A Storm Lake, Iowa, police sting operation that resulted in the arrest of a felon attempting to buy guns through Facebook demonstrates the latest evolution of a dangerous and unregulated "private sales" gun market in the United States.
In February 1994, the Brady Law went into effect, requiring licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on customers to keep guns out of the hands of felons and other dangerous individuals. This meant that gun shows -- which attracted unlicensed "private sellers" -- became the ubiquitous public unregulated gun marketplace in the United States. But over the past 20 years private sellers and buyers expanded the unregulated marketplace first through the classified sections of print newspapers before sales went online. Internet sales have since spread from gun-themed marketplaces to popular websites like Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram.
As the unregulated marketplace has expanded, so have the efforts of gun violence prevention advocates to pressure sales venues to enact responsible rules for gun sales. A recently launched campaign by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has already resulted in more than 55,000 letters asking Facebook to stop facilitating firearms sales. The campaign has been aided by a video explaining how Facebook is used to sell guns that riffs on Facebook's 10th anniversary "look back" feature:
The vast unregulated gun market is a result of the federal law governing firearms sales.
Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will reportedly no longer campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, whose presence on the campaign trail caused a firestorm of controversy due to Nugent's recent description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."
Nugent, however, is also involved in the campaigns of other Republican office seekers in Texas, Colorado, and Georgia. Last year, Nugent also claimed a close working relationship with prominent members of the GOP, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At the time, Walker said he did not work with Nugent, and Cruz appeared on CNN's New Day on February 20 to deny he "hang[s] out" with Nugent.
Here are three instances of Nugent campaigning for Republicans and two instances where Nugent's claims about close relationships with prominent GOP figures have been called into question:
In a December 2013 e-mail addressed to "real Americans," Nugent fundraised for Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Tom Tancredo, a former U.S. Representative best known for his hardline immigration stance. In the fundraising pitch, Nugent wrote that, "like you, I'm terrified by where Barack Obama and his radical America hating leftist goons are leading this great country." Nugent praised "hero for liberty" Tancredo's opposition to "amnesty for illegal immigrants," and warned that the Obama administration and democratic governors "are determined to shred our constitution and take away our guns." "The way I see it is anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead," added Nugent.
While much of the controversy surrounding Abbott's decision to campaign with Nugent has related to the rocker's "subhuman mongrel" comment and offensive remarks about women, Texas media has also raised Nugent's inflammatory commentary on immigration. The San Antonio Express noted that Nugent has called for undocumented immigrants to be treated like "indentured servants." Indeed, Nugent did make that claim in May 2013 when he debuted the "Nuge Immigration Plan," which would require undocumented male immigrants to build a fence on the United States-Mexico border. The Houston Chronicle reported on a 2008 appearance on Fox News where Nugent said of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border, "I'd like to shoot them dead."
National Rifle Association President Jim Porter wrote that "the big gorilla in the room is Obama's lawless approach to governing" in a Daily Caller op-ed. Porter also claimed that a "corruption of power" by President Obama could mean "the wondrous stability of our nation could end."
Claiming that "gun owners have become victims of Obama's abuse of power," Porter wrote in his February 19 op-ed that "[i]n contravention of absolute congressional spending bans, Obama has ordered the Centers for Disease Control, in effect, to create a massive gun-ban propaganda and lobbying agenda to treat gun ownership as a public health menace."
But the Obama administration has not ordered the CDC "to create a massive gun-ban propaganda and lobbying agenda." In reality, the Obama administration's January 2013 presidential memorandum asked the CDC to "[c]onduct or sponsor research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and the ways to prevent it." The Obama administration has noted that the CDC cannot, under federal law, "advocate or promote gun control," but that "research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need."
The Obama administration action was a reaction to lobbying by the NRA that seeks to prevent the CDC from conducting research on gun violence. The Obama administration subsequently issued an executive action that asked Congress to appropriate $10 million to fund further CDC research into gun violence. As the Obama administration suggested, gun violence is a major public health concern that is described by the American Medical Association as an "epidemic."
CNN and MSNBC devoted significant coverage to controversy surrounding Republican Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with the inflammatory Ted Nugent, while Fox News ignored the controversy entirely. Nugent, who is a conservative columnist and National Rifle Association board member, appeared on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor for a softball interview earlier this month.
Controversy erupted over Abbott's decision to hold two campaign events with Nugent in Texas after critics pointed out Nugent recently called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and that the rocker has a history of vile attacks on women. CNN devoted 37 minutes and 24 seconds to the controversy, while MSNBC covered it for 13 minutes and 48 seconds. The controversy was never mentioned on Fox News:
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out at media who covered controversy surrounding his campaign appearances with Texas Republican governor candidate Greg Abbott by comparing members of the media to Joseph Goebbels, who served as Hitler's Minister of Propaganda.
Controversy has been swirling in the Texas governor's race following Abbott's decision to include Nugent at campaign events, in spite of Nugent's recent characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" and his lengthy history of vile attacks on women.
Nugent has responded by calling videos of his offensive commentary "lies" and "inaccurate" and also sent a series of tweets on February 19 comparing CNN and other unnamed members of the media to Goebbels:
CNN host Wolf Blitzer weighed in on the controversy surrounding Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesperson Ted Nugent. Blitzer condemned Nugent for calling President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and predicted that Abbott will be forced to jettison Nugent from his campaign.
Abbott's decision to campaign with Nugent has proved controversial, particularly because of Nugent's history of extreme misogyny and other inflammatory commentary. The Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Wendy Davis have all condemned Abbott for his association with Nugent.
During the February 18 edition of Wolf on CNN, Blitzer invited Dallas Morning News reporter Wayne Slater to discuss the ongoing controversy. According to Blitzer, "Nugent's presence hit a sour note with a lot of people. They say Texans deserve better than a candidate who would align himself with someone like Nugent who offered a hate-filled assessment of the president." Blitzer went on to state, "Shockingly, Abbott's campaign brushed aside the criticism, saying they value Nugent's commitment to the Second Amendment."
Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is facing criticism over his decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent because of the rocker's inflammatory attacks on women and racially charged commentary about President Obama.
After reports emerged that Nugent would be making two February 18 campaign appearances with Abbott, the move was condemned by the Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis.
Citing Nugent's recent characterization of Obama as a "mongrel" -- a term that describes a dog of indeterminate breed -- the Texas Democratic Party issued a press release calling on Abbott to cancel the planned appearances:
Austin, TX -- This Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott is set to have joint appearances with right-wing radical Ted Nugent. According to the Texas Eagle Forum, the Attorney General will join Nugent for events in Denton and Wichita Falls.
According to the Dallas Morning News, "Just last month, [Nugent] told Guns.com at the Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show that, 'I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.'" [Dallas Morning News, 2/13/2014]
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement:
"Just last month, Ted Nugent called President Barack Obama a 'subhuman mongrel' and 'gangster.' He spews hate against our first African-American President and in return, Attorney General Greg Abbott welcomes him to the campaign trail. Is this how Abbott celebrates Black History Month? Texans deserve better than a statewide office holder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments. I can't help but recall the old saying, tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."
Inflammatory conservative columnist Ted Nugent will be making two campaign appearances with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Abbott is predicted to run against Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who has been the target of sexist attacks from the conservative media. Nugent himself has a lengthy history of vile misogynist commentary.
The Drudge Report and Fox Nation are promoting an outlandish report from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' website Infowars that suggests a sinister purpose behind a Department of Homeland Security procurement request for 141,160 rounds of .308 rifle ammunition.
Jones and his website have long fearmongered about the government's bulk purchase of ammunition. Conservative media outlets and Republican politicians have followed Jones' lead and run wild with the conspiracy, suggesting that the government was preparing for widespread civil unrest, attempting to limit the civilian ammo supply, or even planning to wage war against Americans. The conspiracy even inspired a Republican-led House Oversight Committee hearing and Republican-backed legislation to limit government ammunition purchases.
A man accused of violating Washington, D.C.'s gun laws is conservative media's latest dubious "hero" in its ongoing effort to attack stronger gun laws.
Right-wing media are defending a Washington, D.C. man on trial for possessing unregistered ammunition by making a flawed comparison between his situation and NBC News host David Gregory's display of a high-capacity ammunition magazine on Meet the Press following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Conservative media's complaint that Washington, D.C. financial advisor Mark Witaschek faces trial while Gregory faced no criminal charges ignores that those two situations rest upon entirely different circumstances.
On the December 23, 2012, edition of Meet the Press, Gregory showed, for demonstration purposes, a 30-round high-capacity ammunition magazine like the one used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives nine days earlier. In Washington, it is illegal to own a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. NBC apparently ran the segment after a miscommunication with law enforcement. Gregory's display of the magazine angered conservative media including Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller who wrote that Gregory "should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law." In January 2013, Washington prosecutors announced that Gregory would not be charged with a crime in a letter that explained, "Influencing our judgment in this case, among other things, is our recognition that the intent of the temporary possession and short display of the magazine was to promote the First Amendment purpose of informing an ongoing public debate about firearms policy in the United States."
Witaschek's legal problems began in the summer of 2012. Following alarming allegations that Witaschek threatened his "estranged wife" with a gun, police visited his home on two occasions. During both visits, police found unregistered ammunition in Witaschek's home. In Washington, D.C., only individuals who have registered firearms may possess ammunition. Witaschek was charged with violating Washington's gun laws. The charge from the first police visit was thrown out because even though Witaschek consented to a search, the visit was conducted without a warrant. Witaschek was offered a plea deal that included no jail time and a $500 fine to resolve the charge from the second police visit, which was performed with a warrant. Witaschek rejected the offer and plans to go to trial on the remaining charge.