Sunday, January 16, 2011

Perception Check: CNN on Global Gun Laws

Question: is this CNN story neutral on the issue of U.S. gun laws, or is there some hint of disapproval?

This is an entirely honest question.


Blogger Jim Bales said...


Cool -- a new layout for the blog --- FWIW, my first reaction is positive, except the font seems a little small (which I can easily fix at the browser).

As to the CNN piece, I'll take it nation by nation.

1) UK: Mostly descriptive of what it takes to get legally possess a firearm in the UK. Two concerns with the piece. First, can one by guns in the US via internet? I would have presumed not, given that (IIRC) mail order was made illegal after the JFK assassination, but I really don’t know. If internet sales in the US are illegal, then the piece gives the false impression that they are legal here. Second concern is with the last line "Many here say [the gun laws are]why Britain has far less gun crime than the United States". We are aren't told the identity of the "many" who say this. However, to the best of my knowledge, it is an accurate statement of the attitudes/beliefs of most people in the UK.

This sounds to my ear more like poor writing than a bias (either intentional or not).

2) Germany: The closing “Germans ... acknowledge they still have a problem on their hands” is worrisome. What Germans believe that they have what problems? Are these “problems” (whatever they are) real? If so, how do we know they are real? [From context, the “problems” are school shootings. Wikipedia describes such shootings from 2002, 2006, and 2009. Does this constitue a current problem in 2011? How would one decide it is no longer a problem?]

3) China: The main point is that politicians are inaccessible, and that guns are rare among the populace. Sounds accurate to me.

4) India: Point seems to be that illegal weapons are readily obtained (for $$), even though legal weapons are strictly regulated.

Your question was:
[I]s this CNN story neutral on the issue of U.S. gun laws, or is there some hint of disapproval?

My reply:
The UK piece is mostly neutral, and the “hint of disapproval” may be an accurate reflection of disapproval by those in the UK rather than by CNN’s writers. The Germany piece seems disapproving, but that could be sloppy writing/editing -- I really can’t tell. The China piece is neutral (“here is what China does”). The India piece makes quite clear that its “most stringent” gun laws have limited success in stopping the possession of guns. If the intent were to express a degree of disapproval of US gun laws, I would have expected that part to be suppressed.

Hope this helps!


10:45 PM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...


Did you see this piece at The Atlantic?


10:46 AM  
Blogger Jim Bales said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks Jim--very helpful comment. That's close to what I thought, though I couldn't be sure.

Interesting Atlantic piece, tho I'm a tad skeptical.

Sorry about the double post of your comment...Blogger's been doing that off and on.

6:28 AM  

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