We want YOUR opinions, not talking points from activist groups

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Now that the Gainesville Sun has discontinued its Issues section, Alachua Chronicle is one of the few remaining outlets that publish opinion pieces, so we have let it be known that we will accept pieces about issues in our community, and Kim Tanzer’s recent piece was the first of these.

We are happy to publish opinion pieces from those who disagree with us, but we will reject pieces that rely on inaccurate talking points to elicit an emotional response or that fail to articulate specific policy changes. As an example, we recently received an article on solutions to gun violence, in response to Len Cabrera’s piece about the Gainesville Police Department’s recent events to promote awareness of gun violence.

I rejected that piece because it did not address the specific recommendations in Len’s column and it repeated false talking points in an effort to convince well-meaning people that we need “common-sense gun safety laws.”

To make an argument for expanded background checks, the author wrote that people who buy guns online or at gun shows should have to undergo background checks. However, there is no “gun show loophole” for background checks in federal law; licensed dealers must perform background checks regardless of where the sale is made, and private sellers do not need to perform background checks in most places, including Florida – again, regardless of whether the sale is made at a private home or at a gun show.

After I asked that the article be revised with accurate information, the author responded with a link to a Politifact ruling that President Biden’s statement that “you can buy whatever you want, no background check” at gun shows was “Mostly False.” The author told me that since it is possible to purchase a gun from a private seller at a gun show without a background check, the statement is, in fact, “mostly true.” The fact that you can purchase a gun from a private seller ANYWHERE without a background check was ignored.

We would be happy to publish an argument in favor of background checks on private sales, in spite of disagreeing with that policy, but the reader should be presented with the actual state of the current laws, not a false talking point.

The author also argued for red flag laws and for mandatory training for gun owners to store their weapons securely at home, away from kids. Florida already has a red flag law (Statute 790.401) and a safe storage law (Statute 790.174), and the author failed to mention either one or describe the weaknesses in those laws that should be addressed.

I told the author that if he wants to make an argument for more restrictive gun laws, he should state the current laws accurately and argue for specific changes; instead, he withdrew the article.

Talking points like the ones used by that author are common in activism because they work. They either make emotional arguments that lead the reader to agree that “something must be done” or substitute vague statements (“common sense reform”) for specific reforms that are not supported by a majority of Americans. For example, most people think there shouldn’t be different rules for purchasing guns at a gun show, so they support “expanded background checks” when they’re told that those are only to close that (nonexistent) “loophole.” 

This is not something we just made up. A New York Times article from June 2022 discussed the gap between polling on expanded background checks (often garnering over 80% approval) and actual referendum results in four states (48%-63% approval) and the phenomenon of “‘acquiescence bias’ [in surveys that] can lead respondents to agree with what’s being asked of them.” 

All of that is to say that if you want to argue your policy preferences in Alachua Chronicle, we will require you to base your argument on specific changes you would like to make from specific current policies. We will not publish pieces that simply echo an activist group’s talking points that are focus-group-tested to produce the desired response in people who are unaware of the current state of the law or the specific changes being proposed. We want opinion pieces that argue for and against specific policies that can make our community better – and although we do not automatically reject articles about national issues, we strongly prefer articles about local issues.

We believe that the only way to get good local government is through a knowledgeable populace and robust debate, and we will continue to be a trusted source for both information and opinions.

Opinion pieces and letters may be submitted to info@alachuachronicle.com and are published at the discretion of the editor.

  • I want to thank you for your stance on not allowing false information to be published.
    As far as gun laws we have every law we need on the books already they just need in forced.
    Case in point we have laws that state a convict felon can’t own or possess a firearm. Yet we read every day where one has been caught or has shot someone.
    The only people who will obey the laws are the law abiding citizens who respect our laws

    • Yep, also something leftists gun grabbers fail to acknowledge: criminals, thus, gangs, fugitives, etc. Do Not Obey Laws of any kind! You could ban all gun transactions and gun ownership and criminals would be the only ones who own guns and would terrorize the rest of us on a daily basis!

  • Thank you Jennifer for pointing out one of the main reasons for the failure of the Sun. Biased, inaccurate information with only one side presented is propaganda, pure and simple. Please maintain your high standards.

  • Jennifer and Len! I truly support what you do to have facts presented to substantiate opinions. Otherwise, they are meaningless. I too struggle with getting the facts when talking about local issues. And I’ve used “facts” provided to me from those that should be in the position to provide those correctly, I find myself having to issue a correction. I prefer to do so to make sure the original message has been amended properly. I hope this makes sense!

  • Thank you for taking the time and trouble to deal with such talking points. Woke outlets would just echo such points. We have in the past and will in the future continue to support your efforts financially, and hope that others will as well.

    • I can’t afford much but I pay monthly because I love this ‘paper’ / website for local news. I don’t go the Gainesville Sun at all.

  • Thank you Jennifer to bringing light to some of the Left’s gaslighting techniques. We have a supreme law of the land called the Constitution. And yet we struggle with this as a society. There is no such thing as ‘common sense gun control’ for it is just control. We have issues with violence in our nation and state specific that we must address, however, to deem these issues as a gun problem ignores the real issue; we have a cultural problem with recognizing that it is unstable people that perpetrate these heinous acts. Millions of Americans have firearms and know how to use them responsibly. They are a great deterrent to crime. However, when a crime is committed and they are let back out on the street, they generally gravitate to their old criminal behavior.

    I recently ran on a platform of keeping our 2nd Amendment safe from the attacks that are all too common these days. Yet most in our local shire decided that we need more of the same. It is what was decided by the voters in this county (not the ones in Marion though). I am hoping in 2023 to interface with anti-gun groups to have open and honest discussions about this issue. I am not sure if it will sway everyone’s mind, but a few would be wonderful.

    Thank you for pointing out the methods some of these people take to horns-waggle others to their agenda. Maybe we can come to some kind of consensus that is founded in American reality. For, if we are not, we will suffer in some way.

    Hollye Merton

    • The urban pop culture of the last 30+ years must be reversed, too. Then there won’t be “food deserts” either.

  • Our country’s main stream media is a big part of the problem.
    So many people live according to the news they hear, rather than doing more research to find the truth.

    I truly appreciate what you and Len are doing, by giving us a educated, non biased, truthful platform. Many thanks!

  • You are a gem. Well done.

    When it comes to subjects like firearms and self-defense, the woke left antis are purposely uninformed liars. Thanks for not letting nonsense be on your pages. Opinion or not. Of course, another way to handle is to publish and point out the misstatements of fact/law; then let readers have at it. 🙂

  • When you have to engage in mental gymnastics to explain your reasons for imposing censorship—let’s call it what it is—you’re losing all day long. Where are the calls for government investigations into this censorship by a privately run quasi-media publication, here, the Alachua Chronicle, like there have been for Twitter, Facebook, etc.? The hypocrisy should embarrass you.

    • Did you read the article?

      “I told the author that if he wants to make an argument for more restrictive gun laws, he should state the current laws accurately and argue for specific changes; instead, he withdrew the article.”

      • Or, put differently, it’s much easier to find a steady stream of regurgitated, self-serving DeSantis office press releases, masquerading as Alachua Chronicle “articles,” than it is a gun opinion piece that draws attention to widespread private gun sales not being subject to the type of common sense background check that most Americans support. No surprises here. Pushing an agenda through its gatekeeping, while pretending not to be, is the universal hallmark of all disingenuous media.

        • You continue to demonstrate that you didn’t read my article. The author had the opportunity to argue for background checks in private gun sales but chose to withdraw his article instead. I only asked that he write accurately about the current laws and argue for specific changes.

          And all press releases are clearly designated as such.

          • And the number of DeSantis press releases that you’ve rejected due to a factual inaccuracy, or for pushing “activist talking points,” is… how many? The enhanced editorial scrutiny that you give to prospective submissions that are contrarian—however few you actually receive—versus submissions that reenergize the Alachua Chronicle echo chamber, gives the game away.

        • Conrad, you suck at your supposed argument with
          Jennifer just like you sucked at football. Go buy a gun and learn how to handle it properly. It might save your or a loved ones life one day.

    • You characterize her requirements for submissions, as “mental gymnastics”. Dismissing her statement that way without saying why, is either clumsy, (you won’t/can’t demonstrate fault with her statement) or bigoted (you are intolerant of any opinion not your own)…..Surely you are capable of better.

  • “Background checks” also blocks convicted felons who may have reformed their ways, and need a “2nd fair chance”. The city and others favor 2nd chances on job and housing applications, so why not in gun sales, too? Isn’t that fair?

    • I totally agree with you white collar felons should be able to own a gun once their time is sever

    • Jeff K: you can petition the Governor to get your gun rights
      Back is your 2nd fair chance if you legally want to own and carry a gun…the problem is convicted felons carrying concealed guns and committing crimes with them on their person…they really need to crack down on that so they know they will get 20years in prison…these felons are always carrying stolen guns…if they get caught with them then they should
      Be done. 10,20,life…

      • It’s a little more than petitioning the governor you have to have your felony conviction expunged that involves a lawyer that costs money let’s face the facts most everyone who has a felon will not have that kind of money

  • I’m a licensed gun dealer and have
    transferred over 10,000 guns. They all get background checks. We have to get an approval code from the FDLE before we transfer a gun. To my
    Knowledge, none of my guns have been used in the commission of a felony. We have inalienable rights to
    Protect ourselves. It’s the convicted felons that need to be punished with
    10,20, life if they are caught with a gun. Toys for guns and gun buybacks
    are useless feel good things. If you’re
    A felon and get caught with a gun, then you should be done…10,20,life.

    • The 10/20/life law seemed clear and absolute when written, but lately I don’t see it used. I did some reading, and it seems that the only person who can prevent it being applied, is the prosecuting attorney. So, is the 10/20/life law not being applied as intended? Do we have a problem with prosecutors?

  • Look how many are arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The police seem to be doing their jobs. Its prosecution and sentencing that is the problem. We already have enough state, federal, and local gun laws. Prosecute and sentence criminals incorrectly and the issues fester and give “woke` groups a stage.

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