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Not a Trace of Truth from The Trace

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The Trace, a Michael Bloomberg-funded propaganda mill that masquerades as a “media” outlet, has been churning out lies about the Second Amendment and gun laws for nearly a decade. In April, this “newsroom” of anti-gun activists began running a series of podcasts—under the title In Guns We Trust—and it is proving to be one of the most outrageously dishonest attacks on our right to arms that we have ever seen.

The first installment is The Trace’s interpretation of the impact the tragic event at Columbine High School in 1999 had. As can be expected from an anti-gun platform, the piece focuses on raw emotionalism. One of the only “facts” the transcript claims is that there are “more federally licensed gun dealers in the country than McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, and Starbucks — combined.”

Of course, that’s intentionally misleading. If you want to compare apples to oranges, at least compare all apples to all oranges, rather than all apples to a carefully-selected number of varieties of oranges. In other words, if you compare the number of FFLs to the number of all fast-food restaurants in America—rather than just a few specific franchises—the restaurants are far more numerous.

But the next installment gets much worse in its deception.

The podcast episode begrudgingly admits, “Guns have been part of (America’s) history since the very beginning…,” but then dives into a curious account of how sensational media accounts regarding the Thompson submachine gun drove the emotionally-charged passage of the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA).

The transcript states the gun “was the first handheld machine gun,” although that is not true. It then refers to the infamous 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where these guns were among others used, and the less notorious 1933 Kansas City Massacre, where three police officers and one FBI agent were killed. Thompson guns were also among the firearms used in the 1933 shooting, but The Trace notes “at least three of the four killed were actually shot by friendly fire, likely from agents carrying weapons they weren’t supposed to have.” There is no indication any of the law enforcement officers were carrying Thompsons.

As we often see today, raw emotional arguments can often carry the day, and in spite of the fact that crimes involving Thompson guns were statistically rare—much like “mass shootings” today—The Trace alludes to a media-driven perception that “gangsters and their shootouts were seen as an affront to common decency and civilized society.”

So the NFA became law—with The Trace freely admitting “the federal government passed national restrictions on guns for the first time in American history”—and thus begat the modern template for pushing gun control: Ignore the facts and play on fear and emotionalism.

This second episode of the series then dives into the latest trend from anti-gun activists—rewriting history—by trying to imply the Second Amendment was never intended to protect an individual right, and is only relevant, according to anti-gun political activist Robert Spitzer, “in the context of (the individual’s) service in a government-organized and regulated militia.”

Spitzer is also credited with the absurd claim, “In many respects guns were more heavily regulated in our first 300 years than in the last 30 years.”

This claim follows mention of a Boston ordinance on storing loaded firearms—which had to do with safety concerns over the relative instability of black powder that is no longer even remotely applicable with today’s modern firearms and ammunition—as well as a mention of the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. Dueling, of course, often involved use of weapons other than firearms, and was being prohibited in many areas at the time not because of firearms, but because people were growing averse to the idea of settling disputes, often simple perceived insults, through individual combat that could lead to grievous bodily harm or death.

Mentioning a couple firearm-related restrictions is hardly a defense of Spitzer’s ridiculous claim, considering it is commonly estimated that there are tens-of-thousands of laws directly regulating firearms on the books today.

The third installment of the series is predominantly an account of the NRA’s growth in influence starting in the mid-70s, although it casts such influence in a decidedly negative light by characterizing our staunch defense of a right protected by the US Constitution as a “scorched-earth strategy.”

And here we thought “journalists” were not supposed to pick sides.

No real “facts” presented in this episode, as it is predominantly an Op-Ed about how much The Trace doesn’t like NRA or people who are associated with NRA.

The fourth episode is titled “The Rise of the AR-15,” although at least the first half of the story revolves around discussing trigger locks, the passage of the Brady Act, the so-called gun show “loophole,” and the fact that opposing attacks on the Second Amendment had bi-partisan support up until the early 2000s.

When talking about gun shows, The Trace states that “small-time gun dealers at gun shows” are not required to run a firearm purchase through the Brady Act’s mandated National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). That’s simply untrue, as all licensed dealers, regardless of their size or volume of business, are under the same Brady Act/NICS requirements no matter where they make their sale.

Perhaps most interesting is the admission that many Democrat politicians used to support the Second Amendment, with this episode specifically noting former Vermont Governor Howard Dean being “proud of his A rating from the NRA” back in 2004. Sadly, the leadership of Democrats—whether it be Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi—have made clear that they expect ALL Democrat elected officials to embrace gun control.

While some elected Democrats have resisted the call to fully endorse the extremist gun ban agenda of Biden et al, and millions of Democrat voters still support the Second Amendment, it is becoming harder and harder to find strong voices among Democrats that are willing or able to speak up in defense of the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

But when they finally get around to talking about AR-15s and other semi-automatic firearms, the anti-gun bias and misinformation comes pouring out. Again, we thought “journalists” were not supposed to pick sides.

First, there is the absurd claim that the 1994 ban on semi-automatics and over-10-round magazines “seemingly had a meaningful impact” on violent crimes involving these items. In fact, a 1997 congressionally-mandated study looked at the effects of the first 30 months of the 1994-2004 federal “assault weapons” ban and found it had no impact on crime. A follow-up study found that “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” Later research conducted in 2018 by the Rand Corporation also found no evidence that “large capacity magazine” bans and “assault weapon” bans affect mass shootings.

Then there are the loaded (pardon the pun) words used to describe the AR-15—“(it is) considered too easy to shoot,” as if a firearm should be overly complicated to operate in order to be acceptable—as well as magazines—“(W)hat do you need a 30-round rapid-fire magazine for?” We are still trying to figure out what a “rapid-fire magazine” is, and if there are also “medium-fire” and “slow-fire” options.

Of course, the 1994 ban expired in 2004, but this episode makes the patently untrue claim that there was not “a massive fight to try to get the ban continued.” In fact, every anti-gun organization called on Congress to renew the ban, and bills were introduced to not just renew the ban, but to make it permanent. These efforts failed not because of lack of effort, but because the ban itself was an abject failure.

The rest of the episode talks seemingly disparagingly about gun manufacturers building a lot of AR-15s—as if they should ignore the fact that law-abiding Americans wish to purchase a legal product—advertisements—as if the firearm industry should keep their legal products a secret from consumers—and unsubstantiated claims that gun manufacturers actually don’t like the people who buy their products.

We’ve covered quite a bit of ground for these first four podcasts, so we’ll save episodes five and six for another time. And although the episodes we’ve covered thus far make it clear that The Trace is an anti-gun propaganda mill, and bears little resemblance to being a “newsroom” promoting “journalism” as it claims, the next two episodes are on a completely other level. Not only do they continue to ignore and contradict irrefutable facts about the debate over guns in America, but The Trace ignores and contradicts itself.

Article by NRA-ILA


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