God Forbid That There Be “Live Shooting of Guns” on Television

One other thought about Sen. Chris Murphy’s request that Fox News cancel plans to broadcast the NRA 500 NASCAR race — one of Sen. Murphy’s complaints is that

The race not only brings national attention to an organization that has been the face of one side of this heated debate, it also features the live shooting of guns at the end of the race.

Now many gun control supporters, as I understand it, have argued that they aren’t trying to do culture war, or to suppress the use of guns for sporting purposes. (Most have even argued that they aren’t trying to generally ban the use of guns for self-defense.) But what then is wrong with “the live shooting of guns” on a television broadcast? These aren’t guns being shot by criminals, or by drunken New Year’s Eve revelers, or even in self-defense. Presumably the guns are being shot legally and safely, just as one might shoot guns legally and safely at a shooting range.

Indeed, many gun control supporters often argue that they want gun owners to be better trained. And tens of millions of gun owners indeed go to shooting ranges each year to engage in “live shooting of guns.” Why is it so bad for a television program to depict this? Or is gun shooting like sex — OK if you do it in private, but we can’t stand for its being done in public?

I think the import of Sen. Murphy’s message is pretty clear: He thinks gun ownership isn’t just something that needs to be covered by “reasonable policies to stem gun violence” (which is what his letter later calls for). Rather, it seems to be something that he sees as fundamentally illegitimate or at least declasse — perhaps like smoking or vulgarity — no matter how safe or legal the gun use might be. I hope that gun owners, including Connecticut gun owners, keep that in mind.