Want To Teach About Gun Violence? Try Doing What Gun Nuts Do.

              If you haven’t yet taken a look at the online course on gun violence being offered by our friends at the Hopkins-Bloomberg School, you haven’t been reading my columns. I have posted several columns about the importance and value of this online educational effort, and I am pleased to find that more than 2,100 folks have registered to watch the well-done video lectures which are offered along with a quiz on each section of the curriculum, a very comprehensive reading list and, of course, a feedback form.

              Those of us who form what I refer to as Gun-control Nation like to believe that one of the major differences between what we say about gun violence and what Gun-nut Nation says is the degree to which our beliefs and narratives about this problem are grounded in evidence-based research, whereas the other side, the gun-nut side, doesn’t believe in evidence or scientific research at all. Want an example of how 2nd-Amendment advocates get the information they use to support their ideas? Try any of the loony and stupid videos by Grant Stinchfield, Dana Loesch or Colion Noir that are posted on NRA-TV. These efforts aren’t educational at all – they are nothing more than plain hucksterism disguised as some kind of rational opinion about the positive reasons for owning guns.

              But if you believe that Gun-control Nation has a copyright on internet video messaging which has a rational, educational focus while Gun-nut Nation’s messaging is nothing more than hot air, think again. In fact, if anything, when it comes to imparting real, hard-core information about guns, the folks who produce and distribute educational videos which promote gun ownership and the gun-owning lifestyle are way out ahead.

              Want an example?  Try this YouTube video, which has been viewed more than one million times:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNKKC4ew1Xk.  The company which produced this video has more than 100,000 subscribers to its website and the average video posted on the site has been viewed at least 50,000 times. Now you may not want to believe that a ten-minute video which shows a guy blasting away for 30 seconds with a variety of 9mm pistols should qualify as an ‘educational’ tool. But the reason this video has been viewed so many times is that lots of folks out there are considering buying, owning and carrying a pistol for self-defense, and this video is a very effective and professional effort to provide potential armed citizens with exactly the kind of information they need.

              Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Gun-nut Nation’s online educational effort are aimed (pardon the pun) only at providing information which can be used to promote the sale of self-defense guns.  Take a look at this video which has registered almost 250,000 views: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ODhQmE2OqY&feature=youtu.be

Frankly, if the Department of History at an Ivy League school wants to expand its curriculum to include a course on the history of technology as exemplified by early gun design, they should hire the guy who did this video and runs a website, https://www.forgottenweapons.com/, which contains a remarkable collection of evidence-based articles, book reviews and technical videos that puts many so-called educational websites to shame.

              You would think that with the kind of financial support that gun-control advocates can tap from the likes of Mike Bloomberg, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, that creating some kind of video effort to promote discussions about the risk of guns is something that should have happened years ago. The really silly videos posted on NRA-TV get more than 300,000 views every month. You mean that a solid and informed video presence produced by a gun-control production company couldn’t do just as well?

              Here’s the bottom line. No advocacy effort can afford to cut itself off from actual or potential supporters when the opponents of that effort communicate to their supporters on a regular and ongoing basis every day.  Believe me, the pro-gun video machine is a much more effective way to generate support for gun ‘rights’ than some loony speech coming from Wayne-o at the NRA.



Dave Buchannon – Guns And The Media.

I hate to be the one to break the news to you… but everything you see about guns on television, in movies, and video games is a lie.  EVERYTHING!

gun moviesTelevision and movie stories are born in the writer’s mind and are designed to spin a tale that compels you to buy a ticket or stay-tuned to see the commercials.  Actors portray the story on the screen.  Rarely do the writers or actors have any experience with guns, the military, or police work – other than getting a ticket or being arrested.  So, how DO they get it wrong?

Empty Holster Syndrome

Pick any police show on TV in the last ten years.  Every time the good cop shoots the bad guy, the cop gets back in the car and goes right back to work chasing other bad guys while someone else cleans up the mess.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The real-life cop is met by the first responding supervisor who takes the cop’s gun away and leaving him standing there, all alone, with an empty holster.  The location of the incident is now a crime scene and the officer is the suspect in an investigation that may take several months to conclude.  Every police department, large or small, has written procedures for dealing with use of deadly force and none of them involve putting the officer involved back on the street the same day.  The State Police, District Attorney’s office, maybe even the U.S. Attorney and private consulting firms will take at least a month to review every aspect of a decision the cop made in a split second, all while the cop on administrative leave.  Oh, and the scripts conveniently leave out the part about the cop having to hire a lawyer to protect his house, savings, and retirement from the wrongful death lawsuit that is guaranteed to be brought by the deceased’s family.

I’ve never met a cop that went to work hoping to shoot someone – they are weeded out in the psych exams.  Most are men and women wanting to do a job they consider valuable, and who hope to just go home safely at the end of their shift.

Rules of Engagement

TV and movie “soldiers” fast rope from helicopters into impossibly dangerous situations where they always shoot the enemy before the bad guy gets off a shot.  Then the heroes silently enter a building to kill all the other bad guys without hurting the hostages.  Every mission is a success and the stars come home secret heroes because, of course, their missions are top secret.

Reality is quite different.  Soldiers follow ”Rules of Engagement” defining when force may be used.  They must be defending themselves or innocents before firing on the enemy and in some cases “lawyers” make the call while watching a mission unfold on a drone feed.  Many veterans who’ve engaged in close quarters battle are deeply affected and will carry those emotional scars for life.

 So, if you are thinking about carrying a gun for personal protection don’t use TV or movie examples as your model.  You also need to need to wrap your head around what happens if, God forbid, you are ever forced to use it.  I’ve known six police officers who had to use deadly force to save their own or other’s lives.  All were very deeply affected, they became Police Academy instructors so others could learn from their experience and learn how to effectively deal with the aftermath.

In a deadly force incident everyone loses, and you’ll never see THAT on TV or in a movie.

Want To Produce A Video On Offensive Comments About Guns? Just Listen To Carson, Trump, Fiorina, Bush, Et. Al.

Last year a photographer named Dana Spaeth-Williams put out a three-minute video consisting of a bunch of stills of kids holding placards which together delivered a standard and benign series of statements about the risk of guns.  Nothing that was said on the video hasn’t been said on thousands of other YouTube videos, none of the portraits of the children were inflammatory, provocative or anything like that.  The music was spare and haunting, the black-white contrast was artistic as could be; the video was as much a work of art as it was a political statement about gun violence today.  Evidently the video was also posted on Yahoo, AOL and MSNBC.

oregon                To date the YouTube video has been viewed 32,115 times, which isn’t a game-breaker for YouTube by any means. It has also attracted 263 comments and garnered 337 ‘likes’ and 158 ‘dislikes;’ again, numbers which indicate that neither the pro-gun nor the anti-gun crowd is responding to the video in droves.  Nevertheless, Ms. Spaeth-Williams has produced another video, again with a lovely musical background, which is simply a series of comments that were made about the original video since it went live.  To sum up, the comments are about as nasty, ugly and (it goes without saying) stupid as they can be.  As much as we like to think we are an educated, advanced and cultured society, there are certainly some among us who still believe they can contribute to a conversation by saying the worst, most profanity-laced rants, regardless of whether they have anything to do with the topic at hand.

The second video states that the comments were culled from “thousands” of comments received from pro-gun extremists, and while I didn’t look at comments on Yahoo, AOL or MSNBC, I did read all the postings on YouTube which, I assume, would have been similar to what appeared wherever the video could be seen.  Were there lots of loony, nasty and indecipherable comments?  Of course.  Did some of the bloggers compete with one another to see who could say the nastiest, coarsest things?  Of course.  Did many of the most ‘extreme’ comments appear to be the work of teen-agers who love to say on the internet what they can’t say out loud in their 7th grade class?  Of course.

But what I found most interesting were the numerous comments that were positive, favorable and not just a quick pat on the back, but often contained serious efforts to talk about the content and impact of the video’s message, along with its clear attempt to be considered as a piece of art. In fact, I don’t recall seeing as many thoughtful and respectful reactions to any other gun-control message that has been posted online, which only proves once again that if you elevate the level of your content, you tend to elevate the level of people who respond.

Did the crazy, loony and offensive pro-gun comments upset me?  Not a bit.  Comments like “You left wing libernuts should be the first ones in the encampments like the Jews”  don’t bother me because the guy who wrote it talks to the same two or three people every day and nobody really cares what he thinks or says. Meanwhile, a guy who says the same thing to CNN is favored by nearly one out of five likely national Republican voters to be the next President of the United States. Can I really blame some poor, pathetic shut-in sitting in front of his computer all day making anti-Semitic rants when Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon no less, dismisses criticisms from a leading Jewish civil rights organization as “foolishness?” But we all know that Jews = Liberals so what does Carson stand to lose?

Hey Dana, want to make another video containing extreme and offensive statements about guns? Just splice together the words of Carson, Trump, Fiorina, Bush and all the other Republicans who have decided that protecting the 2nd Amendment is the most important problem facing America today.


A New Video From Brady And The NRA Better Watch Out.

I just watched one of the best YouTube videos on guns that I have ever seen.  It is posted  by the Brady Campaign and you can view it directly on YouTube or pull it down from the new Brady website called crimadvisor.com.  The website, like the video, is a tongue-in-cheek riff on a campaign the Brady folks have been running for years which correlates rates of gun violence with state gun laws, the idea being that states with stricter gun controls experience less gun violence.  Brady’s new effort to sell this idea is a website that spoofs TripAdvisor and a remarkably original video that sets a new standard for the gun debate on both sides.

The bizarre notion that we protect ourselves with laws is a direct challenge to the NRA mantra which says that the best way to protect ourselves is with guns.  If it were up to the NRA, we’d go back and undo the GCA68, get rid of background checks entirely and let all those ‘law-abiding’ folks out there walk around with their unlicensed guns and protect the rest of us from the criminals and the thugs.  The NRA promotes this armed citizen nonsense through its video channel that features a group of very serious-minded  folks didactically delivering  one boring commentary after another on the hows and whys of carrying guns.

brady                I have never been comfortable at the extent to which the pro-gun community uses video to promote its agenda if only because so much of the content used to create their digital messaging simply isn’t true.  For example, last year one of the NRA commentators, Billy Johnson, criticized the General Social Survey which showed that gun ownership had declined from 50% of all households to just 34% over the previous  twenty years, citing a Gallup Poll which stated that more than 40% of all American households actually contained guns.  The only problem is that what Johnson didn’t say was that while Gallup had a higher number for gun-owning households, its survey had also shown a decline in gun ownership over the same period of time.  By omitting this critical information, Johnson was able to pretend that the GSS finding about declining gun ownership wasn’t true.  What was really true was the way in which Johnson distorted the evidence to support his own point of view.

But the whole point of video is that it’s not the facts per se that gets your message across to the audience, but the personality, stagecraft and overall artistry of what viewers are watching which drives the message home.  And here is where, when it comes to the gun world, the new Brady video has absolutely no peer.  Close my eyes for a second and I thought I was listening to Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers, the 1994 Oliver Stone – Quentin Tarantino movie where two psychopaths go roaming around the Southwest attacking everyone and everything in sight with their guns.

But while the on-screen antics of the Brady gun-toting wannabes create an element of satire and cleverness that’s just plain fun, it’s not that difficult to slip behind the sarcastic message of this production and perceive the basic argument of the Brady campaign that localities with weak gun regulations make us less, not more safe from crimes with guns.  If you need some hard data to convince you further about where Brady stands, the video moves easily and seamlessly to the website where you can examine the gun-law environment in all 50 states.

I hope that Brady’s video goes viral and that this will be the first of a series of productions in which our two as-yet unnamed characters hold forth on a variety of relevant issues related to guns.  The real challenge in social media is not reaching the folks who are already committed to what you believe; it’s reaching the folks who can become committed because they like the way you say it, and this video says it better than it’s ever been said.

Buy on Amazon.

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