Media should no longer allow Jeb Bush to promote his record on guns by claiming, "In Florida we have a background check." This claim is a lie by omission that neglects the totality of so-called private gun transfers that happen in the state.
During CNN's September 16 Republican presidential debate, Bush gave a misleading answer about Florida's gun laws to advance his campaign talking point that the federal government "shouldn't be involved in gun laws." Bush suggested that gun laws should be determined "state-by-state" and criticized Hillary Clinton and President Obama for advocating for federal gun laws, before adding, "That's not the right approach to do it. In Florida we have a background check":
That is not accurate. The circumstances under which a gun buyer must undergo a background check in Florida are instead defined by the federal Brady Law, which requires that gun buyers undergo a background check only when they're buying from a federally licensed firearms dealer.
In Florida, background checks are not required for so-called private gun sales (although individual counties may impose universal background check requirements). By some estimates, up to 40 percent of the millions of gun transfers that occur nationwide each year are conducted without any background check because of this private transfer loophole.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted background check laws that go beyond the federal requirement for purchases from licensed dealers, but Florida is not one of those states.
Florida allows the sale of guns without a background check in many cases, and has higher rates of domestic violence-related gun murders, and gun murders of law enforcement officers compared to states that require universal background checks on handgun sales. Furthermore, gun murders have increased in Florida since 2005 when Bush signed the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which was drafted by the National Rifle Association and became infamous as the centerpiece of George Zimmerman's criminal defense after he shot and killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Between 2008 and 2012, Florida had one of the highest rates of gun violence against women in the nation. According to data compiled by Everytown for Gun Safety, women in Florida were more than twice as likely to be killed by an intimate partner using a gun than women in states that require background checks on handgun sales. Florida's rate of gun violence against women -- 5.74 homicides per million -- was far above the national average, and exceeded average gun violence even for many states with similarly lax gun laws. According to another data set compiled by Everytown, between 2000 and 2011, for every 100,000 active police officers in Florida, 65.4 were killed with guns, compared to an average rate of just 35.4 in states that require background checks on handgun sales.
Bush's claim about background checks appears to be a go-to talking point for the Republican presidential hopeful. When asked about background checks on gun sales during a September 8 interview with Stephen Colbert, Bush falsely claimed, "In Florida, where I was governor, we have a requirement of background checks."
Bush's claim about background checks stands in stark contrast to his actual record on guns while governor of Florida between 1999 and 2007. According to an analysis of federal data by the Center for American Progress, gun murder rates have increased in Florida since Bush signed "Stand Your Ground":
During CNN's September 16 GOP presidential candidate debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he was "honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on the stage today." GOA has donated money to a white supremacist group, opposes any background checks on gun sales, and advocates for guns in kindergarten classrooms. Its leader, Larry Pratt, has suggested mass shootings are staged by the government and has past ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations.
CNN's decision to partner with the Reagan Presidential Library to host the second GOP presidential debate means it's all but certain that media covering the event will draw comparisons between the 2016 Republican field and America's 40th president. When it comes to gun policies, at least, the difference is stark: While Reagan supported background checks, waiting periods on gun sales, and bans on assault weapons, the current GOP presidential hopefuls all hold what can only be called extreme positions on gun regulation.
Fox Business Network invited Jan Morgan, the owner of a gun range in Arkansas that bans Muslim customers, to fearmonger that the Obama administration's plan to accept 10,000 refugees from civil war-torn Syria "is an open door to an enemy invasion." Calling for Islam to be "reclassified as a terrorist organization," Morgan suggested that when refugees are admitted into the U.S., Americans may have to use their "right to bear arms to defend life."
Morgan made national headlines in September 2014 when she banned Muslims from using a gun range she owns in Hot Springs, Arkansas, writing on her website (sic throughout), "why would I hand a loaded gun to a muslim and allow him to shoot lethal weapons next to people his koran commands him to kill?" According to FoxNews.com, Morgan "excludes those she believes to be Muslim based on their names," and has likened the prospect of Muslims using her facilities to allowing a Nazi or a Klu Klux Klan member to use her range. The Department of Justice is reportedly monitoring Morgan's business after receiving complaints of discrimination.
The September 14 broadcast of Fox Business' Intelligence Report with Trish Regan nonetheless invited Morgan on to stoke fears about President Obama's decision to increase the number of refugees displaced by the Syrian civil war who can resettle in the United States. Morgan made a number of conspiratorial and bigoted claims about Muslims to criticize the plan, asserting, "This is not a humanitarian hand that President Obama is extending, it is an open door to an enemy invasion."
She went on to claim that -- "according to extensive research presented on Fox News" -- "81 percent of mosques in America are advancing or promoting violence" and argued that Islam should be "declassified as a religion and reclassified as a terrorist organization":
During the segment, host Trish Regan mentioned that Morgan has banned Muslims from her business, but said nothing critical about the policy, instead using it to bolster Morgan's credibility, asking her, "you have to worry about guns getting into the hands of the wrong people, so when you look at the idea of President Obama bringing 10,000 refugees in, many of whom could be extreme Muslims, that worries you, yes?"
Morgan finished her appearance by suggesting that Americans may have to use guns against the refugees: "In America, unlike the other countries who are taking these refugees, I thank God that we have our Second Amendment, and our citizens have a right to bear arms to defend life. So at least we have that edge."
Extremist group Gun Owners of America (GOA) endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, noting that he is the only candidate "who has completed and returned the GOA presidential survey on the Second Amendment." GOA opposes any background checks on gun sales and advocates for guns in kindergarten classrooms, while the group's leader Larry Pratt has suggested mass shootings are staged by the government and has past ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations.
National Rifle Association (NRA) web series host Colion Noir cited the "theatrics" and the loud sound guns make as the reason people want to restrict firearms after a high-profile shooting occurs. Noir made the comment during an appearance on a conservative news show where he also defended his recent, controversial advice to the parents of two murdered Virginia journalists.
Noir, who has been helping the NRA's efforts to attract a younger audience to its media platforms, made headlines recently for warning the parents of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward to not "become so emotional" in response to their childrens' fatal shooting that they misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy." Parker's father, who has said he will make it his "mission in life" to pass stronger gun laws, called Noir's claim "insulting and disingenuous."
Noir discussed the Virginia shooting and his comments during a September 2 appearance with conservative radio host Dana Loesch on her show, Dana, which appears on Glenn Beck's network The Blaze.
After Loesch brought up an Indiana stabbing that occurred the same day of the August 26 shooting, Noir said, "What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, 'Oh my god these things are so dangerous.' With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show."
According to Noir, unlike knives, guns are treated as "the most dangerous thing in the world":
LOESCH: The same day that this Virginia story came out, Colin [sic], there was a story in Indianapolis where a guy car jacked a lady, stabbed her, ran over six people, it's almost -- it doesn't matter the tool, I mean you can't legislate away free will and evil.
NOIR: Yeah, absolutely. What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, "Oh my god these things are so dangerous." With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show. But when you have a gun it's like, "Oh my god here it is," -- look you see it, you hear it -- "Oh my god it's the most dangerous thing in the world." That's when the more irrational aspects of our mentality start to kick in and we're like "Oh we just got to get rid of the gun, we just got to get rid of the gun." Not realizing, no, the real actor is the person who is utilizing a gun. Because the same way that gun can kill is the same way it can defend.
There are a few obvious reasons guns are more dangerous than knives. Guns are used in 68 percent of murders while knives are used in only 12.2 percent. This is because guns are more effective at killing people. One-third of people who are shot die, compared to 7.7 percent of stabbing victims who do. Guns are also ubiquitous in episodes of mass violence. Of 279 mass killings documented by USA Today since 2006, 211 were committed with firearms, compared to 33 where a knife was used.
During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thoroughly debunked arguments that Hillary Clinton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its program later in the morning, the bulk of Ignatius' debunking had been edited out.
On the September 4 edition of Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski continued their efforts to stoke controversy around Hillary Clinton's email practices while serving as secretary of state. Both Scarborough and Brzezinski suggested that guest David Ignatius was simply "getting tired" of the wall-to-wall media coverage directed at Clinton after the columnist authored an August 28 op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that "this 'scandal' is overstated." Ignatius responded by explaining that experts he spoke with dismissed as far-fetched claims Clinton committed a criminal offense.
But during the rebroadcast of the segment, Morning Joe cut away from Ignatius' explanation mid-sentence. During the initial broadcast, Ignatius said (emphasis added), "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution."
When the segment re-aired, Ignatius is heard saying, "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this," before the show skipped forward to a remark by co-host Mika Brzezinski about Clinton aide Cheryl Mills.
Significantly, the rebroadcast failed to include the conclusion of Ignatius' thought, which is that Clinton's email practices do not amount to a prosecutable offense, according to several expert attorneys he talked to. Here are Ignatius' unedited remarks (emphasis added):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your editorial, in some of your op-eds, you've said you would rather hear Hillary's policy positions than more talk about the servers, you said you don't think she faces any criminal prosecution. You haven't exactly said nothing is here, move along, move along, but you've certainly --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Getting tired of it, which is what they're hoping.
SCARBOROUGH: -- Yeah, I mean aren't you playing into what the Clinton sort of scandal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, "Come on, let's just move on."
DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I've tried to respond as a journalist but in particular I've tried to look at what is a real prosecutable offense here. There are violations clearly both of administrative procedure and probably technically of law and how classified information was handled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
SCARBOROUGH: But this isn't happenstance. This is a very calculated move to say if you want to communicate with the Secretary of State, as Edwards Snowden said, whether you are a foreign diplomat or a spy chief from another country or a leader of another country, which they all did, you've got to come to this unsecured server, whether it is in Colorado or wherever it is, and there is a standard in the U.S. Code under prosecutions for this sort of thing which is gross negligence. It's not a know or should have known -
IGNATIUS: This issue comes up surprisingly often because there is an administrative problem where people do these things and their security officers summon them and warn them and issue reprimands and it goes in their file and it's a serious personnel administrative problem. My only point is I couldn't find a case where this kind of activity had been prosecuted and that's just worth noting as we assemble our Clinton e-mail - and more thing, Joe, legally there is no difference between her using her private server and if she'd used State.gov, which is also not a classified system. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legally, no difference.
Here is how Morning Joe re-aired the segment:
Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, has a long history of hyping the supposed Clinton email "scandal" despite all evidence to the contrary. He recently claimed that Clinton intentionally timed a press conference to coincide with a mass-shooting in Virginia and falsely claimed that Clinton whitewashed a foreign country's ties to international terrorism in exchange for a charitable donation to her family foundation.
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Colion Noir, a commentator and web series host for the National Rifle Association (NRA), addressed his widely criticized claim that the parents of slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward should not "become so emotional" in response to the fatal shooting of their children so as to misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy."
In an interview with Lynchburg, Virginia ABC affiliate station WSET, Noir said that as a gun rights activist he felt compelled to respond to Andy Parker, who said following the killing of his daughter that he would make it his "mission in life" to get stronger gun laws passed.
Noir told WSET, "Let's be very clear about something. The father has projected himself into this conversation, with much vigor. So I am addressing the idea and am hyper-focused on the firearm."
The NRA and Noir have been criticized in the wake of an August 30 video posted by Noir where he told the parents of Parker and Ward that "sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us." WSET reported that Noir's claims are "causing quite the controversy online."
The NRA often attacks calls for stronger gun calls by claiming such advocacy is based on emotion rather than logic, despite consensus among academic researchers on gun violence that stronger gun laws help reduce homicide.
More from WSET on Noir's "warning for the grieving parents of Parker and Ward":
On the other side of the conversation is NRA Commentator Colion Noir. "Turning this murder into a gun control dog and pony show minutes after the shooting, because you can't make sense of what just happened, is ridiculous" said Colion Noir on a Youtube video.
Noir uploaded this Youtube video on Sunday... with a warning for the grieving parents of Parker and Ward. "Sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and everything starts looking like the enemy, even if they are there to help us" said Noir.
The video has gotten more than 54-thousand views, but Noir says he almost opted out of making it. "From the NRA perspective, if they don't say anything they are considered cold and callous, if they say something immediately then they are considered capitalizing off of a tragedy" said Noir.
Noir expresses his condolences to the families of Ward and Parker in the video, but says as a gun rights advocate he felt the need to address Parker's comments. "Let's be very clear about something. The father has projected himself into this conversation, with much vigor. So I am addressing the idea and am hyper-focused on the firearm" said Noir.
The Parkers are already reaching out to leading gun control advocates including Astronaut Mark Kelly and Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Colion Noir, a commentator and web series host for the National Rifle Association (NRA), warned the parents of slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward against becoming "so emotional" in response to the fatal shooting of their children that they channel their "grief-inspired advocacy" to the wrong effect.
The NRA and other opponents of stronger gun laws consistently argue that calls for new gun laws in the wake of a shooting tragedy are based on emotion rather than logic. Just hours after his daughter was killed, Andy Parker announced on national television that he would make it his "mission in life" to get stronger gun laws passed.
Parker's mother, Barbara Parker, said during an interview on CNN, "We cannot be intimidated, we cannot be pushed aside, we cannot be told that this fight has been fought before and that we're just one more grieving family trying to do something."
On August 30, the NRA's Noir posted a video response to the shocking August 26 murder of Parker and Ward, which happened while they were filming a live news report. The two journalists worked for Roanoke, Virginia ABC affiliate station WDBJ and were killed by a disgruntled former co-worker.
Noir, who is the face of an NRA effort to influence a younger demographic, said in his video post that while he has "no right to tell any parent how to grieve for the loss of their child," "sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us":
NOIR: And to the parents of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, I have no right to tell any parent how to grieve for the loss of their child. Grief-inspired advocacy can be extremely effective and powerful and I say run full speed to find a way to end violence like this. However, sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us. I'm deeply sorry for your loss.
Noir wasn't as diplomatic throughout the rest of the video, saying at one point, "Turning this murder into a gun control dog-and-pony show minutes after the shooting because you can't make sense of what just happened is ridiculous."
He also claimed that Hillary Clinton, President Obama, "and the rest of the gun control Wu-Tang Clan are so full of it" because "they try to take advantage of people's ignorance about guns and their emotional response to horrible events to win votes and push an agenda that fosters an unhealthy dependence on the government..."
Claiming that arguments in favor of stronger gun laws rely solely on emotions is a major strategy the NRA employs to try and shut down the debate over gun laws every time a shooting captures national headlines.
In a June 2014, a post on the website of the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), claimed that gun safety groups "use grieving victims to invoke an emotional response and spread misinformation falsely claiming that enacting their agenda would have prevented these tragedies and will prevent future tragedies."
CBS Evening News allowed discredited gun researcher John Lott to attack the view that gun violence is a public health issue with the unsupported claim that murder rates have increased everywhere guns have been banned.
Lott is a well-known pro-gun advocate and frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence. He rose to prominence during the 1990s with the publication of his book, More Guns, Less Crime, although his conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research.
During an August 27 segment on CBS Evening News that discussed the shocking killing of two Virginia journalists, Lott said he did not believe gun violence was a public health issue and claimed, "Every country in the world, or place in the world, [that] has banned guns has seen an increase in murder rates, it's not just Washington, D.C. and Chicago."
Lott's claim is unsupported by the data. It's also a red herring; in the United States, sweeping gun bans were found to be unconstitutional in the 2008 Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, effectively making the proposition of banning all guns irrelevant in serious policy debates over gun laws, which are focused most strongly on strengthening the background check system for firearm sales.
Lott's claim about higher murder rates where gun sales are all but banned falls apart after examining one of the cities he cites, Washington D.C.
Lott is technically correct that the D.C. murder rate in 1976 -- the year a ban on private ownership or possession of handguns in nearly all circumstances went into effect -- was 26.8 people per 100,000 residents, and was 31.4 in 2008, the last year the ban was in place. But those two data points don't tell the whole story. For example, the murder rate in the last full year in which D.C. did not have a gun ban, 1975, was 32.8 -- higher than the murder rate when the ban ended
In fact, D.C.'s murder rate during the last year of the gun ban was lower than the murder rates in each of the five years before it was implemented (31.4 vs. 32.8, 38.3, 35.9, 32.8, and 37.1).
Homicide trends in D.C. also cast doubt on Lott's suggestion of a causal connection between the District's handgun ban and number of murders. Murders in D.C. peaked in 1991 -- a crack epidemic was raging at the time -- at 80.6 per 100,000 residents. During the last 17 years D.C.'s gun ban was in effect, the rate fell by more than half, suggesting that factors other than the ban were driving the murder rate.
Data from Australia also casts doubt on Lott's premise that more restrictions on firearms equal more murders. Following a series of mass shootings that culminated with the 1996 Fort Arthur massacre of 35 people, Australia enacted extremely restrictive gun laws that placed strong limits on firearm ownership -- especially for handguns and semi-automatic rifles -- and confiscated 650,000 privately owned guns.
After Australia implemented these laws, according The Washington Post, an academic study found that "the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides."
In a more general sense, an examination of research on guns and homicide by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found "case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide."
Although Lott is well-known to reporters and news producers, he should not be considered a credible source for information about gun violence. In addition to his flawed research, Lott has been embroiled in a number of ethics controversies, including his admission that he used the pseudonym "Mary Rosh" to defend his works from critics and praise his own research in online discussions. He has also faced allegations that he fabricated the results of a study on defensive gun use and has been caught attempting to surreptitiously revise his data after critics discovered errors.