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Gutowski: The Media Consistently Relies on False Premises in Reports on Mass Shootings

Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski told NRATV's Dana Loesch that the media consistently report false premises in stories about firearms in the aftermath of mass shootings, automatically, and often incorrectly, arguing new or different gun control legislation would have prevented the shooting.

Gutowski spoke about the latest example of inaccurate reporting in the aftermath of a shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks, California. He explained some members of the media have incorrectly pushed the narrative that a California law, which was passed in 2016 but has been held up in court, could have prevented the shooting.

Thirteen people, including the gunmen, were left dead as a result of a shooting in Thousand Oaks last week. The gunman used an extended magazine to wreck havoc on the bar, a modification that is illegal in California, a state with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the United States. A number of media reports, however, chose to gloss over the fact the gunman's possession of the magazine was illegal as a result of a law implemented in 2000, Gutowski said.

California enacted a law that year banning the import, transfer, sale, or lending of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Gun owners with pre-existing magazines larger than the allotted amount were grandfathered, Gutowski explained. In 2016, though, the state passed a law to prohibit all possession of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, even those previously grandfathered in. That law was challenged by the NRA and is still in adjudication. Regardless of the 2016 law, the Thousand Oaks shooter's possession of the extended magazine was illegal. Many outlets ignored or downplayed that fact though, according to Gutowski, and instead focused on gun control advocates' push for stricter gun control laws.

"It really makes me angry, because I'm someone who advocates a lot on doing your best to engage with media, that most reporters want to get the facts right," Gutowski told NRATV. "Sometimes it's incredibly frustrating to deal with stories like this … [because] there's no correcting these stories either. They're just false premises. This [2016] law would have had no effect on this shooter because he was already breaking the law by having this magazine in the first place."

"If you read [the stories] long enough, if you get far enough down the story, they'll tell you that the law exists–that the magazines have been banned there since 2000," Gutowski said. "But upfront, there's a completely incorrect premise that somehow this gun control law that's held up in the courts could have prevented this. And it's not true."

"That's the conflation of those two pieces of legislation," Lowsch said, "… It makes it so much more difficult to have that conversation nationally about what can be done."