The WaPo Wins a Pulitzer for its Comically Incompetent Series on the AR-15

AR-15 muzzle devices
Kat Stevens for SNW

Some of the Post’s errors are almost comically incompetent, for example, conflating the velocity of a bullet with the rate of fire of the weapon, as though the speed of the bullet leaving a muzzle had anything to do with how long it takes to fire the next one: “The AR-15 fires bullets at such a high velocity—often in a barrage of 30 or even 100 in rapid succession—that it can eviscerate multiple people in seconds.” 

Slate has published similarly nonsensical claims about rate of fire, and, so far, neither writer Mark Joseph Stern nor editor Hillary Frey has taken me up on my wager ($100,000 plus all my guns and some other good stuff) that they cannot produce a shooter who can prove out their preposterous claims (that an AR-style rifle with a bump stock can fire 800 rounds in 60 seconds) in the real world as opposed to in the imaginations of Slate writers. All of this is silly and stupid propaganda. 

It is the opposite of journalism. 

The Washington Post’s series is best understood as propaganda because it invents a phony pretext for prohibiting AR-style rifles as “uniquely destructive” rather than deal with the thorny political realities of real-world anti-crime and gun-control efforts. And those issues are thorny: We could—and probably should—be more aggressive in prosecuting the crime of simple illegal firearm possession absent some additional violent offense, and we probably should hand down stiffer sentences more consistently for that crime rather than doing what we do now—which is dismissing the great majority of those cases or pleading them down to some trivial misdemeanor. 

But rigorously enforcing the laws regarding firearm possession with prison sentences is going to mean a lot more young men becoming incarcerated felons earlier in life, and it is nearly certain that those young men will be disproportionately black and poor. Rigorously enforcing ordinary gun laws would also mean forcing prosecutors—from the federal level to the local one—to change their behavior and start prioritizing relatively humble, unglamorous, and politically unpopular gun prosecutions rather than saving their efforts for major gun-trafficking and organized-crime cases.

We should probably arrest and prosecute a lot more straw-buyers than we do, but we should be clear-eyed about who those straw-buyers are going to be—people with otherwise clean criminal records, often girlfriends or family members of convicted felons—before we start locking them up. 

The Pulitzer Prize has been awarded for some pretty bad journalism over the years, most famously for Walter Duranty’s fictitious coverage of the Soviet Union, reports the New York Times itself today describes as “largely discredited.” Duranty’s work was pretty obviously shoddy as journalism, part of a marketing campaign for the Soviet Union and for socialism—and the Pulitzer people bought it because they wanted it to be true. It fit with their politics.

The same is the case with the Washington Post’s firearms coverage. That this kind of sloppy and propagandistic work deserves to be treated with contempt by journalists and by all honest-minded people is something that ought to be plain enough even to people who would prefer more aggressive regulation of firearms. The Post itself is endlessly lecturing the world about how facts matter. The Post should try living up to its rhetoric. 

— Kevin Williamson in The Pulitzer for Propaganda Goes to …

One Response

  1. Let’s be honest about everything. We get what they get because we aren’t second class citizens. ARs are good at harming multiple people fast which is why we get them just like the Puppet’s hit squad gets them.

    If you want to deal with violent crime in general, then yes, you can lower the stats by holding more people accountable and locking them up. If you want fewer mass shootings, then you have to change the culture. The powers that be, who want to ban ARs to supposedly save us from mass shooters, are the ones pushing our culture to create more mass shooters. What does that tell you?

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