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May 18, 2009

Affirmation of the Gun Bloggers


If you want to find out what's going on in the world of firearms and Second Amendment rights, and get a dose of attitude along with it, just tap into the stream of commentary coming from the gun bloggers. They are out there heating up the blogosphere with fact, opinion, political rants and product raves. Any gun blogger would tell you this is old news, but it seems "mainstream media" is just catching on to this online phenomenon. At the NRA's 138th annual convention in Phoenix, Patrik Jonsson of the Christian Science Monitor wrote a story that is giving national exposure to the growing influence of these "new media" watchdogs.

Mr. Jonsson didn't just take the bloggers' word for how important they are (although you can bet they told him), or how they help set the record straight (just as this blog does) when inaccuracies appear in the mainstream media. No, Mr Jonsson interviewed media experts who confirmed that indeed the bloggers are a significant part of the current sea change in information distribution and consumption. His experience at the NRA show mirrors what NSSF has seen in recent years at the SHOT Show, where the number of bloggers has increased yearly and where NSSF, recognizing their value, provides them with press privileges identical to outdoor and mainstream media.

Gun bloggers were out in such force at the NRA convention that they rivaled mainstream media in attendance, causing Jonsson to observe, "Experts say that ratio at a major national news event featuring a panoply of GOP stars — including John McCain and Mitt Romney — presents a stunning affirmation of the rise of a mix of both partisan and fiercely independent and sometimes downright cranky “New Media,” marking its growing power to not only cover breaking news, but set the tone for political policy — and, in the case of Second Amendment rights, even the direction of the NRA itself."

Brian Anse Patrick, a professor of communications at the University of Toledo in Ohio, is quoted in the article, saying, "Mass media has an audience where news goes in one ear and out the other." For gun bloggers, “this is an identity issue, a behavioral thing, instead of mere attitude and a piece of news. You have these communities all over the places that’s essentially gun culture: autonomous, but coordinated, very powerful and very effective."

Even Josh Sugarmann of the anti-gun Violence Policy Center agreed, saying, “If you compare the pro-gun activity in the blogosphere versus the pro-gun-control activity, the scales have just tipped tremendously in their favor. There’s much more engagement, more involvement, and they clearly have more free time than people on our side of the issue do." The last part demonstrates that pro-gun bloggers are not the only ones who can be acerbic to the other side.

While nobody is saying that the readership of gun bloggers rivals mainstream media, it is growing and, as the story points out, the bloggers' rise is coinciding with the change of opinion among Americans who now favor less gun control (see previous post in this blog).

Gun bloggers even had their own mini-conference in Phoenix, the 2nd Annual Second Amendment Blog Bash, and later this year there is another gathering called the Gun Blogger Rendezvous, which will take place in Reno.