When you have a young man like this able to legally get 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet to buy four weapons, including an assault rifle, and for all of this to be perfectly legal in modern America, allowing him to carry out the biggest shooting in the history of the United States, that, I'm afraid, means it's too late for this debate, for those people that lost their lives. So don't patronize me about when we should be talking about the gun control debate...You tell me a good reason why we should not strengthen the law now to stop another young man like him going into a store tomorrow, buying four more weapons, 6,000 rounds of ammunition on the Internet, and killing and shooting another 70 people in America.”
On MSNBC, Michael Isikoff pointed his finger at former President George W. Bush when, on the July 21 edition of the Melissa Harris-Perry show, the NBC correspondent made the following case: “What we do know is that he [accused shooter James Holmes] purchased those four weapons recovered from him, the two Glock pistols, the shotgun, and that AR-15 assault rifle, legally in Colorado, although it is worth mentioning - and this is something gun control groups are emphasizing today - that that AR-15 is something that was illegal as recently as 10 years ago. There was an assault weapons ban in this country from 1994 to 2004 that was lifted under President Bush. President Obama had pledged during his campaign to restore it. He has dropped that issue, so the assault, that AR-15 is a legal weapon now but was not 10 years go.”
The very next day, on the July 22 Today show, Isikoff turned his sites on the NRA: “The powerful National Rifle Association has blocked any move for stricter gun laws, meaning that, for now, beefed-up security and greater vigilance may be the best protection against horrific attacks like the one in Aurora.”
On the July 23 Today show it was Savannah Guthrie’s turn to blame the tragedy on so-called weak gun laws. The NBC anchor teased an upcoming story about “an undercover report that reveals just how easy it can be for anyone, even violent criminals, to buy assault weapons, no questions asked” and bemoaned: “...it turns out Colorado has some of the weakest gun laws in the country.”
That same day Time magazine’s Mark Halperin, on the July 23 edition of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, let slip what the coverage of the Aurora shooting was proving - that most of the liberal media has an agenda against gun rights. Halperin admitted: "If you walk the halls of most major news organizations or of the OEOB at the White House or West Wing, I think you'd find overwhelming sentiment that there should be stricter gun control laws in the United States." He would then go on to lament: “The intensity, in terms of guns as a voting issue, is much more on the side of people who don't want additional gun control legislation....[President Obama] knows it's a loser politically and it will not pass and it does not represent the will of most of the American people.”
The next evening, on the July 24 edition of MSNBC’s The Last Word, Lawrence O’Donnell unleashed the following rant: “In tonight’s ‘rewrite,’ freedom. The defenders of movie theater mass murderers’ right to use 100-round ammunition clips on their assault rifles, insist that the hundred-round clip is the very definition of American freedom....[NRA Executive Vice President] Wayne LaPierre scares people. I know he scares some of you with his relentless determination to make sure American mass murderers are the very best equipped mass murderers in the world, but he scares the simple-minded members of the NRA even more. He scares them into actually thinking and believing that someone is coming to take their freedom away. He needs them to believe that so he can continue to siphon $1 million off their dues money every year to stuff into his blood-drenched pockets.”
Also on MSNBC Chuck Todd, on the July 25 edition of The Daily Rundown, complained: “I wanted to look at sort of guns versus cars in the state of Colorado and the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a car versus the amount of paperwork you have to do to register a gun....There’s actually no registration requirement in guns. It’s actually against the law to register guns. They passed a law to do that....These are not the same level of paperwork, if you will...with cars, you have to, you know, you have to do a lot more things every year to sort of prove it.”
Just two days after ABC's Brian Ross disgustingly linked an innocent Tea Party member to the Aurora shooting its morning show anchors parroted New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun talking points. On the July 22 Good Morning America, co-host Bianna Golodryga announced: “One person who is very outspoken about it, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that no other developed country in the world has this issue that we do.” To which co-host George Stephanopoulos affirmed: “That’s exactly right.”
CBS’s Norah O’Donnell seemed disappointed that President Obama wasn’t doing more to curb gun owners when, on the July 23 This Morning, told her colleague Major Garrett: “And that’s the most interesting thing about -- I think -- about the gun control discussion, is that Barack Obama has disappointed gun control advocates, because, as you point -- he’s expanded gun rights, and the reason is political. It's not just that the NRA is one of the most -- if not, the most powerful lobby in Washington. But guess where a lot of gun owners reside? In swing states. Right, Major?”
Perhaps the most vicious attack on the NRA came from PBS’s Bill Moyers who, on his Web site for his show Moyers & Co issued the following tirade: “The NRA is the enabler of death -- paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax.”
It’s been over a decade since that other infamous Colorado shooting, however reporters and anchors have yet to grasp that, just like in Columbine, gun laws already existed on the books and not one of them prevented what happened in Aurora. They refuse to acknowledge what the Framers understood when they wrote the Second Amendment - that you cannot protect the citizenry by limiting their ability to protect themselves.
-- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.