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Entertainment TV Shows Keep Pushing Lies About Guns

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/ Rick Bowmer

Last Friday, anti-Semitic thugs attacked a Jewish family, yelling “Free Palestine!,” “Die Jew!” “F– you Jew,” and “I’m gonna rape your wife.” Fortunately, an armed driver was able to stand between the attackers and the family. You may not hear about many of these stories, but they occur all the time. And there are dozens of cases in recent years where concealed handgun permit holders have stopped what police say would have been mass public shootings. Those would make gripping stories.


But don’t ever expect to see gripping stories like this on entertainment television. For years network television, ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, refuse to show even a single successful defensive gun use by a civilian. You would surely never know that people successfully use guns defensively some 2 million times a year. 

Instead, defensive gun use is shown to always goes wrong. Either the citizen ends up being murdered by the criminal without hurting any of the criminals, accidentally shoots a loved one, or is a danger to themselves and the police. And this bias has been going on for years across all the networks.

Just take some examples so far this year.

NBC’s Chicago PD, Season 8, Episode 14, May 12, 2021: A homeowner tries to use a gun defensively to stop a home robbery and ends up being shot by one of the robbers.

In another episode of that show (Episode 4, January 27, 2021), a woman tries using a gun to stop an abusive boyfriend from hurting her, but he takes the gun from her and beats her. The boyfriend then uses the gun that he stole from her to murder a police officer. There is no notion that if a much physically stronger male attacker is close enough to the woman to take her gun, the woman is already in extreme danger. 

CBS’s FBI: Most Wanted, Season 2, Episode 12, May 4, 2021: Even an off-duty police officer fails at trying to use a gun successfully and ends up being murdered with his gun by someone who was vandalizing his car.

CBS’s Magnum PI, Season 3, Episode 10, March 5, 2021: An Army ranger on leave obtains a gun illegally and attempts suicide. Somehow the claim is that if only the gun dealer hadn’t sold the gun illegally, he supposedly wouldn’t have been able to attempt suicide. Most suicides in the US involve guns, but that ignores that there are many close substitute methods of committing suicide.


Another episode of Magnum PI (Episode February 8 12 2021) shows a 12-year-old stealing his father’s gun from a bedside table and accidentally shooting his 10-year-old brother. The message is parents should be afraid of guns in the home even if the parent is at home. But this again greatly exaggerates the dangers of guns in the home. In 2019, there were 37 accidental gun deaths for children under 11 years of age. Past research has shown that most of those involve shots from adult males, most in the mid to late 20s, who also have criminal records and are very likely to be drug addicts or alcoholics. So with 43.8 million children in that age range, the probability of a young child getting ahold of a gun and accidentally shooting another child is incredibly small. With half of the American homes owning guns, that implies a 0.00017 percent chance of a child dying from an accidental gunshot in those homes.

CBS’s Blue Bloods, Season 11, Episode 8, March 5, 2021: A jewelry store owner tries to use a gun to stop a gang from robbing his store, and one of the robbers fatally shoots the store owner. The store owner doesn’t even get a shot off before being murdered.

CBS’s NCIS LA, Season 12 Episode 10, February 14, 2021: A woman explains to the NCIS LA agents that she has a gun for protection, but the gun was stolen and used in a crime. She says that she never thought that one of the people she knew would steal it, and Marty Deeks (played by Eric Christian Olsen) says in exasperation: “We never do.” His partner (Kensi Blye, played by Daniela Ruah) is making faces to show how stupid she thinks the woman is for having a gun for protection.


It is no surprise that the gun control groups talk openly about working with producers and scriptwriters about getting gun control messages in their shows.

The lessons from these entertainment shows are clear. Don’t try to use a gun for protection, and it’s better not to even think of owning one. Gun control advocates know Americans won’t accept more gun control if given accurate information. It is bad enough that news programs provide only one side of this debate. Americans want entertainment, but they just can’t escape lies about gun ownership.

Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and most recently the author of “Gun Control Myths.”

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