Wednesday, December 17, 2008
National Geographic Channel ran a show last night entitled, "Guns In America." According to the program, there are millions of misguided gun owners across the nation. Why? Because your guns are supposedly more likely to harm you than to help you in an emergency.
"As a society, we're totally out of control with weapons," said one Philadelphia cop who was interviewed during the show. "You need to limit access that people have to these type of firearms."
That was the basic thrust of the program. National Geographic recited the usual worn-out factoids that are peddled by the Brady Campaign. It only cited anti-gun cops. And for every person who was filmed stating he or she believed in a right to own firearms for self-defense, the program would cite "facts" to prove that such a hope was misplaced.
Gun owners should let the President and CEO of National Geographic know that the channel should stick to showing pictures of kangaroos and foliage -- images that we normally attribute to National Geographic's magazine -- and keep his personal, anti-gun views to his private conversations around the Christmas dinner table.
The National Geographic Channel presents itself as an educational, unbiased alternative. But "Guns in America" was hardly unbiased, as can be seen by the following agenda items that were pushed during the program:
1. "Guns in America" would have you believe that the guns in your home are 22 times more likely to kill a family member than to protect you. This statistic can (surprise, surprise!) be found on the Brady Campaign website, but its source has been highly discredited. The factoid originates with Arthur Kellerman, who has generated multiple studies claiming that guns are a net liability.1 But Kellerman has been found guilty of fudging his data, and even the National Academy of Sciences has stated that his "conclusions do not seem to follow" from his data.2
The truth of the matter is actually quite encouraging for gun owners. Anti-gun researchers for the Clinton Justice Department found that guns are used 1.5 million times annually for self-defense, which means that each year, firearms are used more than 50 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives.3
Isn't that strange? You would think anti-gunners wouldn't mind citing a study that was commissioned by the Clinton Justice Department! Apparently, the results of the study didn't fit their agenda.
2. "Guns in America" overstates the number of children who die by unintentional gunfire. The program would have viewers believe that a child dies by accidental gunfire, once every two days. But you can only reach that figure if you count violent-prone teens as "children."
In fact, when you look at the statistics involving younger children (ages 0-14), you see that kids have a greater chance of dying from choking on things like the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you feed them.4 Hmm, why doesn't National Geographic want to report on those killer peanuts?
3. "Guns in America" portrays twelve times as many negative uses of guns as positive uses -- even though in the real world, the truth is quite the opposite (as guns are used at least 50 times more often to save life than take life). The program does start with a dramatization of a legitimate self-defense story with an actual 911 call playing in the background. But after that, every dramatization is about drive-by-shootings or cops being shot or gang-related warfare.
The lesson for the viewer is: Guns are bad.
4. "Guns in America" only quotes anti-gun "authorities," thus leaving the impression that all law-enforcement support gun control. Never mind the fact that when one looks at polls of the police community, they overwhelmingly hold pro-gun attitudes:
* Should any law-abiding citizen be able to purchase a firearm for sport or self defense? -- 93% of law-enforcement said yes.5
* Do you believe law-abiding citizens should be limited to the purchase of no more than one firearm per month? -- 70.1% of law-enforcement said no.6
* Do you agree that a national concealed handgun permit would reduce rates of violent crime as recent studies in some states have already reflected? -- 68.2% of law-enforcement said yes.7
It's bad enough that a liberal teacher's union controls the education of our kids in the public schools, and that many of them are being brainwashed with politically correct thinking. We don't need supposedly neutral programs like National Geographic peddling the Brady Campaign's favorite factoids to an unsuspecting public.
ACTION: Please contact Tim T. Kelly, the President and CEO of National Geographic Ventures (which includes their television division), and urge him to steer the NatGeo channel away from politics. If the National Geographic Channel can't run a balanced program -- where they use real statistics -- then they just need to stick to filming those cute little animals that helped make their magazine so famous.
You can go to http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/channel/contact to cut-and-paste the sample letter below into their webform. Since you will need to select a Topic, please choose "I have a complaint." And for "Department," we would suggest selecting "Factual Questions" or "General."
You can also contact the advertisers to voice your displeasure. The sponsors of the December 13, 2008 edition of the “Guns In America” program are as follows:
*National Balance dog food (PETCO)
Dear Mr. Kelly:
I will think twice before ordering the National Geographic magazine, because I don't want to help you fund any more anti-gun propaganda. Your Explorer show entitled "Guns In America" -- which has run several times this month -- was heavily slanted to the gun control position. The show used fallacious statistics without rebutting them, all in an effort to demonize firearms.
For example, "Guns in America" falsely claimed that guns in the home are 22 times more likely to kill a family member than to serve as protection. That is simply not true. The author of this study, Arthur Kellerman, has been discredited many times (by groups such as the National Academy of Sciences), so it's shameful that your channel would even cite his work.
Second, "Guns in America" overstates the number of children who die by unintentional gunfire. In fact, when you look at the statistics involving younger children (ages 0-14), you see that kids have a greater chance of dying from choking on things like the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you feed them. Can I expect to see a show in the near future highlighting the danger of feeding children?
Third, "Guns in America" portrays twelve times as many negative uses of guns as positive uses -- even though in the real world, the truth is quite the opposite. According to statistics from the Clinton Justice Department in 1997, guns are used at least 50 times more often to save life than take life.
Finally, "Guns in America" only quotes anti-gun "authorities," thus leaving the impression that all law-enforcement support gun control. Never mind the fact that when one looks at polls of the police community, they overwhelmingly hold pro-gun attitudes. (Please see the poll results on the website for the National Association of Chiefs of Police.) Why were none of these authorities ever cited?
The National Geographic Society's purpose is "to increase and diffuse geographic knowledge while promoting the conservation of the world's cultural, historical, and natural resources." I would submit to you that pushing gun control is far afield from your stated purpose.
1 Arthur Kellerman has generated multiple studies that claim gun owners are more likely to be injured by their guns than to use those guns in self-defense. His results range from 3 to 22 to 43 times more likely to be injured by a gun in the home. His methodology has been debunked, however, many times over. (See endnote 2.)
2 See http://www.gunowners.org/sk0701.htm . Also, see Charles F. Wellford, John Pepper, Carol Petrie, Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (National Research Council of the National Academies, 2004), p. 118.
3 See http://www.gunowners.org/sk0802.htm
4 See "Children Accidental Death Rates (Ages 0-14)," Gun Control Fact Sheet (2004) at http://www.gunowners.org/fs0404.htm
5 National Association of Chiefs of Police, 20th Annual Survey Results (Survey questions sent to Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs in the United States: 2008).
6 National Association of Chiefs of Police, 15th Annual Survey Results (Survey questions sent to Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs in the United States).
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