May 19, 5:59 AM
(Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk)
Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor recently wrote about a startling trend in the media presence at the recent National Rifle Association convention:
In the press box, bloggers outnumbered national reporters by a good margin. And officially, nearly 50 bloggers — compared to 100 mainstream print journalists — were accredited by the NRA press office to attend the 138th annual convention
Experts say that ratio at a major national news event featuring a panoply of GOP stars — including John McCain and Mitt Romney — presents a stunning affirmation of the rise of a mix of both partisan and fiercely independent and sometimes downright cranky “New Media,” marking its growing power to not only cover breaking news, but set the tone for political policy…
The “experts” were recently validated when the Associated Press reported that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times admitted to “using a paragraph virtually word-for-word from a prominent liberal blogger without attribution.”
Josh Sugarmann, Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center (VPC), is worried about this trend. In the Monitor article, Sugarmann stated:
“If you compare the pro-gun activity in the blogosphere versus the pro-gun-control activity, the scales have just tipped tremendously in their favor,” says Josh Sugarmann, founder of the Violence Policy Center in Washington, which advocates for more gun control in the US. “There’s much more engagement, more involvement, and they clearly have more free time than people on our side of the issue do.”
It’s curious that Sugarmann forgot to mention that he has nothing but “free time,” except that his time is paid for quite handsomely by the Joyce Foundation: In 2007, he made $132,894 in salary plus another $3,987 in benefits. Perhaps he worries about what would happen if a bunch of wealthy Liberty-lovers got together–a la Joyce Foundation–and paid pro-rights writers $136,881 per year.
While Sugarmann disparages what he considers amateurs with too much free time, the Christian Science Monitor notes: “the pro-gun forces are, for now at least, winning the battle for hearts and minds, even gun control advocates concede.”
The mythical majority
Violence Policy Center considers itself to be a policy leader. Of itself, VPC says:
Recognizing the VPC's groundbreaking research and unique expertise, VPC staff are frequently quoted by the national news media and relied upon by policymakers.
In a Constitutional Republic, it would seem ideal if policy makers listen to those organizations which represent the People. On this point, the Christian Science Monitor reported:
Gun control groups have roughly 150,000 members in the US while gun rights advocates number closer to 12 million, with perhaps as many as 80 million Americans owning some 200 million firearms.
(Out of the 150,000, VPC’s tax records document its zero members.)
One of the benefits of a Republican form of government (as opposed to a political party calling itself Republican) is that minority groups have as much freedom of speech as those representing 80 times as many people.
But Sugarmann seems unwilling to admit–or incapable of understanding–why he is losing the hearts and minds of America to a bunch of volunteer journalists: VPC seems unable to publish credible research. Future articles will examine some of VPC’s research publications, but a teaser should suffice for now.
VPC issued a press release condemning the NRA for hosting its annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona:
Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director and author of the book NRA: Money, Firepower & Fear, states, "While the NRA celebrates its deadly definition of freedom, the rest of us pay the price in gun death and injury."
Arizona ranks sixth in the nation in overall gun death according to an analysis (http://www.vpc.org/fadeathchart09.htm) released last week by the VPC of just-issued 2006 national data (the most recent available) from the federal National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Arizona's gun death rate of 15.93 per 100,000 is more than 50 percent higher than the 2006 national gun death rate of 10.32 per 100,000.
This VPC “analysis” will be addressed in the next article, but here is VPC’s problem: If it applied its own criteria fairly and evenly, it would have issued a press release like this:
Josh Sugarmann, VPC executive director, states, "While the Violence Policy Center celebrates its mission to attack the freedoms of the vast majority of Americans, the rest of us pay the price in gun death and injury."
The District of Columbia, home of the VPC, is the only place in the country to maintain a total gun ban for over 30 years, a policy VPC consistently supported. The District of Columbia ranks first in the nation in overall gun death, according to just-issued 2006 national data from the federal National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The District of Columbia's gun death rate of 22.89 per 100,000 is more than double the national rate of 10.32.
Being a supporter of gun confiscation, VPC admits its own defeat and hereby dissolves its non-profit corporation.