The Outdoor Channel's new documentary on gun-free zones, hosted by Katie Pavlich and hyped by Fox News, will feature right-wing media's favorite gun myths -- including the false claim that gun-free zones encourage mass shootings and may “creat[e] an environment for criminal activity to run rampant.”
The April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends hyped the Outdoor Channel's Safe Haven: Gun-Free Zones In America documentary premiering later that day, featuring its trailer and highlighting film-host and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich. Using the premiere to push the conservative myths that shooters specifically target locations that don't allow guns and that more guns would prevent mass shootings and other crimes, host Steve Doocy asserted that “you think gun-free zones, that's going to be safe, but that means if you don't have a gun, the bad guys do and you're in trouble.” Pavlich agreed, adding, “gun-free zones are not gun-free, it gives criminals an ability to have the upper hand on people who are simply following the law.”
But the documentary's premise, that gun-free zones may “creat[e] an environment for criminal activity to run rampant,” is based on right-wing media myths that claim criminals and shooters specifically target locations that don't allow guns and that more guns prevent mass shootings and other crimes. Conservative media have repeatedly used this falsehood to exploit mass shootings in order to promote looser gun regulations, but such logic defies reality.
According to a Mother Jones analysis of 62 mass shootings in the United States between 1982 and 2012, there is no evidence that shooters specifically open fire on locations that ban guns or that arming Americans further will help prevent mass shootings -- “not one of the 62 mass shootings” analyzed were stopped by a civilian carrying a concealed weapon. And according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the majority of mass shootings between 2009 and 2013 occurred in places where guns were allowed.
Furthermore, there is no evidence that guns prevent sexual violence on college campuses, as the documentary's trailer and Fox suggest. A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health explains that students who keep guns at college are more likely to engage in risky or illegal behavior and notes that past studies have found that students who owned a gun were more likely to report “being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college.”
Fox's excitement over the documentary is unsurprising given that it is hosted by one of conservative media's favorite gun safety misinformers, Katie Pavlich -- a network contributor with a history of pushing conservative gun myths and most recently came under fire for suggesting that sexual assault benefit feminists and school administrators politically in a speech claiming that guns are the “best defense” against sexual assault.
Safe Haven will premiere on the Outdoor Channel, a network with close ties to the National Rifle Association (NRA), including two NRA shows, and features conservative columnist Ted Nugent, who is notorious for inflammatory rhetoric, as its spokesperson.