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Time to Control Dangerous Assault Journalists

By Alan Gottlieb

Seventeen confirmed dead and hundreds injured. This was not the work of some stereotypical lunatic with a gun, but the handiwork of a careless reporter who must have graduated from the Dan Rather School of investigative journalism.

Now that Newsweek has lived up to the high standard of prevarication established by Jayson Blair at the New York Times and by Janet Cooke at Newsweek’s parent company, the Washington Post, maybe it’s time to establish the kind of ground rules for reporters that the anti-gun press has advocated for American gun owners, who never lied, or caused harm to anybody.

Why isn’t Sarah Brady screaming for a clampdown on “assault journalism?” Why can’t we demand some “common sense” controls on out-of-control reporters who go off half-cocked faster than a broken musket?

Where’s Chuck Schumer? He’s good at dancing in the blood of gunshot victims to push his gun control agenda. Why isn’t he just as eager to capitalize on the mayhem of riots that resulted from Newsweek’s bogus story about the Guantanamo Bay flush that never happened? Schumer’s never been one to hide from media exposure. This is the first time he’s missed the opportunity to trample his way to the television camera.

With tongue-in-cheek, let’s apply the same logic to exercising the First Amendment that the mainstream press has accepted as reasonable when applied to those exercising the Second Amendment. It might be shocking to members of the press just how eagerly American firearms owners would seriously embrace this concept of karma.

Henceforth, the First Amendment will be interpreted to apply only to state-owned newspapers. When the First Amendment was written, nobody envisioned computers, high speed presses, and the internet or television and radio news. There is no individual right to become a reporter, especially a freelance journalist. Only reporters employed by state-owned print media outlets have a legitimate reason to own laptops or personal home computers.

Journalists should be registered and required to pass a course in safe news writing before they can own, or have access to, a keyboard. They should need a special permit to carry a notebook and pen, and a mandatory background check before carrying a concealed tape recorder or hidden camera.

Newsmen should be limited to stories containing no more than ten paragraphs. All small one- or two-paragraph news shorts, like the one in Newsweek that caused all the trouble, should be banned because they are so easily hidden within larger news columns.

America must stop importing foreign news, because it might be dangerous if it fell into the wrong hands. If news is not clearly sports-related, the average American should not be allowed to read it or listen to it.

All personal computers, laptops and word processors must be registered because of their ability to rapid-fire words into print and onto the internet indiscriminately. Journalists who currently own computers will be able to keep them, but they won’t be able to sell them to other reporters unless the buyers go through federally-licensed computer retailers, and pass a background check to make sure they haven’t libeled anyone or ever filed an erroneous story.

“Civilian journalists” don’t need laptops or personal computers. Manual typewriters are acceptable because of their slower rate of word production. Before a journalist can possess a typewriter he or she purchases, they must submit to a mandatory background check that can take up to three days.

If a reporter carelessly writes a story that falls into the wrong hands and causes the death of another person, that reporter should face criminal prosecution.

Reporters may not carry notebooks, tape recorders, typewriters or laptops aboard commercial aircraft. All such devices must be transported in checked baggage.

All news must be delayed from broadcast or print for a period of three days, allowing time for reporters and editors to “cool off.”

Journalists would come unhinged if such measures were ever seriously considered, much less enacted. But this is exactly the kind of legal mine field through which gun owners must now tread; a regulatory nightmare the press has endorsed.

Newsweek’s carelessness has killed more people than any law-abiding gun owner, outside of battlefield service in the armed forces.

What’s good for gun owners should also be good for the press. Considering recent events, to argue otherwise is monumental hypocrisy.