Media Treatment of the Virginia Gun Rights Rally was Embarrassing

On Monday, Jan. 20, thousands gathered near the Virginia State Capitol to protest proposed gun control legislation in the state. The proposed legislation — scheduled for a full Virginia House vote sometime in the coming week or two — includes limiting residents to one handgun purchase per month, universal background checks, a “red flag bill” allowing guns to be removed from anyone deemed dangerous to themselves or others, along with other legislation.

Regardless of whether these bills are useful and/or constitutional is an argument for another time. One thing, however, is certain: the media treatment of this rally and the individual protesters was nothing short of disgusting. Headlines leading up to and during the event warned of potential violent outbursts and attempted to conflate gun-rights activist with racist white supremacist terrorists. An NBC news headline leading up to the event read, “As gun rights rally looms in Virginia, Richmond Resident Fear Another Charlottesville.” MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin warned, “Right now thousands of gun-rights activists, white nationalists, and militia groups are swarming the Virginia state capitol in Richmond.” Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a State of Emergency through the commonwealth leading up to the rally.

There was no attempt to hide the agenda. If the media could advertise this event as a follow up of the brutal white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017 (in which a woman was killed by white supremacist terrorists), then they could paint all gun-rights activists as racist extremists. Put simply, the media wanted violence. They wanted to be able to conflate racists and pro-gun activists; they wanted to control the narrative, not cover the event. 

Much to the dismay of those covering it, the rally went off without serious incident. No riot gear was required, and no one was killed. There were even videos of protesters picking up trash as they left. 

One’s position on gun rights is meaningless when judging the media. You may want no gun regulations, or you may want a complete ban, but we should all want a responsible media that does a good job. You cannot lament the division in our country while simultaneously labeling thousands of Virginians as domestic terrorists without evidence. Do better. Be better. The American people should demand better.