I’ve been reading The New York Times every day since 1959, and in that nearly five decades, I’ve learned that if the Times reports on a gun story, it will screw up. This is not because its reporters are dumb or lazy, it’s because they know nothing about the subject, and are unable to understand what they’re being told.

Yesterday morning, however, I got a bad fright while reading “Armed and Competitive” in the Times’ Business Section. The story was about Smith & Wesson’s journey back from near death, and I was almost at the end of the story when I realized that the writer, one Leslie Wayne, had not made a single mistake.

Beads of sweat formed on my brow. My hands began to shake. My heart switched to an ominous, non-life-sustaining rhythm. Feeling like a man taking a stroll to the gas chamber, I got to the next paragraph, and…saved !

According to Ms. Wayne, “The company has come up with a single-shot rifle that is the law enforcement version of a military assault-style weapon. The rifle, the M&P15, is popular with police departments as an alternative to pump shotguns.”

Wow, I thought, those are some ballsy cops who are willing to take on the forces of evil with a single-shot rifle. Or could it be that Ms. Wayne doesn’t know what she’s talking about, since the M&P15 feeds from a 30-round magazine?

I called Paul Pluff, who is Director of Marketing at S&W, and he explained:

“She asked us if the M&P15 was an assault weapon, and we said no, it only fired one round with each pull of the trigger, but she couldn’t grasp that.

“Actually, we should be grateful; it’s the first time I’ve ever seen The Times write anything positive about the gun industry.”

And in the meanwhile, The Times can proudly keep as its motto:

“All the news that’s fit to print… even if we don’t understand it.”