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Couric's Under the Gun, Under Fire Again

Friday, August 26, 2016

The film Under the Gun, produced and narrated by news anchor Katie
Couric and directed by Stephanie Soechtig, took a major credibility hit
soon after its May release, when it was revealed that the film
incorporates footage intentionally manipulated and edited to show,
incorrectly, that members of a Virginia-based gun rights group were
dumbstruck upon being asked about background checks for gun purchases.
In reality, their response was immediate, forceful and articulate, but
their four-minute response was replaced, entirely, with eight or nine
seconds of mute silence.

After the audiotape of the actual exchange surfaced, Ms. Kouric admitted
the deception, "tak[ing] responsibility for a decision that
misrepresented an exchange I had with members of the Virginia Citizens
Defense League (VCDL)." (Ms. Soechtig, however, stands by the doctored
clip, claiming that the facts in the film are "air-tight" and the edit
was only getting attention because it "g[a]ve the NRA something to
fixate on.") In any event, the iMDB movie website now lists this caution
about the so-called documentary: "there was a pause edited into the
movie following pro-gun enthusiasts being asked a question on
background checks. The producers claimed it was for 'dramatic effect'
but in reality the pro-gun enthusiasts responded almost immediately.
This led many to question the film and Katie Couric's integrity."

Next, a video interview exposed an interstate gun buy apparently
engineered by Ms. Soechtig, who sent a producer, a Colorado resident, to
Arizona to purchase firearms, including handguns, in a private sale
without a background check. ("And that's perfectly legal!" exclaims the
outraged Ms. Soechtig.) Actually, federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(3),
makes it a felony for any person who is not a federal licensee to
transport into or receive in the state where he or she resides any
firearm purchased or otherwise obtained outside that State. Another
federal law, 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(5), generally prohibits the private sale
or any delivery of a firearm to a person the transferor knows or has
reasonable cause to believe does not reside in the same state as the

Hubris appears to have caught up with Under the Gun in yet another
episode of creativity run amok, this time regarding an alleged deletion
of interview material featuring Dr. John Lott, well-known author of More
Guns, Less Crime and a new book, The War on Guns: Arming Yourself
Against Gun Control Lies. Dr. Lott had spent approximately six hours
being interviewed for Under the Gun. Prior to the film's release,
however, when Ms. Soechtig was asked whether her film featured any
gun-rights experts (anyone besides persons "very strongly tilted
towards gun control"), she confirmed that Dr. Lott had been interviewed
but his input and information were not being used. "We did a great piece
on him. He's the originator of the idea that more guns equal less crime.
His research has been criticized and largely discredited, and when we
went to include it in the film, it felt like unnecessary real estate to
put in the film…We kept going back to the idea that we wanted to reserve
the real estate in the film for the responsible gun owners."

As biased and unscrupulous as the "official" response on the exclusion
of John Lott may be, it now appears that some Lott footage made it into
the film, but was taken out after Michael Bloomberg allegedly insisted
on its removal. According to a recent interview with John Cardillo,
"They were going to run it, and Bloomberg and Couric had a private
screening and after that screening" the Lott footage was deleted.

Dr. Lott's newest book, The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun
Control Lies, identifies the probable explanation behind this adjustment
of the "real estate." Michael Bloomberg, founder of the Everytown
gun-control group, and other gun-control proponents are spending
hundreds of millions of dollars on producing false and misleading
information because they have seen from polls that this makes a
difference. They know that if they are going to win the gun
debate, they must change people's perceptions. For some hardcore
supporters of the right to self-defense, these studies might not matter.
But Bloomberg and others know that for the broad majority of Americans
in the middle of the debate, bombarding them with false claims about
guns can make a big difference.

(Or, to borrow the phraseology of Ms. Soechtig, "When they can continue
to spew their rhetoric unchallenged, they can continue to stay on point
and on brand.")

While truth may be the ultimate weapon in the gun debate, for the
anti-gun debaters, truth seems to be the first casualty.
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