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.
From the March 28 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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From the March 28 edition of CNN's Piers Morgan Live:
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Discredited gun advocate John Lott argued against a draft United Nations Arms Trade Treaty by invoking two debunked NRA conspiracy theories and claimed that it would lead to international regulation of gun ownership and national gun registries for lawful gun owners.
United Nations member states met this week to negotiate an international arms trade treaty with the stated objective of establishing "the highest possible common international standards for regulating" international trade in conventional arms and to "eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion." In a March 28 editorial on FoxNews.com, Lott claimed that the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) would "regulate individual gun ownership all across the world." He went on to say that the treaty would force countries to maintain "a national control list" so that they could regulate weapon brokering between states.
In fact, both the U.N. draft of the arms treaty and the Obama administration made clear that the agreement would not infringe on the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. The U.N. draft reaffirmed in its preamble " the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system." The U.S. Department of State added that the final treaty must not cross key "red lines" in order to receive U.S. support, which included that "the Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld" without infringements upon "sovereign control" of domestic gun laws:
Fox News is continuing their effort to rebut a TV ad calling for stronger gun laws by falsely claiming it shows a man pointing a gun at children.
Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt criticized a recent ad produced by Mayors Against Illegal Guns that features a man with a shotgun calling for expanding the background check system, claiming that the man had the gun "sort of pointing back at the kids" who are playing behind him. Laughing, Stirewalt claimed that this allegedly unsafe behavior was "too hilarious" given that the ad's title is "Responsibility," adding, "I don't think too many Arkansans will be convinced that these people know what they are talking about."
In fact, as video from the ad Fox aired during the segment makes clear, the man in the ad is not pointing his shotgun in the direction of the children.
Stirewalt also joined several other conservative media figures in falsely claiming that the man in the ad had "his finger on the trigger" in an unsafe manner. But as Media Matters has documented, this is a false claim that critics are making based on a misunderstanding of where the trigger is on the firearm.
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":
Fox News host Jon Scott looped the opposition to marriage equality into the fight against gun violence, claiming that conservatives are lined up in front of the Supreme Court "trying to defend traditional marriage" in part because gun violence is exacerbated by the institution's decline.
On the March 27 edition of Happening Now, Scott hosted Fox News contributor Juan Williams to discuss the nexus between race, gun violence, and the family unit. Scott then tied the discussion to the debate over the Defense Of Marriage Act, saying that a rise in gun and gang violence and drug use was "why so many hundreds of conservatives are lined up outside the Supreme Court right now trying to defend traditional marriage, because they say marriage is an important building block to the society."
According to the Los Angeles Times, the vast majority of protestors outside of the Supreme Court were supporters of marriage equality. The Times described the conservative DOMA protestors Scott cited, noting they "waved signs reading 'Kids do best with a mom and dad' and 'Appeal to Heaven'."
But science contradicts Scott's implication that children raised in same-sex parent households are prone to violence or drug addiction. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a 25-year study in 2004 that concluded there is no link between parents' sexual orientation and the emotional health of their children, and the American Psychological Association came to a similar conclusion in a 2004 compilation of research concerning same-sex parenting:
Overall, results of research suggest that the development, adjustment, and well-being of children with lesbian and gay parents do not differ markedly from that of children with heterosexual parents.
Fox News gave credence to debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, presenting outlandish fears about the treaty's potential effects on domestic gun policy as legitimate reason to oppose it.
Members of the United Nations are meeting this week to negotiate an international arms trade treaty, which would regulate the transnational transfer of weapons in an attempt to keep weapons from human rights abusers and war criminals.
America's Newsroom highlighted arguments for and against the U.S. joining the U.N. treaty, laying out how "critics" in the U.S. "fear that this new treaty will create international gun control, and that it will restrict American gun rights." Fox correspondent Eric Shawn uncritically explained how specific provisions in the treaty have caused some to fear it could create a gun registry and infringe upon the 2nd Amendment.
Fox then aired comments by an unidentified man furthering these conspiracies: "The treaty isn't clearly limited to the international arms trade. There are points in the draft treaty where it seems like it could apply to domestic arms sales and transfers inside the United States." Shawn noted how the National Rifle Association (NRA) also "strongly opposes" the treaty, believing it will restrict Americans' gun rights.
Rather than report on the merits of these conspiracy theories, Shawn explained that supporters of the treaty disagree with the NRA and argue the treaty is needed for various human rights reasons.
The treaty's actual language clearly explains that it does not dictate or impact nations' domestic affairs. The treaty's draft preamble says that a State party to this treaty "reaffirm[s] the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems."
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 is reviving conspiratorial questions about federal ammunition purchases that the network previously debunked as the ravings of "those people who are watching us now from a cave in the Rockies where they are provisioned for a year or two."
On March 26, Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade highlighted a recent purchase of rounds by the Department of Homeland Security, which Kilmeade suggested raises questions from Congress about "why they need all those bullets. Can someone answer please? Hello?"
In fact, the government has provided a response to Congress, which, as Fox previously reported, "may not calmed have conspiracy theorists, but it has calmed some fears on the Hill."
On the March 22 edition of Special Report, correspondent Douglas McElway reported that when asked by Congress about the reported purchases, DHS responded that ammunition purchases are lower than in previous years. While the law allows DHS to set purchase contracts of billions of rounds in order to reduce prices and save money -- setting off conspiracies about massive purchases -- the government hasn't actually purchased nearly that many rounds.
Later in that broadcast, contributor Charles Krauthammer mocked the ammo conspiracy theorists for "waiting for the Obama coup d'etat, which apparently is not going to come." Krauthammer added, "I hate to disappoint the conspiracy theorists they have to come up with something new. And they will."
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.