CBS and NBC Use Newtown Anniversary to Lament Lack of Gun Control; Compare It to Car Seats, Driver’s Licenses

December 14th, 2015 11:53 PM

With Monday marking the third anniversary of the horrifying murders of 20 children and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News used the somber occasion to lament the lack of gun control passed by the GOP Congress and compared the need for gun control to seat belts and passing a driving test to obtain a driver’s license.

Across the seven minutes and 29 seconds of coverage, there was not one soundbite or argument that presented an opposing viewpoint from the gun rights community. Unfortunately, this serves as little surprise for a liberal media that’s been ardent supporters of gun control (as NewsBusters has chronicled over the years).

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley started the program’s two segments by prominently touting a tweet from Vice President Joe Biden chastising Congress for not passing gun control: 

It was three years ago today that a gunman opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 first graders and six adults. Vice President Biden tweeted: “Since that nightmare, an estimated 555 children have been killed by guns in America. It is shameful that Congress has not acted.”

Introducing correspondent Michelle Miller’s piece with interviews of Newtown parents, Pelley explained: “As the nation continues to debate gun laws and access to mental health care, Newtown parents are reminding us of the urgency.” At the conclusion of her segment, Miller gushed that passing gun control would be “change” that “keep[s] a promise to the children of Sandy Hook.”

Following that, Pelley introduced the latest commentary in the newscast’s “Voices Against Violence” series. In all fairness, they’ve featured gun rights advocates such as Sheriff David Clarke and Guns Owners of America’s Larry Pratt in previous installments, but Monday’s featured a pro-gun control take from former New York City Health Commissioner Tom Farley.

At one point, Farley argued that gun control is as necessary as ensuring that safer cars are built and include seat belts (plus claiming that adopting a cat is a more thorough vetting process than passing a federal background check to buy a gun)

The gun is, after all, a machine, a mechanical object that causes injuries, like a car, and car crash deaths in this country have dropped by more than half in 1980 by a public health approach with safer highways and safer car design. We can take a public health approach to design safer guns and put in other public health policies to reduce gun deaths, as well....You undergo a more thorough vetting if you want to adopt a cat from a shelter in much of America today than if you want to buy a gun.

The story was much the same on NBC Nightly News as anchor Lester Holt lamented prior to a report from correspondent Stephanie Gosk that, following the shooting in December 2012:

[T]here was a sense is in this country that something would change, whether it be gun laws, better access to mental health care, or some other solution, but as our Stephanie Gosk reports, hundreds of children have lost their lives to gun violence in this country since that awful day three years ago. 

Charting how there have been 555 children tragically lost to heinous acts of violence involving a gun, Gosk complained that, thanks to Congress, children “are no safer from guns now than they were before the Newtown shooting.”

Instead of bringing up gang violence or irresponsible storage of firearms (to name two examples), Gosk opined that murders such as that of nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee “could have been avoided with better gun safety and with gun sales on the rise, it's a focus for some dealers.”

Turning to sympathetic New Jersey gun shop owner Bob Viden, Gosk put forth the analogy that buying a gun should require passage of an exam akin to passing a road test to obtaining a driver’s license:

GOSK: You have to have a license to drive a car. Is it your feeling that should extend to gun ownership? 

VIDEN: I have no problem with people carrying guns. It should go through some type of training or to go pass a test to make sure they're qualified. 

GOSK: Viden is among 84 percent of Americans who support background checks for all gun sales, but legislation on background checks went nowhere in Congress.

Gosk closed with a friendly soundbite from Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research then cheered efforts on the state level to enact gun control measures: “Still, since the Newtown shooting, 41 states have passed their own laws strengthening gun regulation, not willing to wait for Congress. Evidence that in some places, these faces have broken the gridlock.”