Anti-Gun Doc Director: Lawsuit Over Deceptive Edits An Attack On First Amendment

Matt Sayles/Associated Press

Under the Gun director Stephanie Soechtig has responded after she and Katie Couric were hit with a $12 million defamation lawsuit by a pro-gun group on Tuesday, calling the suit an attempt to “trample” on their First Amendment rights.

“It’s ironic that people who so passionately defend the Second Amendment want to trample the rights guaranteed to a filmmaker under the First,” Stefan Friedman, a rep for Soechtig, told Deadline on Tuesday.

“Stephanie stands by Under The Gun, and will not stop her work on behalf of victims of gun violence,” he added.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) filed suit against Couric and Soechtig on Tuesday, alleging that the pair had deceptively edited their gun control documentary to make it appear as if members of the group were stumped by one of Couric’s gun control-related questions.

Breitbart News previously reported that an eight-second pause was inserted in the film between the end of one of Couric’s questions about gun control and the responses offered by VCDL members. In reality, the VCDL members had answered Couric immediately following her question.

An audio recording obtained by the Washington Free Beacon proved the immediacy of the VCDL’s answers. And when contrasted with a clip from the edited version of Under the Gun, listeners see and hear the impact the added eight seconds of dead air made:

EPIX, which aired the documentary earlier this summer, is also named in the suit. The premium cable network said Tuesday that it “had no role” in the film’s creation or production “and should therefore not be a party to this lawsuit.”

Couric has not yet responded to the suit. However, in May, the Yahoo News anchor admitted the pause was inserted and posted a statement on the film’s website stating her regret over the “misleading” edit.

“My question to the VCDL regarding the ability of convicted felons and those on the terror watch list to legally obtain a gun, was followed by an extended pause, making the participants appear to be speechless,” Couric wrote.

She continued:

“When I screened an early version of the film with the director, Stephanie Soechtig, I questioned her and the editor about the pause and was told that a ‘beat’ was added for, as she described it, ‘dramatic effect,’ to give the audience a moment to consider the question. When VCDL members recently pointed out that they had in fact immediately answered this question, I went back and reviewed it and agree that those eight seconds do not accurately represent their response….I regret that those eight seconds were misleading and that I did not raise my initial concerns more vigorously.”

In June, Soecthtig told the Chicago Tribune that she stands by the addition of the eight-second pause in the film, and called criticism of the concerns about the edits “textbook gun lobby fear tactics.”

“Had I known those eight seconds out of a two-hour film would give the NRA something to fixate on, maybe I would’ve done something different. But I made a decision, and I stand by it,” she said.


AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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