A misleading graphic of an AR-15 style rifle posted by USA Today on Twitter drew the ire of many Twitter users who claimed the illustration was inaccurate and amounted to fear mongering.
The video was posted with the tag “A look at the gun used in the Texas church shooting,” and then showed a number of possible accessories which can be added to an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. Most were normal accessories that many gun owners routinely place on their firearms, such as extending buttstocks, optics and pistol grips.
Where it seemed to go off the rails was when USA Today’s video showed a “chainsaw bayonet” being affixed to the front of the rifle. Those familiar with rifles and the firearms industry say that a chainsaw bayonet, if a functioning model even exists, is not a common accessory that gun owners are buying.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) November 8, 2017
Besides a series of sarcastic replies which displayed other unusual attachments being placed on the front of the rifle similar to the “chainsaw bayonet,” many users objected to the suggestion that gun owners would even consider placing a chainsaw on their rifles.
USA Today posted a comment shortly afterward apparently looking to clear up any confusion over the intent of the video: “To clarify, the video shows both the shooter’s modifications, as well as other possible modifications. The shooter did not use a chainsaw bayonet.”
#ChainsawBayonet started to trend on Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
The incident marks the latest encounter between the mainstream media and the firearms community, the latter of which have long accused journalists and reporters of not letting their tenuous grasp of guns prevent them from writing on the subject from a position of authority.
Gun owners will cite such egregious displays of ignorance about a highly controversial subject from a source fashioning itself as objective news and analysis as nothing short of outright partisan politics, seeking to leverage their position to influence the public. To a gun enthusiast, seeing a journalist try to legitimately say a chainsaw can be practically affixed to a rifle shows a distinct lack of journalistic integrity. Gun owners may then wonder, and rightfully so, what else are they getting wrong?
Incidents such as these also only fan the flames of many who will decry all mainstream sources as “Fake News.”
As of the time of publishing, the Tweet with this video remains live.
Image courtesy of Twitter / USA Today