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GunViolence_17[1] - Chapter Preface W hile newspapers and...

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Chapter Preface While newspapers and television newscasts frequently re- port on the dangers of privately owned guns, gun advocates accuse the media of exaggerating the extent of gun violence in order to gain support for gun control measures. For ex- ample, the New firk Tznles reported in 2000 that the "inci- dence o f . . . rampage lllings appears to have increased [in the past decade] ." However, economists John R. Lott Jr. and IVilliarn Landes claim that those findings are untrue and as- sert that "the number [of rampage lllings] is not changing ~nuch over time." The Media Research Center-which documents what it claims to be bias in the media-reviewed gun control stories on several television broadcasts from July 1, 1995, through June 30, 1997. The analysts concluded that antigun stories outnu~nbered progun stories on the networks by a ratio of eleven to one. Moreover, a national media analysis done by Brian Patrick, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, compared the coverage of the progun National hfle Association (NRA) in prestigious newspapers. Patrick argues that there is "systematic marginalization of the NRA." However, many prominent organizations claim that the media is merely reporting what is true-that widespread pri- vate gun ownership in the United States has resulted in ex- tremely high rates of lethal violence. For example, the Via- lence Policy Center-which provides an array of statistics on gun violence in the United States-claims that "the United States leads the industrialized world in firearms violence of all types. . . . Most of this violence involves the use of a hand- gun." Many media commentators charge that gun lobbying groups such as the NRA distort the facts in order to mini- mize the extent of gun violence and further the interests of their members. Charges of bias and distortion from analysts on both sides of the gun control issue make it difficult to assess what role privately obvned guns play in lethal violence. In the follow- ing chapter, experts fro111 both camps debate whether private gun ownership poses a serious threat to society. "There is a gun c~isis in the United States. Between 1933 nnd 1982, nem-ly one millioa Americans were kded by fireams. " Private Gun Ownership Leads to Higher Rates of Gun Violence Violence Policy Center 1 The Violence Policy Center is an educational foundation that conducts research on firearms violence. In the following viewpoint, the center argues that an increase in private gun ownership has led to an explosion in the number of h e r i - cans lulled by firearms in murders, suicides, and accidents. According to the center, most of those lulled by firearms are murdered at the hands of a relation or acquaintance, not a criminal. The organization maintains that guns should be regulated like any other dangerous consumer product.
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