Networks Blame Guns for Violent Fourth of July Weekend in Chicago

July 7th, 2015 12:36 AM

While it may have been surprising that all three broadcast networks covered on Monday evening the deadly violence in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend, what wasn’t surprising was that they looked to blame guns for the violence and advanced the cause of more gun control (as opposed to gang violence or the need for better policing).

In a meager 19-second news brief on the Windy City’s weekend of violence, ABC’s World News Tonight anchor David Muir reported that there was a “flurry of gun violence” with “nine people killed” and “at least 53 injured” as Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel made “an impassioned plea for stricter gun laws in his city and across the country.”

Over on NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt set the scene by putting the number of victims at ten with 54 injured and adding that Chicago police chief told “NBC News gun laws in his city are too weak.”

Filing from Chicago, correspondent Kevin Tibbles began by noting that how seven-year-old Amari Brown was one of the victims “gunned down while watching fireworks with his family, killed by a bullet that was intended for his father, who police say is a gang member with a lengthy criminal arrest record.”

While he later alluded to the desire of community members to “identify problems” and recognize that “[a]ll lives matter here,” no specific topics or solutions were raised. Instead, Tibbles promoted an interview with Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy, who told him that “his city remains in the grip of the gun because gun laws here are more lax than elsewhere.”

Such a lead-in then allowed to McCarthy to opine that: “It's very similar in a lot of urban environments across the country, but if you're looking for law enforcement and the police to reduce gun violence, the system has to back that up.”

Spending the most time on this story was the CBS Evening News as it devoted a two-minute-and-13-second segment to the bloody violence (along with a six-second tease at the top of the broadcast).

Correspondent Dean Reynolds also did not bring up the issue of gang violence and other possible solutions (besides gun control), he was the only network reporter to cite how the violence took place “despite a 30 percent increase in the number of police on the streets for the weekend.”

While he mentioned McCarthy’s frustration regarding guns, Reynolds was also the sole person across the “big three” of ABC, CBS, and NBC to briefly summarize two aspects of Illinois’ gun laws: “In Illinois, it's illegal to possess a gun if you haven't passed a background check or carry an owner's ID card.”