Media Ignores Call For Gun Violence Prevention In Loughner Sentencing Hearing

ABC, CBS, and USA Today ignored a call for strong gun violence prevention laws included in statements by Mark Kelly on behalf of his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, at the sentencing hearing for Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner.

While ABC, CBS, and USA Today reported on Kelly's statement to Loughner that “you may have put a bullet through her head, but you haven't put a dent in her spirit and her commitment to make the world a better place,” they ignored his comments about the role of high capacity magazines in the shooting and concerns that he and Giffords have about the enforcement of gun laws.

Giffords and Kelly took Arizona governor Jan Brewer to task for downplaying the role of high-capacity gun magazines in the January 2011 shooting that killed six and seriously wounded Giffords and 13 others: “In this state, we have elected officials so feckless in their leadership that they would say, as in the case of Governor Jan Brewer, 'I don't think it has anything to do with the size of the magazine or the caliber of the gun.' She went on and said, 'Even if the shooter's weapon had held fewer bullets, he'd have another gun, maybe. He could have three guns in his pocket' - she said this just one week after a high-capacity magazine allowed you to kill six and wound 19 others before being wrestled to the ground while attempting to reload.”

He continued, “We have a political class that is afraid to do something as simple as have a meaningful debate about our gun laws and how they are being enforced. We have representatives who look at gun violence, not as a problem to solve but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation, we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson, and after Aurora, we have done nothing.”

Other outlets -- CNN, NBC, Fox News, MSNBC, The Los Angeles TimesThe Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post -- reported on Kelly's comments to Loughner along with his concerns about lax gun laws.

Reporting on this hearing continues a pattern by many in the media of failing to report on the broader issue of gun violence during coverage of mass shootings. Often, the media has treated these mass killings as isolated incidents, without probing to see what role gun violence regulation has to play.

The gun that Loughner fired used high-capacity magazines, capable of holding more than 30 rounds ammunition. When the assault weapons ban was in place between 1994 and 2004, a federal limit of 10 rounds was in place. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans favor a ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines, yet the media has often neglected to include these findings while reporting on mass shootings, instead pushing the myth that the American people oppose gun violence prevention laws.


Media Matters searched the Nexis database and our own video archive for references to “Giffords.” We included any segment or article from the three broadcast news networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), the three cable news networks (CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC), and the top five national newspapers (Los Angeles TimesThe New York TimesUSA TodayWall Street Journal, and The Washington Post) covering Loughner's sentencing. Only segments or articles that were broadcast or published after Kelly made his statement (approxiamately 1:30 p.m., 11/8) were included.