Saturday, April 28, 2007

Media vilify gun makers and sellers for gunman's rampage

Last week after tragedy struck Virginia Tech and a gunman took 32 innocent lives, the media portrayed legal businesses as complicit in the murders. The media coverage quickly turned into a raging debate about gun control, with reporters on the three major networks blaming a number of businesses that committed no crime. ABC's Brian Ross was the worst offender, painting Roanoke Firearms as the villain on several different ABC programs.

Ross repeated that slanted statement in slightly different words on April 17 "Primetime Live," when he called the store one "that has sold guns involved in four previous murders, but none like this one."

Gun makers Glock and Walther were both blamed by Diane Sawyer, who told viewers, "We're gonna be telling you more about the lives those guns took later on in the broadcast." That was on April 18 "Good Morning America." CNN's "American Morning" also maligned Glock by calling the 9 mm a "paramilitary weapon" on April 17.

The Gun Source, an online firearms store, eBay and Dick's Sporting Goods were also implicated by reports. John Markell is the owner of Roanoke Firearms, the store where Seing-Hui Cho legally purchased a 9 mm Glock used in the Blacksburg, Va., shooting. "I was so heartbroken to find out it came from me. I mean I could have done nothing any different. There was no reason for me to deny the sale. We deny sales to people every day," Markell told CNN.

But ABC's Brian Ross made Markell look like a willing accomplice to homicide when he said the store "has a history of selling guns involved in murders," on "Good Morning America." Similarly, CBS "Evening News" also besmirched Markell's reputation on April 17. "Roanoke Firearms sells about 2,500 guns a year, and this isn't the first time his guns have been linked to crime," said Armen Keteyian. The CBS reporter cited ATF records that link 32 guns "to purchases from the Roanoke store" between 1999 and 2003. That would be less than 0.27 percent of all the guns sold at the Roanoke shop.

Since the shooting, people have sent hateful emails and death threats to Markell, and Roanoke Firearms had to temporarily shut down the store's Web site. Part of a message on the site was addressed to those letter writers. "How many of you called the company who sold Timothy McVeigh the diesel fuel or fertilizer he used to make the bomb in Oklahoma City, or the company that rented him the Ryder truck? Should we outlaw diesel fuel and trucks?" the statement said. The backlash against Markell was so severe that he went on CNN's "Larry King Live" on April 18 to defend himself. Regarding the threats against Markell King said, "That's kind of ironic that people opposed to guns are threatening you with bodily harm."

More here

California man acquitted in neighbor's killing : "Three years ago, a jury was split over whether rancher James Grove, 69, was guilty of killing his 61-year-old neighbor in the rural outskirts of Fresno. But after a three-day retrial in Fresno County Superior Court, jurors announced a unanimous verdict Thursday. All 12 found him not guilty of manslaughter. A year and a half ago, Grove turned down a prosecutor's offer to plead no contest to a lesser crime and be put on probation but not serve jail time, Kinney said. Instead, Grove insisted on a trial -- risking a potential 21-year prison sentence if convicted. Grove and Barber lived relatively peacefully for years while they shared a fenced property line in the rural eastern limits of Fresno. The smoke from Barber's chimney -- contaminated by a wood preservative burning in his fireplace -- would waft into Grove's property and bother his wife. One day, as the plumes of smoke rose again, Grove snapped, Skiles said. The 400-pound Barber had been shot in the stomach. He died the next day in a hospital. Five months before he was killed, Barber showed Grove a new handgun he had bought, Kinney said. He said that during the following months, Barber tried to make it clear to Grove he kept it in his coat pocket. Barber suggested they settle their dispute with a gunfight, Kinney said. He said Grove shot Barber only after Barber reached in his coat pocket and told him, "I'm going to shoot you." At first, 10 jurors believed Grove should be convicted. Only two felt otherwise. But, Kinney said, jurors swung the other way after they carefully read a state law that states a person can still act out of self-defense even if the person confronts -- instead of flees -- someone perceived to be a threat."

Feisty Texas clerk killed robber in self-defense: "In the attempted robbery gone wrong, a store clerk turned the tables on two [black] men armed with a Tech-9. Around closing time on Wednesday night, 21-year-old Michael Walker and 21-year-old Andrew Fobbs went into the Fabulous Urban and Sports Wear with intentions to rob it, say police. The suspect and the clerk wrestled for each others guns. That's when the suspect let go of his to reach for the clerk's. As they both fight for control of the weapon, the clerk shot Walker in the chest and leg. Walker later died at the hospital. Meantime, the other suspect, made a run for it. But he couldn't get out because the door was locked. The clerk called 911 and kept him there at gunpoint until police arrived. The clerk won't face any charges because the District Attorney said it was a clear case of self-defense.

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