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Old 10-11-2008, 09:23 PM
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Letter/Appeal for Positive News Coverage

Ok, this was discussed in a different thread, but to recap, it has been suggested that in response to many of the negative news reports and articles regarding airsoft, we should take it upon ourselves to show the other side of things. Otherwise the general public is left with only a negative view of our sport and it's potential abuse, usually by kids and idiots.

I have drafted a letter which, after comments and revisions, I hope to circulate among Ohio airsofters, collecting signatures, and then send to various news organizations, particularly those who have published airsoft pieces in the past.


Here's the draft. I ask each of you to give any sort of constructive criticism you like, whether that's with regards to use of language, or making other points that should be included in the letter.

Dear (News Agency)
We are writing on behalf of airsoft hobbyists throughout the state of Ohio regarding newspaper articles and television pieces concerning the misuse of airsoft replica weapons that have appeared in many local and state newspapers. While we agree that these abuses do warrant media coverage, as might any other crime or public disturbance, we believe that these articles do not accurately portray the true nature of our sport. Though there is truth to the notion that airsoft guns have the potential for abuse, particularly by children or teens, this does not represent most airsoft enthusiasts or airsoft events.
First and foremost, we would like to dispel the notion that the people in the news are members of the airsoft community. The people being interviewed, or getting arrested, in almost all of these pieces are teens, criminals or both. The games portrayed in the media are usually played in residential neighborhoods by minors without significant adult supervision or safety regulations. A true airsoft event usually takes place in a commercial airsoft or paintball field, always a secluded location away from outside observers who might misunderstand and feel threatened. Most participants are adults ranging from urban and rural professionals, military veterans, law enforcement officers, and students. Those participants under the age of 18 are required to have parental permission in order to play, and in some cases to even be allowed on the field. All minors remain in the company and supervision of the adult players and are expected to follow the same standards of conduct.
Airsoft guns are not toys, except in the same loose sense that power tools are referred to as “big boy toys.” Those who characterize them as mere toys are woefully uniformed. Unfortunately, this group includes most teenagers and their parents, as well as the general public. A serious airsofter might spend as much as $300 on an airsoft gun, just as an initial investment. The price rises considerably when the gun is accessorized or upgraded. Hobbyists, therefore, treat their replicas with great respect. They invest in a carrying case, or at least a box, to transport their gun to and from events without carrying them openly in public. One of the first lessons that a new arrival to the airsoft community learns is to never use or carry an airsoft gun in view of the public, under any circumstances. Airsoft hobbyists treat their guns with the same care and caution that one would show a real firearm. They are particularly aware that police officers will be unable to tell the difference upon casual inspection and they understand the potentially severe consequences of being casual with their airsoft weapons. Those featured on the news, do not, which is usually what caused them to be on the news in the first place.
Other standard safety rules also go amiss in these backyard games. Parents allow their children to play without enough supervision, and without proper protection. At every airsoft event, ANSI (American National Standards Institute) approved shooting glasses or safety goggles are required at all times. Shop glasses or standard safety goggles are not enough. The lenses have to fully protect the eyes and be able to withstand a direct shot from a high velocity gun at close range. In most games, players under 18 are required to go one step further and wear a full plastic facemask while playing. Likewise, most games set and enforce minimum engagement distances. Guns that shoot over a particular fps (feet per second) increment cannot be fired at a target within a certain distance. This is to ensure that, when hit, the plastic bbs do not cause any injury or excessive pain, though they are designed to be felt. This adds to the realism and the adrenaline of the experience while remaining within the confines of safety and prudence. The news tends to cover players who do not follow these rules or the many others that serious hobbyists and event organizers enforce.
The attitude of the parents presents another very serious problem. No responsible adult would buy a car, a television or even a cell phone without doing their homework and making an informed purchased. They would know the intended purpose of any prospective purchase and make sure that it meets their needs. By the same logic, no responsible adult should purchase a “toy” for their child without being fully informed. By law, no one is allowed to sell an airsoft gun to a minor but many of the larger retailers make it very easy for parents to make uninformed decisions. In an airsoft dedicated retail outlet a salesman might caution parents about safety and explain to them the appropriate ways to engage in airsoft as a safe and exciting hobby. Ohio especially has a wealth of retail outlets dedicated largely or solely to airsoft hobbyists, with excellent products and knowledgeable sales representatives who will help parents and teens make informed purchases. Almost all online retailers have an FAQ page and a way to contact a representative with any questions.
Too many parents do not take advantage of these resources, however. They do not read FAQs or contact salesmen. They do not research the guns themselves or the way that they should be used. The few who have even heard of airsoft only know what they’ve heard from the news or from their children, the latter generally not being considered a reliable source of information, especially when they want something.
This is why we need positive media coverage of the sport. If parents turn on the television and only see reports of airsoft guns being mistaken for real weapons, or of irresponsible high school teens threatening other children, or other dangerous sounding representations they will never see what airsoft is for many of us. They only see the potential for abuse and assume that is the only way that airsoft guns can be used. Some news reports even lump airsoft weapons in with “airguns,” including pellet guns and metal bb guns, which are very dangerous when fired at people, unlike airsoft guns. Despite some similar terminology there are very few similarities. However, people, including the media themselves, hearing these reports receive a vague feeling of menace from airsoft guns and most never look further.
Our goal is not to express outrage, or to denounce the news media. Quite the opposite. Such things should receive attention. Parents and would-be players should know the potential mistakes that can occur when airsoft replicas fall into the hands of the ignorant. We simply wish to invite you and other news organizations to show the other side, do some research yourself and report what you find. Forum sites like airsoftohio.com can give a picture of what mature, responsible, dedicated airsoft players are really like. We would even invite you to join us at an airsoft event and see for yourself. The way to prevent airsoft guns from being abused is to show how they should be used.
Sincerely, the Airsoft Community



I'm sorry if the formatting makes it difficult to read. The original formatting didn't copy, but it will be in the printed version.

After getting your comments I intend to add citations and references to some of these articles and reports. I also hope to be able to edit this letter down some, so that it's smaller when we send it.
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:47 PM
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You mean a news story like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZlZBhlb5BI

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Old 10-11-2008, 09:49 PM
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Yes. That's one of the more positive reports out there, and even that one starts out with a banner in the back saying "airsoft dangers."

And again, they feature stories about irresponsible teenagers exposing airsoft guns in front of cops. Thankfully, it also shows people like us, and that's what we're going for. I think that we should have more reports that show the positive side.
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:51 PM
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Dude, you're not going to get much more positive coverage than that. And we only agreed to do it because we the reporter is a customer of ours who we could actually trust to do a fair report.

You bring in some unknown journalist, you have no idea what you are going to get. I would recommend that you do not send this out, the less journalists that know about us, the better.

But that is my opinion.
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:54 PM
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I'd like to hear what everyone else has to say, but your opinion is duly noted. Thanks.
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Old 10-11-2008, 09:56 PM
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I stumbled on this, which I thought was pretty cool. Maybe it's just the girls...But either way, some Ohio players are in it(iP)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NObeS23ZI9g
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:02 PM
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You write this letter because of a incident in wadsworth and you think that the incident has put a stain on our sport and the airsoft community in ohio?
The "kids" in wadsworth WERE NOT AIRSOFTERS!!!!!!!!!
All your doing is to make the media remember that incident and take it one step further. You also mentioned airsoftohio. I know there has been reporters on this site before...............WE DON'T NEED THEM HERE!!!!!!!!
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:04 PM
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I totally agree with Locutus. If you truly want to have an impact with such letter, make sure a sheriff or a high figure person will distribute it. Otherwise, you are just another kid trying to promote his sport without enough facts/evidences to support the cause to the full extent.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil View Post
I stumbled on this, which I thought was pretty cool. Maybe it's just the girls...But either way, some Ohio players are in it(iP)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NObeS23ZI9g
Problem with that is that I don't know that many parents with teenagers who hang around on youtube. I know lots who watch the news every night.

I have seen some more balanced reports on airsoft on the mainstream news. Locutus' example is one of them. However, I've seen lots that show just the dangerous aspect, and only one or two that show just our side of things.

The problem that even the balanced pieces have is that they seem to lump us in with the irresponsible teenagers. Whether or not that's what they intended, the connection is made on an emotional level that airsoft guns are dangerous.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:05 PM
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I didn't read the entire letter, thanks for point that out Miyagi.

Please do not mention or refer to Airsoft Ohio in any letters to the media.

Thanks.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:10 PM
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Well, I would like to point out that a big part of the letter is saying that the people misusing airsoft are not airsofters. (Trust me, it's in there.)

And I debated with myself whether or not to mention AO in the letter. In the end I chose to put it in the draft and see what people think. Since people obviously disapprove, I can remove it.


But I would like to respond to the very hostile reaction some of you are having. This is an idea. Nothing more. Whether or not it works out, I think that it's one that's worth exploring and debating. That's all I'm trying to do. So I definitely want all of your opinions, but please keep in mind that nothing has been done yet.

All I did was write the letter and ask you guys what you think. Let's not overreact.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:13 PM
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Sven, we are not over-reacting, we are just talking with experience. Don't forget, most answers you got so far are coming from guys that have been heavily invested into this sport for more than 8 years now...and I am not talking about backyard veterans here

To tell you the truth, I even attended a meeting years ago involving lawyers and major organizers and it did not end the way we all thought it would be...and the medias/officials were not even involved yet.....
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:19 PM
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Sven, I haven't seen any hostile reactions. Just honest opinions from people who have been involved in the sport a long time. We aren't jumping on you.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miyagi View Post
You write this letter because of a incident in wadsworth and you think that the incident has put a stain on our sport and the airsoft community in ohio?
The "kids" in wadsworth WERE NOT AIRSOFTERS!!!!!!!!!
All your doing is to make the media remember that incident and take it one step further. You also mentioned airsoftohio. I know there has been reporters on this site before...............WE DON'T NEED THEM HERE!!!!!!!!
Anything with that many exclamation marks is overkill. That's what I was referring to.

I am by no means discounting the opinions that have been expressed so far. Trust me, I wouldn't mail this to anyone without having a long, long list of signatures from people in the community, especially the veterans of the sport. Even if I wanted to I wouldn't do that.

I'm not saying that we have to do this, but I'm saying that it's a debate worth having. True, we don't want to do anything rash, but let's not discount the idea on principal either.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I RANGER I View Post
No one is jumping on you Sven, you are simply recieving the input you asked for,

I fully agree with Locutus and Strikers. If you take this to an unknown journalist you truly have no idea where they are going to take it.

The media is very good and twisting and turning statements. And no offense but there are several statements in your draft that if taken out of context by the journalist could very well hurt the sport and not help it.

Statements such as:

Couldnt this statement very well be mistaken we do not ourselves use them the way they should be used??

My point is that the media, especially journalists, are looking for the best story possible. They can manipulate your story anyway they see fit... and there can be several lines in there that very well could be taken out of context... and Locutus is right on this, you should keep Airsoft Ohio away from this...
Thank you. That's the sort of advice I was looking for. You backed up your opinion with specific reasons why this might not be a good idea.

You also pointed out things that could be changed. Is it possible that we could look at some of the misinterpreted statements and work with them? There might be a way to make the letter work. Maybe not, but I think we should explore our options.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:30 PM
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As a member and a mgr of a news station I would have to say NO. The reason why is because this news impacts so few people. The TV news media does not act as a forum for people trying to get a small message out. Sorry to say it but Airsoft will only get press when something dealing airsoft happens. Chances are the only thing that will happen with airsoft news worthy will be bad. So sorry.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:34 PM
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Ok, well, is there a better way to educate the public?

People are getting very little news about airsoft, but what they're getting is mostly negative.

I don't think that it's possible to keep our sport covered up in this veil of secrecy forever. More and more people are hearing about it, and some places are even starting to ban airsoft guns, mostly because they don't understand what they're really about. All they see is the negative aspects, because that's all anyone ever talks about.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Locutus View Post
You bring in some unknown journalist, you have no idea what you are going to get. I would recommend that you do not send this out, the less journalists that know about us, the better.
Totally with you on this one...
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:43 PM
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Sven, I am not jumping on you with my exclamation points. I am trying to get the point across. If I, in anyway, made it seem like I was yelling at you.....I wasn't.
Listen to these people..........PLEASE!!(only 2 that time)
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miyagi View Post
Sven, I am not jumping on you with my exclamation points. I am trying to get the point across. If I, in anyway, made it seem like I was yelling at you.....I wasn't.
Listen to these people..........PLEASE!!(only 2 that time)
I am listening to them. That's why I posted the letter in the first place.

But I'm also hoping that we can get some discussion going on a better way of doing this. Everyone seems to agree that the letter is a bad idea, but no one has made any other suggestions.

I think that we need to find a way to educate people. We can't just lay low and hope no one will notice, because the idiots aren't going to lay low. Right now it may not matter, but they're starting to pass laws against airsoft.

There has to be a way, even if this isn't it.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sventhewarrior View Post
I don't think that it's possible to keep our sport covered up in this veil of secrecy forever.
We've managed to do this so far, and there have only been a few news reports that mentioned Airsoft Ohio, and most of those have probably been forgotten. If we are able to seperate those who take airsofting seriously and are careful about it (ourselves) from the kids that appear in the media brandishing airsoft guns in a threatening matter, I think we'll mostly be left alone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sventhewarrior View Post
More and more people are hearing about it, and some places are even starting to ban airsoft guns, mostly because they don't understand what they're really about. All they see is the negative aspects, because that's all anyone ever talks about.
So far, nothing like a ban has happened in Ohio, and I think that if we keep airsoft out of the news, people will keep it out of their minds. No matter what is reported, there will always be people that will relate airsoft to the bad incidents that have occurred, so I think we should just leave airsoft where it is and continue with our business in a safe way that doesn't attract any media attention, whether positive or negative.

Quote:
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We can't just lay low and hope no one will notice, because the idiots aren't going to lay low. Right now it may not matter, but they're starting to pass laws against airsoft.
That's why I think we should try to seperate ourselves from these people, and make sure that there is a clear difference between us and them while staying out of the media.
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Old 10-11-2008, 10:54 PM
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But that's the problem.

We can keep our heads down, but we can't stop the idiots from being idiots. They are going to put airsoft into the media every now and again, whether we like it or not.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:00 PM
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You are always going to have idiots and criminals doing inappropriate things with airsoft guns. Having a nice story on the news is not going to immediately cause every one to change their mind.

You want to do good, then start by inviting these little kids to games and leading them by example. Teach them to play safely. Print out some pamphlets and see if you can get them distributed at the Big Box retailers in your area. Spread the word at these stores that sell indiscriminately.

Unfortunately, you can't save them all, no matter how hard you try.

In the end, these people causing problems are not airsofters. They are idiots with guns. Substitute airsoft for "car" or "premarital sex" and you can see just how universal stupidity is.
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sventhewarrior View Post
But that's the problem.

We can keep our heads down, but we can't stop the idiots from being idiots. They are going to put airsoft into the media every now and again, whether we like it or not.
In my opinion you just hurt your cause a great deal, because no matter how often we try to portray airsoft as a great sport/hobby or whatever, we will in fact not be able to stop people who want to use airsoft guns poorly from doing so. It's essentially the same thing with underage drinking and drugs. The police can do a phenomenal job teaching kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol through a DARE program or what have you, but regardless some of those kids will be come addicts and/or alcoholics. The same as we can teach everyone in the world how to properly use an airsoft gun and not to be an airsoft menace to society, but that will not stop someone who wants to from using it in the way we work so hard to prevent. As far as main stream airsoft goes, we keep our heads down as to avoid any unecessary media that could be spun as bad, and in doing so we can also keep poor players off the field. For us, staying off the media radar will be good no matter what.
Nuff said. I'm going to bed. (lol rhyme)

EDIT: Damnit Texx, you beat me to the punch,
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Old 10-11-2008, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Texx View Post
You are always going to have idiots and criminals doing inappropriate things with airsoft guns. Having a nice story on the news is not going to immediately cause every one to change their mind.

You want to do good, then start by inviting these little kids to games and leading them by example. Teach them to play safely. Print out some pamphlets and see if you can get them distributed at the Big Box retailers in your area. Spread the word at these stores that sell indiscriminately.

Unfortunately, you can't save them all, no matter how hard you try.

In the end, these people causing problems are not airsofters. They are idiots with guns. Substitute airsoft for "car" or "premarital sex" and you can see just how universal stupidity is.
Thank you. That's constructive advice.

I'm not saying that we can change everyone's mind, but I do think that this is an issue that should concern us, precisely because we are so invested in airsoft.

There's no way we can stop people being idiots with airsoft guns any more than we can stop people from being idiots with cars or sex. But that has never stopped us from trying.
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