*****My email to him:

 

Mr. Swanson,

I want to apologize for my abruptness earlier during our phone conversation.  I was at work and have about 106 things going on right now.  I'm sure you can understand deadlines and the like.

 

As for taking part in the "Lewis County Regulars" event.  Personally I can't speak for the entire group as to you, or any of press, coming along to the event.  In the past, the press (not just your paper specifically) has not been favorable when it comes to discussing the issue of the second amendment.  More often than not, gun owners are depicted in a negative light.

 

While you may have the purest intentions of showing, what truly is, a group of normal people enjoying their firearms.  All too often these articles become an expose of the "dangerous assault weapons that are available to normal people and should only be in the hands of the police and military" or a laugh out loud tale of the dangerous exploits of irresponsible people.

 

Neither of which is true about our group.  Safety is of the utmost concern for us and we are far from being people that the public should be concerned about.  An article that depicted us in any way other than what we truly are would be a disservice to our cause and our beliefs as American citizens.

 

Again, I'm not stating that these are your intentions, but we have been burned in the past and don't want it to happen again.

 

I would be more than happy to discuss these points with you further.  Please do understand that I do have a job and a family and my time is precious to me, But I will try to answer any questions you may have about the topic of gun control, the Second amendment, and the true makeup of the everyday firearm owner.

 

As to the group get-togethers, it's really not my place, but I will forward your information on to some people that may or may not be willing to discuss the option with you.

 

Thank you for your time,

Mac McTernen

 

 

*****His email to me at almost the same time via facebook:

 

I am the photographer from the Chronicle who spoke with you on the phone this afternoon. I am e-mailing you via one of my editor's Facebook accounts. Following our telephone conversation, I looked through the newspaper's archives on gun rights. I found only three opinion columns against gun rights. All were written by Jim Shouse, who was subsequently fired. I asked one current editor about Shouse, and he said, "He's an idiot." The only other references to gun rights that appeared in our paper come as pro-2nd Amendment letters to the editor. I don't know who told you that this paper was anti-gun rights, but they are mistaken. The facts just don't bear that out.

 

Please allow me to show you some of my work. I am not interested in writing a smear piece about "gun nuts." I want to do a photo-driven profile on a group of gun enthusiasts who come to our county to cut loose. I have no political slant on the gun rights issue, and I trap shoot for fun. A quick Google search of my name shows that I have no politically motivated articles whatsoever. Part of the appeal of doing a story on the LCR is the fantastic photos that would come from the event.

 

Please call me so that I can better explain my stance. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

 

Brandon Swanson

Photographer

The Chronicle

(206) 403-5234

bswanson@chronline.com

 

*****My response to him on Facebook

 

I sent ya an email a little bit ago, I'm sure that would be easier than trying to interface via someone else's facebook account.

 

 

 

*****His response to my email

Dear Mr. Mcternen,

 

Thank you for your response to the message I sent you via Facebook. I

appreciate your willingness to discuss with others in your group the

possibility of me shooting photos of an LCR event. Please let them

know the following information:

 

1. My interest in covering the Lewis County Regulars is almost

entirely for the photo opportunities. As a photographer, I watched

your YouTube videos of events and thought about what fantastic photos

could be taken there. My job is the most enjoyable when I am in a

visually rich environment where strong images present themselves at

every turn. An LCR event is one of those environments where amazing

photos wait to be taken.

 

2. I agree that the majority of the media leans left politically, and

I'm sure that if you polled every reporter and editor, most would

take a stricter view on gun rights than would you. But I am not

interested in Second Amendment issues whatsoever. I know that it is

an important issue for you, but it doesn't concern me. As a result, I

won't write a story supporting your gun rights, but I won't write one

denouncing those rights either. Nor will I interview anyone outside

of your group for their opinion about assault rifle bans or whatever.

The story would be apolitical. It would basically be a photo-driven

story that would be solely about you guys and your events in Lewis

County, not about gun rights as a whole.

 

3. Readers of the Chronicle don't want to read anything against gun

rights. Our coverage area, Lewis County, is the only county in

western Washington that consistently votes Republican. The majority

of our readership are in favor of upholding the Second Amendment, and

I'd bet a majority of them are gun owners themselves. A few years

ago, a columnist for the paper published three opinion columns

against the Second Amendment. Those columns drew dozens of letters to

the editor rebutting them. The columnist who wrote those opinions was

fired. I would not write anything that would bring me the same fate.

 

I hope this will help explain to you and those you talk to that I

have no ulterior motives. I think that if I could get you and the

other LCRs to understand my motivation for shooting photos of your

events, you would have no problem with me doing so. I simply want to

present a story and great photos of a group doing their thing in

Lewis County.  Please let me know if there is a time and place where

I can meet with you and any other LCRs to give you a deeper

understanding of my goal and allow you to ask any questions that you

may have. Otherwise, feel free to call me. I am sure that you will

come away from our conversation knowing that I am not a shrieking

organ of the liberal press hoping to swindle you into being the

subject of "gotcha journalism."

 

Thank you for your time and your consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brandon Swanson

Photographer

Centralia Chronicle

bswanson@chronline.com

(206) 403-5234

 

*****My Response

Mr. Swanson,

     Thanks, as well, for your response. While my personality leans towards not getting into a deep discussion on things, ignoring and hoping it goes away, I felt that you had been courteous to me and that I would return the favor by answering you.  I presented the idea to the group as a whole and I must tell you, that the concept was not well received.  I'll try to answer your points one by one, then expand on anything left un explained.

 

1.  I can't disagree with you here.  We have several photographers in our group and they also enjoy taking photos at the event.

 

2.  This point specifically is the main reason that many regular attendees disagreed with the idea.  Like I said in my previous email, we've been burned before.  We've had members that were assured that an article would be done with the best of intentions and in the end, once printed became a hit piece.  Either due to an outright lie by the reporter or because an editor thought he might get more attention to the article by changing the story to something more sensational.  Again, this is not a judgment on you directly, but a reflection of years of experience by members ranging from 18 years old to their late 60s.

 

     Along these same lines, it's not always the intent of the article but how it is received.  There are plenty of people out there that are fearful of everyday folks owning firearms.  Many of those people are in political office.  In a political climate where conservatives are being labeled as "Right Wing Terrorists".  It would be easy for that leap to be made by some, just by looking at the photographs.  This can lead to a push for a ban, push for heavier restrictions, or even something as simple as figuring out where it was that we were engaging in the activity and having it shut down.

 

    We go to great lengths to keep our shooting locations clean and relatively unknown as many have been shut down due to fear of gun owners or simply because others found out and made a mess of the place.

 

3.  This point, is best explained with the following example:

 

Local story: http://www.outdoorslc.com/multimedia/speedo.php

 

Goes National: http://www.foxnews.com/search-results/m/22184367/speedo-man.htm#q=speedo+man

 

Given the concerns in point 2, taking our little get together to the national news could have very negative effects, given the viewer of the story.  There have been other national news stories about small groups of friends going shooting, that turned into public outrage and accusations of "terrorist training".  Eventually, due to the attention an hysteria, several members were investigated by the authorities.  None of the members had ever done anything wrong, but because of the public's perception and pressure on government officials, peoples lives were interrupted and sent into upheaval.

 

In closing, I'm sure that you have the best of intentions, however given our concerns for the unintended consequences of such an article, %76 of the members (101 in total) polled gave a resounding "no" to the idea.  I abstained from the vote, in order to try and keep an open mind.  Some members stated that they would not attend if a member of the press was there.  Some even stated that they wont attend due to the fact that you might show up, even if uninvited.  This is what lead me to decide as well that it would not be a good idea. 

 

Understand that this is not a public event.  What I mean is, that we don't do it FOR the public.  We attend to have a weekend to shoot, hang out, and enjoy the company of some good friends.  We hold the event for ourselves.  If bringing press along to the event is going to cause some of my friends to not show up, it really doesn't seem worth it for a few minutes of fame online.

 

Again, thank you very much for your interest in our event, but it's just not right at this time.  In an attempt to compromise, if you are truly interested in photographing or discussing shooting sports further, I would be willing to talk with you about it, perhaps, off the record.

 

On a completely side note, I know that the internet is a big place and there are lots of ways to find information if you know how to dig.  But I'm curious on how you got wind of the LCR and ultimately how it lead you to me.  Some of the details you came with didn't seem to add up to how I would find me.  :)

 

Thanks again,

Mac McTernen

 

 

*****His final response

 

Malcolm,

 

I appreciate your detailed e-mail and I thank you for at least discussing the option of a story with the other Regulars. I can understand your hesitation about how even a balanced story could be perceived by those who oppose you. Should you ever decide to change your mind, please let me know.

 

Best of luck,

 

Brandon