From the June 19 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Conservative media outlets are using the mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church to push myths about guns and criticize President Obama for highlighting the need for responsible gun safety legislation.
National Rifle Association board member Charles L. Cotton wrote that the victims of a mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church died because of Reverend Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for gun safety laws.
Pinckney, along with eight others, was killed by a gunman during a June 17 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 2013, Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina State Senator, introduced legislation to require more comprehensive background checks on gun sales and supported several other gun safety measures during his career as a legislator.
In a post on an online forum for Texas supporters of the concealed carry of handguns, Cotton wrote, "he [Rev. Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."
At the bottom of Cotton's post was an image that promoted NRA membership:
Cotton, who is active in Texas NRA affiliate group Texas State Rifle Association, faced criticism in February for his assertion that corporal punishment for children could prevent him from "having to put a bullet in him later." According to Talking Points Memo Cotton wrote:
"I'm sick of this woman and her 'don't touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again' attitude," Cotton wrote in a thread titled "HB567: Corporal punishment in schools."
"Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later," he added.
Cotton is listed in the NRA's magazine as a member of the board of directors, with his term expiring in 2017.
According to NRAOnTheRecord.org, Cotton has served on the NRA board for more than a decade and has also served on the Board of Trustees of the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott falsely claimed that guns are "banned" in South Carolina churches to blame the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on "gun-free zones."
On the evening of July 17, a gunman opened fire during a bible study meeting at the church, killing nine people.
Lott, who invented the debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis and is a frequent source of conservative misinformation on gun violence, quickly blamed "gun-free zones" for the shooting. On the website of his group, Crime Prevention Research Center, Lott wrote, "Not surprising that yet another mass public shooting has taken place where guns were banned. Yet, again, the ban only ensured that the victims were vulnerable." Lott titled his article, "Another Shooting in a Gun-free Zone: Nine Dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina."
Lott then offered a "synopsis" of South Carolina law - taken from an article on CriminalDefenseLawyer.com - that suggested guns cannot be carried in churches and some other locations.
Lott's synopsis linked to S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215, which says that individuals with concealed carry licenses can bring guns into churches with the permission of a church official. Here is what the actual law says:
M) A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a:
(8) church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body;
In an opinion piece for FoxNews.com, Lott similarly mischaracterized South Carolina law, writing, "the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns." Lott also speculated that gun policies formed the shooter's motive, writing, "Churches, like the one in Charleston, preach peace, but the killer there probably chose that target because he knew the victims were defenseless."
From the June 18 edition of Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Fox & Friends used a mass shooting at a South Carolina church to baselessly promote the carrying of guns as a solution to prevent such attacks -- even though research indicates that civilians are more likely to harm themselves or someone else than stop a criminal when they have a gun, and there is "no evidence" that arming civilians stops mass shootings.
On June 17, a gunman killed nine after opening fire at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. Commenting on the massacre, "[t]he chief of police of Charleston, Greg Mullen, called the shooting a hate crime," according to The New York Times.
Discussing the tragedy on the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, the co-hosts repeatedly suggested that the massacre may have been prevented had the congregation been armed. After guest E. W. Jackson urged "pastors and men in these churches to prepare to defend themselves," host Brian Kilmeade asked if giving pastors a gun could help with "security." Later in the show, Steve Doocy similarly suggested, "If somebody was there, they would have had the opportunity to pull out their weapon and take [the shooter] out ... If somebody in there had a gun." Elisabeth Hasselbeck agreed, calling it a "great point."
But an analysis of 62 mass public shootings over a 30 year period by Mother Jones found no cases where an ordinary civilian with a gun stopped an attack, and instances where someone did try to intervene with a gun resulted in the death or injury of that person:
In the wake of the massacres this year at a Colorado movie theater, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, we set out to track mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years.We identified and analyzed 62 of them, and one striking pattern in the data is this: In not a single case was the killing stopped by a civilian using a gun. And in other recent (but less lethal) rampages in which armed civilians attempted to intervene, those civilians not only failed to stop the shooter but also were gravely wounded or killed.
While individuals with concealed carry permits have not stopped mass shootings, the Violence Policy Center (VPC) has identified 29 incidents since 2007 where someone with a permit shot and killed three or more people during a single shooting incident.
Newly released VPC research on the use of guns for self-defense also indicates why arming the congregation is unlikely to stop an attack. The group found that American gun owners are more likely to injure themselves or someone else with a gun than to use it to stop a criminal. The report, which relied on data from the FBI and the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, found just 258 justifiable homicides involving civilian firearms in 2012 compared to 8,342 murders by gun -- a ratio of 32 criminal homicides for each justifiable homicide. The study noted that suicides by gun outpace justifiable homicides by an even greater extent.
Examining government data from 2007 to 2011, VPC found that just .8 percent of violent crimes were met with resistance from a gun. These findings are in line with a large body of research that indicates guns are used far more often to commit crimes than defend against crimes.
Conservative media have frequently promoted the myth that guns are primarily used for self-defense, despite guns rarely being used for that purpose, and have a long history of exploiting tragedies to push their own pro-gun agendas. Right-wing media frequently call for more guns in the immediate aftermath of high profile shooting events, including a May thwarted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas, the January massacre at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the 2014 mass shooting at Fort Hood, the 2014 shooting at a high school near Portland, Oregon, and the 2013 attack at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard.
From the June 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
Fox's Sean Hannity gave 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush a platform to claim that the gun policies he supported as governor of Florida helped create "a less violent society," even though he signed the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which studies show has actually contributed to more violence.
Bush appeared on the June 16 broadcast of Hannity for a wide-ranging interview in front of a studio audience. Hannity asked, "Should citizens, if they are law-abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?"
Bush responded, "Absolutely, and in Florida, you know who leads the nation in concealed weapons permits by far? Over a million. It's Florida. It creates a ... less violent society and crime goes down when law-abiding citizens that don't commit crimes have guns."
But experts say controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, like the one the jury used to acquit George Zimmerman of killing unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, make society more violent.
Sean Hannity promoted the concealed carrying of handguns during his Fox News interviews with Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Hannity is a paid spokesman for the United States Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), a financial relationship he repeatedly failed to disclose.
During his February 26 program, Hannity asked Walker: "Let's talk about guns. Should law-abiding citizens -- for example, it's very hard to get a carry permit in a state like New York. Should they be allowed to carry weapons if they're law-abiding citizens?" Walker replied, "Absolutely."
Hannity asked Bush during his June 16 Fox News interview: "Should citizens if they are law-abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?" To applause from the audience, Bush replied that people should "absolutely" have that right.
But Hannity's interest in concealed carrying of guns isn't just political -- it's financial.
The United States Concealed Carry Association claims it is "the first & largest member-owned association dedicated to educating, training, and insuring responsibly armed Americans." Hannity is heavily involved with USCCA. The front page of the organization's website features Hannity's endorsement and a "training package" for his fans.
The website HannityForUSCCA.com includes a prominent quote from Hannity professing that he has "peace of mind knowing that if I ever have to use my weapon to save the life of my loved one, they will be in my corner." The Hannity training package features materials with "critical, life-saving information that will better prepare you and your loved ones for a home invasion or violent encounter."
An ad for USCCA featuring Hannity aired during his June 16 radio program -- the day of his Bush interview -- according to a search of TVEyes.com. Hannity stated in the ad that he's a "proud member of the United States Concealed Carry Association" and he's "been working closely with them" to create a "special" training package for his fans.
This isn't the first time Hannity has promoted the interests of his radio sponsors. Last year, Hannity used his Fox News program to promote the fundraising efforts of the Tea Party Patriots.
Hannity is a favorite destination for Republican candidates who have just announced they're officially running for president. Hannity's website has even adopted Politico reporter Dylan Byers' description of him as the "conservative kingmaker" in the Republican primary.
UPDATE: Hannity again pushed concealed carry during his June 17 Fox News interview with Donald Trump. Hannity complained that it's "almost impossible" to get a concealed carry permit in New York City. Trump replied that he's "a huge Second Amendment person."
Fox News host Steve Doocy questioned why a gunman who attacked Dallas police headquarters was able to legally purchase an armored van but ignored questions about how the gunman acquired an arsenal of firearms and bombs.
Authorities say James Boulware attacked police headquarters in Dallas in the early hours of June 13. The New York Times reported that "officers narrowly escaped injury and death as they dodged bullets" when Boulware opened fire on the headquarters building and vehicles in the parking lot. Boulware also placed pipe bombs outside of the building, at least one of which exploded. Boulware fled in an armored van he had recently purchased online, and following a chase and a standoff, he was killed by a police sniper.
But on the June 15 broadcast of Fox & Friends, the focus was on Boulware's van -- a modified 1995 Ford he bought in Georgia that was advertised online as a "full armored zombie busting vehicle." Doocy asked, "Just how did that Dallas police shooter over the weekend get his hands on an armored car that gave him enough protection when he opened fire on cops?" (Reports say Boulware was actually "on foot" when he initially attacked the headquarters.)
Doocy also said, "You would think that selling an armored car just to anybody is not safe," and, "The question is whether or not this stuff, once it's military surplus, should wind up in the hands of private individuals, because we saw over the weekend that can turn out bad."
No mention was made of questions surrounding how Boulware acquired the firearms he used in the attack or whether he was legally allowed to possess them. Boulware, who reportedly acted out of anger over a court decision in a custody dispute, was subject to "numerous temporary restraining orders granted to his son's mother," according to court documents viewed by Crooks & Liars.
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota posited that "mental illness" may "lead to violence" while discussing a recent shooting in Dallas, a problematic framing of mental health issues that feeds false stigmas and ignores research debunking the notion of a direct causal link between mental health and violence.
James Boulware attacked Dallas police headquarters with a gun before fleeing in an armored van on June 13. He was killed after a brief standoff with police, and his relatives are now saying Boulware had a history of mental health issues.
Discussing the Dallas shooting on June 15, CNN's Alisyn Camerota implied there may be a direct connection between mental health issues and violence, asking her guest, "Do you see this as just another sad case of someone's mental illness leading to violence?" Citing the Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT shootings, Camerota then said, "We hate to give the impression that mental illness leads to violence, but does mental illness lead to violence, like in these cases?"
But there is no evidence of a direct connection between mental health and violence -- A 2013 report from The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy explained how most people with mental health issues are "more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence," noting that only about 4 percent of violence in the United states "is attributable to mental illness.":
Many recent gun violence prevention policy discussions have assumed a direct causal connection between mental illness and violence. The research evidence suggests that violence has many interacting causes, and that mental illness alone very rarely causes violence.
Importantly, only a very small proportion of violence in the United States - about 4% - is attributable to mental illness.
According to the Consortium, only under very limited circumstances does a link exist between "individuals with serious mental illness" and violence:
Most people with serious mental illness - which includes conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - are never violent toward others, and are in fact more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence. However, research suggests that small subgroups of individuals with serious mental illness, at certain times, such as the period surrounding a psychiatric hospitalization or the first episode of psychosis, are at elevated risk of violence. In addition, the population with serious mental illness experiences high rates of co-occurring substance use, an important risk factor for violent behavior in the general population.
Out of the Consortium report grew the Gun Violence Restraining Order proposal, which would allow family members of a "person who is at an elevated risk of harm to self and/or others to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from that individual."
Speculation like Camerota's feeds into the misperception that people with mental health issues are inherently violent, a myth about which the public is already misinformed. This misunderstanding is often fueled by entertainment and news media that mostly portray such people as dangerous, leading to widespread stigma and discrimination.
Conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are fearmongering over a supposed "new" Obama administration regulation to limit the ability of convicted domestic abusers to buy firearms.
In reality, the regulation would simply implement a 1998 law and has been under consideration for the past 17 years, including during the entire eight years of George W. Bush's administration.
The conservative opposition campaign to what is in fact a long-standing proposal began with a flawed May 30 article in The Hill headlined, 'Administration preps new gun regulations," that claimed, "The Justice Department plans to move forward this year with more than a dozen new gun-related regulations, according to [a] list of rules the agency has proposed to enact before the end of the Obama administration." The article described the regulations listed in the Department of Justice's semi-annual Unified Agenda (a periodic list of proposed or recently completed rules) as "new," when in fact several of them date back to prior administrations.
Wall Street Journal editorial board member Jason Riley falsely claimed that the FBI misrepresented data on mass shootings to "help drive Democratic turnout" during the 2014 midterm elections. In fact, the report only contained data on "active shooter" situations, not mass shootings, and made that clear in the introduction, which stated, "This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings."
In a June 9 editorial headlined, "Obama's Gun-Control Misfire," Riley wrote, "Last September the Obama administration produced an FBI report that said mass shooting attacks and deaths were up sharply -- by an average annual rate of about 16% between 2000 and 2013."
But the 2014 FBI report, which focuses on 160 incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2013, literally says it is not about "mass shootings," but rather a different phenomenon known as an "active shooter" situation. From the report's introduction (emphasis added):
This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings, but rather a study of a specific type of shooting situation law enforcement and the public may face. Incidents identified in this study do not encompass all gun-related situations; therefore caution should be taken when using this information without placing it in context. Specifically, shootings that resulted from gang or drug violence--pervasive, long-tracked, criminal acts that could also affect the public--were not included in this study. In addition, other gun-related shootings were not included when those incidents appeared generally not to have put others in peril (e.g., the accidental discharge of a firearm in a school building or a person who chose to publicly commit suicide in a parking lot). The study does not encompass all mass killings or shootings in public places and therefore is limited in its scope. Nonetheless, it was undertaken to provide clarity and data of value to both law enforcement and citizens as they seek to stop these threats and save lives during active shooter incidents.
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," and found that such incidents occurred with increasing frequency over a 13-year period starting in 2000.
In his opinion piece, Riley used his inaccurate reading of the report to claim that the Obama administration hoped to use the report to help Democrats win in the 2014 midterm elections and to advance its own gun safety agenda:
The White House could not possibly have been more pleased with the media reaction to these findings, which were prominently featured by the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, the Washington Post and other major outlets. The FBI report landed six weeks before the midterm elections, and the administration was hoping that the gun-control issue would help drive Democratic turnout.
Following the high-profile mass shootings in 2012 at a cinema in Aurora, Colo., and an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., the White House pushed hard for more gun-control legislation. Congress, which at the time included a Democratic-controlled Senate, refused to act. This surprised no one, including an administration well aware that additional gun controls wouldn't pass muster with enough members of the president's own party, let alone Republicans.
But the administration also knew that the issue could potentially excite Democratic base voters in a year when the party was worried about turnout. Hence President Obama's vow in his 2014 State of the Union address "to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters, shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook."
To attack the report's credibility, Riley cited criticism of it from discredited gun researcher John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Lott has a history of manipulating statistics and making false claims about guns to advance his pro-gun agenda, and he is the author of the well-known but thoroughly debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis. Lott, who is not considered a credible source for information about mass shootings, recently claimed Fox News is partnering with him to "start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders." (According to an analysis of 62 mass shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones, no such cases exist.)
Riley's false accusations are the latest in a series of outlandish and baseless criticisms of the Obama administration and gun laws. In a 2014 appearance on Fox News, he said "The administration already has enough race baiters, starting with the president continuing to Eric Holder, his attorney general." In 2013, he said controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense laws "[benefit], disproportionately, poor blacks," even though research has shown that killings defended with such laws are much more likely to be found justified when a white person killed a black person, rather than the reverse.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott told his supporters that Fox News has agreed to pursue stories related to the Department of Justice's report on the Ferguson, MO police department and investigate reports of mass shootings supposedly stopped by people carrying legally concealed weapons.
In a June 9 letter posted on Facebook by National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, Lott revealed that he is "working with Fox News to obtain a copy of the data used by the Obama Department of Justice in evaluating the Ferguson police department" and that Fox News "has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders."
The letter was addressed to supporters of Lott's Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC). Nugent is a high-profile supporter of CPRC who has made inflammatory statements in his appeals for donations to the group.
In his letter, Lott suggests that he will act as a go-between Fox News and CPRC supporters with information about mass shootings that were supposedly stopped or prevented by someone legally carrying a concealed weapon (emphasis added):
The second accomplishment is something that you all can help with. Fox News has agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders (a partial list of cases is available here). If you ever see a defensive gun use story, especially one that might involve a permit holder stopping a mass killing, please email me the link to the news story as soon as possible.
Lott described the agreement with Fox News on mass shooting reports to his supporters by writing that "we won't get explicit credit," but that the venture "is still important."
From the June 9 edition of Fox News' The Five:
Loading the player reg...