The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) bills itself as an event convened to "crystallize the best of the conservative thought in America" that will showcase "all of the leading conservative organizations and speakers." Media covering CPAC 2013 should know that the conference's speakers, from the most prominent to the lesser-known, have a history of launching smears, pushing conspiracy theories, and hyping myths about the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.
The National Rifle Association will feature Fox News' Sean Hannity during the 7th Annual NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon, despite his association with a group whose leadership has claimed that one of America's greatest mistakes was allowing women to vote.
Hannity is slated to be the keynote speaker at the NRA Women's Leadership Forum Luncheon, "a coalition of philanthropic women united ... for Second Amendment freedoms," to be held at the NRA's annual meeting on May 3. Hannity is also an advisory board member of the Brotherhood Organization of A New Destiny, whose founder has come under fire for making radical statements against women.
In a testimonial on BOND's website, Hannity writes, "BOND has played an instrumental role in helping young men and women build lives which will help inspire the next generation. BOND continues to fight the good fight standing for the values of God, family, and country, and are deserving of our support."
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the founder and president of BOND, was the subject of widespread criticism after engaging in an anti-women diatribe during a March 2012 sermon where he claimed "one of the greatest mistakes that America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote."
From the March 12 edition of Fox News' The Five:
ERIC BOLLING: Check this story out. A town in Georgia has proposed a new law requiring every head of a household to possess a firearm. The town is Nelson, Georgia, population 1,000. They have only one police officer, and that guy works one eight-hour shift. So I'm on board with this.
GREG GUTFELD: Mandatory gun ownership? The next thing you know we have mandatory health care. Weird. And why is this so radical? At least the town is doing this legally, unlike Detroit and Chicago, where you have mandatory gun ownership -- it's called gang membership. Look, if an outlaw is going through the country and looking for a town to hit, he's going to drive right past this one and he'll find a gun-free zone. It's just like we talked about the theater shooter. He found a place where there were no guns.
BOLLING: Dana, 90 percent of the town agrees with this. By the way, it isn't a law yet, it has to go through the city council. It's proposed right now. I believe there will be a vote April 1st. Ninety percent of the town agrees with it and the one police officer agrees with it, too.
DANA PERINO: Yeah, so I'm for local control and for Washington to mind its own business. The local control that was tried here in New York City yesterday was about soda drinking. I think that this one -- if this town feels that this is what they need to do to protect themselves, I'm for it. Plus, if it's mandatory, people will be trained, they'll have the background checks. and all the laws will be covered.
BOLLING: And Bob, If you don't like it, if you object, if you have a conscientious objection to it, you don't have to have the gun. It sounds like a good idea.
BOB BECKEL: It sounds to me like one of the worst ideas I've heard. I mean, the idea that you're going to mandatory -- it's mandatory if you don't object and you don't have a religious problem with it or you're not -- whatever. That you have to buy a gun when you may not like guns --
BOLLING: Well, you can object --
GUTFELD: Replace that with health care, Bob.
BECKEL: Let's not talk health care. The idea -- why don't we next make it mandatory for over the have a bazooka on their roof. I mean --
GUTFELD: Or health care.
BECKEL: You know who's behind this? This is an NRA-sponsored deal. They've done this before. Georgia seems to be --
BOLLING: This has nothing to do with NRA.
GUTFELD: Replace NRA with AARP, and you have health care.
ANDREA TANTAROS: As much as I love they're doing this and I understand that the next town over has the same law on the books -- so I love the law in theory. I actually don't like being mandated to do anything. And so, that's like someone saying, OK, we mandate you to exercise your First Amendment all the time, and to exercise it you must say, 'I love Obama.'" And what if you live in a town with 90 percent of the people -- or maybe New York -- believe that way? So I try to put the shoe on other foot.
PERINO: That was all those Philadelphia counties -- Pennsylvania counties.
BOLLING: A hundred percent, right? A hundred and one percent, actually.
BECKEL: Why don't you just make it nationwide? Why doesn't everybody make it mandatory --
BOLLING: It'd be a safer country.
BOLLING: By the way, If you're a criminal, Bob -- honestly you're driving down the road, looking to rob, stick up a house -- are you going to go to the town where you know every house, every door you knock on or break into has a gun behind it? You're going to go to the next town where --
BECKEL: I don't think, first of all, they're going to stop and read The New York Times and figure out who's got a town like that.
GUTFELD: You know, the police exist primarily to respond to crime, not to prevent it. It's up to you to prevent it.
Gun researcher John Lott's chapter on firearms in his new book titled, At the Brink: Will Obama Push Us Over The Edge?, is filled with inaccurate claims about guns and firearm policy. Lott makes a range of misleading or blatantly false statements, including that the worst school shootings in the world have not occurred in the United States and that concealed carry laws help prevent mass shootings.
A floundering attempt to smear a Colorado state lawmaker who recently sponsored gun safety legislation demonstrates that the nationwide network of state-based conservative media outlets that the right wing has founded in recent years have the same problems with journalistic rigor as their larger, better-known cohorts.
The Colorado branch of the right-wing news outlet Media Trackers published a March 6 report claiming to offer new information which "exposed" the "criminal record" of State Representative Rhonda Fields. Fields has sponsored gun safety legislation currently under the debate in the legislature, including a bill extending the background check system. Alongside her mug shot, the group explained that Fields was arrested for larceny and shoplifting decades ago, commenting, "Despite her own criminal record, Rep. Fields has sought to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens."
The Media Trackers piece quickly spread through the right-wing blogosphere, with Instapundit Glenn Reynolds commenting, "criminals prefer unarmed victims." But contrary to Media Trackers' "BREAKING" headline, Fields has long been open about her past. Declaring the report "old news," Fox's Denver affiliate reported:
Fields was arrested in 1976 for larceny, and then again in 1991 for shoplifting. In 2010, FOX31 Denver reported on Fields' arrest record when she was campaigning for a position in the state House. The Denver Post dug into the politician's past, as well.
"It's something I'm not proud of," Fields said of her arrests during her campaign. "It happened over 20 years ago. I had to leave a husband who was addicted to drugs. I stole food to feed my kids. I'm so glad I'm not the woman I was back then."
With the story dissolving, Media Trackers followed the right-wing media's time-tested maneuver of doubling down. They produced a follow-up report breathlessly claiming Fields' "disregard for the state's laws continued well into her tenure as an elected lawmaker." They cited as evidence minor traffic violations such as Fields being "fined $130 for a lane assignment infraction."
The Media Trackers attacks on Fields come just days after the well-publicized arrest of Franklin Sain, a gun rights proponent who allegedly threatened Fields for sponsoring gun legislation. In an email to Fields, Sain said the legislator was a "pathetic N***** C*** alnog with MCCANN, two c**** who are way overdue a good f***ing." Fields, whose son was shot and killed alongside his fiancée because he planned to testify about drug dealers who had murdered his friend, is not the only state legislator who favors strengthening the state's gun laws to receive threats in recent days.
The National Rifle Association's stand against expanding the criminal background check system to all gun buyers has become a lonely one. The NRA has been abandoned by other gun lobby activists, conservative media figures, and the American public.
The first episode of Ted Nugent's new TV show featured a variety of bizarre antics by the National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist, including the rocker apparently killing a chicken by slamming its head into the ground.
On March 4 The Sportsman Channel aired the first episode of a miniseries starring Nugent. Wanted: Ted or Alive is a survivalist reality show where five contestants are dropped into Nugent's ranch in the Michigan wilderness to compete in physical challenges and earn money.
In October 2012, Nugent was featured in a different special on the Discovery Channel that was described as "an inside look at American gun culture." While promoting Ted Nugent's Gun Country, Nugent promised to use the show to advance his views in the "culture war" and said to "expect that there will be at least a dozen shows a year." Only one episode of Ted Nugent's Gun Country ever aired and following the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a Discovery Channel spokesperson stated that Nugent would not appear on Discovery "in any form or fashion."
Here are four absurd moments from the Sportsman Channel program:
National Rifle Association president David Keene excused pro-gun activists at a New York rally last week whose signs depicted New York governor Andrew Cuomo as Adolf Hitler, saying that the attendees were "cognizant of the history" of supposedly anti-gun Nazi Germany and did not wish to see it repeated in the United States.
Keene was the featured speaker at the February 28 rally in Albany, New York against newly enacted gun violence prevention laws in that state. The rally drew controversy because some attendees brought signs portraying Cuomo as Hitler. In a March 1 interview with conservative radio host Fred Dicker, Keene agreed that the attendees were making a reference to "a 1935 law passed by the Reichstag [The Third Reich parliament] that took away people's rights to own firearms." Keene added that "Folks that are cognizant of the history not just in Germany but elsewhere look back to that history and say we can't let that sort of thing happen here."
But while gun activists commonly claim that Hitler implemented tougher gun laws to pave the way for his tyrannical reign, the Nazis actually loosened gun restrictions. In fact, the "1935 law" referenced by Dicker reportedly does not exist.
FRED DICKER: Some of the signs may have been a little over the top from the point of view of some people. But they fail, I think a lot of the people fail to have a sense of history that many the demonstrators have. And when they use the Adolf Hitler image they're not thinking of Adolf Hitler the monster of the Holocaust and of world domination. Many of them are thinking in terms of, I guess it was a 1935 law. It was passed by the Reichstag in Germany that took away people's rights to own firearms.
DAVID KEENE: That's right, and folks that are cognizant of the history not just in Germany but elsewhere look back to that history and say we can't let that sort of thing happen here.
As Alex Seitz-Wald wrote in an article for Salon, "the notion that Hitler confiscated everyone's guns is mostly bogus." Seitz-Wald summarized a 2004 law review article on the myth by University of Chicago law professor Bernard Harcourt to note that the German parliament essentially banned firearms in 1919 to comply with surrender terms in the Treaty of Versailles. The law remained in effect until 1928 when the Reichstag allowed private gun ownership with a registration requirement. In 1938 Hitler signed into law new discriminatory firearms laws that did away with restrictions for individuals aligned with the Nazis while outlawing Jews and other persecuted peoples from possessing weapons. As Seitz-Wald points out, the fact that Hitler loosened gun laws for some while banned firearms for others is not an indictment of gun violence prevention laws, but instead of fascistic policies
Fox's Lou Dobbs hyped the false claim that the Department of Homeland Security bought 2700 light armored vehicles, echoing claims made on fringe conservative blogs. In fact, the order for 2717 new light armored vehicles is coming from the United States Marine Corps -- not the Department of Homeland Security.
On the March 4 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs claimed that DHS is buying "2 billion rounds of ammunition" and, "allegedly," "2700 light armored vehicles." Dobbs then asked his guest, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, "What in the world is going on as the Homeland Department -- the Department of Homeland Security seems to be arming up and the administration is trying to disarm American citizens?"
Dobbs' pairing of those two claims echoed a post on right-wing blog Gateway Pundit, which was also posted to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' Infowars. The post was headlined, "Obama DHS Purchases 2,700 Light-Armored Tanks to Go With Their 1.6 Billion Bullet Stockpile" and cited Modern Survival Blog, a survivalist website, as its source.
But according to a Defense Department press release, it was the United States Marine Corps, not DHS, that purchased 2,717 light armored vehicles.
A member of the National Rifle Association Board of Directors compared states' efforts to strengthen gun violence prevention laws to Nazi Germany on an NRA news program, suggesting that Americans are being disarmed and that "the death of millions" could occur.
Ronnie Barrett, the outspoken manufacturer of a controversial armor-piercing sniper rifle and an NRA board member, made his prediction during the March 1 edition of the NRA's Cam & Company show on Sportsman Channel:
BARRETT: In all of history when this kind of stuff has happened before, it's bad news. You know and I hate to be one of these doomsday guys, but in past things like this result in the death of millions. You know, and World War II hasn't been 700 years ago, it's only been 70 years ago. And if people don't think that these things don't happen to modern, progressive, Christian nations like Germany was, they're wrong, brother, I mean we're sitting here just nearly repeating the same past of that, the disarming of the citizenry not based on any facts but based on cynical emotions that are put in and rushed through in the middle of the night before anybody has a chance to study the true facts, before their citizenry even knows what's going on. I mean holy smokes, what kind of state government was that? I can't believe that's one of the members of the Union here, one of the members of our Republic. It's just unimaginable.
Barrett made similar remarks on the February 5 edition of Cam & Company, suggesting that gun owners prevent "socialism" and make it so "you can't round up hoards of armed free people and put them in cattle cars."
It is not unusual for members of NRA leadership to distort history to compare stronger firearm policies to Nazism or the Holocaust. In his book, America Disarmed: Inside the U.N. & Obama's Scheme to Destroy the Second Amendment, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre equated the United Nations Small Arms and Light Weapons Destruction Day, held on July 9, 2001, to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels' order that books authored by Jews be publicly burned. He then suggested that the burning of guns could "help set the stage for mass executions of gun owners" just as Goebbels' order precipitated the mass killing of Jews:
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on Fox Business' Varney & Company to falsely claim that a legislative proposal to require a criminal background check on almost every gun sale would create a national gun owner registry and possibly lead to firearm confiscation.
LAPIERRE: It is a huge waste of money. It's going to be selectively enforced. It's going to be abused. And the worst thing, you're creating a registry of all the law-abiding people in the country that own firearms. I know the politicians say, "Hey, we'll never use that list to confiscate." That's a pretty darn tall order to believe a promise from people in this town right now.
The list that LaPierre referenced does not exist and would not be created under a proposal to strengthen the background check system.
In fact, federal law prohibits the creation of a gun owner registry and the proposal to expand background checks would not subject gun buyers to any record-keeping requirements that do not already exist for transactions conducted at a gun store. As gun advocate Dave Kopel explains on the NRA's website, "the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) ... prohibited the creation of a registry of gun owners."
The FBI, which administers the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), destroys identifying information about gun owners within 24 hours in order to comply with this law.
Under current law, licensed firearm dealers are required retain a copy of the ATF Form 4473, the form used to complete the background check, as a sales receipt. Under legislation proposed to improve the background check system, a federally licensed firearms dealer would oversee firearms transactions between private individuals by running a background check on the purchaser. The 4473 form used in that transaction would be kept in the dealer's records, just as records are kept for individuals who buy from the licensed dealer directly. The current legislative proposal would exempt transfers between immediate family members and temporary transfers for hunting or self-defense from the background check requirement.
From the March 2 edition of SiriusXM's Media Matters Radio:
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A Gannett article appearing on USAToday.com alleges that a recently enacted New York law limiting firearm magazine capacity to seven rounds will effectively render handguns inoperable, claiming no manufacturers produce magazines with a seven-round capacity. This reporting is gaining steam in the right-wing blogosphere, even as a quick web search reveals numerous options for purchasing magazines with a seven or less round capacity.
According to the article, which originally appeared in the Gannett-owned (Rochester, N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle, "as far as local gun dealers and the Democrat and Chronicle have been able to determine, there are no manufacturers planning to make seven-round magazines" and that when New York's new magazine law goes into effect on April 15, dealers "can only sell something that doesn't exist yet":
Starting April 15, New York will have the smallest gun magazine limit in the country, and all signs indicate no gun makers have plans to accommodate it.
Gun manufacturers have never had a reason to make a magazine with fewer than 10 rounds, because no state required it until now. And, as far as local gun dealers and the Democrat and Chronicle have been able to determine, there are no manufacturers planning to make seven-round magazines.
This means that in less than two months, gun dealers such as Paul Martin, owner of Pro-Gun Services in Victor, can only sell something that doesn't exist yet.
A search on firearms accessories supplier Brownells' website reveals 51 options for purchasing magazines with a 5, 6 or 7 round capacity. Magazines for popular firearms brands offered by Brownells include Springfield, Glock, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Ruger, and Sig Sauer. In fact, the seven-round magazine is the third most popular configuration offered by Brownells, with only eight- and 10-round magazines offering more options.
The Democrat and Chronicle notes that most gun manufacturers it reached out to for comment, including Brownells, Glock, Smith & Weston and Pro Mag Industries, did not or declined to respond. However, on its website, Brownells indicates that it sells seven-round Smith & Wesson and Pro Mag magazines. A six-round magazine is also offered by Glock.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent appeared on Alex Jones' radio show where the two swapped conspiracy theories about Benghazi and other topics, called for President Obama's impeachment, and praised the National Rifle Association's new "hardcore" direction. Nugent claimed that Jones, a prominent pusher of 9/11 and New World Order conspiracies, is doing "God's work" and that the information on his radio show is "indisputable" and "irrefutable."
Nugent legitimizing Jones is the second recent instance where a high-profile member of NRA leadership has conducted an interview on conspiracy-geared programming. On February 16, NRA president David Keene appeared on the television show of Gary Franchi, a well-known 9/11 truther.
Jones, one of the country's leading conspiracy theorists, describes himself as "one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement" and has also promoted the existence of FEMA concentration camps as part of his claim that President Obama is transforming the United States into "something that resembles Nazi Germany." He has also theorized that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was "carried out by intelligence agencies" with "Bill Clinton's involvement."
Furthermore, Jones believes that Obama's birth certificate is a forgery and has pushed conspiracy theories involving weather control, mass sterilization by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and an effort by the government to use "estrogen-mimicking" juice boxes to "encourage homosexuality with chemicals so that people don't have children."
Nugent's appearance was billed by Jones' InfoWars.com website as "a surprise call in to thank Alex Jones for waking him up to the NWO."
National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards has taken on a media critic role to allege that news reports linking firearms to public safety concerns are inaccurate. The series of rebuttals offered by Edwards on his show Cam & Company, however, are rife with outright falsehoods and are debunked by peer reviewed research.
In five recent "Media Misinformation" segments, Edwards...
- ...cited the long-debunked research of criminologist Gary Kleck to claim that up to 2.5 million defensive gun uses occur each year while also pushing the false claim that loosening concealed gun carry laws reduces crime.
- ...falsely claimed that the United States ranks 28th among industrialized nations in terms of gun homicide rate when the U.S. actually ranks first in a more comparable study among high-income nations.
- ...used discredited research to attack an accurate claim by Mother Jones that guns in the home are more often used in criminal acts, accidents or suicides than for self-defense.
- ...made a flawed and anecdotal comparison to deny that increased gun availability is associated with increased firearm homicide.
- ...denied that a link exists between firearm access and suicide while suggesting that making firearms less accessible to a suicidal individual was not a plausible way to prevent a suicide attempt.