Media Matters Twists Reality to
Monger Fear of .50 Caliber Rifles



Print Friendly and PDF

By Kurt Hofmann, July 23rd, 2014
JPFO writer contributor, © 2014.

"Fox News Accidentally Exposes Recklessness Behind NRA's Defense Of A 'Battlefield Weapon,'" screams the headline of a Media Matters for America article about U.S. Border Patrol agents allegedly coming under fire from across the Rio Grande, from the Mexican side, by gunmen armed with guns built to fire the powerful .50 BMG cartridge--a favorite target of gun ban extremists:

Ronnie Barrett

Following reports of a .50 caliber sniper rifle attack on U.S. Border Patrol agents, Fox News hosts immediately recognized the threat the high-powered "battlefield weapon" poses to law enforcement. Criticism of the gun on Fox, however, stands in sharp contrast to the National Rifle Association's longstanding campaign to prevent the regulation of .50 caliber weapons, which are manufactured by one of its board members.

Timothy Johnson

Media Matters, some may be aware, is a reliable source of bought and paid for anti-gun "journalism," receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from the "progressive" (and therefore rabidly anti-gun) Joyce Foundation, to generate hysterical anti-gun propaganda. The author of the article, Timothy Johnson, is, according to his bio, "a guns and public safety researcher at Media Matters, having previously spent time at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence Legal Action Project and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence." Well that sounds like an objective source.

Viewing both the NRA and Fox News as "enemies," Media Matters is clearly pleased by what it presents as a new rift between Fox and gun rights advocates on the subject of .50 caliber rifles, with Fox obviously engaging in a bit of overblown hyperbole about the supposed dangers of such firearms. This sentence is particularly interesting:

Fox's Jon Scott described the rifle as "a weapon of war," noted that, "The slugs a .50 caliber weapon fires are so big that body armor really won't do you much good," and called it a "battlefield weapon."

What makes that interesting is that if one follows the two links above to the Fox segments being cited, one does indeed hear exaggerated fears of the .50 BMG cartridge, but one does not hear anything about rifles. From the first segment: "And here is how the Border Patrol is explaining it: that this .50 cal machine gun fire is coming across the border." And from the second: "Fox News now confirming that our Border Patrol agents were sent scrambling, scrambling, for cover after they came under heavy fire by .50 caliber machine gun weapons along our southern border."

So now it's ".50 caliber machine guns"? What happened to the "sniper rifles," which Johnson laments are "regulated no more strenuously than a typical hunting rifle, thanks to efforts by the gun lobby"? Now granted, Fox's reference to "machine guns" may be a case of the well known phenomenon of "Authorized Journalists" being utterly clueless about guns, but the multiple references to "suppressive fire" lend at least some plausibility to the notion that the .50 caliber fire was fully automatic.

Besides, forget the "machine guns," and let's assume that the gunfire really did come from "sniper rifles"--if whether or not a gun is a "weapon of war" is to be decided based on its caliber, then all 9mm pistols are "weapons of war," because the 9mm Parabellum has for decades been a favorite round for sidearms and submachine guns in military forces all over the world. Should rifles chambered in .30-06 be banned, since that cartridge served with distinction for decades for the U.S. military, including through both World Wars? 12 gauge shotguns, .58 caliber muzzle loaders, .38 and .45 caliber revolvers, and far too many others to even try to list--all "weapons of war"--should they all be banned?

Would there be any less a "war" being waged on the Border Patrol agents, if the rounds coming at them were "only" 7.62mm (.30 caliber) or 5.56mm (.223 caliber)? Should we tell the families of our fighting men and women who fell in Iraq and Afghanistan, killed with "only" a 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm cartridge, that their killers were using guns too small to be considered "weapons of war"?

Johnson accuses the NRA of "falsely arguing that .50 caliber weapons pose no threat to the general public," despite there being not a single documented case of a person in the U.S. having been killed with a rifle chambered for the .50 BMG cartridge, and despite the rifles having been on the civilian market ever since Ronnie Barrett sold his first "Barrett Light Fifty" forty-two years ago.

That's something one certainly would not have guessed based on this passage from Johnson's "research":

Gunfire at the U.S. border is the latest incident disproving the false claims the NRA makes to keep .50 caliber rifles legal. Gun violence prevention group Violence Policy Center has documented myriad serious crimes involving the .50 caliber rifle including assassinations of law enforcement agents and use by anti-government militias and other extremists.

Perhaps Johnson didn't read the VPC "studies" he cites and links to, but I have, and the only "assassinations" documented there never got past the planning stage.

Johnson should probably be more careful about whom he chooses to accuse of lying, but I have no real objection to him describing .50 caliber rifles as "weapons of war." My preferred term, though, would be "every other terrible implement of the soldier," which is no argument against the fundamental truth that they should "ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Was this information useful to you? If so, please consider donating, becoming a member or renewing your membership, or buying a DVD, book, tee-shirt, or other gear at our JPFO store.

A former paratrooper, Kurt Hofmann was paralyzed in a car accident in 2002. The helplessness inherent to confinement to a wheelchair prompted him to explore armed self-defense, only to discover that Illinois denies that right, inspiring him to become active in gun rights advocacy. He also writes the St. Louis Gun Rights Examiner column. Kurt Hofmann Archive.

Back to Top




The JPFO Store

Films and CDs