Tuesday, January 11, 2005

60 MINUTES continued...

Take a look at this article from the local paper in Barrett's home town of Murfreesboro, TN:
One day after Murfreesboro-based Barrett's Firearms Manufacturing was featured on CBS' "60 Minutes," the company's owner said coverage went as expected but may provide a toehold for anti-gun activists to push legislation he believes violates the Second Amendment.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg," said Ronnie Barrett, founder, CEO and president of the local weapons manufacturer. "This is a slippery slope for gun control, and I think '60 Minutes' played fairly well into it."

Barrett is the designer and manufacturer of .50-caliber sniper rifles, an extremely powerful weapon he sells under contract to various militaries, law enforcement agencies, civilian collectors and gun enthusiasts. The Washington D.C.-based Violence Protection Center, however, hopes to extend the ban recently placed on civilian sales of the rifles in California to the rest of the nation.
To his credit, reporter Mark Lewis from the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro went to a media expert at Middle Tennessee State University for an "objective" opinion:
MTSU professor and media expert Bob Pondillo tuned in Sunday evening and offered his opinion as to the balance and judgment in the one-hour CBS segment.

"I thought CBS showed considerable restraint," he said. "By providing Tom Diaz and not making Ed Bradley make editorial statements, I thought it was fairly even-handed. People who are much closer to the gun business like Ronnie Barrett or who are activists with an ax to grind might see it differently, but folks who aren't involved in either end would get it and see the argument on both sides.
However, Gary Mehalick from NSSF took issue with Professor Pondillo and received the following interesting comments from the professor:
My comments re Ronnie Barrett — whom I thought looked great and spoke well on 60 Minutes — were taken a bit out of context. I was explaining to the reporter that, based upon what I saw, those watching the piece who did not have an emotional, political or financial interest in the story would not be tipped or prompted to an opinion by it.

So, in that way the Ed Bradley report seemed even handed.

For those not in the know re the gun biz or political activism swirling around contentious issues like this, my sense was the report didn't amount to much. I also told the reporter that I was from WI where a gun hunting and collecting culture is very much alive and well. In addition, I told the reporter that I agreed with Mr. Barrett that we don't need more laws re guns, we need to be more vigorous in using extant laws to prosecute bad people (including terrorists) with guns. Of course, none of those comments made it into the paper.
If you've got the stomach, here's the video link for the whole 60 MINUTES report.

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