ABC Special to Tout Kids' 'Obsession' With Weapons; No Pro-gun Voices Featured

"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer previewed her ABC special "If I Only Had a Gun" on Friday's edition of the morning show. No voices from the NRA or any pro-Second Amendment group were featured in the clips shown. Instead, there was generous footage of a previous special in which ABC producers hid empty (but real) guns in toy chests and showed video of young children playing with the weapons. (Who would put a gun in a toy box?) The ABC graphic for the segment hyperbolically read, "'If I Only Had a Gun': Children's Obsessions With Guns." [audio available here]

The segment also showcased a faux-school massacre situation in which Joey, a college student, was given a Glock with plastic bullets as a fake "killer" stormed the classroom. The young man got his weapon entangled in his shirt and was "killed." Sawyer narrated, "Joey struggles to get his gun out. But it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds." She added, "Or there's a chance the bad guy would simply have taken his gun from him."

The GMA co-anchor said the experiment was conducted with other students and concluded, "While student after student on our test teaches lessons about what you think about guns and self-defense and the real chance you'll defend yourself or maybe hurt a friend." (Sawyer did assert that "some" of the students had "lots of experience." But, she didn't elaborate and explain if that meant gun safety and training courses. Joey, the audience learned, has used an Airsoft gun in the past.)

Later, Sawyer herself went through a police training session. She attempted to dispatch a gunman, but was "killed" both times, even when she knew that the "criminal" was about to jump out. The host explained, "The first time, I don't get near the gun. But, here, on the second time, even when I know what's going to happen, I'm two seconds slower than I need to be."

To repeat, however, at no time in the preview did Sawyer talk to the NRA or anyone who advocates carrying a gun for self defense. Clips from the previous ABC special, which aired May 21, 1999, ended up being featured on the website of the liberal, anti-Second Amendment Violence Policy Center. Will the hour-long show, airing Friday night, have any voices that dissent from the liberal talking points? At this point, the evidence isn't encouraging.

A partial transcript of the April 10 segment, which aired at 7:33am, follows:

SAWYER: And I'm going to bring you a preview of a special one-hour report tonight on ABC. In the past months, we've seen so many gun attacks in places like nursing homes, schools, in churches. No wonder so many Americans, including pastors and students, are talking about getting guns so they can defend themselves. Nine million new guns over the 250 million in America already. So, it started us asking questions, along with the police about real people trying to use guns in real crisis situations. We also return to a topic close to my heart, the fact that every other day, a child in America is accidentally injured by a gun. So, let's begin there with some little children I started following ten years ago, who were taught never to pick up guns, or so their parents thought. We saw it ten years ago in our first investigation. Can you really keep little kids from playing with guns?

ABC GRAPHIC: "If I Only Had a Gun": Children's Obsessions With Guns

LITTLE BOY: Shoot me!

SAWYER: Parents were stunned, seeing their children find guns in a play room.

LITTLE BOY #2: Wow! A gun!

LITTLE BOY #3: Oh, this is a big, heavy gun!

LITTLE BOY #4: Going to shoot me. Bang.

SAWYER: A 10-year-old, Brandon, described what really happened at a friend's house.

SAWYER: He had his friend's gun behind this door. And his mom and dad didn't know about it. And he took it out behind it and it [sic] was pointing it around the room. And he was starting to get it towards me. And I ducked.

SAWYER: Brandon's father watched that tape.

FATHER: You know, that clip right there, it gives you a jar. First time I've heard about it.

SAWYER: And what about today? Parents who think their guns are hidden from their children? Or who don't know the kids are playing at the neighbors with guns, maybe today.

MIDDLE SCHOOL-AGED BOY: I've touched many guns. From my- they're all from my friend, Eric. And when his dad got back, he didn't really know. And we made sure of that because we didn't really want to get in trouble.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I didn't realize that so many people did own guns. And I think, for me, it's going to be a very important question.

SAWYER: Those were the younger children. In 2009, what about teens?

MALE TEEN #1: I can't believe it's loaded.

MALE TEEN #2: A loaded gun. Got to make sure the safe [sic] is on.

MALE TEEN #1: Probably isn't.

MALE TEEN #2: Want to go ask him?

SAWYER: David Muir shows students cocking the guns they find in drawers, staring down the barrel, having no idea if it's loaded.

[Teens point gun at their face while they shine a flashlight at it.]

MALE TEEN #1: Get a flashlight. Oh, yeah. Something in there.

SAWYER: And with the police, I try to tackle another question. These most violent two months of mass shootings in American history, so many new people signing up to get guns. If you don't have crisis training, what are the odds you can protect yourself? At Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, we sent out word that police were offering free gun training. From the interested students, we chose six. Some with lots of experience. Some with play sports, like Airsoft guns. This gun, by the way is real. It's a Glock. But the bullets are not. They're a kind of plastic filled with a kind of paint. First up, Joey Dolan who loves action movies and has sent countless hours firing the gun that shoots plastic pellets called an Airsoft gun. He thinks he'll be good at deploying a real weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Okay, you're the only person in the group that has a weapon.

SAWYER: We tell Joey that he has the gun to defend himself and others, but later in the day. He has no idea what will happen in this lecture class on protected gear, nor that there are hidden cameras in the lecture hall. We notice he is nervous. He can't seem to keep his hand off the gun.

JOEY DOLAN: Do you have a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: No.

DOLAN: Alright. I'll tell you because I'm sitting next to you, I have a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: Are you serious?

DOLAN: He also doesn't know that these other students around him are, in fact, cops or people working for ABC who will replicate chaos of real people in real crises. The lecture begins.

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER: So, what I want you to do here, real fast, is just turn your heard to the left, make sure you can move it.

["Killer" walks into room.]

"KILLER": Told you I would be back!

SAWYER: Suddenly, the room is under attack. The instructor is down, a student hit. Joey struggles to get his gun out. But it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds. Or there's a chance the bad guy would simply have taken his gun from him.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN [Showing how Joey would have been killed.]: That was the first shot. And the second shot was right in the chest.

SAWYER: Joey says his endless hours of practice with an Airsoft gun meant absolutely nothing.

DOLAN: Honestly, with my Airsoft gun, I can shoot the target every time, dead-on. But this is just completely different.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org