Litigation, Reputation, and Vilification: How Gun Activists Cannot Lose for Winning

Posted: 29 Mar 2010

See all articles by William Haltom

William Haltom

University of Puget Sound

Michael McCann

University of Washington - Department of Political Science

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Abstract

Based on a purposive sample of 773 articles in U. S. newspapers 1985-2005, we find that even as lawsuits against firearms manufacturers have failed in courtrooms they have tended to succeed in print. Content analyses reveal how frames and characterizations that predominate in newspapers redound against manufacturers and contradict themes on which corporate defendants have relied. We distinguish articles that were mostly about specific suits from articles not at all about specific suits to reveal that coverage of specific suits disadvantages manufacturers most but even articles that raise no specific suits disparage manufacturers. We complete the paper with a narrative of how firearms activists have been surprised by our results. They dwelled on losing battles and missed the battles that they have been winning.

Suggested Citation

Haltom, William and McCann, Michael, Litigation, Reputation, and Vilification: How Gun Activists Cannot Lose for Winning. Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580497

William Haltom (Contact Author)

University of Puget Sound ( email )

1500 N Warner St.
Tacoma, WA 98416
United States

Michael McCann

University of Washington - Department of Political Science ( email )

101 Gowen Hall
Box 353530
Seattle, WA 98195
United States

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