Part 1 Gutterballs One Through Three

Larry Pratt

One of our members has made the excellent suggestion that we put together, for distribution, a rebuttal of the rabidly anti-gun movie Bowling For Columbine (BFC) which is directed by Michael Moore. Good idea. So, here is the beginning of our rebuttal in this the first of a series of columns which are the result of an extensive investigation of this wretched film. We also note other “gutterballs” Moore has thrown elsewhere.

In an interview in the Washington Times (10/18/02), Moore says: “We have such an ignorant nation. People don’t know what’s going on, and because you lack information, it’s easier to become afraid.” If this is true — that ignorance equals fear — then Moore is, without a doubt, the most fearful man in America, maybe the world.

Generally speaking, BFC is one of the most dishonest movies ever made. This awful film closes with Moore bowling a strike. But BFC is not a strike. It is an uninterrupted series of gutterballs which never come close, figuratively speaking, to hitting even one bowling pin. BFC is the film equivalent of Michael Bellesiles’ fraudulent book Arming America which was so bad that when it was exposed Bellesiles was forced to resign from Emory University and return his $4,000 Bancroft Prize. OK. Now, to the specifics:

Gutterball Number One: Wrong On Guns And The Second Amendment

Michael Moore wants to fool us into thinking he’s not really anti-gun. He often talks about how he grew up around guns, hunted as a kid in Michigan, as Boy Scout was in shooting contests, is a lifetime member of the NRA, blah, blah, blah. But, in seeking to leave the impression he’s not anti-gun, he’s a liar.

In an interview with Tim Russert on CNBC (10/19/02), Moore said that until we change what he calls America’s “mean-spirited” ethic, “we have to put the guns away, we have to put the bullets away.” On this same show, he also said: “There’s no need to own three handguns.” He said that as a result of his movie he’s gotten reports of “people around the country trying to get stores in their towns to ban the sale of bullets.”

On his website, Moore says, preposterously, regarding the recent Washington DC area so-called “sniper” murders, that “every one of their deaths could have probably been prevented had we had a national ballistics fingerprinting data base.” On NBC’s Today show (10/8/02), Moore says handguns “are meant only to kill human beings.” He’s either unaware that or doesn’t care that millions of Americans have used handguns in self-defense — and they never fired their guns.

On the Oprah Winfrey show (11/1/02), Moore says “we have too many guns.” On MSNBC’s Donahue (10/28/02), Moore says yes, he’s talking about “stopping the selling of ammunition for weapons that are specifically designed to kill human beings” and this means “handguns or weapons where you can fire multiple rounds at a time.” When Donahue asks if he’d like a ban on the sale of handguns, he says: “Yes, I believe that we don’t need handguns.”

Regarding the Second Amendment, in the previously mentioned interview with Tim Russert, Moore says the British ruled their empire for 300 years at the barrel of a gun. But, he adds: “That didn’t give people in Britain wanting this sort of individual right to have a bunch of guns in the closet.” This, of course, is not true. Early on, the British did want, and had, such an individual right and this is documented in detail by Bentley College History Professor Joyce Lee Malcolm in two excellent books: Guns And Violence: The English Experience and To Keep And Bear Arms: The Origins Of An Anglo-American Right, both published by Harvard University Press.

In his movie, arguing with a supporter of the Second Amendment, Moore says, absurdly, regarding the word “arms” in this Amendment, that “this could be a nuclear weapon.” So, he asks, idiotically: Does this Second Amendment supporter think he has “the right to have weapons grade plutonium?”

Gutterball Number Two: Wrong With His Fake Bank/Instant Gun Buy

Although Moore presents himself, ad nauseam, as a fierce fighter for the average working stiff, in BFC he misses no opportunity to ridicule and portray as fools average working stiffs if they are gun-owners and/or gun-sellers. For example, the North Country Bank And Trust Company in Traverse City, Michigan (a Federally-licensed firearms dealer), offers, as a gift, a choice of long-guns for individuals with their certificates of deposit. The program is 12 years old and this chain of banks has given away hundreds of these long-guns.

In the movie, we see Moore at this bank. He fills out some papers and asks some stupid questions of a female employee. We see her saying there are 500 firearms in the bank vault. Moore asks, as if everyone with a long-gun is probably a bank robber: “Do you think it’s a little dangerous handing out guns in a bank?” He walks out of the bank with his long-gun held high above his head.

But, there’s more, a lot more, to this story. In an interview, Jan Jacobson, the woman at this bank shown in the movie, says they were filmed for about an hour-and-a-half during which she explained everything to Moore in detail. But, the way things were presented in the film, Jacobson says, it looks like “a wham-bam thing.” She says she resents the way she was portrayed as some kind of “backwoods idiot” mindlessly handing out guns. She says Moore deceived her into being interviewed by saying of their long-gun-give-away program: “This is so great. I’m a hunter, a sportsman, grew up in Michigan, am an NRA member.” She says: “He went on and on and on saying this was the most unique program he’d ever heard of.”

Jacobson says the movie is misleading because it leaves the impression that a person can come in, sign up and walk out with a gun. But, this is not done because no guns are kept at her bank, although one would think so. She says that ordinarily a person entitled to one of the long-guns must go to a gun-dealer where the gun is shipped.

In fact, despite what BFC wants us to believe, Jacobson says there are no long-guns at her bank. The 500 guns mentioned in the movie are in a vault four hours away. She says that Moore’s signing papers in the film was just for show. His immediately walking out of the bank with a long-gun was allowed because “this whole thing was set up two months prior to the filming of the movie” when he had already complied with all the rules, including a background check.

Jacobson says the bank’s so-called “Weatherby Program” has “absolutely” been a smashing success. She says their corporate office was braced for some possible criticism because of BFC. But, they got only two calls — and these were from people wanting to know the details of the “Weatherby Program” so they, too, could get their long-guns!

Other anti-gun bits shown in BFC were: Old black-and-white ads showing kids playing with (gasp!) toy guns, clearly a form of child abuse to Moore; and foul-mouthed comic Chris Rock saying how we need “bullet-control” with each bullet costing $5,000.

A footnote: On his website, Moore says of the long-gun he got at the North Country Bank And Trust Company that he will “creatively have it destroyed.”

Gutterball Number Three: Wrong About Toaster Deaths

On the Oprah Winfrey show (11/1/02), talking about the Michigan bank that offered long-guns as gifts, Moore says: “What happened to giving out toasters, you know? I’d never heard of anybody killed by a toaster, you know?”

But, surprise!, once again, Moore is wrong, you know? The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (8/30/02) reports a woman who used a rolled-up newspaper and toaster to light a cigarette started a fire that killed her mentally ill adult daughter. The Irish Times (2/28/02) reports that in Cork, in 1997, one homeless man murdered another homeless man by hitting him in the head with a toaster. And the Philippine Daily Inquirer (8/28/01) tells of a young woman who saw her toaster on fire, threw water on it and was electrocuted instantly.

A Global News Wire story (8/3/01) says a pop-up toaster is the likely cause of a fire killing a mother and son in Timaru, New Zealand. A Canadian Press report (7/28/2000) says that in Quebec a house fire started by a toaster killed an autistic young man. And the Richmond Times-Dispatch (5/10/99) says a Yorkshire, Virginia, couple filed a $4.7 million lawsuit against a Delaware business alleging that their toaster was faulty and caused a fire killing their mentally disabled son and his grandmother. We found several more stories like this from around the world involving killer-toasters. Perhaps Michael Moore’s next movie will deal with the obvious need for tougher toaster-control laws.

But, would that make his reputation as a liberal ideologue toast?