Stephanie Soechtig, of the Katie Couric-hosted documentary about guns in America (Under The Gun), joined Dan Proft & Amy Jacobson on Chicago’s Morning Answer. Listen now to the interview that turned into a rhetorical shootout.
Dan Proft: Dan and Amy, and I don’t know. We’re supposed to talk to this director of Under the Gun. I’m looking forward to talking to her about the documentary that Katie Couric hosted. Katie Couric got caught up in a little bit of a problem there, because of creative editing of the documentary that was snag, comparing raw footage to the edited footage that was at least initially used in the documentary where Katie Couric asked the question about gun laws, and how it’s filmed is seemed to stump this group of second amendment advocates. Amy Jackobson: And a long pause, and they had the look of bewilderment; almost the look of guilt, because if you see it, they looked guilty, but that was all manufactured, that was all edited to fit her narrative. Dan Proft: And point of fact, she got a tutorial from one of the gentlemen that was part of this group that she was having a discussion with on Supreme Court case law, on federal law, on state law, philosophically, on the right to keep and bear arms. It was quite thumping. Katie Couric: Let me ask you another question. If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun? Dan Proft: The camera pans to the group and nobody has an answer. Amy Jackobson: Hue the sinister music. Dan Proft: That’s how it was presented. Here’s what actually happened with that exchange between Couric and those individuals she was speaking with about second amendment rights and gun safety. Katie Couric: If there are no background checks, how do you prevent – I know how you all are going to answer this, but I’m going to ask you anyway – if there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from walking into, say, a licensed gun dealer and purchasing a gun? Man 1: If you’re not in jail you should still have your basic rights and you should go buy a gun. Katie Couric: So if you’re a terrorist and a felon… Man 1: If you’re a felon and you’ve done your time, you should have your rights. Man 2: In fact, we do have statutes, both at the federal and state level, that prohibit classes of people from being in possession of firearms. If you’re under 18 in Virginia, you can’t walk around with a gun. If you’re an illegal immigrant, if you’re a convicted felon, if you’ve been adjudicated and sent, these things are already illegal. So what we’re really asking about is a question of prior restraint. How can we prevent future crime by identifying bad guys before they do anything bad? And the simple answer is you can’t; and particularly under the legal system we have in the United States, there are a lot of Supreme Court opinions that say, no, prior restraint is something that the Government has not have the authority to do. Dan Proft: Those are two very different exchanges, aren’t they? And Katie Couric subsequently apologized for that editing, and so the question is what will we see if we view Under the Gun? Well, let’s put that question to the director. She’s an award winning writer, producer and documentary film director. Her name is Stephanie Soechtig, and she joins us now, Stephanie, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it. Stephanie Soechtig: Thanks for having me. Dan Proft: So why don’t we start there, because that was such a newsworthy development, the Katie Couric exchange with that group that was edited. How does that shake out, in terms of what’s presented in the documentary? Stephanie Soechtig: Well, have you seen the film? Dan Proft: No, I have not. Stephanie Soechtig: Okay, so if you see the film you’ll see that this particular group expresses their views on background checks in earlier exchange and throughout the film; they’re actually the main groups that we continuously go back to. So their views are expressed repeatedly and we know how they feel about background checks. Amy Jackobson: But do you think how this creative editing made some people not want to see it, make some people not want to trust the material that’s in it? Stephanie Soechtig: I think only people that probably wouldn’t have wanted to see film ahead of time, right? When I look at the vitriol that’s coming at me on Twitter, people are criticizing the 8 second pause, and it’s because they haven’t seen the film. If you focus what’s actually in the film, it’s bulletproof. Dan Proft: Pun intended. Stephanie Soechtig: I don’t think I need to take issue with the facts in the film. Dan Proft: What is it in the film? Give us the thematic of the film. Stephanie Soechtig: Yeah, so the film Under the Gun follows a group of parents who have lost their children to gun violence, and what we try to do is to take a really holistic look at this issue that’s been portrayed as really black and white for a long period of time. What we found were some really surprising things. I think that some will really fundamentally change the way you see the gun debate. For a really long time, the NRA has driven this narrative, that this is a black or white issue, that you’re with us or against us, and that there is this tyrannical government that’s out to take your guns away. And what we found is that the NRA actually speaks for a really small minority of gun owners; and the gun owners that they do speak for they actually aren’t really doing a good job at representing. 74% of NRA members support stricter background checks, and yet the NRA opposes universal background checks at every turn. So they’ve really had their thing with their membership, and they don’t think with the rest of the Americans. 90% of Americans favor universal background checks. Dan Proft: InstaCheck systems are what the NRA supports, which would be a background check. What is it exactly that the NRA isn’t supporting that is pending? What’s the universal background check? Stephanie Soechtig: Currently in the United States, 30% of guns that are purchased are purchased without a background check. Dan Proft: How is that? Stephanie Soechtig: Private sellers and at gun shows. And we actually demonstrated this ourselves. WE were able to go into a gun show in Arizona, and we were able to buy an AR15, we were able to buy the Smith & Wesson that was used in the Aurora shooting and all of this was done perfectly legally. Dan Proft: It’s actually not legal, because if you purchase a firearm from a federal firearm licensee, regardless of the location of the transaction – gun store, gun show, gun dealer’s car trunk – the FFL must confirm you are legally allowed to purchase that gun. That means they either run a background check on you via the NICS database, or confirm you’ve passed a background check by examining your concealed carry permit, or your government issued purchase permit, like a foid card in Illinois. Amy Jackobson: Did you have a foid card when you purchased these? Stephanie Soechtig: That’s completely untrue. Dan Proft: That isn’t untrue. Stephanie Soechtig: In Arizona you can buy a long gun from a private seller without a background check. Dan Proft: Excuse me, you’re conflating issues: a private seller versus a federal fire licensee. Stephanie Soechtig: That’s what the background check legally is. You can buy it from a private seller and he’s not seeing anything. Dan Proft: You’re talking about one-off transactions between a private seller… Stephanie Soechtig: Those one-off transactions amount to 40% of the gun purchase in this country. Dan Proft: Okay, I’m not going to do the statistical debate with you, because it doesn’t get anywhere. Stephanie Soechtig: Because you’d lose. Because the statistics are… Dan Proft: Actually, I wouldn’t lose, and it turns out it’s funny you talk about the NRA and its membership. You say the NRA doesn’t represent its membership. It’s funny, there are still members. So apparently, they choose to affiliate with the NRA and they choose to advance what we have in this country now, which is in 30 years we’ve gone from one state, Florida, having right to carry, to all 50 states having right to carry. And it was well before the Supreme Court decision in Heller. So it’s actually interesting that your side is losing the debate, isn’t it? Stephanie Soechtig: I’m not on a particular side. Dan Proft: You’re not on a side? Stephanie Soechtig: Are you on the pro gun violence side, because I’m on the anti gun violence side? Dan Proft: Again, that is a pathetic characterization. Like anybody is pro gun violence. Stephanie Soechtig: Exactly. We seem to agree. Dan Proft: I’m on the pro second amendment side, which is an individual right for self-protection. Stephanie Soechtig: I’m on the second amendment side too. And if you had taken the time to watch the film prior to this interview, you would see that I don’t challenge the second amendment. Dan Proft: Where is this documentary playing, I have no idea? Stephanie Soechtig: It is one of the most downloaded films on iTunes, the top on Amazon, and it is traded on demand. Dan Proft: Okay, well, I’ll be sure to check it out so that we can see how that editing worked out. Stephanie Soechtig, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your time, good luck with the film. Amy Jackobson: I wanted to ask her, Dan, about strapped purchases and stealing of guns. I think that’s where most of the people are getting the guns that are being used in homicides. Dan Proft: Oh, that’s true, but the point is she’s disingenuous, disingenuous when she’s not outright lying; about the editing, to start, and then that she doesn’t have a perspective on the issue. I’m anti gun violence, are you pro gun violence? That’s the indicia of someone who is not a serious person. By the way, on her whole false statistic; I didn’t want to get into it, because I wanted to get to a more productive place, but she didn’t want to go there. The whole 40% of people get their guns from these private transactions. That’s a lie. That’s a 20 year old study that was given 3 out of 3 Pinnochios by right-wing outlets like the Washington Post. It’s nonsense. Amy Jackobson: And that’s the attribution that she used? Dan Proft: That’s what she’s using. This is an old canard of the left, of the gun banning crowd, the whole 40% of these prior transactions… Amy Jackobson: But she won’t even admit about false advertising and dominating the editing, because there was an 8 second pause in there to make the gun rights supporters look stupid. Dan Proft: And just so the whole 40% of private transactions, that’s where people get their guns, private transactions; no background check, 40% of gun sells, no background check. That study was done, it’s questionable to methodology just as a baseline, but in addition to that, it covered a lot of sales before the federal background check system even existed. It’s completely disingenuous. I can already tell you, without seeing the film, based on her attitude and her ideology, there’s nothing you’re going to learn here. It’s just going to be another… Amy Jackobson: Propaganda piece. Dan Proft: Yeah, just more nostrums of the left on guns. Kurt in Park Ridge, you’re on Chicago’s Morning Answer. Kurt: Dan, I want to thank you so much, for that interview was awesome. You didn’t let her wiggle or squeeze away or spin. I’m telling you, it’s going to be hard to beat that interview for the rest of the month. It was great, thank you. Dan Proft: Thanks for the call; Ed, the gun safety guy in Lombard. Here’s an expert. Ed: Hey there. You gave a great example of the 40%, where she pulled that off of an old, old study that was shown invalid over and over again. There were others as well. The 70% of NRA members don’t support. You know, the NRA does not publish its membership list, and so, consequently, there’s no way to go out and survey NRA members. Amy Jackobson: And how did she get that statistic? Dan Proft: That’s a good point. Unless self-identify right. Ed: And then the 90% of people support universal background checks. The problem with the term universal background checks, they’re not universal, because there’s one group of people that’s not going to take part in that, is the criminals. And so, basically, what it’s saying, we want 100% of legal gun owners signed up, and the fact is only registration will enable such a thing to work. And finally, it’s the key thing, I hate the term gun violence. I’ve never known a gun to be violent, I’ve never known a gun to be arrested, tried, convicted, I’ve never known a gun to have an attitude. These are people. As you know, Dan, in my other life, I’m a clergyman, and we deal with sin, with people who do bad things. It’s out of the heart that we have the problem, not out of the box of guns. Dan Proft: Thanks for the call, Ed Brian, the Gun Safety Guy, appreciate it. Nick in Cary. Nick: Hi there. Hopefully I’m not with you timely. Didn’t she say that their response was actually played at the beginning of the documentary? That sounds to me that was separated from that particular piece that you played there. If it’s separated, if that’s true, whoever listens to the second half doesn’t hear the first half. Dan Proft: She said their opinions are included throughout, but you’re right, in terms of the actual exchange and question, she was a little dodgy about. I’ll have to endure the documentary to see what happened there, but appreciate the call, Nick. Dave in Northbrook. Dave: Hey, you know, you’re listening to people like that and the statistics that you’re talking about are false leads. Even if those were true, the problem with the anti gun mob is that the laws that they’re proposing to “fix” those issues have nothing to do with the vast majority of gun violence in this country. You look at the South Side of Chicago, these aren’t people going to private gun shows, buying from private sellers from gun shows. These are people buying from the backs of trunks of cars that are stolen weapons, and you can pass all the laws in the world to fix what she thinks is the problem and it has nothing to do with the gun violence in this country. Dan Proft: Thanks, Dave.