Your bias is showing

The Roanoke Times gets their slant on in this article examining why Virginia’s recently passed laws haven’t increased the number of people being denied permission to own a firearm.  If you recall, Virginia passed their own legislation similar to HR 2640; and of course HR 2640 itself was passed on the federal level.

After Virginia closed a loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to purchase his weapons of mass murder, the hope was that more people with mental health problems like Cho’s would be barred from buying guns.

That hasn’t happened.

Notice the subtle implication there, the article is pushing you towards the belief that crazy people are buying guns, when that isn’t the case.   In the next quoted section, they actually give you the numbers of denials for mental health reasons that the state recorded.

In fact, the number of gun transactions blocked for mental health reasons has decreased slightly since Gov. Tim Kaine signed an executive order requiring all people who receive court-ordered mental health treatment to be included in a database used to screen potential gun buyers.

In the eight months following the May executive order, 79 transactions were denied for mental health reasons.

During the same time period in 2006, 85 potential gun sales were stopped for the same reason, according to figures compiled by the Virginia State Police.

Now, like I said, the way the article started you’d almost think that they had some kind of hard hitting exposé that showed how people with mental illnesses were buying guns, despite Gov. Kaine’s executive order.  That would have been quite the juicy piece, no?  Too bad for the Roanoke Times that in this case, they’re just letting their bias show.

Corinne Geller, a state police spokeswoman, said authorities know of “no absolute reason or rationale” for why the number of denials went down following Kaine’s order.

The numbers, which are relatively small, tend to fluctuate from year to year, Geller said.

So what you actually have is normal statistical fluctuation, instead of the crazy people with guns story that the Times was hinting.

I understand this kind of journalism, because a paper is a business entity, and their primary goal is to make money.  “Crazy people with guns” moves a lot more papers that “Database experiences normal statistical fluctuations”.  Now, just because I understand it, doesn’t mean that I have to like it or agree with it.  I think it’s essentially a cheap trick, and in this case a poorly executed one at that.

1 thought on “Your bias is showing”

  1. Good catch.

    I don’t suppose it ever occurred to them that after all the hoopla about “closing the mental health loophole”, it’s possible that less people with records of mental health issues may have even TRIED to purchase guns?

    Nah…that can’t be it. It’s gotta be because NRA is twisting the arms of legislators who are still issuing bazookas to insane, mass murdering, alcoholic, drug addicted kindergarteners. Yeah…that’s it.

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