Media bias on gun free zones

Another multiple victim public shooting, yet another attack that occurred where guns are banned.

Tuesday’s tragic attack at a FedEx facility in Cobb County, Georgia, left six people injured, with one still in critical condition.

The media quickly rushed in with stories about an “assault rifle” being used in the attack.  This claim was made everywhere, in stories including the New York Times, USA TodayCBS News and the BBC.  But it wasn’t an “assault” weapon.  The attack occurred with a shotgun.


During the first two days of news coverage, there was a virtual complete media blackout on one of the most important aspects of the attack: that it occurred where guns are banned, in a “gun-free zone.”

More On This...

Only the Atlanta Journal-Constitution mentioned it in a one-sentence update added to the end of an online story on Tuesday, the day of the attack.

Even the Wall Street Journal bungled the coverage, concluding that the attack shows gun ownership doesn't help stop these attacks. Tim Noah argued that the attack occurred in Kennesaw, a city that had “an ordinance requiring every household to own a gun,” but that all these guns didn’t stop the attack from occurring.

Never mind that the FedEx facility wasn’t actually in Kennesaw, the photo used in Noah’s article showed the gun-free zone signs.  Obviously he didn’t know what photo would be used, and he wrote the story without asking if gun-free zones were even something to consider.

Whether attacks occur in gun-free zones is often one of the easiest fact to determine.   Ironically, for Tuesday’s shooting, photos of the building where the attack occurred, including the one shown at the top of this article that was released by the Associated Press, clearly show two gun ban signs at the front of the building.  In this picture they appear near the head of the police officer.

But why doesn’t the media report this?  Is it so hard for reporters to understand that killers like to attack victims where they can’t protect themselves?

Gun-free zones aren’t just newsworthy because they serve as magnets for attacks.  In 2012, FedEx fought hard against a Tennessee bill that allowed employees “with valid permits to keep firearms stored in their vehicles while at work.” FedEx successfully watered down the bill so much that it still allowed employers to opt out and fire any employees who stored in cars in parking lots.

During the legislative debate, Mark Hogan, vice president of security for FedEx, warned that gun bans were necessary because: “Allowing employees to have near, immediateaccess to firearms, at work, creates an element of risk that is unacceptable.”

The media should ask FedEx whether their gun-free zone had worked the way they expected.

The recent Fort Hood shooting was a rare case where the media would even discuss the risks of gun-free zones.  But virtually all the mass public shootings keep occurring in those relatively rare places where guns are banned.

These attacks aren't random.

Continued media bias against covering this single fact is one of the bigger obvious attempts to skew the debate over guns.