Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thoughts: LVRJ and Metro Blue Card Article UPDATED

As you know, Nevada Carry was the first source to break the news that enhanced preemption had been signed into effect, in the form of SB 175 and SB 240, eliminating the Clark County handgun registration scheme (‘blue cards’) and a host of illegal local firearm regulations. The person, who got the news to the editor of Nevada Carry, was Don Turner, of the Nevada Firearms Coalition. The Coalition and its PAC were the only real organizations that fought for any sort of firearm reforms in Nevada this year, along with the lesser-known, but equally dedicated, Stillwater Firearms Association. Like a broken record, the NRA sent out an email blast essentially taking credit for the victory, when they made a handful of token appearances in Carson City this year and did nothing at all to halt the petition gathering for Bloomberg’s background check petition.

This morning, the Review-Journal posted an article titled “Metro will no longer cite or arrest for failing to register handguns”, which many on social media rightly questioned, calling it misleading, as if Metro were doing the public a favor.

As followers of this blog are aware, LVMPD failed to make any kind of definitive announcement until apparently late on June 9th, and then internally only. Only on the 10th, did it make the announcement public. The Review-Journal briefly covered the demise of blue cards in this sole blurb: “The measure also ends Clark County’s ‘blue card’ ordinance, a decades-old law requiring registration of handguns, and establishes ‘state control over the regulation of policies concerning firearms.’” To be fair, in coverage of the legislative session and sheriff’s race, they did cover the issue in more detail, but this is the extent of their treatment to a very big issue for Clark County gun owners.

The old media dropped the ball on the issue of preemption. They ignored years of police abuses when it came to Second Amendment rights. The gun-rights fireworks in the Legislature this session were treated largely as a sideshow to the other business, marginalizing the true conservative and independent right. Now the old wag has picked up the scent of this story, given it a shake between its jaws, and apparently dropped it, despite raising concerning questions about Metro’s behavior.

Such as:
  • Why did they dump the press release after hours when they would be unavailable for comment?  
  • Why would the Sheriff’s lobbyist Chuck Callaway refuse to comment to the media on the sheriff’s ‘support’ for eliminating the program?
  • Why wasn’t PIO director Laura Meltzer unsure on what the department’s stance on the issue was?
  • Why was there confusion after the governor signed the bill? It was pretty damn clear and Metro knew exactly what was coming down the pike?
The Review-Journal is getting at something, but it needs to step up its journalism game a bit and not just roll over for the sheriff. The article never went into the background of the issue. Why does this matter to Nevadans? Why is it a good thing? The headline, taken at face value, can be taken either as good thing, or a bad thing. The AP articles on SB 175 and SB 240 were focused primarily on the domestic violence misdemeanor conviction prohibition for firearm ownership/purchase (which only mirrored existing federal law) and changes to concealed firearm permit reciprocity and improvements to justifiable homicide.

Readers deserve to know the history of a police department that abused its authority, ran a costly program that was burden to gun dealers and the public, as well as provided dubious investigative value. Metro has never provided much in the way of evidence to support the program, just a smattering of arrest statistics and a story here and there about some random case that was closed using the database. By the way, stolen guns can be tracked without gun registration. All owners have to do is report them stolen, the same way they would report any other item of serialized stolen property.

The LVRJ missed most of the story and is doing a disserve to the public and its readers. For those who don't follow gun-rights issues, why does this matter? Why is this an important issue to the public? Nevada Carry will bring you this information and fill in the blanks that the old media won't fill in.


It’s clear that I take exception to the short article the Review-Journal published this morning. To be fair, this is more my bailiwick and not theirs. Yet it’s clear from the tremendous dialogue in their comments section that it has stirred a public debate and there is great interest in the subject matter that the newspaper didn’t fill.

I public called out the reporters, Kimberly De La Cruz and Wesley Juhl on Twitter, for being a little behind the times on the news. I meant to be a little provocative and facetious in my tweets. As this post clearly indicates, I am quite critical of the article which appears to be little more than a regurgitation of the press release. I called the Review-Journal the ‘old media’, a pejorative term for the established newspapers.

Here's the Twitter conversation. I'll let it speak for itself:

I will say that perhaps bragging about getting the ‘scoop’ might indeed be uncouth, but criticizing poor reporting isn’t, and certainly disdaining new forms of journalism is unprofessional. In the future, I will be just as critical of bad news stories, I’ll just be a little more circumspect the way I point them out.

My criticism of the article and the Review-Journal is what I term press release journalism. In this case, a reformulation of a press release forms the bulk of the story. Very little in the way of additional background is added. As readers of this blog know, there is a lot of information on the issue of preemption and blue cards—information I have gleaned myself from Review-Journal articles. If one was paying a $1.50 for a newspaper, don’t they deserve more than that? Even up against deadlines (as I was up against work this morning), the topic deserves to be revisited again in depth.

The reason ‘new’ media, such as blogs, first seen with the Drudge Report, and others like the Huffington Post, Breitbart, the Blaze, even TMZ, succeed is because they break out of the formats that have existed since anyone alive can remember. The bloggers and internet journalists will dig for information and devote time to obscure topics, willingly becoming iconoclasts simply in pursuit of a story. I don’t know why newspaper journalists and local TV reporters don’t do that anymore. Maybe it’s because they try to catch a little bit of everything to appeal to the widest audience. If so, how much effort would it take to simply address the valid points I made above?

Little, if any, investigation, and very little intelligent commentary. Though I disagree with him, John L. Smith of the Review-Journal has taken the time to write thoughtful and detail articles about topics of gun rights early in the legislative session. He even gave polite response to my harsh criticism. Even Fox 5 responded well to my correction. Too often, print and television media seem to miss the ball.

Mr. Juhl is a criminal justice reporter. This is his area of expertise and I’m sure he’s a smart guy. I would expect him to dig a little deeper. Maybe I offended him instead of coming off as a good-natured jab. If I did, I apologize. All that I’m asking is that he do a better job in reporting. Report more than just the press release.  

The problem here is that this turned into small-time narrow focused blogger (it’s true) vs. big-city newspaper reporter. I’m just as valid a journalist as Mr. Juhl is and there is a pretty big body of evidence, published and legal, to prove it. It’s time that the ‘old’ media gets around to respecting the ‘new’ media and realize that it needs to provide content of quality or it will continue to see falling readership and flagging sales.

Update, the Review-Journal did provide more explanation about what happened to blue cards late Thursday afternoon. Perhaps they needed more time to seek Bob Irwin of The Gun Store out to explain it to them.

-G. C. 

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