ABC Touts Rabid Anti-Gun Group's Statistics for Firearms Story
"Good Morning America" correspondent Neal Karlinsky on Thursday passed off the statistics of a liberal, rabidly pro-gun control group during a story on the 2008 election and firearms. Reporting live from Wyoming, he talked to a family who owns a number of weapons and asserted, "Yet time and time again, statistics show that firearm death rates are significantly higher in places with relaxed gun laws."
In very small font, an onscreen graphic cited his source as the Violence Policy Center (VPF). Karlinsky failed to mention that this group's web site describes itself as "the most aggressive group in the gun control movement" and proudly touted a quote from the National Rifle Association calling the organization "the most effective...anti-gun rabble rouser in Washington." The VPF even has an NRA bashing section on its web page, slurring "NRA family values" and going after the late Charlton Heston. Would Karlinsky cite the NRA as a neutral, independent source? It's not likely. So, why is it okay to pass off the VPF as one?
Speaking of the NRA, America's largest gun rights group claims that of states which have lenient, right-to-carry laws, "Violent crime rates since 2003 have been lower than anytime since the mid-1970s. Since 1991, 23 states have adopted RTC, the number of privately-owned guns has risen by nearly 70 million, and violent crime is down 38%." Of course, Karlinsky featured no opposing data in his piece.
And although he was relatively positive and friendly towards the gun-owning Allan family featured in the segment, at no time did Karlinsky mention the high crime in places that have very strict gun control, such as the District of Columbia.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:36am, follows:
DIANE SAWYER: And when they say they want to hear more about the issue, of course, we've gone out 50 states in 50 days to do just that. Listen to people talk about the issues that matter to them. Sometimes, regionally, sometimes in their very own states. It's an ABC News and USA Today project. And this morning, we're going to look at Wyoming, a hot-button political issue there, firearms. And people in the cowboy state are sticking to their guns as you'll see, ABC's Neal Karlinsky.
NEAL KARLINKSY: In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the buffalo don't just roam, they block traffic. Here among the Grand Teton mountains, overflowing with wildlife, there's one more sure-fire image of the American west. Guns are an indelible part of the culture here. And for families like the Allans, firearms are more a part of daily life than television.
CLARK ALLAN (gun owner): Guns are just parted of our life. You know, I've got a chain saw by the door. I've got a shovel. I've got a gun. And we use them all the time. I think living in a big city, they probably don't have chain saws and shovels by the door either.
KARLINSKY: Clark Allan is a little prosecutor and he's looking for a candidate who believes in as few gun restrictions as possible. When it comes to the election, guns are an issue. And a certain vice presidential candidate has changed a lot of minds out here. For the Allan family, one look of Sarah Palin hunting just like them, posing for a photograph that looks very much like their own, and the family's choice for president was settled.
KRISTEN ALLAN (gun owner): The fact that she hunts, fishes, lives in Alaska and, like I said, she is a mother and, you know, she is a strong woman.
KARLINSKY: How many guns do you have?
CLARK ALLAN: Probably between 20 and 25.
KARLINSKY: You don't know exactly. You got a lot.
CLARK ALLAN: Don't know exactly. I guess some people would call it a lot. I think it's not that many. We need more.
KARLINSKY: Daughter Ashleigh, a straight-a student and stone-cold shot says the opinion people of guns out here is very different than it is in big cities
ASHLEIGH ALLAN: I tell you, we're some of the safest kids with guns there can be. It's kids that don't know what guns are. That's when it becomes unsafe.
KARLINSKY: Yet time and time again, statistics show that firearm death rates are significantly higher in places with relaxed gun laws. [Small onscreen graphic: 2005 Violence Policy Center] Wyoming recently ranked 11th in the nation, while New York was 46th. What are the rules around the house with guns?
STUART ALLAN (son): Um, you have to have a grown-up with you to see them.
KARLINSKY: Out here, guns aren't just an issue on the ballot or part of a debate over crime, they're a way of life. For "Good Morning America," Neal Karlinsky, ABC News, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.