CNN's Piers Morgan is known for his invasive, aggressive style of journalism and reliably left-leaning sympathies. In the wake of the recent atrocity at Sandy Hook School, however, the former British tabloid editor has taken to playing fast-and-loose with the facts regarding America's gun laws . . . in a manner that's "not quite cricket."
During his 12/21 broadcast at the 20 minute mark, Morgan repeatedly featured YouTube-type video footage illustrating the firing of a fully-automatic AR15 type rifle. What's wrong with that? Well, the problem stems from the fact that both the video's caption and Morgan himself describe the fully-automatic weapon (effectively a machine-gun) as semi-automatic. Compounding his misrepresentation, Morgan noted that rifles with the same capabilities as the weapon portrayed are commonly available to American consumers.
As many veterans and firearms enthusiasts are aware, fully-automatic rifles fire continuously when their triggers are depressed and they are not commonly available to the American consumer. In contrast, legal semi-automatic weapons fire one time when their triggers are depressed; certain types of these weapons are permissible to own for many qualified Americans who are of age, who have no history of mental ailment, who have a clean criminal record, and are not otherwise prohibited by law from doing so.
Videos of fully-automatic "machine-guns" spitting out bullets, while impressive and menacing, are not videos of semi-automatic weapons firing. To use these terms or images to describe these weapons interchangeably is misrepresentation of the basest kind.
America is not a fully-automatic culture. Actual machine-guns and real "assault-rifles" (which -- by definition -- have not only semi-auto capability, but full-auto as well, and frequently 3-shot burst these days) are prohibited from ownership by anyone but licensed firearms dealers and not commonly available. Class III weaponry such as this requires expensive and detailed (again, many term it prohibitive) federal paperwork and background investigation. For perspective, I am a responsible gun-enthusiast with a background of noneventful, law-abiding firearms ownership spanning over three decades; if it were an easy task for me to own a fully-automatic weapon for my own collection, I would have one -- that said, I don't.
Journalists may choose a bias, but they can't choose their facts. Knowing pictures are worth a thousand words and that there's much passion afoot in our country on both sides of the gun-control argument, Piers Morgan has acted irresponsibly. To stoke negative public opinion against a law-abiding sector of America's citizenry (gun-owners) with sensational videographic misrepresentation is irresponsible, verging on unconscionable.
Morgan's beloved Britain has already disarmed its citizenry and continues to reap the negative consequences of that action. Piers supports this path for America, too. Swaddled by our Constitution's First Amendment, he attacks the amendment directly following it, Piers should perhaps count his blessings to be enjoying our nation's protections and bounty. At some point in that reflection, however -- if Morgan has a shard of journalistic integrity left -- he should broadcast a correction to his erroneous and sensational reportage.