SMH Not Straight Shooters When It Comes To Gun Control

Hearing that the Sydney Morning Herald has an extreme left wing bias comes as no surprise. Only the ABC can compare to the Fairfax broadsheet when it comes to running ridiculously long winded fluff pieces about Julia Gillard and story after story about how climate change will destroy us all in a few thousand years.

But hey, I believe in a free press so who am I to judge, if that is what they think will help them sell newspapers then good luck to them. I would note that it doesn’t seem to be working for them, sales are at an all time low and their stock price (FXJ) has taken an absolute bath in recent years. It is worth 80% less than it was worth 5 years ago. Interestingly, for those who try to suggest that this is solely an issue of the times changing and nobody reading news any more, over the same period News Limited (NWS) has seen its share price increase by 20%.

But I digress…

The issue at hand is the media bias in the SMH, I always laugh when I meet people who tell me that they read the SMH because they think it offers a balanced news
source, this is often followed by them mentioning how they enjoy the open political discussion on display on ‘Q&A’ or ‘The Project’.

Today’s issue is the Sydney Morning Herald’s stance on gun control. After being offered an OpEd piece supporting firearm owners by a significant member of the gun owners community the SMH refused to run it unless they could make wholesale changes to the article thus changing the message and feeling of the piece to something that suited their agenda.

For those who are not familiar with it an OpEd, by definition, is not something you should be changing, it isn’t a news story where a journalist may take liberties to focus on specific areas. An OpEd is designed to offer a person’s personal views on a particular issue.

Gun control has been all the rage lately. With all that is happening in the US and the bikie gangs of Western Sydney realising that it is easier to shoot your opponents than to negotiate with them it is only natural that the topic would be at the foreground of the national agenda. This has of course led the wowser brigade to run opinion piece after opinion piece condemning guns and explaining how horrific they feel the 4.3 million members of the NRA are in America and the 140,000 members of the SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association of Australia) are. Pretty much every day this week we have seen several articles being run calling for a need to tighten gun laws and increase regulation in Australia.

Diana Melham is the Executive Director of the SSAA in NSW. The SSAA is the largest body in Australia dedicated to protecting and promoting the shooting sports. You would assume in a discussion about gun reform Mrs Melham would be a logical source to turn to if you were looking to hear how law abiding firearm owners felt about this debate. Apparently not to the SMH who were quite happy to run article after article condemning gun owners in NSW without offering so much as a quote from the body that represents the gun owners in Australia.

After days without being contacted Mrs Melham’s team proactively rang up the Sydney Morning Herald and said they would like to offer a piece for the paper to run in response to all of the one sided articles they had been publishing. The Sydney Morning Herald said yes, go for it.

Mrs Melham penned a response to the articles and sent it to the SMH. The Herald contacted them and said they would not run the piece the way it is, they insisted on making some changes to the story otherwise it would not be printed. Mrs Melham’s team assumed that these were slight cosmetic changes (which are natural when publishing something in a major commercial media outlet) and asked them to send over their proposed changes.

What the Herald sent back was not a slight cosmetic change. It was a completely different article which did very little to support the angle that Mrs Melham had been trying to portray.

The new article had been truly reformed into the kind of socialist propaganda that the SMH looks for in its publications. Complete with a newly inserted paragraph talking about how great Julia Gillard has been for Western Sydney (Mrs Melham’s original piece did not mention Ms Gillard once) and a paragraph saying how damaging Premier O’Farrell’s hunting laws had been to the political landscape (again, you guessed it, Mrs Melham’s article did not mention Premier O’Farrell at all).

As we can see here the SMH wasn’t overly concerned in providing balance or even truth for that matter. As long as their mantra of ‘Labor Good, Liberal Bad’ was adhered to then all was well.

There were also several other changes. The word ‘firearm’ was replaced with the word ‘weapon’. Obviously the word firearm didn’t strike enough fear into the hearts of the leftist target market.

Now I should point out here that by changing it I am not suggesting that the Herald is pretending that Mrs Melham is now advocating tougher regulation for gun owners. The article does represent her views. But, it is very clear that Mrs Melham has a particular point she is trying to make about penalising illegal gun crime instead of law abiding gun owners. The Herald has removed this message from her article.

It is amazing to see just how much the Herald will systematically change the words and views of somebody to reflect their own agenda. A Senior Adviser at the SSAA, Tim Horan, summed up the situation best with the following.

“I’ve worked in the media for over 10 years, and honestly I am stunned by this. Not so much that they wanted to make a few cosmetic changes but to add complete paragraphs is just ridiculous”.

Luckily for him, I don’t work for the Sydney Morning Herald, so I will leave his quote in his own words instead of assuming I know better.

Below is an UNEDITED copy of the OpEd piece by Diana Melham that was to be published in the Sydney Morning Herald tomorrow. The article the SMH refused to publish.

Focus on the illegal guns !!

“There’s only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up and if you don’t actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time.” – Former US President Ronald Reagan.
The issue of gun control is a topical one at the moment. Recent tragic events in the United States have caused many Australians to look at our own firearm laws.
And much has been made of a recent study showing that Australia has the same number of firearms today as we had in 1996 – before the horrific Port Arthur massacre. But an important point is being overlooked in these discussions.
Each of those firearms is a legal firearm. It is owned by a licensed, law abiding, firearm owner who has met and complied with some of the strictest gun laws anywhere in the World.
As I speak with non-shooters I often hear that Australia is developing some kind of American gun culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The truth is that here in NSW we have very strict laws which govern our sport. A person who wishes to legally purchase a firearm has to first show a genuine reason such as target shooting, hunting or collecting to obtain their firearms licence. They are also required to complete a theory and practical based firearm safety test and undergo an extensive police background check. They must also prove to Police that they have the facilities to store a firearm safely, and agree to regular police inspections of their safe storage.
The checklist for people wishing to purchase a handgun is even more rigorous with a six month probationary period where an applicant is required to attend regular practice shoots while under the strict supervision of Club officials.
Applying for a firearm in NSW is a lengthy process which can easily extend past twelve months.
What we need to focus on is illegal firearms.
The law makers that we entrust with these important decisions should be guided by one key question in relation to firearms.
Will this law stop criminals from obtaining illegal firearms?
Unfortunately, the answer is too often – no.
Just last year we learned that more than 200 illegal firearms had been sent through a suburban Australia Post office. In recent weeks we have all been shocked to learn about a small group of criminals working in Customs and Border Protection – our front line of defence against the very illegal firearms that we are seeing used in crime after crime after crime.
And earlier this week a senior NSW Police officer acknowledged that the illegal import of firearms was a major challenge for law enforcement.
SSAA NSW represents more than 44,000 members throughout the State who are subject to some of the strictest firearms laws in the World. We have athletes who have represented Australia at the highest level of international competition and juniors who hope to one day reach those lofty heights.
But every time they hear of a new shooting incident, they are left worrying what new laws the Government of the day will come up with to attack their sport.
As a member of the NSW Government’s Firearms Consultative Committee, SSAA NSW want to work with the Government on sensible and effective firearms laws.
But we must focus on the criminals with illegal firearms. We must make it harder for them to get their hands on illegal firearms. And when people are caught with illegal guns, we must make sure the punishment fits the crime.
Because no one wants illegal firearms off the street more than licensed, law abiding firearm owners.
Diana Melham
Executive Director
Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW)

http://www.ssaansw.org.au/index.php/home-page-articles/342-focus-on-illegal-guns

Below is the article that the Herald wanted to publish:

Unquestionably there is a huge difference between gun laws in the United States and Australia. It was former US President Ronald Reagan who summed it up best when he said: “There’s only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up and if you don’t actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time.” That’s a handy rule for anywhere in the world.

There’s no denying gun control is back in the news the worldover. Which for the 44,000 member of NSW’s Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) is not a great thing; given we are already subject to some of the strictest firearms laws in the world. Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s vow to end gun violence on the streets of Sydney, President Barack Obama’s tightening up on gun control following the tragic events at Sandy Hook school, have caused many Australians to relook at our own firearm laws.

Much has been made of a recent study showing that Australia has the same number of firearms today as we had in 1996 – before the Port Arthur massacre. But an important point is being overlooked in these discussions.
Each of those firearms is a legal firearm. It is owned by a licensed, law abiding, firearm owner who has met and complied with strict gun laws.

Many non-shooters believe Australia is developing some kind of liberal American gun culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here in NSW we have very strict laws which govern our sport. A person who wishes to legally purchase a firearm has to first show a genuine reason such as target shooting, hunting or collecting to obtain their firearms licence. They are also required to complete a theory and practical based firearm safety test and undergo an extensive police background check. They must also prove to police that they have the facilities to store a firearm safely, and agree to regular police inspections of their safe storage. In NSW – unlike some other states – it is compulsory to attend shooting club meetings too. If your SSAA membership card displays a T (for Target) you are required to make four Range Attendances a year. If you have a H (for Hunting) you need to make two range attendances and if your membership has a C (for collecting) you need to attend one Collectors Club meeting.

The checklist for people wishing to purchase a handgun is even more rigorous with a six month probationary period where an applicant is required to attend regular practice shoots while under the strict supervision of Club officials. Applying for a firearm in NSW is a lengthy process which can easily take over a year to complete.
What we need to focus on is illegal firearms, which is indeed what the NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher has said.

The law makers that we entrust with these important decisions on weapons should be guided by one key question in relation to firearms: Will this law stop criminals from obtaining illegal firearms?
Unfortunately, the answer is too often – no.

Just last year we learned that more than 200 illegal firearms had been sent through a suburban Australia Post office. In recent weeks we have all been shocked to learn about a small group of criminals working in Customs and Border Protection – our front line of defence against the very illegal firearms that we are seeing used in crime after crime after crime.

And earlier this week a senior NSW Police officer acknowledged that the illegal import of firearms was a major challenge for law enforcement.

It’s important to remember too that SSAA NSW represents athletes who have represented Australia at the highest level of international competition and juniors who hope to one day shoot for their country.
But every time they hear of a new shooting incident, they are left worrying what new laws the government of the day will come up with to attack their sport.

As a member of the NSW Government’s Firearms Consultative Committee, SSAA NSW want to work with the government on sensible and effective firearms laws. Not shoot from the hip-style reactions.

With the O’Farrell government’s plan to allow recreational hunting in NSW National Parks from March, guns are bound to continue to be a political issue in 2013. But we must focus on the criminals with illegal firearms. We must make it harder for them to get their hands on illegal firearms. We shooters know how to do this and we must be consulted. When people are caught with illegal guns, we must make sure the punishment fits the crime. Because no one wants illegal firearms off the street more than licensed, law abiding firearm owners.

Diana Melham
Executive Director
Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW)

About Joseph Del Duca

Joseph Del Duca is a Mortgage Broker based in Sydney's Inner West. He has previously worked as a Media and Communications Advisor to Federal Coalition Members of Parliament. Joseph's two major interests are finance and politics. He enjoys all sports along with any other realm of life where two humans are competing against each other. He has a particular love of rugby league and is hoping that the Rabbitohs will bring at least one premiership trophy to Redfern Oval in his life time. He tweets @Joey_Del.
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3 Responses to SMH Not Straight Shooters When It Comes To Gun Control

  1. Nicholas Calokerinos says:

    Excellent article Joe, this is my favourite one yet! You should consider sending it to major media organizations like the Australian or to the liberal party. Hell, you could even argue that Fairfax needs the reforms that Gina Rineheart could produce with this article.

  2. Jeff Reeves says:

    Is this left wing bias as you say or is it just plain stupid?
    Oh oh, I get your point.

  3. Dr Cedric Spencer says:

    The news from the chatter zone

    IF it is literary soirees you are after, there are few nicer spots than Annandale in Sydney, a suburb of restored ironwork and polished floorboards occupied by inner-city sophisticates. The drawback, however, is it takes an age to find a tradesman qualified to fix a broken tap.

    Annandale sits squarely inside the chatter zone: the enclaves of inner-metropolitan Australia where people get paid to think. The 2011 census found that media professionals outnumbered plumbers by 12 to one in Anthony Albanese’s seat of Grayndler, where parts of Annandale sit.

    Forty per cent of the Annandale workforce calls itself professional but only 7 per cent have a trade qualification. Annandale is that kind of place.

    For the sake of starting an argument, we’ll define the chatter zones as the 21 federal electorates where lawyers outnumber plumbers by at least two to one. Joe Hockey’s seat of North Sydney is top of the list (2182 lawyers, 111 plumbers) with Malcolm Turnbull’s Wentworth not far behind. Then comes the Labor-held seat of Sydney followed by Adam Bandt’s Green fiefdom of Melbourne. In Perth, Curtin is a chatter seat (6.5 lawyers for every plumber). So are Kevin Rudd’s Brisbane seat of Griffith (4.5 to one), Adelaide (4.4 to one), Solomon, which covers Darwin, and the public servant electorate of Fraser in the ACT. Tony Abbott’s Warringah is in 11th place.

    Many (but not all) of the people who live in these electorates think, behave and vote differently from their fellow Australians. Fifteen of the 21 electorates voted in favour of a republic in 1999, for example. The average vote across the zones was 55 to 45 in favour – the opposite, perversely, of the national result.

    The average primary vote for the Greens across the zone was 17.5 per cent at the 2010 election compared with less than 12 per cent across the rest of the country. The proportion of university graduates is well above the national average; the proportion of adults who did not complete Year 12 is well below. When asked about their religion, the occupants of the chatter zone are far likelier to say “none” than those in the rest of the country. This is, in other words, the homeland of the insider class.

    It is a matter of professional pride that journalists should be in touch with mainstream public opinion and and rub shoulders with the ordinary Joe. The census, however, reveals what some may have already suspected: the expanding media class tends not to stray from the coast or the inner-city suburbs.

    Four out of 10 journalists live in the chattering zone, mixing with people like themselves who return home at night with clean fingernails. The ratio of journalists to plumbers in any given district paints a dismal picture of a profession aloof and apart from the centre of Australian life.

    If all 150 federal seats are ranked on this scale, the seat of Macarthur on Sydney’s outer suburban fringe sits roughly in the middle of the table at No 73.

    With 69 journalists and 339 plumbers, it would be reasonable to imagine that the conversation around the bar at the Campbelltown RSL is pragmatic rather than theoretical. It would be the kind of place where people are less concerned about climate and more concerned about the weather, since many of them work outside in it.

    It is also, one suspects, the kind of place where same-sex marriage equality seems a rather odd thing to be discussing. This is not to suggest that the people of Macarthur are bigoted or prejudiced; the census provides no data on these characteristics.

    But it does reveal that in the seat of Sydney, where journalists like to live, one in 10 couples are people of the same sex. In Macarthur, the proportion of same-sex couples is one in 340. The cause of marriage equality that weighs so heavily on the minds of the journalistic class is hardly top of mind in the rest of Australia. This circumstantial evidence that media class occupies a different cultural zone from the rest of the nation has been given weight by research conducted by the University of the Sunshine Coast on the political attitudes of journalists.

    More than 600 journalists around Australia were questioned. More than half described themselves as having left-of-centre political views; only 12.9 per cent placed themselves on the Right.

    Of those prepared to discuss their voting intentions, 43 per cent said they would give their first preference vote to Labor; 30.2 per cent would vote for the Coalition; and 19.4 per cent for the Greens. There are no surprises there, nor in the fact 41 per cent of ABC journalists who declared their intention said they would be voting Greens.

    It is easy, but unfair, to single out the ABC for special mention. The cohort employed in commercial media is hardly representative of the general population either. At News Limited, the publisher of this newspaper, 46.5 per cent of journalists who responded to the researchers’ question said they would vote for Labor, 26.7 per cent for the Coalition, and 19.8 per cent for the Greens.

    The main difference between journalists at the ABC and in the commercial media is that the latter are mindful of the imperative to make a dollar. Far from corrupting journalism as some have suggested, market forces keep journalists on the straight and narrow and less dismissive of the national mood.

    Best regards,

    Cedric Spencer

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