June 22, 2023
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“Jordan Klepper sneaks into America’s biggest gun show ... in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to investigate America’s unique obsession with guns and how gun companies are targeting the youth,” The Daily Show writes as a caption to a recent “satiric news” episode of “Fingers the Pulse,” this one designed to disparage those who believe in the right to keep and bear arms. It starts right out with a lie, of course, as if attending a gun show equates with being obsessed.
Being a big fan of a government monopoly is a recurring theme for Klepper, having been the front man for other hit pieces including “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns” and “Jordan Klepper Debunks the ‘Good Guy with a Gun’ Argument.” That he’s done neither doesn’t seem to concern enthusiastic fans who don’t seem to realize or care that it’s their rights, too, that he’s encouraging scorn for. That’s right in line with parent company Paramount’s global media objectives.
As usual, the attempt in his latest venture is to make undisguised “progressive” social commentary palatable to viewers by wrapping it in what’s supposed to be humor, or in this case, by smugly making fun of people Klepper and the target audience like to feel superior to. It is, after all, a Comedy Central show, and producers fine-tuning content with focus groups know what their audience will eat up. Per the Pew Research Center, 74% of The Daily Show’s audience is younger than 50, and “the New York Times, Keith Olbermann, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report and Rachel Maddow have regular audiences that include nearly twice the proportion of liberals than in the public.”
So, you’d think by appealing to young “progressives,” their approach would be fresh and original. You’d think wrong. FMocking political targets is straight out of leftist “community activist” Saul Alinsky’s manifesto from over 50 years ago, Rules for Radicals. An ideological mentor of young Hillary Clinton, what’s being played out here is straight out of Rule 5: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also, it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.”
In this case, Klepper and his team set out to get gun owners with no media experience on camera responding to set-up questions and then to selectively present who would be shown and how much of their answers would be included. The intent was to present them as representative and make all of us look like ignorant rubes so that we could be laughed at, and so the entire movement of right to keep and bear arms advocacy could be dismissed as the province of morons and paranoids.
There’s a good rule of thumb for most gun owners approached by the media to answer questions: Say “no comment” and move on. Think “Don’t talk to the police” and extend it to “journalists.”
Assume they have an agenda, they’re not interested in learning your side, wouldn’t fairly air it if you told them, and are trying to set you up. Because that’s what’s happening. If you look at how most so-called “reporters” weigh in on the political/gun control scale, poll after poll shows “liberal media bias” is more than just a phrase and what is filed as “straight news” is more often a free presser for the antis, and/or an outright editorial. They’re not your friends and nothing you say, especially after it comes out of the editing room, is going to be persuasive to anyone insulated enough to get their “news” and form their opinions from them.
Set ‘em up, knock ‘em down
Readers old enough to remember Jay Leno’s occasional man-on-the-street interviews on The Tonight Show will recognize what Klepper and his team were doing: Finding likely people who weren’t particularly knowledgeable or adept at publicly articulating their sentiments and getting them to make the audience laugh. Again, so much for originality.
The gun segment starts out with a chart supposedly comparing “mass shootings” in the U.S. with those in other “developed and developing countries.” Not unexpectedly, all the others were hugging the bottom of the graph and the U.S. column was “shooting” through the top of the graph. The intent is to conflate U.S. firearms freedoms with mass deaths caused by criminals who ignore the innumerable infringements obeyed only by the “law-abiding” (not that those counting on unquestioning acceptance will tell you that).
The problem: First, the countries are cherry-picked, for instance, Russia and Mexico, both with more restrictive gun laws and higher violent crime than the U.S., aren’t even listed on Klepper’s chart. Then there are the differences in the way those with an agenda play fast and loose with the definition of “mass shootings” and exclude “all incidents of terrorism outside the U.S. and most of the cases where more than one shooter is involved.”
“Statistics on global mass shooting incidents from 2009 to 2015 compiled by economist John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center show that the US trails many other advanced nations in mass shooting frequency and death rate,” the Foundation for Economic Education reports, noting that in comparing the annual “death rate per million people from mass public shootings” and the “frequency per million people from mass public shootings,” the U.S. ranked respectively 11th and 12th (Comparing European Countries to U.S. and Canada from January 2009 to December 2015).
But let’s move on. We’ve got us some “gun nuts” at “the world’s largest gun show in Tulsa, Oklahoma” to feel superior to! I was surprised Klepper and crew were allowed to film inside, especially since some reviews of the show stress no photography, and his video title does claim he snuck in. A request for clarification from show management has not been answered at this writing.
Nonetheless, the Comedy Central team managed to gloss over the show's 3,200 tables that if "placed end to end they would stretch 5.7 miles" and home in on one selling Nazi-era German Lugers placed on a backdrop of flags and characterize it as “more Nazi swag than Harlan Crow’s guest bathroom.” That’s the “progressive” way of calling a leading Republican donor who campaigned for moderate George W. Bush and befriended black Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “Nazi,” and by default, any Republican. Come to think of it, it’s also the Antifa way.
Funny, how they give certain celebrity members of the “One Percent” a pass. It’s obvious from the first two attendees he confronts, both trusting enough fellows willing to answer with a smile, that Klepper is mocking them. Why they didn’t tell him to go to hell is a mystery. Perhaps they did and that was never shown.
He then sets off to confront private sellers outside the show, challenging the notion of selling guns without a background check – the way guns were always sold in this country before the feds started imposing prior restraints after passing the Brady Act. That such checks are no guarantee, as recent mass shootings in Nashville and Louisville demonstrate by “legal” gun purchasers, and that the National Institute of Justice has admitted that “Universal background check... [e]ffectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration,” is left unaddressed.
Klepper’s not looking for people who might show he’s not as informed as he presumes to be, and if he found any, he’s sure not going to show them. That’s not why he’s doing this. Besides, he’s no doubt all for registration and is ready to smirk at anyone who suggests that enables confiscation. The next part of his act moves over to disparaging AR-15s, and the people who own them or want to.
“You’ve been threatened by pigs?” he challenges one gun owner who has explained the guns’ utility for feral hog hunting. That Klepper scoffs at the challenges and real dangers that can present themselves in the field is testament to his ignorance, not those he’s making fun of, but don’t expect his audience to know that.
Klepper then goes full Demanding Mom when he asks attendees if they “think the AR-15 is scary... because it kills a lot of children?” At that point, why the gun owners talking to him don’t just tell him to get bent and instead try to explain it’s the person, not the gun, is testament to their patience and sincerity, not his.
That sincerity lends itself to being exploited by a professional comedian as well-meaning attendees try to explain statistics on leading causes of death. The truth is, and this is from the FBI, more people are killed with fists and feet than with rifles of all kinds, AR-15s being a subset of that. Interviewees not being able to effectively articulate that was just more fodder for derision.
That semiauto rifles are also superior choices for some self-defense situations that have played out in real life, and that they are also essential for defending freedom was never brought up. Perhaps it was, but I was never shown, again, perhaps, because they don’t lend themselves as readily to snappy professional comedian repartees.
Time to Feign Some Expertise
Instead, Klepper cuts away to an interview in Montana with Ryan Busse, a former industry executive who turned coat and is now a senior policy adviser for Giffords and the author of “Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America.” Busse’s bread is buttered these days by pushing citizen disarmament, and with a supportive media partner lobbing leading softball questions, he comes across, at least to those who don’t know any better, as someone who knows what he's talking about.
The intent here is to make AR-15s and the like seem like new things, disregarding inconvenient truths like Colt advertising its AR-15 Sporter in 1963 (with civilian sales preceding the issuance of M16s to infantry units in 1965).
And what “interview” designed to disparage their countrymen who own semiautos would be complete without some calculated conflation and lies about gun shows?
“The industry itself, prior to about 2005, 2006, would not allow any kind of tactical gear, hardly any AR-15s...” Busse claims.
“You bring an AR-15 to a gun show in 2009, and you’re a weirdo?” Klepper asks.
“Yeah, just 2008, 2009 is when the weirdo stuff starts wearing off,” Busse replies. “But yeah, you’re a weirdo then. Now it’s commonplace. Now it’s ubiquitous.”
“But they used to be weirdos,” Klepper offers. “They used to be weirdos, yeah,” Busse agrees.
See, they started out talking about TRADE shows, as in SHOT SHOW, and then switched without acknowledgement over to plain old GUN shows, where AKs and ARs have been ubiquitous. Perennially pro-government monopoly of violence Rolling Stone disparaged the latter in a 2000 hit piece, equating attendees with the Columbine killers and lying that it’s “common” in Montana to swap submachine guns in the parking lot. As for what “the industry prior to 2005, 2006” would allow at trade shows, in 2004 Police Magazine noted “Heckler & Koch is angling to replace the U.S. Army's AR platform M4s with a new combat carbine. HK's XM8 prototype took a much-talked-about public bow at the SHOT Show. The 5.56mm NATO caliber carbine weighs as little as 6.2 pounds in its compact configuration and boasts a full-auto cyclic rate of 750 rounds per minute.”
Because if you’re a “progressive,” government monopolies of violence that undermine a keystone of the Bill of Rights evidently aren’t weird at all.
“And AR—I know a lot of liberals think AR stands for assault rifle, and they’re wrong,” Klepper asserts, setting up for the punch line. “It stands for ‘Are you looking at my small penis?’”
Yeah, original. Who’s not heard that before. And why is he so interested in the genitals of men who do not share his crippling fear of guns? As writer Julia Gorin noted two decades ago in a brilliantly perceptive Jewish World Review article titled “The Anti-Gun Male,” “Let’s be honest. He's scared of the thing.” Are we done with this fool yet?
Not quite, because he and Busse then go into how it’s not really for sport but it’s a “weapon of war,” (even though no military in the world deploys with it, but that’s a whole ‘nother deceptive gun-grabber tactic going back to the Violence Policy Center exploiting “public confusion” to gin up demands for semiauto bans), and the whole point of the core purpose of the Second Amendment is missed, deliberately.
Americans are entitled to “weapons of war,” to what Continental Congress delegate Tench Coxe called “every terrible implement of the soldier.” And with that they segue into condemning providing development-appropriate training and firearms to young people, and that sets up for where they’re going with this.
“If you’re worried about child grooming, here’s your child grooming,” Busse declares.
And again, this isn’t an original thought it’s a new talking point narrative we can expect to see a lot more of.
“Reuters photos of young kids at NRA event slammed as ‘set-up’ by parents who say they never gave consent,” a Fox News report on the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Indianapolis documented. “Families whose children were photographed at an NRA event and used by the media say they are being portrayed ‘grooming future murderers’.”
That’s one way to deflect attention from “progressives” who are encouraging children being groomed by them for other things. Also unexplored, because it wouldn’t serve their purpose, would be a look back at the way things used to be, when boys with guns were commonplace and schools hosted shooting teams – all in the days when mass “school shootings” were unheard of.
Next, and this is what caught our eye to write this article in the first place, Busse pulled out a tablet so that he and Klepper could ridicule a graphic from the May, 2021 cover of Be Ready!, a publication of Firearms News. It showed a husband, wife, and child being menaced by a pair of club and skateboard-wielding thugs. The message: “The industry” is selling fear and violence.
What they’re not telling viewers is that fear and violence were what that issue was exposing, something anyone who looked beyond the cover image and looked at what its headline articles “Inside Antifa: Understanding Riot Dynamics!” and “How to: Build Your Tribe” had to say. When that issue came out it went viral, with thousands of leftists, Antifa, woke college professors and students, activists all attacking our Facebook page. That’s in no small part because, as much as the left wants to portray gun owners as a monolith of provincial male white supremacists, the author who went undercover inside Antifa and did extensive reporting on their tactics and organization, is a transsexual, and that made them even more furious. And as long as we’re challenging media narrative stereotypes, the photographer who shot the cover is a person of color.
But decrying stereotypes sets Klepper up for his grandiose conclusion about “steps we can take to limit the number of mass shootings with weapons like AR-15.”
“That’s right, it is on us,” Klepper wraps up. “So, it shouldn’t be too hard for all of us to come together and agree on what weapons should and should not be owned by the average civilian.”
It shouldn’t? Flesh out what it would take to round up the 25M or so ARs and AKs estimated already out there, and how prohibiting a firearm that Afghan tribesman using crude tools and crag top hearths would work out considering all the machine shops with modern equipment that exist here, and Americans who understand how to use them.
Talk about a ridiculous and laughable concept from a useful idiot propaganda stooge acting like he’s got a solution that won’t result in a bigger and deadlier black market vs. an ostensible state monopoly of violence. Then factor in good Americans who won’t surrender their liberty who are practiced in firearms use and caught in the middle.
Your audience might laugh with you, Klepper. Capable men who understand freedom are laughing at you—at least those who don’t automatically dismiss you as an effete and eminently ignorable “useful idiot.”
It figures those who will benefit from a disarmed public have targeted the development-appropriate introduction of shooting disciplines to young people would try to scare people off by equating it with grooming. Those who would reshape the world into one they control are intent on replacing history with a narrative where malleable citizens are detached from the lessons and traditions of the past.
That past, until recently, has included young people developing skills with the firearms of their time. Boys taking their guns to school to hunt afterward is something many still remember firsthand, and firearms familiarity was not just limited to rural areas. I myself have known a man who, as a 13-year-old, used to ride the bus in Santa Monica, CA with his .22 rifle and then walk several blocks to go target shooting. I spoke with another, a veteran and retired cop, who was part of a ROTC drill team in Chicago.
A 1994 U.S. Department of Justice research summary observed: “Boys who own legal firearms, however, have much lower rates of delinquency and drug use and are even slightly less delinquent than nonowners of guns.”
More of this kind of “grooming” and less of the “progressive” kind doesn’t sound like a bad tradeoff.
About the Author
David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. In addition to being a regular featured contributor for Firearms News he blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.