Denver Post Rigs Gun Poll
by Ari Armstrong, March 22, 2000
In an on-line poll March 21, the Denver Post asked, "Do you agree with Smith&Wesson's decision to provide safety locks on its handguns?" The default answer was set to "yes." In addition, the Post's characterization of the legal agreement Smith&Wesson signed with Housing and Urban Development and other government agencies was completely misleading. Does the Post really expect us to believe it's objective in its treatment of firearms issues?
On its main page (denverpost.com), the Post listed the link: "Today's poll: Gunmaker's new policy." In addition to providing the wording of the poll question (linked from http://www.denverpost.com/news/news0321c.htm), the paper also characterized the legal agreement in its "Your Voice" section, asking, "What do you think of Smith&Wesson's announcement Friday that it will provide trigger locks with its guns?"
Unfortunately, both the Post's implicit claims are false. The paper implies that Smith&Wesson does not now provide trigger locks with guns (but "will provide" them in the future), even though the manufacturer has been shipping locks with all handguns since 1997. That the Post ignored this obvious point is due either to incompetence or to intellectual dishonesty. More significantly, the Post implies that the legal agreement Smith&Wesson signed is mostly or only about trigger locks -- nothing could be further from the truth.
The legal agreement Smith&Wesson was blackmailed into signed by the government includes a host of far-reaching provisions regulating everything from "dumb gun" technology to the business practices of retailers who sell Smith&Wesson products. The provision mandates gun rationing and even prevents those under 18 from entering a gun store without an adult, even if only to buy a fishing license or a T-shirt, if the store handles Smith&Wesson. The agreement also creates an "oversight commission" composed mostly of government bureaucrats. Maybe if the Post had mentioned some of these other provisions (and not set the default answer to "yes"), it's poll results would have turned out somewhat differently. But whoever wrote the mis-information for the Post's web page probably already knew that -- and did it anyway.
Of course, opinion polls on this matter are ultimately irrelevant. The majority cannot rightly rule to violate civil liberties. As I noted to the Post in a letter, "Fascism is defined as state control of nominally private companies. If you think opinion polls somehow justify the matter, remember that the preeminent fascist of the 20th century, Hitler, also won the popular vote." Make no mistake: the HUD legal agreement is nothing short of an attempt to legislate away Second Amendment rights through judicial blackmail.
Sometimes the Post covers both sides of the issue; it recently published an editorial by Al Knight supportive of the NRA and it published a March 22 story discussing both sides of a rally in Boulder. But the material about the HUD agreement is terrible. Perhaps employees of the Post would care to actually read something about the legal agreement signed by Smith&Wesson. If so, three links are provided below, the first of which contains the text of the HUD summary of the agreement. That is, if you care about presenting the truth.