The Journalist’s Resource at Harvard University has published new guides for journalists on gun issues. More than four in 10 U.S. adults live in a gun-owning household, and nearly five in 10 say they grew up with guns in the home,says the Pew Research Center. Some 44 percent of Americans know someone who has been shot, either deliberately or accidentally, according to Pew’s report, “America’s Complex Relationship with Guns.” Many journalists have trouble relating to people who own or use guns, says Journalist’s Resource’s Carmen Nobel. She quotes Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute as saying that, “In my experience of training thousands of journalists over 20 years, I often ask them how many own a gun or have never fired a gun. The overwhelming majority of the people I have asked that, by a wide margin, have not held or fired a weapon and they say they do not like guns.”
It’s important to get the terminology right. Some journalists mistakenly call cartridges “bullets” or incorrectly state that all automatic weapons are banned. Journalist’s Resource published a tip sheet for reporting on guns, developed with help from The Trace and a reporter who covered crime at the Orlando Sentinel for 25 years. There is also research on gun owners and the issue of gun storage from a public health perspective. Among the findings: About 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in homes in which at least one firearm is stored loaded and unlocked.