Plain Dealer Editorial: New gun laws wouldn't solve Cleveland's crime problem

By Chad D. Baus

Having taken the Cleveland Plain Dealer to task for grievances ranging from reversing their editorial position on statewide preemption of local gun control laws without acknowledging the reversal (let alone explaining it), to publishing false information on campus "no-guns" zones, to failing to read legislation before editorializing on it, and stalling for weeks before publishing the resultant corrections (just to name a few), I could probably be described as one of the newspaper's more vocal critics.

After years of documenting these types of unethical journalistic activities (the Plain Dealer was first to publish the confidential information of concealed handgun license-holders), I had little hope in ever witnessing a change. But change is exactly what we have been witnessing over the past few months.

In the fallout from an erroneous Plain Dealer story claiming that the death of an armed robber at the hand of the concealed handgun licenseholder he attacked was "what appears to be the first time" and subsequent and equally poor coverage of the incident, Buckeye Firearms Association issued an Indictment of Cleveland Plain Dealer - Violation of Journalist Code of Ethics, which detailed several factually inaccurate and misleading stories, and revealing how Plain Dealer journalists had ignored facts and evidence available to them and even ignored their own previous reporting. The Indictment was an open challenge to the Ohio media to investigate the Plain Dealer's unethical practices, which run contrary to the Ethics Code and professional criteria issued by the Society of Professional Journalists.

While there was no official answer from either the Plain Dealer or their media peers, a funny thing happened: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's coverage of gun issues began to take a noticeable turn. Consider these examples:

  • Plain Dealer columnists defend self-defense; AP continues to report bad info
  • Plain Dealer: Gun advocates say assaults are thwarted, but not reported
  • It's time for another Plain Dealer Pulitzer: Self-defense commentary continues
  • Plain Dealer: Seniors feel safer when they carry gun
  • Plain Dealer offers BALANCED coverage of Castle Doctrine law introduction

    The most latest example comes in the form of an editorial representing the opinion of the editorial board. In it, the editors excoriate the Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson's disingenuous new gun control law proposal as legislation that "wouldn't do a thing to solve the local problem", and that is "DOA in Columbus."

    From the editorial, appropriately entitled "New gun laws wouldn't solve Cleveland's crime problem":

      The mayor probably went too far by saying of the legislature's earlier action on guns, "Anyone, including a child, can walk down a street with an assault rifle, a semiautomatic pistol or a shotgun. And our Police Department has no ability to arrest them."

      Even the police don't buy that. Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association President Steve Loomis said police can still arrest people brandishing guns for violating any number of laws.

      A solution to the epidemic of youngsters with guns must come, in large part, from the community. There will never be enough police on the streets if parents can't, or won't, police their own children.

      And as long as kids believe violence solves problems, we all lose - no matter what laws are on the books.

    Amen. As one of many pro-gun grassroots activists who have been arguing this very point with journalists for years, let me say it again: AMEN.

    (Now, if they can just avoid forgetting they wrote this editorial, reversing themselves less than four months later, and then excusing themselves by falsely claiming the legislation has somehow been changed when it hasn't, as they did when they reversed their endorsement of statewide preemption.)

    Related Editorial (this time they're not blaming the gun!):
    Law enforcement made far too many mistakes with 'Big Willie'

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