Al Jazeera Looks at Gun Culture in America

Al Jazeera English, the Qatar based sister station of Al Jazeera, led a panel discussion on their program Inside Story focusing on guns in America March 27. With opposing groups on the panel and the central question being “Why are guns embedded in the American culture?”, the participants provided a unique vantage point on the various perspectives.

Participants included David Burnett of Students for Concealed Carry, Elliot Fineman, president of National Guns Victims Council, and Hubert Williams, president of Police Foundation.

What made this particular debate so interesting is that more often than not it is difficult to find proper news coverage and perspectives on guns in America by national and local news sources.  Interests and emotions commonly get in the way when covering the issue; facts and figures can be taken out of context to suit individual perspectives at any given time.  To the network’s credit, an outsider’s look can often give a fresh and clear perspective on the subject.  Take for example the recent BBC study examining why US crime figures continue to drop while gun ownership rises.

Although the debate doesn’t provide any cathartic moments, it does display appropriate debate etiquette rarely seen in the current American media landscape. In the end both sides of the debate were presented in the discussion. Although the deck is slightly stacked against Burnett, it should also be noted that Fineman is loose with his facts and figures, which some may see as discrediting towards his position.  He stated that 30 percent of gun sales go to criminals in the United States.  Not only is that unprovable, there is no data to support this claim.

What are your thoughts on the discussion? Do you find this to be similar to the discussions/debates you have in your personal life among family and friends? How do you think this compares to the dialogue seen in the US media?