The media should cover the National Rifle Association's forthcoming plan to improve school security in the context of the extreme positions that the gun rights organization has taken on firearms in schools since the December 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
On April 2, the National Rifle Association will unveil its "National School Shield Program," a package of policy and legislative proposals that reportedly will call for increasing the number of armed guards at schools. The group has vehemently opposed calls to pass stronger gun laws.
While the NRA previously supported a "zero tolerance" policy regarding guns in schools, the gun rights organization has more recently promoted the idea of arming teachers and aired a feature on controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio's school defense "posse" on its media arm, NRA News.
Two weeks after a mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two gunmen killed 13 and wounded 21, the NRA held its annual meeting in nearby Denver. On May 1, 1999, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre delivered a speech endeavoring to "clearly state our positions in a comprehensive way." In his remarks, LaPierre called for a "zero tolerance" policy on guns in schools "with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel":
LAPIERRE: First, we believe in absolutely gun-free, zero-tolerance, totally safe schools. That means no guns in America's schools, period ... with the rare exception of law enforcement officers or trained security personnel.
Ignoring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's efforts to curb youth violence, Rush Limbaugh promoted the conspiracy theory that Emanuel accepts the high rate of gun homicide in that city because the violence "provide[s] an excellent backdrop to the quest for more law."
On his radio show, Limbaugh suggested that Emanuel was not enforcing gun laws in Chicago because he's "comfortable with a certain level of violence" if it "promotes the idea we need new laws." Limbaugh pointed out that the smear resembles an old attack on President Clinton by NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre:
In fact, Emanuel has worked to reduce violence through new violence prevention initiatives and stronger enforcement of laws currently in place in Chicago. In his National Forum On Youth Violence Prevention, Emanuel laid out a comprehensive plan to combat youth violence which included gang intervention, youth shooting review, evidence-based home visiting, more family case workers, and handgun registration reform among numerous other programs in his timeline to reduce violence 20 percent in Chicago by 2020:
National Rifle Association News investigative reporter Ginny Simone suggested that the NRA may have influenced Iran's attempt to block the enactment of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Simone's claim that that Iran "all but came out and named the NRA" during a speech against the treaty on March 28 comes as a number of commentators and news outlets are noting that the few opponents of the Arms Trade Treaty include Iran, North Korea, Syria and the NRA.
On March 28, after a week of negotiations on a treaty with the stated aim of preventing the diversion of weapons to human rights abusers, Iran, Syria and North Korea made a last minute move to block a vote to adopt the treaty. The treaty could still be adopted at a later date by a vote of the U.N. General Assembly.
In covering these developments, Carol Giacomo, a foreign affairs expert and member of The New York Times' editorial board, noted that the NRA joins rogue nations in its opposition to the treaty:
But the conclusion reached on Thursday was stark: On one side, opposing the new pact, were three of the world's pariah states - Syria, Iran and North Korea. On the other side, favoring the new pact, was ... everybody else.
The opposition included the conservative Heritage Foundation and the National Gun Rifle Association. As usual they ginned up dark visions of how any limits on conventional arms sales would deprive Americans of their weapons, which is totally false: The Obama administration bent over backwards to make sure the treaty excluded domestic sales and, in any event, as the American Bar Association affirmed, the treaty did not and could not infringe on Americans' constitutionally-guaranteed Second Amendment Rights.
The NRA and its lobbying arm, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, have so far remained silent on the negotiation outcome - even though the NRA fiercely lobbied against the adoption of the treaty during negotiations. On July 27, 2012, the day a previous round of negotiations stalled, the NRA issued a celebratory press release that took credit for "killing the U.N. ATT."
Simone, however, addressed the most recent developments during the March 28 edition of the NRA News' Cam & Company show on the Sportsman Channel:
SIMONE: You know earlier today everybody said, "We're pretty sure it's gonna pass." They were saying earlier on that maybe there be problems with India. But it looks like that's been ironed out. And then all of a sudden right after lunch they came back and said it looks like there's problems with Iran. And then more we started talking to people the more the list got longer to include North Korea and Syria. And it was really interesting, Iran's statement. They all but came out and named the NRA, Cam. They said it didn't like the treaty because it favored the constitutional protection of gun ownership for one country. It didn't name the country. You got to be sure they were talking about the U.S.
Fox News host Eric Bolling baselessly attacked the Senate Democrats' legislative proposal to reduce gun violence -- which includes expanding background checks, cracking down on gun trafficking and improving school security -- by suggesting that amended legislation would include a "national gun registry" and would infringe on the Second Amendment. Bolling's claims stand in contrast to numerous constitutional scholars who have backed the constitutionality of gun violence prevention laws.
On the March 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Bolling addressed remarks made by Obama in favor of the Senate package by stating that Obama "said it's not going to be controversial. Well yes it was. It's not going to infringe on your Second Amendment rights. Well yes they would."
In his remarks, Obama expressed support for the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and also advocated for the passage of a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines:
OBAMA: Earlier this month, the Senate advanced some of the most important reforms designed to reduce gun violence. All of them are consistent with the Second Amendment. None of them will infringe on the rights of responsible gun owners.
Now, in the coming weeks, members of Congress will vote on whether we should require universal background checks for anyone who wants to buy a gun so that criminals or people with severe mental illnesses can't get their hands on one. They'll vote on tough new penalties for anyone who buys guns only to turn around and sell them to criminals. They'll vote on a measure that would keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets. They'll get to vote on legislation that would help schools become safer and help people struggling with mental health problems to get the treatment that they need.
None of these ideas should be controversial.
Multiple legal experts have explained how current gun violence prevention proposals, including expanded background checks and an assault weapons ban, are constitutional under the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller.
National Rifle Association President David Keene is covering up allegations of racial discrimination in order to protect one of its corporate partners and attack the Obama administration.
In his March 27 Washington Times column, Keene claimed that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Bass Pro Shops because "the company won't hire convicted felons" to sell guns, "which the commission claims amounts to illegal racial discrimination." In fact, the EEOC sued Bass Pro Shops in 2011 and 2012 after receiving reports alleging racially discriminatory hiring practices, including an alleged directive from Bass Pro Shops owner John Morris to not hire minorities.
Keene also did not disclose that the NRA has a financial relationship with Bass Pro Shops, which includes a collaborative effort to open a 10,000-square foot firearms museum at Bass Pro Shops headquarters.
The initial lawsuit, filed in federal court on September 21, 2011, alleged that Bass Pro Shops was "engaging in a pattern or practice of unlawfully failing to hire Black and Hispanic applicants for positions in its retail stores nationwide" and was "unlawfully retaliating against a class of employees who opposed actions by [Bass Pro Shops]." The suit also alleged that Bass Pro Shops had "unlawfully destroyed records relevant to whether unlawful employment practices have been or are being committed."
The suit describes multiple instances of racial discrimination in its allegations against Bass Pro Shops that occurred in stores located in Louisiana, Texas and Indiana.
According to the EEOC's complaint, an assistant general manager at a Louisiana store told a human resources manager that "we don't hire n*****s" as explanation for why a qualified African-American candidate was not hired. The manager of a Houston area store was alleged to have told the human resources manager that "it was getting a little dark in here you need to hire some white people." Similar discriminatory hiring practices were alleged at an Indiana store where a supervisor was observed throwing away job applications submitted by individuals who he thought had a "n***** name":
Right-wing media are attempting to rebut a TV ad calling for stronger gun laws by claiming that it depicts unsafe gun handling.
According Fox News, conservative bloggers, and the National Rifle Association's news program, an ad calling for expanding the background check system features a man with his finger on the trigger of a firearm that is not ready to be fired, an unsafe practice. In fact, footage from another ad featuring the same firearm clearly indicates that the right-wing media are wrong about where the gun's trigger is; the man's finger is actually nowhere near the trigger in either ad.
The claim originated with Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller, who claimed in a March 25 article that ads recently released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) are "irresponsible" because the man in the ad "violates all three gun safety rules taught by the National Rifle Association." Miller specifically claims that "the man has his finger on the trigger, as if ready to shoot," and comments, "To make an ad demonstrating actual gun responsibility, the man would put a straight forefinger above the trigger guard to make sure he doesn't accidentally touch the trigger."
Miller was referencing this moment from the ad "Responsible":
But another ad released by MAIG, "Family," which features the same man and firearm, shows the position of the trigger on that particular firearm to be much closer to the buttstock than where the man's index finger is in "Responsible":
Based on the trigger location clearly seen in "Family," the trigger of the firearm would sit approximately behind the base of the man's hand in "Responsible" making it impossible for his finger to be on the trigger or within the trigger guard.
Miller's claims have nonetheless been picked up by The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Hot Air, and a Townhall column authored by Fox contributor Katie Pavlich and have also been featured on Fox & Friends and the NRA's Cam & Company on the Sportsman Channel.
Fox News contributor and Townhall news editor Katie Pavlich made the unfounded claim that Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano lied about her knowledge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms' Operation Fast and Furious, a failed gun trafficking sting. This accusation is a serious one, as Napolitano has testified under oath before Congress that she was unaware of the ATF program while it was ongoing.
Pavlich's claim, which centers around the fact that Napolitano has a relationship with the former U.S. attorney involved in Fast and Furious, is entirely speculative and is unsupported by a recent independent investigation by the DHS Office of the Inspector General. The report concluded, "The DHS Secretary did not learn about Operation Fast and Furious, its flawed methodology, or that [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] had assigned an [Homeland Security Investigations] special agent to the task force until mid-March 2011" when the existence of the operation was public knowledge.
But according to Pavlich it is "implausible" that Napolitano didn't know about Fast and Furious while the operation was ongoing because of her "personal and professional relationship" with former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who was involved in Fast and Furious. From the March 25 edition of Fox & Friends:
GRETCHEN CARLSON, HOST: So you do not believe that it's feasible that Janet Napolitano did not know about this before she said she did?
PAVLICH: It really is implausible that Janet Napolitano is getting off scot-free with this report. Let me tell you why. Former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke, who was in charge of the Department of Justice side of Operation Fast and Furious in Arizona, has a longstanding personal and professional relationship with Janet Napolitano. He served as her staffer when Janet Napolitano was the attorney general in Arizona, as her chief of staff when she was governor of Arizona, followed her into Washington D.C. as her advisor for Homeland Security for a year before being appointed back to U.S. Attorney by President Obama. At the same time he was in Arizona he was serving on Attorney General Eric Holder's advisory board and he was with Janet Napolitano two days after the murder of [U.S. Border Patrol agent] Brian Terry in Arizona and yet this report claims they never talked about this case. But it seems as if Janet Napolitano would ask about it at least.
Pavlich's claim that Napolitano is lying about her knowledge of Fast and Furious is entirely premised on an assumption about the relationship between Napolitano and Burke and is plainly contradicted by the DHS OIG report which found no evidence that Napolitano had any knowledge of the operation prior to what she indicated in testimony before Congress.
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who writes a regular column for the NRA's America's 1st Freedom magazine, complained about the enforcement rate of federal gun laws during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, even as his organization lobbies for policies that make these laws harder to administer.
During his March 24 appearance, LaPierre stated, "If you're the President and the Vice President and the Attorney General, and your job is to enforce these laws ... and you don't do it, you bear some responsibility":
Despite the NRA's attempts to hinder enforcement of federal gun laws, a recent report shows positive trends in federal gun prosecutions. According to the Transactional Records Clearing House, a Syracuse University program that tracks federal data, gun prosecutions increased in 2012 and "[d]espite the recent ups and downs, federal [weapons] prosecutions today are a great deal higher than in the pre-9/11 era."
Even so, the NRA has a lengthy track record of frustrating federal gun law enforcement, primarily through attempts to weaken the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the federal law enforcement agency responsible for initiating investigations into federal gun law violations.
Frequent Fox News guest Lars Larson made the spurious claims that a recently enacted New York gun law forces siblings to run background checks on each other when transferring weapons and would allow a mental health professional to report patients who they "don't trust" to prohibit them from purchasing a gun.
In fact, the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (SAFE) expands background checks to private firearm sales but exempts immediate family members from performing checks. The legislation also requires mental health professionals to report individuals "likely to engage in conduct that could seriously harm the patient him/herself or others" to the authorities so that the patient's information can be crosschecked with gun ownership databases. It does not, however, prohibit individuals from owning a firearm because of a mental health provider's vague suspicions.
Larson made incorrect statements about the SAFE Act on the March 22 edition of America Live on Fox News:
Larson falsely claimed that SAFE would give mental health professionals the ability to report patients that they simply "don't trust" and suggested that the legislation could be broadened prohibit gun ownership for veterans with "mild PTSD."
While the SAFE Act does create a new reporting requirement for mental health professionals, Larson greatly exaggerated its scope. The legislative memo that accompanied SAFE explained that the law creates a reporting requirement for patients likely to harm themselves or others and extends outpatient mental health treatment for individuals discharged from Office of Mental Hygiene hospitals:
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent made inflammatory comments about President Obama and said Cubans "haven't figured out personal hygiene" during an appearance on an online radio show hosted by 9/11 truther and conspiracy theorist Pete Santilli.
Santilli, who has promoted conspiracy theories relating to the December 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and six educators dead, does little to hide the fact that he is a conspiracy theorist. The recorded introduction to his radio show says that it is broadcast from "FEMA region nine" and that the show's purpose is to counter "the New World Order, the global elite and their eugenics agenda."
In an article posted on his website, Santilli shared a conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook shooting created by "911 truth Switzerland" that the massacre was a "satanic sacrifice" and posted images to his website that suggest the shooting was predicted by a map seen in the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises.
Nugent himself has spread false information about Sandy Hook, claiming in his regular column at birther website WND that an assault weapon was not used in the massacre. Nugent's claim that the shooter used handguns originates from a video frequently promoted by conspiracy theorists who believe Sandy Hook may have been a government hoax.
In addition to pushing Sandy Hook conspiracies, Santilli links to a series of videos on his website that promote the fringe theory of Judy Wood that the Twin Towers were brought down by a "high-tech energy weapon" possibly fired from space. Santilli also promotes the work of William Cooper, an anti-government conspiracy theorist who was killed in 2001 after opening fire on law enforcement agents.
Here are five outrageous moments from Nugent's appearance on The Pete Santilli Show: