The press is at its worst in the hours immediately following a mass shooting.Rumors get credibility-garnering airtime and speculation is reported as fact as reporters and pundits allow their passions to trump their better judgment.
On Monday, for example, certain journalists claimed Congress is set to vote this week on the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which includes a provision that would loosen federal restrictions on gun suppressors. Considering that the supposed vote would likely take place just days after a gunman opened fire at a music festival in Clarke County, Nevada, killing 58 and injuring hundreds more, reporters' palpable disgust made sense.
And think of the terrible optics for the already deeply unpopular GOP!
The only problem here is that the House has no plans to address H.R.3668 this week, and it never did. The story is a total fabrication.
This bogus narrative appears to have originated with a San Francisco Chronicle report published this weekend titled, "Pair of pro-gun bills on move in House."
The article suggests the House "could pass" the SHARE Act as soon as this week, but it never provides proof of this claim.
The closest that the report gets to backing the allegation is when it cites House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said last week that the House had the votes to pass H.R.3668.
Amazingly enough, after claiming the bill could come to the floor as soon as this week, the San Francisco Chronicle article ended with this paragraph: "A spokesman for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, would not say when either bill would come to the floor, but lobbyists on both sides said the Share Act vote is imminent. With committee passage, a House vote could come at any time."
We double-checked the House's legislative itinerary for the week beginning Oct. 2. We double-checked the schedule that was distributed to reporters on Sept. 29 by Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy's, R-Calif., office.
H.R. 3668 is nowhere to be found.
The SHARE Act was never slated to be brought to the floor this week, according to the legislative agenda published last Friday by Rep. McCarthy's office, which is responsible for setting the House's legislative agenda.
Despite that this information was readily available, the normal partisans jumped to action after this weekend's mass shooting, eagerly searching for ways to further tarnish the GOP's image.
ThinkProgress was first up with an article titled, "House GOP set to approve bill that could make mass shootings deadlier."
That article relied entirely on the San Francisco Chronicle piece which, as you may recall, never actually provided a good reason for why its reporting ran contrary to the legislative scheduled released last week by the Majority Leader's office.
U.S. News and World Report published a similar story titled, "House to Vote on Gun Silencer Legislation This Week."
It claimed, "The House is poised to pass legislation legalizing the use of gun silencers as early as this week, a move that critics say could make it more difficult to identify where gunshots are coming from during a mass shooting like the one that took place in Las Vegas Sunday night."
Oh, come on.
CNN chief national security correspondent and former Obama State Department official Jim Sciutto said Monday in a tweet that has been shared more than 6,000 times: "House slated to vote this wk to ease curbs on silencers which critics say makes it harder to detect source of gunfire in mass shootings."
He corrected himself eventually, writing in a note that has been shared a measly 140 times, "House leadership says not on the schedule yet but it has passed Cmte. Hearing on bill was scheduled day of Scalise shooting then postponed."
NBC News' Rebecca Sanchez tweeted, "GOP is moving 2 laws, 1 vote this week. 1st makes silencers more easily/widely available. Other allows 4 carrying guns across state lines."
"A bill that would make gun silencers easier to obtain could come up for a House vote this week," Mic's Emily C. Singer tweeted.
We're not going to get into the falsehood that suppressors are as silent as portrayed in Hollywood movies. They are not. In fact, most suppressors lower the sound by only 30 decibels, meaning a "shot from a rifle with a muzzle sound pressure level of 170 dB would still deliver a 140 dB sonic punch to your ears, about the level of noise from a jackhammer," Timothy Wheeler, a retired ear surgeon and former director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, wrote in July for the Washington Examiner.
We're also not going to get into Scuitto's theoretical claim that suppressors make "it harder to detect source of gunfire in mass shootings." We say "theoretical" because, historically speaking, suppressors have played no significant role in major mass shooting events. It's unclear, then, on which data these supposed critics are basing their claims.
We're not even going to get into whether it's appropriate for Congress to move forward at this time with the SHARE Act. Considering they already postponed it once because of a shooting event, it'd be pretty boneheaded to bring the bill to the floor at this time. But that's a separate question.
For now, we can't get past the fact that a 100 percent false narrative about the House's legislative schedule for this week popped up out of nowhere, and that so many in media were willing to repeat it blindly. The House schedule was released last Friday, a full two days before the Nevada shooting. It is so easy to double-check this sort of stuff.
Reporters know better. Readers deserve better.