Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What's in a headline?

When I peruse the newspaper or the internet, some headlines catch my attention. That is the purpose of course. Sometimes the headlines don't really capture what the story below is all about. I have long been frustrated about that. As a once publicly elected official, I would read the headlines of the School Board meeting of which I was a part ( as a member) in the local paper and wonder if the reporter had actually been to the same meeting as me. I'm sure she saw things differently than I, but often the headlines just plain did not match the content of the story. When I talked to the newspaper Editor about this, he explained that the people who write the headlines are not the ones who write the stories. Hmmmm. What do we learn from this explanation?  I suppose the lesson is that we can't always believe the headlines, just as, now that we have 24/7 cable news programs, we often see the crawl running below on the screen screaming out headlines, or we see Jon Stewart of the Daily Show make fun of the choice of words for a story that are displayed on the screen which either don't match the story or seem totally ridiculous; and then he chooses his own humorous headlines to show the irony of the story he is mocking.

So where is this leading? Today, as I was perusing the New York Times on-line, the headlines of 2 stories caught my eye. Here is the first one: "Shooting Outside Buffalo Restaurant Leaves 4 Dead". Yikes! A party in the wee hours of the morning resulted in 4 dead and 4 injured. It was a bar/restaurant where alcohol is served. Are guns allowed inside? Were the victims drinking? Were the shooters drinking? It seems to me that nothing good comes of the mixture of guns, alcohol and partying into the wee hours of the morning. Here is the other headline that caught my attention: " Gunmen kill 10 Bus Travelers in Pakistan." Again, Yikes!

We know that the country of Pakistan can be a dangerous place. As we know, it borders Afghanistan, a country at war. Though Pakistan is not officially at war, there are regular terror attacks. In those countries, shootings are so common that they almost don't make the headlines. What about in our own country( not at war)? What's the difference between the headlines linked above? One country is considered to be in a dangerous area of the world where attacks could happen at any time. The other country is considered to be the leader of the free world and at peace within. By looking at the headlines, one would never know the difference. All over the country, 80 people a day die from a bullet. 32 of these are homicides and the rest from gun suicides or accidental. I have written about some of these in my blog.

In countries at war or in danger zones, it's just another headline. Of course, it is more than a headline to the families and friends of those who died or have suffered life-long health problems because of the bullets fired. But as long as it's not your family or your friend, you skip to the next story and read the headlines of a nicer story. I actually intended to blog about a different headline that appeared in the Huffington Post yesterday but I got distracted by the 2 stories linked above. Check out these headlines and see what you think: " Gray Gaulding, 12-year-old Race Car Driver, Sponsored by Gun Web Site (Video)" .  In the video interview with Gray Gaulding, you can hardly hear his youthful voice above the sound of race car engines in the background. Displayed prominently on his uniform is: Gunbroker.com. This is the on-line handgun distributor sponsoring this young boy. In perusing the site for this company, I noticed that it auctions off all sorts of items, including guns of all sorts, knives, clothing, backpacks, survival gear, etc. Survival gear? Whatever. Since Gray Gaulding is unusual for his young age on the Nascar scene, he likely will have plenty of press attention for his exploits. Also, then, will Gunbroker.com, get a lot of attention. Guns are big business in this country.

Of course, 12 year olds can't legally purchase guns. They can use them for hunting with adult supervision. And sometimes we have headlines about 12 year old kids, or younger, injuring or killing themselves or a sibling or friend while accidentally firing off a gun. The bold letters ( headlines) on Gray Gaulding's uniform, matter to the sponsoring company. In this case, the headlines match the story. The sponsorship is obviously intended to appeal to the adults who are watching car races. One could ask if Gray Gaulding is being exploited. I'm just saying....

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