Several recent stories in the New York Times suggest that the paper believes gun rights are a matter of opinion, while abortion rights are beyond question.
When the Times writes about "gun rights," it often qualifies the phrase by saying the idea is the position of gun lobbying groups, leaving to interpretation whether those groups are correct. By contrast, the paper tosses around the term "abortion rights" as it would human rights, handling it as a concept that is uncontested despite its status as a hotly-debated issue with "pro-choice" and "pro-life" groups facing off.
For example, on abortion, the Times said in an article dated Nov. 9 that 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is a "longtime opponent of abortion rights."
The term "abortion rights" isn't followed by any afterthought or caveat raising questions about whether abortion is indeed a right. There is no reference to abortion "advocates" or pro-abortion lobbying groups.
A July 26 article, titled "Republicans Alter Script on Abortion, Seeking to Shift Debate," claimed, "Republican politicians have refined how they are talking about pregnancy and abortion rights."
The same report added, "Republican candidates who are currently in the upper tier strongly oppose abortion rights, unlike in 2008 and 2012, when social conservatives found Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mitt Romney to be untrustworthy because they previously supported liberal abortion laws."
The Times' editorial board opined in a June 11 article, titled "Closing Off Abortion Rights," writing, "For the last several years, opponents of abortion rights have cloaked their obstructionist efforts under all manner of legitimate-sounding rationales, like protecting women's health."
The paper has also published several op-eds that unblinkingly use the term "abortion rights."
This stands in sharp contrast to how the Times covered gun rights in an Oct. 7 article titled, "Germany Faces Few Mass Shootings Amid Tough Gun Laws."
Referring to Germany's attempts to curb gun violence, the Times' Alison Smale reported, "A major difference with the United States, experts say, is that gun ownership in Germany is a privilege, not a right, as American gun advocates insist is guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution."
However, the Times' decision to characterize gun rights as a claim originating with gun advocates ignores the reality that no less an authority than the Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment is an individual right, and that American citizens have the right to bear arms at home. Later, in 2010, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Second Amendment guarantees Americans a fundamental right to bear arms, which neither the state nor local governments can violate.
Both rulings were decided in 5-4 votes. The 2010 decision means that the guarantees included in the Second Amendment are much more than an idea being proposed by "gun advocates," as the Times suggested in its Oct. 7 report.
The Times' article on German gun control has since been updated so that it now reads, "A major difference with the United States, experts say, is that gun ownership in Germany is a privilege, not a right as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the American Constitution."
There is no editor's note indicating the story's correction.
The Oct. 7 report is hardly the first time that the newspaper seems interested in chipping away at the right to bear arms, as a host of recent examples would show.
The Times' editorial board argued in July that, "Despite the gun lobby's absolutist outcries, the right to bear arms remains a qualified one, subject to reasonable controls, particularly a 'good cause' justification." In August, the editorial board said that there are, "too many guns, and too little national will to do anything about them." Later, in October, the editorial board again revisited the issue of gun control, accusing Republicans of inaction, while also scoffing at rhetoric about guns and rights.
The 2016 Republican presidential candidates offer, "nothing more than National Rifle Association bromides about the right to bear arms, which has never been threatened by common sense legislation," the board wrote, contrasting Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's repeated call for stricter gun control measures to how the current GOP field has reacted to recent mass shooting events.