My Wasted Life

Feb 17, 2022

For more than 50 years, I’ve been in a job I’ve considered a calling; not a career.

Journalism has always represented the last place short of the courthouse where only one thing always mattered: facts.

As a reporter who began on a manual typewriter and now has the capability to stream live reports via smartphone, I have always held on tightly to one key belief: it is more important to be accurate than anything else. I pushed and shoved to get the best assignments, news beats or exclusives to advance my career, but the facts of every story were always more important than any career benefit.

After watching, listening and reading nearly 24 hours of “reporting” about “Remington having settled the lawsuit brought by the families of Sandy Hook victims” I am staring at a very different reality.

This latest crop of “journalists” appear more than willing to regurgitate talking points offered by groups celebrating a win over “the gun industry.” And the talking points aren’t accurate.

The legal experts appear more than willing to go along with the presumption that Remington, and - by extension- the firearms industry settled in the case. They know better. But appear convinced there won’t be consequences for ignoring troublesome “facts” in the case.

Here’s the biggest; the company named in the lawsuit, no longer exists. Saying “Remington settled” is wrong. There’s no other way to say it. Remington Outdoor Company’s lifeless carcass was sold off -in pieces - to other companies in a September, 2020 bankruptcy auction.

The suit went forward against the insurance companies who insured Remington, not the gun industry.

And before saying it’s a step toward holding “gun companies accountable” - although no one can say for what, here’s another bit of deliberate omission:

No one admitted any guilt, and the firearms industry had no part in the settlement.

In a court of law, nothing in the settlement does one thing to lessen the industry protections written into the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Conversely, nothing written into the Protection in Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects any gun company for liability if their products are faulty.

With apologies to the current President of the United States of America, it is not “blanket immunity” for anyone. Saying otherwise is the opposite of truth- it is a lie.

The families attorneys refused an earlier settlement offer from two of the insurance companies. There were two additional deep pockets, so they held out.

Ultimately, the four insurance companies decided it would be more cost-effective to settle than litigate.

Settlement, FYI, was a dollars-and-cents decision. Settlement costs are factored into the costs of indemnity policies.

Decisions like this are made every day in liability cases.

Settlements, not trials, are why plaintiff attorneys clutter up radio, TV and roadside billboards with ads telling potential clients “you pay nothing unless we win.”

They’re not in the business of suing, they’re in the business of settling.

The NSSF did a terrific job of laying the overlooked facts out in the statement we distributed yesterday.

So why is any of this important today?

Because the false narrative about the firearms industry settling is being used to peddle the big lie: things are what’s wrong with our society and removing them will solve our problems.

There’s just one problem with that position: guns/knives/arrows/rocks/sticks/whatever have never been the problem.

People have always been the problem.

The “nuts behind the bolts” at Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Luby’s Cafeteria, or the University of Texas clock tower were all the problem. The tool they chose was a gun. Others have used knives, bombs, cars and trucks. But getting rid of all of those things won’t solve our problems, or help people who really need.

Getting rid of guns would only do one thing: make all of easier to manage if/when we become demonstrably dissatisfied with the state of things today.

What’s being passed off as journalism today, isn’t. It’s propaganda.

Learn to recognize the difference or we can ultimately expect a less-than-optimal outcome.

— Jim Shepherd