Abortion Rights, Gun Rights: One's Sacred, The Other's Not
by L. Brent Bozell III
February 10, 1994
The cause of gun control is hot. Now that the Democrats have
passed the Brady Bill, a federal waiting-period placebo on gun sales, the
Clintonites are marching on to drive up the fees for federal gun licenses by
1,000 percent, and surprise -- the media are marching with them.
In December, a Media Research Center study showed that
network coverage of the Brady Bill favored the gun-control side. Of 29 stories
on the debate, 20 gave significantly more time to the gun control argument. In
the battle of the soundbites, the networks lined up 75 Brady Bill supporters
to 24 opponents -- a better than 3-to-1 advantage.
The study also found a distinct pattern of labeling both
sides of the gun debate. From December 1991 to November 1993, "gun
control advocates" were mentioned 14 times while reporters used "gun
advocates" or "gun-rights advocates" once each. Only the
National Rifle Association must engage in lobbying, since network reporters
mentioned the "gun lobby" 17 times, but the "gun-control
lobby" only twice.
Now, let's compare the gun-control debate to the abortion
debate. First, gun rights are clearly mentioned in the Constitution; abortion
is not. The sale of guns involves only the potential for death, while abortion
is certain death. Gun violence is up dramatically; so is abortion, at least
since 1973. One is presented by the media in tones of tragedy and crisis; the
other is celebrated as a sacred right. Most importantly, consider the
demographics: While the cause of gun rights is often championed by redneck
white males, abortion is championed by the exceptionally well-educated Ivy
League baby-boomer crowd. Dumb question: Which group do reporters belong to?
While reporters rarely use the term "gun rights"
or "Second Amendment rights," preferring the "gun lobby,"
they rarely deviate from the label "abortion-rights," even using the
term "anti-abortion rights." And here's a pointless quest: look for
the term "abortion lobby" in a news story.
The recent brouhaha over gun dealers also points out a
contrast. Reporters recently drew attention to the lack of regulation of gun
sales. "NBC Nightly News" preceded Treasury Secretary Lloyd
Bentsen's proposed $600 annual fee on gun dealers with its December 27 story.
Anchor Stone Phillips asked: "With all the attention focused on tougher
gun control laws these days, the fact is that many guns are bought in
marketplaces that are completely unregulated, presenting another challenge for
Others clearly blamed gun dealers for gun violence. In the
December 19 Boston Globe, reporter Gregg Krupa wrote: "While
manufacturers argue that a small number of their weapons are used in crimes --
and indeed, studies indicate that only up to 7 percent of all guns are used by
criminals -- a sharp increase in murders involving handguns coincides with the
retooling of the industry and the expansion of its markets. As sales and
profits have grown, the number of handgun-related homicides in the United
States has jumped by nearly 50 percent since 1986."
Krupa even lays some of the blame for death at the doorstop
of the NRA, which has "insulated gun manufacturers from any involvement
in the national debate over firearms. The NRA's shield against tough questions
on the issue is part of a mutually beneficial relationship in which the NRA
pushes for a free flow of guns and the manufacturers reap profits in open and
Now ask: how is the NRA's connection to gun dealers any
different than Planned Parenthood's ties to "abortion providers"?
Abortion clinics are almost completely unregulated. Abortion
"providers" are not taxed or forced to paid large license fees.
Lobbying for the right to abortion, for curbs on abortion protesters, and for
subsidized abortions all improve the business climate for the abortion
industry. While gun dealers' profits are indirectly linked to gun violence,
abortionists' profits are obviously linked to killing. But the liberal media
refuses to investigate the idea of an abortion industry, or the hefty profits
of its practitioners. Abortionists are never questioned, only presented as
sympathetic victims of harassment.
This is not true on the other side of the abortion battle.
While NBC bemoaned the problem of gun dealers, NBC reporter Jamie Gangel spent
her days investigating not the abortion industry, but the Arthur DeMoss
Foundation, which produces heart-tugging positive pro-life commercials. Gangel
aired Planned Parentood activists calling one ad "lies" -- not
because the fetus featured on half the screen was not alive, but because it
wasn't actual size.
In 1991, all three networks aired investigative stories
using hidden cameras and female producers inside "crisis pregnancy
centers," which some anti-abortion activists use to try and talk women
out of abortions. The stories appeared within three days of each other,
because of a Congressional hearing organized by the National Coalition of
Abortion Providers. The networks have never taken a hidden camera inside an
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