WashPost: 'Even at the Olympics' Athletes in Shooting 'Face Questions About Gun Violence'

August 1st, 2012 12:10 PM

"Even at the Olympics, athletes in the sport of shooting face questions about gun violence." That's the digital edition headline for Washington Post reporter Katherine Boyle's August 1 story about the "stigma" that American Olympic shooters face for participating in a sport that "requires a machine that, when used maliciously, can kill people."

But as Boyle herself makes clear in her story, American Olympians who compete in shooting don't "face questions about gun violence" from fellow Olympians. From the last two paragraphs of her Style section front-pager [entitled in the print edition, "Shooting: Athletes battle for titles -- and to dispel the stigma of gun violence":

The team itself is neutral on gun control and politics.

“It’s not shocking to hear questions about gun control legislation,” [USA Shooting national rifle coach Dave] Johnson said. “But when it comes to athletes in the village, I haven’t heard of a single one ask about anything along the lines of politics or Aurora. They see what we do.”

So fellow Olympians are not posing the questions and wondering how the Olympic shooting athletes deal with "the stigma of gun violence." They get that it's just another sport that requires hard work, discipline, and grueling training in order to excel.

What's more, Boyle failed to cite a single public opinion poll that showed the American public has an unfavorable view of Olympic shooting sports, let alone that such a disapproval of shooting sports stems from politics generally or views on gun control specifically.

As it turns out, many athletes in the shooting sports hail from, you guessed it, countries with much more stringent gun controls than America, like Japan, Serbia, and yes, even Communist dictatorship North Korea -- where civilians have neither gun rights nor civil rights -- and where GunPolicy.org estimates that there are only 0.6 firearms per every 100 people in the entire country, with only about 130,000 guns in private hands there.

So if neither the general public nor athletes see a problem, who does? I suppose that leaves only leaves gun control activists and the media, but the former are not cited anywhere in Boyle's story, although Boyle takes it upon herself to explain that "[t]he politics of shooting cannot be easily divorced from the sport, perhaps because the National Rifle Association was the organizing body for the USA shooting team until 1995." Even so, the "NRA is still a prominent sponsor of USA Shooting, the "independent governing body to regulate shooting events at the state and national levels."

The bottom line is that there's only a controversy because Boyle and others in the media are willing to manufacture it, not because there actually is one.

Related NB story: "Do Liberals Think Gold Medalist Skeet Shooter Kim Rhode Has No Business Using 1,000 Rounds/Day?"