Right-wing bloggers are promoting a proposed Wyoming law that aims to nullify new federal laws to prevent gun violence, but the Supreme Court has ruled that state nullification is unconstitutional and even conservative legal experts have agreed with this assessment.
Conservative media have reacted to pledges by Democrats to strengthen gun violence prevention laws after the massacre of 20 young children at Sandy Hook Elementary School by invoking Hitler and warning of revolution. Now several conservative media outlets are promoting a proposed Wyoming law that aims to nullify several possible federal gun violence protection measures.
State lawmakers in Wyoming have proposed a bill that aims to nullify any federal laws banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, or requiring firearms to be registered. The bill states that federal employees who attempt to enforce such laws can be imprisoned for up to five years. Major conservative blogs and news websites are promoting the law, cheering it as a move against "gun grabbers."
Fox Nation hyped the story with the headline: "Wyoming Tells Washington Gun Grabbers To Back The Hell Off."
The Drudge Report also highlighted the Wyoming legislation with the headline: "WY Lawmakers Propose 'Gun Protection' Legislation To Thwart Feds."
And Breitbart.com stated that "Wyoming threatens arrest for federal gun grabbers."
But the Supreme Court has rejected attempts by states to nullify federal law.
Two days after linking potential gun violence prevention measures to Adolf Hitler, the Drudge Report is highlighting a story reporting that Google searches for "Hitler gun control" have spiked.
On Wednesday, the Drudge Report used images of Hitler and Joseph Stalin to highlight a report that President Obama is considering executive action to strengthen gun laws. On Thursday, the Washington Examiner reported that "web users interest in the history of Hitler and gun control has spiked since Democrats began demanding more restrictions on high capacity magazines and semi-automatic weapons":
On Friday, Drudge linked to the Examiner story with the headline "GOOGLE searches for 'Hitler gun control' spike...":
NBC Sports is a leading sponsor of the nation's largest gun industry trade show, an event that also bills itself as a show of industry strength in the face of stronger guns laws. The network's sponsorship of the trade show, hosted next week in Las Vegas, comes six weeks after NBC Sports' Bob Costas drew controversy for criticizing what he termed the nation's dangerous "gun culture."
The event, the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), will occur during a fierce debate over strengthening gun laws in light of last month's tragic school shooting in Newtown, CT.
SHOT Show is billed as the "the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries" and "the world's premier exposition of combined firearms." But it is more than just a trade show; according to its organizer, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (the trade association for firearms manufacturers and dealers), "Any SHOT attendee will tell you the show is more than about selling and buying; it's a powerful display of industry unity and its resolve to meet any challenge affecting the right to make, sell and own firearms."
NBC Sports apparently supports that "display of industry unity" against stronger gun laws. SHOT Show's website lists NBC Sports as its "New Product Center Sponsor":
According to an October NSSF press release touting NBC Sports' return as a sponsor, the New Product Center" is "the showcase for innovative, new equipment being introduced to the hunting, shooting, outdoors and law enforcement markets."
From the January 10 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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From the January 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox figures used part of a 1995 speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to press the conservative narrative that the administration plans to launch an assault on gun owners and the Second Amendment. In fact, in that 1995 speech, Holder addressed efforts to teach young residents of the District of Columbia that it was "not hip to carry a gun anymore." At that time, Holder was serving as the District's U.S. Attorney and it was then illegal to own a handgun in the city.
On Thursday's edition of The Five, the co-hosts discussed a series of meetings Vice President Joe Biden is holding with gun owners' groups, including the National Rifle Association, as part of the White House's review of gun laws. During the discussion, co-host Andrea Tantaros introduced Holder's 1995 comments as "the reason why, I think, people are slightly nervous."
After playing video of Holder's speech, Tantaros said to co-host Eric Bolling, "He's saying that smoking used to be cool. But when was it ever cool to commit a crime or to shoot somebody?" Bolling responded by saying that Holder's speech was an example of the Obama administration "mentality" of "brainwash[ing] the people who don't agree with what our administration stands for."
Likewise on his radio show, Fox News host Sean Hannity cited Holder's speech as proof of the administration's "anti-gun" values, claiming that "they're now advocating brainwashing to get their way." He went on to accuse the administration of "forcible indoctrination" and "persuasion by propaganda," adding: "We have to deal with a liberated, more radical, the real Obama, ambitious Obama, and he meant it when he said he wanted to transform America. That's why we have got to save America."
From the January 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Regular Fox News guest Jay Sekulow repeated the false accusation that President Obama will issue illegal executive orders that violate Second Amendment rights, before admitting he doesn't actually know what the administration will propose.
On the January 10 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly thwarted Sekulow's attempt to recycle the right-wing claim that forthcoming gun violence prevention proposals resulting from Vice President Biden's recent efforts will infringe on Second Amendment rights. When Kelly asked him how he reconciled his allegation with the fact that the first President Bush installed a ban on imports of certain types of assault weapons by executive order, Sekulow tried to explain that although there are many constitutional strategies Obama could pursue, Obama will push the illegal one. Still, Sekulow admitted he has no proof to back up this claim. From the interview:
KELLY: Jay, let me start with you on this. The research that we've looked at suggests that he's got some leeway to curtail some gun rights by executive order if he so chooses. What say you on it?
SEKULOW: I don't think so.
SEKULOW: The Second Amendment rights have been pretty clear and I think the idea that you can utilize an executive order to implement restrictions on that right not through a legislative process, by just executive fiat, I don't think that's going to work constitutionally. So I think that would be a very difficult challenge. It's different if you have legislation passed by Congress that could somehow regulate this and then the White House would simply, you know, issue regulations off them. Here there's no regulation...
KELLY: Wait, wait, let me jump in, let me jump in. That may be the difference that we're talking about because I looked back. The research suggested that when George H. W. Bush was president back in 1989, he used executive order to ban the import of assault weapons using his powers under the Gun Control Act of 1968 that stipulated that legal rifles had to be suitable for sporting purposes. So he did it that way using this 1968 gun control act law. But, you know, it begs the question, could Barack Obama do the same thing?
SEKULOW: I don't think -- that law -- we don't know what the president wants to do yet, but assuming it's going to be significant restrictions and restraints, I don't think you can use that law from 1968 to implement an executive order that would do anything other than comply with existing law. I mean, when you talk about what President George H.W. Bush did, he did use the '68 law, but we don't know what the president is proposing yet. But you listened to Vice President Biden yesterday and a kind of foreboding experience. We're talking about the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution here. Look, if it's the First Amendment the president can't simply say I don't like that provision anymore, I'm going to get an executive order, saying, you know, freedom of press, not so helpful, I'm not going to use it.
Sekulow was right when he said the President can't "implement an executive order that would do anything other than comply with existing law." It is true: laws issued pursuant to other laws can't violate the law. However, the administration is not proposing any such action.
If an executive order to address gun violence is forthcoming, it will have ample precedent, as Kelly herself noted, and Sekulow later admitted. There are existing laws on the books that Obama could enforce -- the preferred form of "gun control" for the NRA and its allies -- that would satisfy Sekulow's rule of thumb that a President shouldn't "do anything" that violates existing law. From The New York Times' description of President Bush's executive action:
In the Presidential campaign last year Mr. Bush, a hunter and longtime member of the N.R.A., opposed to any bans on assault weapons. But a public outcry after a drifter armed with an AK-47 killed five schoolchildren in Stockton, Calif., in January helped convince others in the Administration that some limits were needed.
At the urging of William J. Bennett, the director of national drug control policy, the Administration suspended imports of certain types of semiautomatic assault rifles in March. The President expanded that temporary ban as part of a broader anticrime program that he announced in April, and said he would make it permanent for imported weapons that did not have a legitimate sporting use.
Sekulow's claim that executive orders in this area don't "work constitutionally" has no basis in law. District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment written by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, explicitly held that reasonable gun violence prevention strategies are constitutional.
Prior to Sekulow's confession that right-wing media is speculating, it was possible that Biden told right-wing media Obama was planning on issuing an executive order, completely untethered to current legislation, which would reinstate the ban on individual possession of handguns in Chicago homes that Heller struck down.
But as Sekulow confirmed in his America Live appearance, this hasn't happened.
Paul M. Barrett, a senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, cherry-picked polls on gun violence to suggest that the National Rifle Association will be able to block proposed gun violence prevention measures. According to Barrett, who authored a book about the rise of Glock as a popular firearm manufacturer, gun violence prevention proposals are unpopular with the public and the "NRA wins because it's popular with a broad swath of Americans."
Barrett's article is typical of a narrative in the media overemphasizing the NRA's clout. In the wake of the December 14 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, traditional media have suggested that the NRA will remove from office politicians who favor gun reforms; even though the NRA's massive spending during the 2012 elections was almost entirely ineffectual.
Contrary to Barrett's assertion about NRA popularity, a poll released yesterday found that a plurality of the public holds a negative view of the NRA. Furthermore, specific gun violence prevention proposals, such as making background checks on gun purchases mandatory, are supported by the vast majority of NRA members and the public at large.
From the January 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Following reports that President Obama was considering proposals to strengthen U.S. gun laws, right-wing media figures likened the Obama administration to Nazi Germany and compared Obama to dictators like Hitler and Stalin.
Fox News used part of a 2007 speech by President Obama to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy for considering the use of executive orders to reduce gun violence. The 2007 speech was actually focused on the Iraq war, and in it, Obama never mentioned executive orders.
On Thursday's Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott reported that Vice President Joe Biden said Obama plans to use executive orders to respond to gun violence. Scott then said, "A few years ago, back in 2007, an Illinois senator named Barack Obama had some complaints about the White House issuing executive orders."
After playing video of Obama's speech, Scott said to guest A.B. Stoddard, "So, I guess things change once you get into the Oval Office?"
But the topic of Obama's speech had nothing to do with guns -- it was a foreign policy address regarding the Iraq war -- and Obama didn't use it to criticize the use of executive orders. (Full context below the jump.)
Earlier this week, Fox News deceptively cropped a 2008 speech by Obama to falsely accuse him of being hypocritical for reportedly supporting an assault weapons ban.
Right-wing media outlets are feverishly spinning a remark by Vice President Joe Biden that the administration is considering executive action as well as other options for curbing gun violence in order to suggest that the Obama administration plans to gut the Second Amendment of the Constitution. Though Biden did not specify what executive action the administration is considering, the Justice Department has offered possible executive actions that could be taken, none of which involve restrictions on weapons that law-abiding Americans may purchase.
After meeting with gun violence prevention advocates on Wednesday, Biden -- who is leading a White House task force on gun violence prevention following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- said that the administration is "reaching out to all parties on whatever side of this debate you fall." He promised that "the president is going to act" and added: "There is executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet."
The right-wing media responded to Biden's comments by comparing President Obama to Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler and suggesting that Obama is planning to confiscate guns and gut the Second Amendment:
But these claims are baseless at best. Biden said the administration has not decided what executive action to take, but the Justice Department has reportedly considered executive action to ensure that more records of mental illness are included in the FBI's background check system, in addition to similar measures. The New York Times reported that the Justice Department "did not focus on new restrictions on the kinds of weapons that most law-abiding Americans may purchase."
Furthermore, there is ample precedent for presidents to take executive action for the purpose of gun violence prevention. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 and simultaneously signed an executive order, which regulated arms imports into the United States. President George H.W. Bush used his authority under the Gun Control Act of 1968 to permanently ban the import of 43 types of weapons, including versions of the AK-47 and the Uzi. President Clinton also took executive action to ban more than 50 types of assault weapons in 1998
From the January 8 edition of KFTK's Allman in the Morning:
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Washington Times columnist and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent claimed that gun owners will be the next Rosa Parks if President Obama issues an executive order confiscating guns.
While Vice President Joe Biden has suggested that the White House could take executive action on guns, no one in the administration has said that such action would involve gun confiscation. The administration has reportedly previously considered executive action to ensure that more records of mental illness were included in the FBI's background check system.
During an interview with conspiracy clearinghouse WorldNetDaily, Nugent predicted that if an "actual confiscatory directive" came from Obama, then "heroes of the law enforcement will defy this order." Nonetheless, he worried that there were "enough soulless sheep within our government who would act on such an illegal order" and predicted peaceful resistance from "law-abiding gun owners," who would "be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus":
"If it comes to the actual implementation of an actual confiscatory directive from our president, then I do believe that the heroes of the law enforcement will defy this order. I do believe that there are enough soulless sheep within our government who would act on such an illegal order but I believe the powers that be at the local, state, and regional law enforcement would halt such an illegal, anti-American order," said Nugent.
Nugent continued, "You are talking to a guy who talks to more gun owners in more heated and concerned conversations than anyone who lives. These are top notch heroes of law enforcement and military who understand this experiment in self-government and we will not let it [gun confiscation] happen, we will do it peaceful.
"But there will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed."