Fox's Sean Hannity gave 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush a platform to claim that the gun policies he supported as governor of Florida helped create "a less violent society," even though he signed the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which studies show has actually contributed to more violence.
Bush appeared on the June 16 broadcast of Hannity for a wide-ranging interview in front of a studio audience. Hannity asked, "Should citizens, if they are law-abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?"
Bush responded, "Absolutely, and in Florida, you know who leads the nation in concealed weapons permits by far? Over a million. It's Florida. It creates a ... less violent society and crime goes down when law-abiding citizens that don't commit crimes have guns."
But experts say controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, like the one the jury used to acquit George Zimmerman of killing unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, make society more violent.
Fox News host Steve Doocy questioned why a gunman who attacked Dallas police headquarters was able to legally purchase an armored van but ignored questions about how the gunman acquired an arsenal of firearms and bombs.
Authorities say James Boulware attacked police headquarters in Dallas in the early hours of June 13. The New York Times reported that "officers narrowly escaped injury and death as they dodged bullets" when Boulware opened fire on the headquarters building and vehicles in the parking lot. Boulware also placed pipe bombs outside of the building, at least one of which exploded. Boulware fled in an armored van he had recently purchased online, and following a chase and a standoff, he was killed by a police sniper.
But on the June 15 broadcast of Fox & Friends, the focus was on Boulware's van -- a modified 1995 Ford he bought in Georgia that was advertised online as a "full armored zombie busting vehicle." Doocy asked, "Just how did that Dallas police shooter over the weekend get his hands on an armored car that gave him enough protection when he opened fire on cops?" (Reports say Boulware was actually "on foot" when he initially attacked the headquarters.)
Doocy also said, "You would think that selling an armored car just to anybody is not safe," and, "The question is whether or not this stuff, once it's military surplus, should wind up in the hands of private individuals, because we saw over the weekend that can turn out bad."
No mention was made of questions surrounding how Boulware acquired the firearms he used in the attack or whether he was legally allowed to possess them. Boulware, who reportedly acted out of anger over a court decision in a custody dispute, was subject to "numerous temporary restraining orders granted to his son's mother," according to court documents viewed by Crooks & Liars.
Conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are fearmongering over a supposed "new" Obama administration regulation to limit the ability of convicted domestic abusers to buy firearms.
In reality, the regulation would simply implement a 1998 law and has been under consideration for the past 17 years, including during the entire eight years of George W. Bush's administration.
The conservative opposition campaign to what is in fact a long-standing proposal began with a flawed May 30 article in The Hill headlined, 'Administration preps new gun regulations," that claimed, "The Justice Department plans to move forward this year with more than a dozen new gun-related regulations, according to [a] list of rules the agency has proposed to enact before the end of the Obama administration." The article described the regulations listed in the Department of Justice's semi-annual Unified Agenda (a periodic list of proposed or recently completed rules) as "new," when in fact several of them date back to prior administrations.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott told his supporters that Fox News has agreed to pursue stories related to the Department of Justice's report on the Ferguson, MO police department and investigate reports of mass shootings supposedly stopped by people carrying legally concealed weapons.
In a June 9 letter posted on Facebook by National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, Lott revealed that he is "working with Fox News to obtain a copy of the data used by the Obama Department of Justice in evaluating the Ferguson police department" and that Fox News "has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders."
The letter was addressed to supporters of Lott's Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC). Nugent is a high-profile supporter of CPRC who has made inflammatory statements in his appeals for donations to the group.
In his letter, Lott suggests that he will act as a go-between Fox News and CPRC supporters with information about mass shootings that were supposedly stopped or prevented by someone legally carrying a concealed weapon (emphasis added):
The second accomplishment is something that you all can help with. Fox News has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders (a partial list of cases is available here). If you ever see a defensive gun use story, especially one that might involve a permit holder stopping a mass killing, please email me the link to the news story as soon as possible.
Lott described the agreement with Fox News on mass shooting reports to his supporters by writing that "we won't get explicit credit," but that the venture "is still important."
The National Rifle Association is falsely characterizing a legislative proposal from Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) that would allow felons to petition the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for restoration of their gun ownership rights, saying the option would only be available to "non-violent felons."
In fact, any felon could apply to have their right to own a firearm restored under Buck's proposal, which is why the ATF program that used to provide that option was defunded in the early 1990s -- research showed that even violent felons had won their appeals, and in some cases went on to commit new violent crimes.
For the past 23 years, standard language in appropriations legislation -- first inserted by then-Rep. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) -- has prohibited the ATF from using budget money on a program that allowed people who had lost their legal right to buy or own a gun because of a felony conviction to apply for restoration of that right. That longtime prohibition was challenged on June 2, however, when the Republican-controlled House of Representatives adopted by voice vote a rider introduced by Buck that would re-fund the program.
During a floor speech, Buck argued for support by citing an example of a man who is prohibited from owning a gun because he wrote a bad check 40 years ago. He declared, "This bill does not intend in any way shape or form to allow a violent criminal to possess a firearm, only those non-violent criminals that ATF deems are not a danger."
But in fact, there is no language in the proposal that limits the right to appeal to non-violent felons. Buck's rider merely reverses the prohibition on funding, changing the words "none of the" funds to "such" funds in the following line: "Provided, That such funds appropriated herein shall be available to investigate or act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities under section 925(c) of title 18, United States Code."
Despite this, the NRA and some conservative media outlets have run with the blatantly false talking point that the program would only apply to "non-violent felons" in coverage trumpeting Buck's proposal.
Larry Pratt, the head of extremist group Gun Owners of America, argued that "the Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration" in comments uncovered by Right Wing Watch.
Pratt, who has suggested that politicians should fear being shot by GOA supporters and has flirted with the conspiracy theory that high-profile mass shootings are government staged events, was forced to leave Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign in 1996 after his past ties to white supremacists were revealed. In spite of this track record of extremism, Pratt is still treated by Republican politicians and by certain media outlets as a credible authority on gun issues. On May 27, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz addressed Pratt's group, and said GOA support was "critical" to his election as a U.S. Senator. Pratt was on Fox News as recently as June 2 in order to defend comments about guns made by actor Vince Vaughn.
Right Wing Watch published audio on June 4 of Pratt appearing on a far-right radio show in April to talk about a since-withdrawn proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ban a particular type of armor-piercing ammunition. During the discussion Pratt said, "the Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration" and added that if the present government wants "to go tyrannical on us, we got something for 'em":
ROGER FREDINBURG, HOST: I think the next revolution is going to start and be won by people with rifles and Leupold [brand] scopes. I don't think it's going to be won by guys in the trenches with machetes.
PRATT: We figured that that was kind of what they were up to and the Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration. And, yes, if The New York Times and the Rolling Stone and whoever else wants to have a hissy-fit, yes our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they want to go tyrannical on us, we got something for 'em. That's what it's all about. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, it's not about target shooting, it's about Democrats who want to take our rights.
The same day as Right Wing Watch's post, GOA put online audio of Cruz's May 27 "Tele-Town Hall" appearance. Cruz opened his remarks by effusively praising GOA, saying, "GOA endorsed me early on when I ran for the Senate and played a critical part in helping get me elected and sending me from the state of Texas to represent 27 million Texans" and that supporters of GOA are "patriots":
CRUZ: Let me start by just saying thank you to all the men and women of Gun Owners of America. GOA endorsed me early on when I ran for the Senate and played a critical part in helping get me elected and sending me from the state of Texas to represent 27 million Texans and to stand up and to fight for our rights and I'm grateful to be with each of you because the men and women on this call are fighters, you are men and women of action, you are patriots, and this is the time when that is exactly what is needed in our country.
An article in the National Rifle Association's (NRA) "official journal" attacked survivors of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech for using the tragedy to advocate for stronger gun laws.
On April 16, 2007, a gunman at Virginia Tech opened fire in a dormitory and several classrooms, fatally shooting 32 people and wounding 17 others. Following the shooting, several survivors and victims' family members began to advocate for gun violence prevention laws, especially for a federal law to close a loophole in the national background check system that allowed the gunman to acquire his weapons.
In a June 4 feature, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom attacked those advocates and ran an interview with Holly Adams, who lost her daughter in the shooting and doesn't believe that additional regulation of firearms will prevent future tragedies.
America's 1st Freedom writer David Burnett posited that some victims of the shooting were "coached by gun control lobbyists" and had politicized their experiences with the tragedy by using "their victimhood to advocate for gun bans throughout the nation":
Some Virginia Tech victims and survivors, several no doubt coached by gun control lobbyists, responded to the tragedy by demanding harsher gun laws. (In reality, the perpetrator had passed a background check when purchasing the firearms he used in his crime, even though he had been court-ordered to undergo mental health treatment. The failure was in the reporting of the information, not the gun laws.) Like most, however, Holly preferred to grieve in private rather than politicize her loss. But after five years of watching a vocal minority continuously use their victimhood to advocate for gun bans throughout the nation, Holly released a statement through the Virginia Citizens Defense League that read, in part:
Following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, members of conservative media frequently and offensively labeled victims of gun violence who supported stronger gun laws as "props" who weren't speaking voluntarily. The NRA's magazine not only did that, it went one step further and accused some survivors of politicizing their own personal tragedies.
Fox News hosts and guests relied and expounded upon recent comments by actor Vince Vaughn in support of carrying guns in public and in schools to push numerous falsehoods about gun violence that expert analyses have debunked.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) used its online magazine to encourage readers to "splurge on a new gun" to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day, a nationwide event that commemorates victims of gun violence.
Americans are wearing orange on June 2 to honor victims of gun violence as part of a national campaign organized by the Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund. According to an Everytown press release, "More than 200 organizations, cultural influencers and elected officials" will promote wearing orange as "a way to visibly honor the 88 American lives cut short by gun violence every day, plus the countless survivors forever altered by shootings each year."
The "Wear Orange" campaign is an outgrowth of efforts to honor the life of Chicago teenager Hadiya Pendleton. On January 29, 2013, Pendleton was fatally shot while taking shelter from a rainstorm in a South Side Chicago park, allegedly by gang members who thought the group she was standing with included rival gang members. The Chicago Tribune called Pendleton's murder "arguably Chicago's most galvanizing killing in recent years," and noted that "Pendleton, a dimple-faced sophomore drum majorette, had performed just a week earlier at festivities for President Barack Obama's second inauguration."
Following her death, Pendleton's friends decided to honor her life with a series of events revolving around the color orange in a project called Project Orange Tree. The group's past president, Nza-Ari Khepra, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "The question then was, 'What's the next step?' We brainstormed. Someone said we should use orange because that's the color hunters wear to alert other hunters they're not the targets."
Everytown built on Project Orange Tree's efforts by asking Americans to wear orange on June 2 -- which would have been Pendleton's 18th birthday -- to mark the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
The NRA's online magazine, America's 1st Freedom, lashed out at the campaign, calling it pointless in a May 30 post. On June 2, it encouraged readers to mark the day by buying a gun, saying, "If you see any friends or neighbors wearing orange, consider the possibility that they: a) don't support your right to self-defense; and b) have a rather naïve view of what constitutes real activism."
The NRA proposed an "alternative" way to mark the day: "Actually go to the range; splurge on a new gun; take someone shooting for the first time. It's that kind of quiet but productive activity that makes the NRA base so powerful -- and that Everytown is still trying to figure out."
Media Matters is a partner in the "Wear Orange" campaign.
Conservative media are praising actor Vince Vaughn for repeating a debunked right-wing talking point that falsely claims most mass shootings occur in "gun-free zones."
Vaughn is receiving widespread attention for an interview he gave to British GQ in which he advocated the carrying of guns in public and in schools, declared that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to defend against an "abusive government," and claimed that mass shootings have "only happened in places that don't allow guns."
According to Vaughn:
All these gun shootings that have gone down in America since 1950, only one or maybe two have happened in non-gun-free zones. Take mass shootings. They've only happened in places that don't allow guns. These people are sick in the head and are going to kill innocent people. They are looking to slaughter defenceless human beings. They do not want confrontation. In all of our schools it is illegal to have guns on campus, so again and again these guys go and shoot up these f***ing schools because they know there are no guns there. They are monsters killing six-year-olds.
Vaughn's claim, which suggests that possibly none but at most two mass shootings since 1950 have happened in a place where guns were allowed, is a variation on a claim about public mass shootings over the last half-century that was first made by discredited gun researcher John Lott.