A high school newspaper’s survey about gun ownership took on a life of its own over the weekend, but only this morning, courtesy of The Blaze, was there a reality check on the discussion that Examiner was able to confirm by contacting the Texas school district where this story originated.
Texas talk radio host Michael Cargill did a segment on the survey this past Sunday, and today he told this column that he was originally tipped off by concerned parents. But by then, the story had spread across social media, and before long, The Hawk 2015 Gun Survey had become the stuff of tinfoil hats.
Tamra Spence, assistant communications director for the Pflugerville, Texas Independent School District, told Examiner that since the survey story began spreading, “It has gotten a little crazy.” The district, she said, had received “lots of telephone calls.”
However, as The Blaze report observed, “The survey was not mandatory and was not administered by school officials, and the high school’s administration had previously not been aware of the questionnaire.” That’s what Spence told them, and what she relayed to Examiner as well.
Survey questions included:
- Does your family own guns?
- If so, how many?
- What is their purpose?
- Have you ever fired a gun?
- What are your parents (sic) political views?
- What are your political views?
- Have you or anyone in your family ever used a gun in a self-defense situation?
Admittedly, such questions can raise alarms, as they did among some parents in the Pflugerville area, and among Cargill’s listeners. The Hawk is the student newspaper at Pflugerville’s Hendrickson High School. The questionnaire was, according to Spence, put together by the students, not the school, and certainly not the district. It was distributed to about 100 students during a study hall, and responses were all voluntary, she assured.
Spence also noted that it is not the district’s policy to “go over” the student newspaper. “The students did the survey,” she said.
But once the story – which was originally part of Cargill’s Sunday broadcast, which may be listened to here, beginning at about the five-minute mark – was posted on a popular website and spread from there, the reaction was fast and furious. The conversation spread over to Facebook and elsewhere, with terms such as “fascist left,” tyranny, communism becoming part of the discussion.
The survey asked about parental gun ownership, whether a firearm had ever been used in self-defense, political views on guns, the political views of a respondent’s parents; all the things that raise alarms among people who think it is none of the government’s business if they own guns or how they vote.
Cargill, who is based in Austin, said he tried to calm the fears of parents who called, e-mailed and sent private messages over Facebook. He confessed to being “actually pretty shocked” at the reaction to this story over the Internet. When he initially posted an image of the survey on Facebook that had been supplied by a concerned parent, more than 100 responses came in almost immediately. At least one participant to that discussion has a son at Hendrickson High School.
Cargill said he would reach out to cable news in hopes of getting them to do a story about how this “got blown out of proportion.”
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