CBC ‘Year of the Gun’ Film Continues One-Sided Firearm Coverage
TheGunBlog.ca — CBC, Canada’s state broadcaster, will show “Year of the Gun” tomorrow as a new film about individuals and gangs who shoot people illegally and their victims, the latest in a string of programs presenting firearms only as tools of crime.
The media company updated articles promoting the point-of-view documentary following this story.
- CBC new film is latest program on people who use guns illegally for harm.
- CBC almost always ignores lawful and beneficial use of firearms to focus on illegal and injurious use.
- Result is impression of bias that violates CBC Journalistic Standards and Practices (JSP) on balance and impartiality.
- CBC says it respects JSP over time and invites concerned viewers to contact ombudsman.
Canadian Broadcasting Corp.’s lead article for the CBC Docs POV show is by Angela Wright, a campaigner with Toronto-based Zero Gun Violence Movement. She cited five people on the harms caused by criminal shooters and zero people on the benefits of legitimate shooters.
In a second article for the film, CBC initially listed the millions of lawfully owned rifles, shotguns and handguns among the “shocking and surprising numbers relating to gun violence in Canada.” The company deleted those references today after TheGunBlog.ca mentioned them on Twitter. (Thank you, CBC.)
Error and Exaggeration
Marc de Guerre, the director of “Year of the Gun,” said in a third article in advance of tomorrow’s premiere that someone shot him by accident during a drive-by attack in Toronto in 2016.
- He said a “shell” blew through his hand, possibly intending to refer to the bullet.
- He said initially a 9 mm bullet travels at “1,700 miles per hour.” That’s equivalent to 2,500 feet per second or 760 metres per second, more than twice the muzzle velocity calculated by Federal Ammunition, a major ammo maker. Following this article, CBC updated its article to say “2,500 feet per second.” (Federal lists the speed as 1,180 feet per second, corresponding to about 360 metres per second, 1,300 kilometres per hour and 800 miles per hour.)
- He said guns are “designed solely to kill or maim,” suggesting anyone who uses guns for any other purpose is misusing them, or that almost every firearm in Canada is defective.
CBC, whose print, radio and TV programs span the arts, sports, news and entertainment, almost never mentions guns, shooters or shooting except in the context of crime and violence.
The media company rarely acknowledges the millions of hunters, farmers, plinkers, competitors, police, military and others who fire roughly half a billion rounds of ammunition each year legally, safely and responsibly.
It’s standard practice for journalists to present opposing views from key stakeholders, especially on subjects as complex and polarizing as gun ownership. CBC includes “balance” and “impartiality” among its Journalistic Standards and Practices (JSP). (See below.)
Shows for CBC Docs POV are personal documentaries that may have different goals and methods than CBC’s news operations.
“Year of The Gun was a point of view documentary produced by a victim of gun violence,” Chuck Thompson, CBC’s head of public affairs, told TheGunBlog.ca by e-mail today in response to questions. “With respect to our JSP as they relate to issues of controversy, CBC’s obligation is to ensure there is fairness and balance with our coverage over time.”
“I would also add that anyone who thinks that we have fallen short on that obligation can contact our ombudsman,” Thompson said.
Two years ago, CBC temporarily removed a video to correct it after shooters and gun-rights groups complained.
Read: CBC Briefly Pulls ‘Guns in Canada 101’ Video to Fix a Few Errors
The new film and the history of one-sided reporting is a particularly sensitive matter these days as the government prepares Bill C-71, a new law against federally licensed gun owners.
Officials are also examining new bans on guns and on home firearm storage for Olympic pistol shooters and hundreds of thousands of other recreational and sport shooters.
Protecting the rights of gun owners is becoming a central issue in this year’s election.
History of Imbalance
- “Year of the Gun” follows a CBC radio series this year called “One Bullet” that focused on “gun violence.”
- On Feb. 11, CBC News published an article about a group of doctors lobbying the government to pass Bill C-71 and other laws to imprison gun owners who don’t surrender their guns. It quoted four people supporting gun bans and not one word indicating this is a controversial view opposed by politicians, police and millions of others. TheGunBlog.ca, which covered the doctors previously, complained to CBC.
- On Aug. 30, two days after the government said it was examining new gun bans, CBC News published “Canada gun facts: Here are the latest stats on firearm deaths, injuries and crime.” The article didn’t mention a single fact about lawful shooters or the responsible use of firearms.
- The Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights has listed more than a dozen CBC reports last year slanting coverage in favour of firearm prohibitionists and against legitimate firearm users.
The Other Side
- CBC invited the editor of TheGunBlog.ca last year as the main guest on a CBC call-in radio show on handgun bans.
- CBC has published some of the most influential and authoritative reports relating to the current gun debate. Examples here, here and here.
Excerpt from CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices:
- We contribute to informed debate on issues that matter to Canadians by reflecting a diversity of opinion. Our content on all platforms presents a wide range of subject matter and views.
- On issues of controversy, we ensure that divergent views are reflected respectfully, taking into account their relevance to the debate and how widely held these views are. We also ensure that they are represented over a reasonable period of time.
- We provide professional judgment based on facts and expertise. We do not promote any particular point of view on matters of public debate.
What CBC Omits
Here are some facts and stats that CBC leaves out: (See our Facts & Stats page for more.)
- More men and women have a gun licence than play golf or hockey.
- Hunting and sport shooting are among the safest and most-popular outdoor activities and are at the core of Canadian culture and heritage. Farmers depend on firearms to protect their crops and livestock, and often their families.
- All guns are banned for everyone under threat of prison unless you have taken courses, passed tests, passed background and reference checks, and obtained permission from the federal police.
- More than 2 million men and women have gun licences, including almost one in seven men. Millions more family and friends of all ages hunt and shoot safely and responsibly under their supervision.
- Canada has about 1,400 target ranges, roughly the same as the number of hospitals.
- Licensed gun owners are registered with the federal police and monitored by the federal police.
- Buying or selling a handgun requires special police permission, even with a licence.
- A person without a gun licence or guns is statistically a much higher threat to public safety than a person with a permit.
- Almost 100,000 men and women, mainly police, are required to carry loaded handguns on their person every day for personal and public safety.
- The hunting and sport-shooting industry contributes billions of dollars to the economy every year. It directly and indirectly creates jobs for tens of thousands of men and women.
- The Bigger Story of CBC’s Video Recall Is What It Shows About Us (Apr 2017)
- How Statistics Canada Shapes Gun Politics and Perceptions (Feb 2019)
- How to Buy a Handgun in Canada: Regulatory and Procedural Steps (Jul 2018)
Update 7 p.m. Toronto time: Adds that CBC updated its articles following this story.