There is inaccurate information about firearms-related topics circulated within popular mediums accessed by mass audiences.

To err is human. But some mistakes are worse than others.

The inaccurate depiction of firearms in popular media generates negative perception, leading to the association fallacy. This means that as a collective whole, negative perception and blame is unintentionally spilled onto gun owners by misinformed audiences.

There are three categories of media this is prominent within: news outlets, video games and movies.

Inaccurate Media Reports On Guns Perpetuate Negative Perception

There are inaccurate media reports on guns referenced in content from news outlets. This isn't a diatribe against established or mainstream media, nor a politically charged argument on liberal or conservative bias.

This is an issue of facts and backgrounds. A study on human error within a Serbian electric company can help explain this dilemma.

Human error on the premises was analyzed and evaluated by absolute probability judgment, and the study contends the chances of human error can quantified and assessed. According to the academic paper on this research, in the facilities "human errors with the highest probability are 'failure to use the prescribed tools' and 'absence of job authorization.'"

Now, let's not to make a logical leap of faith here, because they are definitely different scenarios. But take those conceptual errors and apply them to news outlets. Some reporters simply did not conduct the appropriate level of research (failure to use the prescribed tools) and they did not have a background in the topic (absence of job authorization).

A reasonable way to circumvent inaccurate portrayals and misaligned facts is to assign reporters to gun beats and select reporters with an appropriate level of experience with the topic, which isn't a new concept.

A writer at Slate said the same thing. The Guardian has a writer designated for the gun beat.

If there are beats for sports, city, laws and social issues, firearms are undoubtedly a contender from a cultural, societal and legal aspect.

Of course, there is "gun media" with highly credible, trusted sources, but that's not an answer to the previously stated issue. The niche audience of gun media can segregate fact from fiction in reported material.

The general public that is unexposed to firearms does not have that same benefit, and when information disseminators and aggregators enter the equation there is the potential for widespread misinformation, which begets uncredible information which begets negative perception on the given topic which begets editorialized content to audiences which begets inaccurate facts distributed between audiences.

It's a vicious circle.

Editorialized content becomes sensationalized, like Gersh Kuntzman's experience firing an AR-15.

Misinformed content confuses terms, like assault rifles versus assault weapons.

Galvanizing content misdirects thoughts on serious issues like mental health, as was addressed in an academic paper in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. "Notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. These issues become obscured when mass shootings come to stand in for all gun crime, and when 'mentally ill' ceases to be a medical designation and becomes a sign of violent threat," according to the paper.

Video games have also circulated questionable dialogue on firearms.

Accurate Gun Use In Video Games Varies, But Sometimes Results In Misguided Audiences

There will always be ongoing debates about gun use in video games, whether it's the inaccuracy of how they're used or it's their alleged impact on real world violence.

According to sales records, there have been about 245.9 million unit sales in the Call of Duty franchise. That's a lot of 360 no-scoping and (unacceptably) explicit profanity about mothers.

Firearms in games desensitize the player from the realities associated with them. Recoil and shot placement with a controller or mouse do not reflect the realities of physically handling a firearm.

Some complain the weight of prolonged firearms use (physically and mentally) should be depicted more thoroughly. Hitboxes, which are invisible areas around characters that detect real-time collision of ammunition with the body, are larger on video games than reality suggests, stoking complaints that shot placement isn't as easy as video games suggest, once factors outside the firearm are taken into account.

Balancing the damage of different types of weapons in games against loss of health for fairness between players, such as one player using a handgun as opposed to another using a shotgun, skews perception of the efficacy of each in conflict. Although games like Rainbow Six Vegas 2 (RSV2) are now being developed with complex ballistics formulas to calculate shot penetration through walls and into body armor.

Game developers tweak the actual output and performance of firearms based on player expectations and cultural definitions, however, according to a report from Popular Mechanics. One of the developers from RSV2, Philippe Theiren, factored into the game the personality of the weapon within popular culture.

"I take these weapons, and look at what defines them, or what people think defines them. For an Uzi, people think it fires lots of bullets, and it's really inaccurate. So I make it fire faster than it should. It's about taking the personality of a weapon, and making it shine in the game," Theiren said in the Popular Mechanics article.

Overt violence in video games has historically circulated in media reports as a potential contributing factor to real world violence as a systemic issue within aggressive children who play video games. Although, there is research suggesting that the issue isn't so black and white.

"Some studies done in schools or elsewhere have found that it is aggressive children who are the most likely to be drawn to violent video games in the first place; they are self-selected to be in more schoolyard conflicts. And some studies are not able to control for outside factors, like family situation or mood problems," according to a report from The New York Times.

Video games are intrinsically not realistic because they're a depiction, not documentation. Suspension of disbelief is what makes them wonderful for so many demographics. But at what point and at what rate does that depiction reverberate into society, and will it be negative?

However far your suspension of disbelief goes, movies have laughably misconstrued how firearms are used.

Inaccuracy Of Firearms In Movies

Firearms in movies are placed at the whim of the creators who dream up the plot and narrative.

But, come on, magazines that never seem to empty, shotguns that send their recipients across questionable distances and handgun bullets that cause vehicles to spontaneously explode do not do justice to reality.

The protagonist in the movie Wanted curved bullets around walls and people by throwing a little razzle-dazzle into the shot while firing. Entertainment is just that: entertaining an audience. If they like it, great.

But if they take their Glock out in the backyard and attempt to curve bullets like an assassin, Lord help us all.

Movies also have a tendency to make almost every surface bulletproof. Flip over a table? Impenetrable. The way bullets move through water in movies is also questionable.

There aren't many official reports or data about Storm Troopers' laser rifles, but do they always have to miss the protagonist? Have they never spent a day on the range? Or, well, the Galactic Empire's version of it? Sorry, that's only tangentially relevant.

But there are many more examples of inaccurate portrayals of firearms in movies.

What do you think? Which movies get it right? Are John Wick and Rambo really the heroic experts they're made out to be? Does the media get guns wrong? Are video games handling firearms right? Should everyone calm down and let fiction be fiction?

Let us know in the comments.

Looking for some more information on your carry, or deciding on your carry? Bigfoot has a few other articles you can check out:

Jake Smith  

About The Author

Jake Smith (@notjakesmith) is a copywriter and photographer based in the Pacific Northwest who enjoys shooting pictures and ammunition outdoors.

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