A new survey of firearm experts reveals a consensus debunking the myths the gun lobby and conservative media use to try to infect the national dialogue on gun safety to create the appearance of legitimate debate.
From the April 1 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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The Outdoor Channel's new documentary on gun-free zones, hosted by Katie Pavlich and hyped by Fox News, will feature right-wing media's favorite gun myths -- including the false claim that gun-free zones encourage mass shootings and may "creat[e] an environment for criminal activity to run rampant."
The April 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends hyped the Outdoor Channel's Safe Haven: Gun-Free Zones In America documentary premiering later that day, featuring its trailer and highlighting film-host and Fox contributor Katie Pavlich. Using the premiere to push the conservative myths that shooters specifically target locations that don't allow guns and that more guns would prevent mass shootings and other crimes, host Steve Doocy asserted that "you think gun-free zones, that's going to be safe, but that means if you don't have a gun, the bad guys do and you're in trouble." Pavlich agreed, adding, "gun-free zones are not gun-free, it gives criminals an ability to have the upper hand on people who are simply following the law."
National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards lashed out at a Daily Tar Heel editorial that argued guns are not the solution to campus sexual assault by claiming that the "burden" of stopping sexual assaults and other violent crimes as they occur "is on the victim."
According to Edwards, "it is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."
In a March 22 editorial, independent student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel criticized national group Students for Concealed Carry for raising the issue of campus sexual assault in a gambit to loosen rules on carrying guns on public campuses in North Carolina.
The Daily Tar Heel wrote, "Concealed weapons would not significantly reduce sexual assault and would create inadvertent risks within other forms of interpersonal violence," and added that proponents of guns on campus "could reinforce rape culture because the burden of stopping assault would be further placed upon women." Noting that guns increase the risk of homicide in domestic violence situations, the Tar Heel concluded that "[t]o reduce sexual assault, focus should be maintained on preventative programs that challenge rigid gender roles and promote healthy relationships as well as intervention trainings that teach peers to be active bystanders rather than on measures that will not solve the problem."
On the March 27 edition of NRA News program Cam & Company, Edwards said the editorial "could only be written by somebody on that college campus without a lot of thought and experience in the real world" and that he was "dumber [for] having read" the editorial.
In particular, Edwards took issue with the Tar Heel's argument that telling women that they should carry guns to prevent sexual assault places the "burden" of preventing such attacks on those women. Edwards repeatedly argued that the "burden" of stopping all violent crimes -- including sexual assault -- was in fact on the victim.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called MSNBC host and civil rights activist Al Sharpton a "racist mongrel" and claimed that the only racism he can discern in the United States is "coming out of the White House" during a radio appearance.
Nugent's racially charged attack on Sharpton comes weeks before he is scheduled to appear at the NRA's annual meeting, which will be held April 10 through 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. On April 12, Nugent is scheduled to give a presentation titled "Freedom is not Free and We the People Must Keep It Alive!" According to the NRA, Nugent will "remind Americans that there is a cost for the Freedoms that we enjoy" and tell the crowd "what you can do to keep this country free" during his appearance.
During a March 24 appearance on KFYI's The Mike Broomhead Show, Nugent said that he was "shattered" to learn of racism against African-Americans as a young person, but that "by the late 60s, the 70s, I couldn't find racism. I never saw racism. I never heard of racism. I thought it was a thing of the past in isolated pockets of inbreeding and cannibalism and spiritlessness." According to Nugent, he only became aware of racism again after hearing President Obama's comments on the controversy that surrounded the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who is African-American, by a white police officer.
Citing Obama's remarks on Trayvon Martin, "the racism of" Attorney General Eric Holder, and "racist mongrel" Al Sharpton, Nugent said, "nowhere can I find racism except coming out of the White House."
Fox News relied on claims from discredited gun researcher John Lott to falsely suggest that an FBI report inflated the occurrence of mass shootings, possibly for political reasons. In fact, the report in question covered only "active shooter situations" and explicitly noted in its introduction, "This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings."
In September 2014, the FBI released a report on 160 active shooter situations that occurred between 2000 and 2013. The report counted 1,043 total casualties and noted that over the 13-year period, the incidence of active shooter incidents rose. In its report, the FBI defined an active shooter situation as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
Lott, who often manipulates statistics to push a pro-gun agenda and is the inventor of the discredited "more guns, less crime" hypothesis, attacked the report in The New York Post last year with the false claim that the "FBI study discusses 'mass shootings or killings.'" Based on this false premise, Lott wrote that several of the incidents in the FBI report don't meet accepted definitions of mass shootings and therefore the report was "bogus" and being "used to promote a political agenda."
Lott's falsehoods on the FBI report are now being promoted on Fox News. On the March 25 edition of Fox & Friends First, host Heather Childers reported the claim of Lott's group, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), that FBI data on mass shootings "may have been overstated for political purposes." While Childers spoke, onscreen text warned viewers of the supposedly "SHODY [sic] STATS":
CHILDERS: Are the number of mass shootings getting blown out of proportion by the government? Well the Crime Prevention Research Center says that FBI stats on mass shootings are inflated. The CPRC says because of errors and biases, the FBI data shows twice as many mass shootings than really occurred. The organization says that the stats may have been overstated for political purposes.
From the March 20 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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A new viral video that highlights ways guns have been involved in tragedies is drawing heavy criticism from conservative media and from a National Rifle Association affiliate group that wants a criminal investigation into its creation, based on the group's mistaken belief that real guns were illegally used in the video.
On March 17, gun safety group States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) released a video debunking the notion that gun ownership makes a person safer. (Research has demonstrated that owning a gun increases the risk of death or injury.)
SUPGV conducted a "hidden camera social experiment" to record the reactions of potential gun buyers at a fake gun store they had set up in Manhattan. When prospective purchasers inquired about a firearm, the clerk informed the customer of tragedies -- including mass shootings and unintentional shootings involving children -- that involved the use of that particular model of firearm. Hidden cameras recorded prospective gun buyers' shocked reactions:
The video is paired with a website, GunsWithHistory.com, that has more information on how gun ownership increases the risk of homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association argues that the Obama administration's policies on firearms are inspired by the murderous Amy Dunne character from Gone Girl.
In a March 18 video for the NRA News commentary series, NRA News commentator Colion Noir -- who is also the host of NRA webshow Noir -- said, "On the issue of guns, I'm starting to believe the Obama administration got their anti-gun playbook from that crazy character Amy from Gone Girl," following his criticism of a now-withdrawn plan by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to ban a type of armor-piercing ammunition.
"They consistently manipulate the public and the conversation on guns in this country, all the while painting Second Amendment advocates as paranoid fearmongerers," he explained.
Noir was referencing the protagonist of the 2012 thriller novel Gone Girl which was adapted into an acclaimed film in 2014. In the film, Amy Dunne falsely accuses a man of raping and kidnapping her as part of a plot to frame her husband for her own murder.
Cam Edwards, the host of the National Rifle Association's television and radio shows, is backtracking on a claim in his biography that he is the recipient of a Heartland Emmy Award.
After being contacted by Media Matters about multiple biographies listing Edwards' Emmy claim, Edwards updated his bio to say he "shared in" an Emmy Award as part of a documentary crew. According to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Heartland Chapter, "only our official award-winners may" call themselves Emmy winners. Edwards is not listed as any of the five named crew members in the award citation.
The Heartland Chapter is one of 20 regional groups under the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that annually gives out Emmy Awards for accomplishments in television. Prior to joining NRA News in 2004, Edwards worked in television and radio in Oklahoma, one of several regions covered by the Heartland Chapter.
Although it has since been changed, Edwards biography page at NRA listed him as the recipient of "the Heartland Chapter Emmy Ward [sic]." A similar biography on the website of NRA advertising agency Ackerman McQueen also lists Edwards as an Emmy winner.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones brandished an assault weapon and criticized a gun safety PSA as a "full out assault on the basic underpinnings of this country" during a recent broadcast.
On March 11, in conjunction with comedy website Funny or Die, gun safety group Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence launched a parody video in which two actors playing criminals facetiously advised other criminals to visit CrimAdvisor.com -- a play on TripAdvisor -- to learn which states have the weakest gun laws making it easy for criminals to get guns.
CrimAdvisor.com has information on which states have laws making it easier or harder for felons and other dangerous individuals to obtain firearms and also lists the top source states for illegally trafficked firearms. The website asks supporters to sign a petition in support of expanding background checks to all gun sales, noting that, "Brady background checks have stopped 2.4 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers, but only 60% of current gun sales include a background check."
Jones, however, saw the pitch for more background checks -- a measure overwhelmingly popular with the American public -- as a piece of "propaganda" that is part of an effort by globalists to enslave Americans.
Glenn Beck is threatening to quit the National Rifle Association over the long-debunked conspiracy theory that NRA board member and conservative activist Grover Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beck has appeared as a speaker at the NRA annual meeting four times since 2008, three times as the keynote speaker.
For years, Frank Gaffney, a conservative media figure and the head of the Islamophobic think tank Center for Security Policy, has accused Norquist, an influential conservative activist who runs Americans for Tax Reform, of being "actively involved, both enabling and empowering, Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country." Before targeting Norquist's association with the NRA, Gaffney feuded with organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference over Norquist's routine presence at the annual event. In 2011, Gaffney's attacks on Norquist caused him to be banned from participating in CPAC.
In 2012, the board of the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on CPAC, unanimously condemned Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist. (Some of Gaffney's evidence against Norquist includes the fact that Norquist has Muslim family members.) Incidentally, the ACU board member selected to evaluate the veracity of Gaffney's claims about Norquist was attorney Cleta Mitchell, who has also served on the NRA's board of directors.
Norquist is presently running for reelection to the NRA's board of directors. The vote will occur at the gun group's annual meeting this April. Norquist reportedly circulated a letter among other board members that denounced the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory and labeled Gaffney a "stalker."
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich suggested that sexual assaults benefit feminists and school administrators politically, and said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not," during a campus appearance to discuss how guns can be the "best defense" against sexual assault.
And in an exchange that prompted an audible reaction from the audience, Pavlich offered a sarcastic apology while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child.
On March 10, Pavlich delivered a speech called "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Conservative Perspective" at an event organized by Iowa State University's College Republicans chapter, the conservative group Young America's Foundation, and ISU's Committee on Lectures.
During her remarks, Pavlich advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses will reduce sexual assault and also argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses has been exaggerated. (According to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report "being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college" compared to students who did not.)
Iowa State Daily reported that "Pavlich was met with resistance from multiple ISU students, including a large group of purple-clad students attending the lecture as part of an organized effort called 'Standing up to Katie Pavlich and Rape Culture.'"
After her speech, several survivors of sexual assault challenged Pavlich on her notion that guns will prevent future assaults. An ISU women's studies lecturer later told the student paper that Pavlich's remarks were "incredibly irresponsible" because "[i]t was a 'conservative take on sexual assault,' but it was clear her intent was to advocate for concealed carry laws."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Pavlich is heard suggesting that the actions of feminists and colleges end up permitting assaults to occur because victims help them push a feminist and "anti-gun" agenda. She also said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision" about whether or not they will be sexually assaulted in the seconds before an attack occurs.
Pavlich makes frequent appearances on Fox News, often as a panelist on daytime show Outnumbered.
Here are four lowlights from Pavlich's Iowa State appearance:
Pavlich claimed that "modern feminism can't survive without victims, so naturally preventing victimhood through self-defense is unacceptable." She then added, "Telling women they don't need self-defense to prevent rape is exactly what moves real rape culture forward because violent criminals can operate without resistance."
Breitbart.com's AWR Hawkins labeled prominent gun safety advocate Gabby Giffords a "human shield" for the gun safety movement. In January 2011, Giffords, then a member of Congress, was wounded during mass shooting at a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona, that left six dead and 13 injured by gunfire.
Hawkins' latest attack on Giffords follows his controversial March 4 article that criticized Giffords for advocating for background checks on gun sales because the gunman that shot her passed a background check to obtain his weapon. Giffords is the founder of gun safety group Americans for Responsible Solutions which advocates for background checks and measures to reduce illegal firearms trafficking.
Hawkins' March 4 article received widespread attention and condemnation after the National Rifle Association sent a Tweet with the article's headline: "Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed." Hawkins is a frequent guest on NRA News.
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis cited a misleading statistic about carrying concealed guns from pro-gun group Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC) without disclosing the group's pro-gun slant or that it is run by discredited gun researcher John Lott.
CPRC research was cited in a March 2 article on a recent increase in the number of permits to carry a concealed gun issued to Minnesotans. Arguments in favor of carrying concealed weapons were bolstered by the article's citation that "[t]he Crime Prevention Research Center found that states with a high percentage of gun ownership often had low violent-crime rates."
The article identified CPRC as "a nonprofit organization that studies the connection between firearms and crime," a description that fails to adequately inform readers about the nature of the group.
CPRC is run by discredited gun researcher John Lott, who often manipulates statistics about gun violence in order to advance a misleading pro-gun agenda. Armed With Reason, "a blog dedicated to academically refuting pro-gun myths," describes Lott -- the inventor of the now-debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis -- as "the most prolific and influential writer on the topic of gun violence and gun control."
According to Armed With Reason, Lott touts false claims about gun violence "repeatedly in articles and TV appearances" and has committed "ethical transgressions" in his pursuit of pro-gun research:
While [Lott's] initial research was groundbreaking, further examination revealed numerous flaws. Today the "more guns, less crime" hypothesis has been thoroughly repudiated. On closer inspection his impressive credentials reveal an academic nomad, never able to secure a place in academia. His ethical transgressions range from accusations of fabricating an entire survey, to presenting faulty regressions, to creating elaborate online personas to defend his work and bash critics, to trying to revise his online history to deflect arguments. And this doesn't even begin to cover the whole host of false claims and statistics he has peddled repeatedly in articles and TV appearances.
The CPRC statistic cited by the Star Tribune -- that "states with a high percentage of gun ownership often had low violent-crime rates" -- is misleading because it gives the erroneous impression that the concealed carry of firearms is associated with lower crime rates. In fact, credible academic research has proven the opposite to be true.