Among the nation's hyperactive special interest groups, from doctors to dairy farmers, none is as effective as the gun lobby in combining slick organization with membership zeal to create the perception of power on a single issue. For nearly 13 years, the N.R.A. and compatriot gun groups have successfully fought every attempt to strengthen the feeble Gun Control Act, passed after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Now, in the wake of the shooting of President Reagan, the lobby is ready to ward off another wave of proposed gun laws. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Congressman Peter Rodino of New Jersey last week introduced a bill that would ban the import, manufacture and sale of cheap, easily concealable handguns, known as "Saturday night specials," and require a three-week wait between the purchase and pickup of any handgun. Not only does the gun lobby have its cross hairs set to shoot that bill down; gun lobbyists even hope to pass a gun bill of their own that would riddle existing federal firearm regulations with as many holes as a road sign used for target practice.This is the kind of coverage that Professor Brian Anse Patrick studied for his book The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage that I wrote about in The Church of the MSM and the New Reformation. This is a little time-capsule of what it was like thirty (30!) years ago.
Oh, and the author of this antique? Evan "Obama is sort of God" Thomas, who now is the Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton.
And the beat goes on . . .