ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, April 23, 2007

MSNBC Fails to Identify "Expert" in VA Tech Story

Oliver Willis had this post on the Virginia Tech shooting, in which he blamed the gun industry and the NRA for the carnage and linked to this MSNBC story.

I commented several times on OW's blog, pointing out how uneducated he was regarding firearms, hunting, etc. Something about the original MSNBC story never sat well with me, specifically this paragraph which contained a comment on hollow point bullets from a retired ATF agent:

Joseph Vince, a retired ATF agent, agrees.

"It's not something that you would need for home protection, because what you are trying to do is eliminate an immediate threat," Vince says. "The idea of killing is what this ammunition portrays to me."

Now, what struck me is that hollow points are actually perfect for self defense (and hunting, Oliver), since they expand immediately upon impact and do not exit the target. They are the best bullets to insure a clean and quick kill. Eugene Volokh points to the following explanation from wikipedia:
"[...]hollow point bullets are one of the most common types of civilian and police ammunition, due largely to the reduced risk of bystanders being hit by over-penetrating or ricocheted bullets, and the increased speed of incapacitation."

Now, I knew this to be the case... and I'm not exactly a firearms expert. Just an Eagle Scout who's had some time at the rifle range (as a youth and into adulthood) and been on several hunting trips. So, if I know the aspects of a hollow point bullet, why doesn't a retired ATF agent?

Well, a quick Google search of the retired ATF agent's name provided the answer in Wikipedia:
The American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA) is an association of hunters and shooters in the United States that was founded in 2005. As an advocacy group it presents itself as a force of moderation and "common sense" in the debate over gun politics in the United States. Its critics say it is a front organization whose real goal is to eliminate the rights of gun owners by driving a wedge into the gun rights movement.

The leaders of the AHSA are:[1]:
  • Ray Schoenke, founding president [2] A former football player for the Washington Redskins, Schoenke ran for Governor of Maryland as a Democrat and has given "millions" to Democrat politicians and causes according to a January 19, 1998 Washington Post article.[3] Among the groups that Schoenke has donated to are two that actively lobby to ban firearms: Handgun Control, Inc.[4][5] and America Coming Together. Schoenke was on the Governor's Commission on Gun Violence in 1996.
  • Bob Ricker, executive director [6]
  • John E. Rosenthal, president of the AHSA Foundation and Founder of Stop Handgun Violence[7], a leading Massachusetts-based gun-banning lobbying group.
  • Joseph J. Vince, Jr., a member of the Board of Directors is the former chief of the BATF's crime guns analysis branch. Currently, he is a principal of Crime Gun Solutions. [Handgun Control Inc] has hired Crime Gun Solutions in order to support numerous gun control laws,[8][9] to support HCI's lawsuits against firearm dealers[10] and he was a signer on a letter submitted to Congress opposing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act[11]

So, MSNBC features analysis from a "retired ATF agent" who also happens to be: 1) Member of an organization that is apparently a gun control front; 2) in the employ of Handgun Control Inc, the premier handgun control lobbying group in the country (aka the Brady folks); and 3) supports legal actions against firearm dealers.

And they fail to mention this affiliation at all in their story. Surely they knew Mr. Vince's bio when they sought him out for comment.

It's almost as if MSNBC has some sort of agenda to push or something and doesn't want its audience to be informed.

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Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (9)
Martin L. Shoemaker said...

"Surely they knew Mr. Vince's bio when they sought him out for comment."

Maybe, maybe not. Depends on the reporter. Some reporters are lazy, and thus easily played. Most reporters have a file of contacts arranged by topic, so they can go get a quote; and the lazier ones don't want to do much real legwork, so they're happy to put someone down as a contact when the person is introduced to them. Someone with an agenda and some credentials can become such a contact pretty easily, and a lazy reporter won't dig any deeper.

Anonymous said...

Is it me or does it seem the lazy media is only lazy in a liberal direction?

Anonymous said...

Most hollow-point handgun ammunition is specifically labelled "Personal Defense" or similar and is usually sold in boxes of 20 rounds (ie enough for 2 full 10-round magazines). Maximum stopping power is what it's designed for. Merchants usually stack this type of ammunition behind the counter for the simple reason that it's more expensive than target ammo and the smaller boxes are more easily slipped into a pocket.

Anonymous said...

Personal Defense ammo is sold in 20 round boxes primarily because it is significantly more expensive than hardball ammo. Where a box of 50 rounds of hardball, in common handgun calibers, may range anywhere from $12.00 - $18.00 per box a twenty round box of hollowpoints, in the same caliber, will also carry a similar price tag. If sold in 50 round boxes hollowpoint ammo would be cost prohiitive for many customers.

St Wendeler said...

Is it me or does it seem the lazy media is only lazy in a liberal direction?

Yes, I doubt that if the "retired ATF agent" in question were a member of the NRA, the Republican Party, or a listener of Rush Limbaugh that his former occupation would not be the only descriptive information provided.

Notes to the MSM: First, if you are going to use someone as an expert, you might want to try out a handy tool called Google to see who they are.

Second, if your expert is saying something and you don't know whether it's accurate or not, find another expert to corroborate. In this case, the other expert should not be your Inside the MSM Bubble fellow journalists.

Third, when you do quote an expert and fail to properly identify him, you're toast.

Cruffler said...

Former AFTFE Agent, DC Think tanker.
I wonder if this guy lives in Virginia?
I wonder if his name was on that list of CCW holders published by the Roanoke Times a couple of weeks ago?
It would be fun to call in and ask him to renounce his gun toting ways the next time he's pontificating on MSNBC

Anonymous said...

So I guess Mr. Vince is saying that police agencies (BATFE included) really want to kill suspects, rather than apprehend them, since they ALL carry hollow-point ammunition in their service weapons.

St Wendeler said...

I guess the key question is this: Why is Mr. Vince's former occupation more relevant to MSNBC than his current occupation?

My former occupation is Circus Clown* (as some of you might have guess from my writings), but does that have any relevance to what I'm saying today?

* not true

The Virginia Tech Conspiracy said...

Hmm, that's some interesting information. I'm also making a blog concerning the likely conspiracy of Virginia Tech.