Interesting article on popular panics, media, and laws
Right here. It focuses upon media driven panics, with little or no basis in fact (e.g., a "study" that indicated 80% of internet images are porn, and a claim that 50,000 sexual predators are online at any moment), that led to federal legislation, specifically anti-internet-porn laws and concern over MySpace being exploited by hordes of sexual predators. In each case, there was either no hard evidence, or in one case a largely invented study (which the author convinced a law review to publish without verifying his data) that led to media hype, perception of a crisis, and legislation.
The parallels with, oh, "assault weapons," "cop-killer bullets," "a gun in the home is more likely to kill you than a criminal," and other such issues are rather striking.
Brought back a memory of my late ex, who upon watching an episode of "60 Minutes" became utterly convinced that drug pushers were everywhere hanging out around school, and passing out free samples in order to get students addicted. It was on the TV -- it had to be accurate!
From Mike Masnick of Tech Dirt, who has this post on it, and to reader Sam Wilson....
[Update: wouldn't have been the Wild Bunch, which came out in the 60s, I think, and featured shotguns and a belt fed Browning. Great flick. But as I recall the movie fad in the late 50s was juvenile delinquency, and I'm sure there were a lot with switchblades.]