NewsHour's Ifill Fails to Challenge California Senator's Omissions on Gun Violence

Liberals politicians and journalists are on a full-blown assault on the Second Amendment ever since Friday's horrific shooting in Newtown, Conn. Gun ban-pushers like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are making the rounds in the media, including taxpayer-funded PBS. On December 17, NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill gave Feinstein the floor to push her agenda. Naturally, Ifill failed to bring on an opposing point of view nor did she ask Feinstein tough questions.

GWEN IFILL: Let's talk about the politics of all of this. Today, we saw three pro-gun-rights Democratic senators, Sen. Reid, Sen. Manchin, Sen. Warner, all say that what happened in Newtown Connecticut has changed everything. Do you have a sense that there's a shift under way?

Sen. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-Calif.): Oh, yes. I think this is the straw that broke the camel's back, to be very honest with you, Gwen. I don't see how Americans can want, you know, a situation where a 20-year-old gets a gun from his mother, kills his mother, goes into a school, shoots his way through the glass, goes in and puts three to 11 bullets in 6-year-olds, 20 of them.

Now, if you just do an average of six bullets -- five bullets, that's 100 bullets. So it's the big clip, drum or strip that is also banned from sale, manufacture, importation, transfer. So it's the clip that enables you to have the firepower.

And I gather this particular Bushmaster, you can actually sort of dial down the ease with which you pull the trigger and its frequency. So you can just pump those bullets out in a very few seconds.

Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of this horrific crime, stole his mother's guns, after shooting his mother, reportedly in her sleep.  That would’ve been the responsible thing to say, but Ifill didn’t press the senator on nagging detail.  Additionally, Ifill omitted the fact that the gun control laws in Connecticut worked.  Lanza tried to purchase a rifle, but refused to be subjected to the background check. 

Lanza had to commit a homicide and grand larceny to commit his evil act – which shows that criminals will not follow the law, let alone a new law that bans assault rifles.

Instead, Ifill asked about the current political disposition of the Republican caucus.

Towards the end of the interview, more omissions were made – with Ifill failing to push back Sen. Feinstein:

GWEN IFILL: How much do -- as we have this debate now, how much are we focusing on guns, and how much are we focusing or should we be focusing on the things that drive people to use guns in these horrific ways?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I think you concentrate on both. You concentrate on mental illness and what we can do. You concentrate on safety in schools and those kinds of things.

But small children have a basic right to go to a school and feel safe. And these guns, because they kill large numbers of people very quickly, they aren't used for hunting, they aren't hunting weapons. You don't need them for defense. They are military-style weapons. And they don't belong in the streets of our cities or our towns.

GWEN IFILL: And, finally, Sen. Feinstein, we have been here before. The president, as he said last night, has spoken at four different memorial services for shooting victims since he's been president.

And each time, there's been discussion that this is the moment -- especially after a congresswoman was shot, this is the moment when everything will change. Why is this the moment?

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, this is the moment because I think people have had it. They have had it in fear.

You know, look at Aurora. That man came in with a 100-round clip -- excuse me, drum. If that drum hadn't jammed, he would have killed many more people. Look at Virginia Tech. Look at Jonestown. Look at -- Jonesboro, rather. Look at Columbine. Look at what's been happening. It's got to stop.

Our schools have to be safe places. These guns are the guns that the grievance killer, the gangs, that people who want to do real damage look for and find very easy to obtain in our society. And we need to change that. And that's what I'm trying to do. 

First of all, there are already high-capacity magazines in circulation – and the instances of these awful instances are still rare.  Lanza apparently had various mental health issues, which raises the question of detection and treatment of mental illness.  A skeptical journalist might inquire why the supposed remedy is to infringe gun rights for millions of mentally competent Americans when the problem is fundamentally about the access of the mentally ill to weapons, not the weapons themselves.

What's more, Seung-Hui Cho –the Virginia Tech shooter – used two handguns, not an ‘assault weapon.’  The Columbine school massacre happened in 1999, when a federal assault weapons ban was in effect. And how effective has gun control been in Chicago, which had its 436th homicide recently?

Asking questions like these would show a commitment to exploring all sides of the gun control debate. They are questions a taxpayer-sponsored journalist like Ifill should, but won't ask.

Crime Culture/Society Guns PBS News Hour Journalistic Issues Gwen Ifill Dianne Feinstein Adam Lanza