In a bid to promote legislation to ease the purchase of gun suppressors, several gun groups have been offering special "silencer shoots" to news media to show the potential benefits of quieter shots and reality that they really don't silent the weapons.
One of the groups, the National Rifle Association, sent an invite to the Washington Post last month, which has been critical of guns. It read:
[WATCH] Reporters Reactions at @NSSF Suppressor Demo are PRICELESS! https://t.co/jU1bLsicX7 via @BearingArmsCom #2A #GunRights #journalism pic.twitter.com/S7A88mFwDk— Jenn Jacques (@JennJacques) May 31, 2017
"Hope things are well with you. I wanted to reach out to the Post editorial staff and invite any of you to come out to the NRA on Tuesday to meet with NRA-ILA executive director Chris Cox and witness/ take part in a ‘silencer' shoot. As you know, the Hearing Protection Act has been introduced and it aims to make what we call suppressors easier to get. There's a lot of misinformation about suppressors – although your paper did an excellent fact check about them not too long ago. This is a chance for anyone on the editorial page to come out and ask some questions and see for themselves what shooting with a ‘silencer' is really like."
According to the NRA, the Post did not go. And, they said, the paper then slammed the Hearing Protection Act in an editorial three days after the shoot.
"If there has ever been a more benignly titled legislative proposal than the Hearing Protection Act, now before Congress, we can't think of it. Who could possibly oppose a measure to help Americans avoid deafness? Well, we might -- because this ostensible public health bill is being promoted by the National Rifle Association in an effort to undo federal restrictions on the ownership of gun silencers, one of the oldest and most effective firearms controls on the books," wrote the Post.
In calling on Congress to "tell the NRA to go away," the paper showed its lack of understanding of shooting and hunting, when, for example, it suggested hunters instead wear hearing protection. Hunters use sound to detect nearby game like deer.
The NRA complained, asking how editors could condemn silencers without ever seeing them in action.
According to a Post email to the NRA, the paper argued, "I'm not sure what purpose is serves. And it implies that the only way to get knowledge of the usefulness of suppressors is through your specific organization."
Of course, the paper suggested the NRA write a letter, which it did, including a line about its invitation to the Post: "If the editorial board had accepted NRA's invitation to a suppressor shoot last week, they would have heard for themselves that the Hearing Protection Act is exactly what its title claims: An act that protects hearing."
The paper, however, cut that line. The Post's letters editor told Secrets, "We reserve the right to edit letters. As part of our normal process, we share edited letters with letter-writers at least twice in the process (including a final edited version)." Most news organizations have an identical policy.
Not good enough, said Jennifer Baker, the spokeswoman for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.
She said, "The Washington Post's argument against the Hearing Protection Act is based on a bogus talking point from the gun control lobby that falsely claim suppressors pose a risk because the gunshots are silent. They are not silent -- not by a long shot. The facts are indisputable and if the Post editorial writers had accepted our invitation to listen to a firearm shot suppressed they would know this, which is exactly why they refused to participate in a demonstration. When the NRA attempted to set the record straight and expose their efforts to spread the lies being peddled by Michael Bloomberg's gun control groups the Post curtailed our First Amendment rights. This is a great example of fake news and why the mainstream media has a credibility problem with the American public."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com