Media conservatives fearmongering: Obama will "take away your gun"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

Since President Obama's election, several conservative media figures have warned their audiences that Obama is planning to, in the words of Glenn Beck, "slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun" or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely.

On the April 6 edition of his radio show, discussing Richard Poplawski, who allegedly fatally shot three Pittsburgh police officers, Fox News host Glenn Beck stated, "Before they found out about the dog-peeing story, the press, the blogs, everybody immediately went to, 'This guy's a conservative with guns that says Obama's coming.' " Indeed, in an April 5 article, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Poplawski was "convinced the nation was secretly controlled by a cabal that would eradicate freedom of speech, take away his guns and use the military to enslave the citizenry." Later on his radio show, Beck said that Obama "will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun. He will make them more expensive; he'll tax them out of existence. He will because he has said he would. He will tax your gun or take your gun away one way or another." Beck is not alone -- since Obama's election, several conservative media figures have similarly warned that Obama would seize their guns or have suggested that a government effort to ban guns is likely.

Examples of conservative media figures advancing this claim include:

  • On the November 7, 2008, broadcast of his nationally syndicated show, conservative radio host Lars Larson said of Obama: "I'm worried that when he starts naming people to the court, when that -- when that happens, and it's likely to during his administration, we're going to end up with justices who think they can break free of the constraints of the Constitution -- perhaps on the Second Amendment, one of my favorites." Larson later read a letter from a listener stating, "Lars, I've always said that if the gun-grabbers come to my front door and demand my guns due to some unconstitutional law being passed by the loony lefties in Washington, D.C., I'll have no choice but to hand them over. However, they will receive all of my ammunition first, all of it, just as fast as I can possibly give it to them."
  • On December 4, 2008, after a caller stated that "gun manufacturers" would be able to raise prices during the economic crisis, Milwaukee radio host Mark Belling responded, "Well, OK. You're right about that. Everybody's buying guns before Obama comes in and outlaws them all."
  • On the February 11 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, conservative columnist Ann Coulter said, "[B]y the way, the NRA also has information on how they [the Obama administration] are going to be expanding the concept of national parks to include, you know, highways running from Rhode Island to Virginia. National parks have gun bans imposed throughout." She then stated of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "This bill is so much worse than earmarks and pork. This is a total government takeover, and Big Brother coming in and taking our guns and schools and doctors." Host Sean Hannity responded, in part: "All right. Let me -- Pat, let's -- lest those out there on the left think Ann Coulter is paranoid -- let's look at this. We've got the Democrats now want to politicize the census by moving it into Rahm -- Rahmbo [White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel], deadfish -- Emanuel's hands."
  • On the April 7 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show, host Mike Gallagher discussed an exchange between the Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb and MSNBC anchor David Shuster on the April 6 edition of Hardball. Gallagher stated, "Now listen to the way Gottlieb does a great job in explaining logically why people are worried about what the Obama administration wants to do with our guns," then aired a clip in which Shuster asked Gottlieb, "Do you believe that the Obama administration and the Feds are coming to take away everybody's guns?" Gottlieb replied, "I believe that's what they would like to do. I don't think we're going to let them get away with it." Gallagher later stated, "[L]isten to the way Gottlieb leaves the liberal columnist stuttering and stammering, explaining very eloquently why so many of us are worried and scurrying to buy guns right now." He then aired a clip from the same Hardball segment in which New York Times columnist Charles Blow asked Gottlieb, "And we should confront that fear with guns?" and Gottlieb responded in part: "[I]f you think the government might take your rights away from you, you want to try and exercise them before that happens. It's a normal reaction."

Gallagher went on to propose "a national movement to register as many people as we can ... to become gun owners." He elaborated: "We're going to set up a website, we're going to get listener participation on this, we're going to register and create as many gun owners -- new, first-time gun owners as possible. I don't even want to set a number. I'm number one -- I'll be the first one." He later added, "We're going to start a movement on The Mike Gallagher Show and register as many people as possible to become legitimate, lawful, law-abiding gun owners for the first time. We'll set up a site, we'll have you sign on, we'll figure out a way to verify it, just so we can, you know, confirm the number, and get as many people as possible to register and become first-time gun owners."

  • As Media Matters for America documented, on the November 13, 2008, edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, G. Gordon Liddy repeatedly advised people not to register their firearms. While talking to a caller about assault weapons, Liddy said: "[P]eople are buying them. Some because they've always wanted one and think that the Obama administration will try to outlaw them again, the way the Clinton administration did. Others figure, 'OK, I'll buy as many as I can get my hands on, and I'll be grandfathered in. And then when they're banned, I will be able to sell them at a very nice profit.' So, that's going on. But the main thing is, you know, get them into private hands as quickly as possible." Liddy continued: "The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms. Because that's where they get the list of where to go first to confiscate. So, you don't ever register a firearm, anywhere." Liddy's statements came after the caller said: "And I'm also very concerned about the firearm owners in this country. I think we need a bit of general advice from you as to what we can do as a group with our firearms. Do we need to buy up all the Cosmoline in the country and bury our weapons? And I'm -- I'm curious as to -- as to what advice you have for us. I mean, we know what's gonna happen. We know that they can't get their fingers on the brass ring until they've disarmed us."

From the November 7, 2008, broadcast of Westwood One's The Lars Larson Show:

LARSON: The president-elect has been quoted before saying it was a tragedy when the U.S. Supreme Court couldn't find a way to break free of the constraints of the Constitution. I'm worried that when he starts naming people to the court, when that -- when that happens, and it's likely to during his administration, we're going to end up with justices who think they can break free of the constraints of the Constitution -- perhaps on the Second Amendment, one of my favorites.

[...]

LARSON: Phil writes in: "Lars, I've always said that if the gun-grabbers come to my front door and demand my guns due to some unconstitutional law being passed by the loony lefties in Washington, D.C., I'll have no choice but to hand them over. However, they will receive all of my ammunition first, all of it, just as fast as I can possibly give it to them."

From the November 13, 2008, broadcast of Radio America's The G. Gordon Liddy Show:

CALLER: Good morning, sir.

LIDDY: Good morning, Jim.

CALLER: I'm honored. I -- I didn't hear the music, but I did note some dead air. Now, that's not a host problem, but an engineer's responsibility, is it not?

LIDDY: Well --

CALLER: Anyway, knowing how important your time is, I apologize. And also knowing the evils of Marxism, liberalism, fill in the blank, I am really concerned about the newest version of the brownshirts. And I'm concerned that, you know, almost immediately, that -- that new little group will be formed. And I'm also very concerned about the firearm owners in this country. I think we need a bit of general advice from you as to what we can do as a group with our firearms.

Do we need to buy up all the Cosmoline in the country and bury our weapons? And I'm -- I'm curious as to -- as to what advice you have for us. I mean, we know what's gonna happen. We know that they can't get their fingers on the brass ring until they've disarmed us. I don't know -- you know, health care is a concern, but it's not my primary concern, and I think that --

LIDDY: Well, health care, as I warned before, and as [former House Majority Leader] Dick Armey [R-TX] -- who's also, you know, a Dallas, Texas, guy --

CALLER: He's a good man.

LIDDY: Yes, a brilliant man. He said, look, it's coming in the guise of health care, but that's not really what it's all about.

CALLER: Certainly.

LIDDY: What it's all about is acquiring dominion over the individual.

CALLER: Absolutely.

LIDDY: Well --

CALLER: How do they -- how do they obtain any kind of dominion over an armed populace? I mean, it has to be their number one concern.

LIDDY: Yeah, I would think so. And Barack Obama, by his voting record, has demonstrated that he is, you know, totally anti-gun.

CALLER: Oh, certainly.

LIDDY: Now you say what to do. Well, the first thing people are doing -- the stories were in the news yesterday, and there's more stories today, about how the gun stores are being stripped by everybody going in and buying firearms.

CALLER: Yes.

LIDDY: And they're -- they're particularly buying handguns and semiautomatic shoulder weapons that look like --

CALLER: Yes, like the M1A, and --

LIDDY: Yeah. They -- they look like --

CALLER: Oh yeah, the black gun.

LIDDY: Yes, assault weapons, but they're not. An assault -- an assault weapon, by definition, is capable of fully automatic fire. These are not.

CALLER: Yes, sir.

LIDDY: But -- but people are buying them. Some because they've always wanted one and think that the Obama administration will try to outlaw them again, the way the Clinton administration did. Others figure, "OK, I'll buy as many as I can get my hands on, and I'll be grandfathered in. And then when they're banned, I will be able to sell them at a very nice profit." So, that's going on. But the main thing is, you know, get them into private hands as quickly as possible. Now, what do you do? The first thing you do is, no matter what law they pass, do not -- repeat, not -- ever register any of your firearms.

CALLER: Yes, sir.

LIDDY: Because that's where they get the list of where to go first to confiscate. So, you don't ever register a firearm, anywhere.

CALLER: Well, on the same hand, you know, if we're -- if we're apprehended with a nonregistered firearm, we're -- you know, we're under the jailhouse there, too.

LIDDY: Well, that's -- that's true, but what -- what's gonna happen is, if you register your firearms, you're handing them a list --

CALLER: Certainly.

LIDDY: -- of where to go to confiscate the firearms. So don't do it.

CALLER: I think that's why we fear them.

LIDDY: That's right.

CALLER: Because we have so many registered firearms. Out of, probably a dozen or more firearms that I have, I believe I have one 1911 that's not registered, that I procured at, you know, at a gun show many, many years ago. I have an M1A that was purchased for me, much like you, by my lovely spouse. And I'm considering another M1A purchase, only the -- the new SOCOM, the -- the carbine version. Now, where am I gonna find one of those, and -- and have the ability to purchase without registering it, you know?

LIDDY: Well, the -- the purchase data will certainly show that you have it. But what I'm speaking of is any firearms you may have that they pass some law saying, you know, bring in your firearms and register them.

CALLER: Oh, certainly, yes. I understand now.

LIDDY: That's what I'm referring to.

CALLER: OK.

LIDDY: That's what I'm referring to. And then -- and then, as to --

CALLER: I'm sure -- I'm sure you made that clear. It just went right over my head.

LIDDY: OK. Well, at any rate, then, depending upon the intensity of the repression by the government, the way they're, you know, seeking firearms and so forth, then I would say, yes, with respect to Cosmoline and, you know, proper wrapping and storage, and then putting them where they will not be findable by metal detectors and things of that sort. I'll leave that up to your imagination, and because it differs from location to location, but that would be the thing to do.

From the December 4, 2008, broadcast of WISN's The Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show:

CALLER: Hi, Mark, thanks for taking my call. I think that we're headed towards a severe depression. I mean, all this money that they're pumping in is just going to add fuel to the fire. You can't solve the problem of inflation with more inflation.

BELLING: We don't have inflation right now, though.

CALLER: Well, it's coming.

BELLING: If anything we've got deflation.

CALLER: Well, that's the first --

BELLING: Who do you know that is able to raise their prices right now?

CALLER: I would say gun manufacturers would be a good choice.

BELLING: Well, OK. You're right about that.

CALLER: Well, I think it's just --

BELLING: Everybody's buying guns before Obama comes in and outlaws them all. You're right. Gun manufacturers are raising prices. That's a good one. Name another one.

From the February 11 broadcast of ABC Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show:

COULTER: I note that the Democratic president and his wife so love and respect public schooling that they are sending their children to private schools. The doctors stuff is shocking, and by the way, the NRA also has information on how they are going to be expanding the concept of national parks to include, you know, highways running from Rhode Island to Virginia. National parks have gun bans imposed throughout. This bill is so much worse than earmarks and pork. This is a total government takeover, and Big Brother coming in and taking our guns and schools and doctors.

HANNITY: All right. Let me -- Pat, let's -- lest those out there on the left think Ann Coulter is paranoid -- let's look at this. We've got the Democrats now want to politicize the census by moving it into Rahm -- Rahmbo, deadfish -- Emanuel's hands. [Sen. Debbie] Stabenow [D-MI] and [Sen.] Tom Harkin [D-IA] now openly talking about instituting the Fairness Doctrine. They're backdooring health care in this bill vis a vis expanding the SCHIP program and more. They're giving money to the states, which means they're going to control the state governments as best they can, on top of the increase in educational funding. Is there any other aspect of our lives that they're not going to control? Isn't this one big, huge, massive socialist power grab, as Ann describes?

From the April 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: The very next day, in Pittsburgh, another nut job takes his guns, his weapons, and he just starts shooting police officers. Not too long after, before they found out that it was over an argument with his mother because a dog peed in his house. Before they found out about the dog-peeing story, the press, the blogs, everybody immediately went to, "This guy's a conservative with guns that says Obama's coming." Noel Sheppard, he's the associate editor of NewsBusters. He's been following this.

Noel, how long did it -- wait, what happened to Noel? Did we lose Noel? Noel, are you there? Noel, are you there? OK, we lost Noel, let's call him back. It didn't take long before they immediately started jumping on the bandwagon that it was -- this guy was a conservative, and his outrage, the reason why he was shooting, was because of me.

Now, I haven't followed this part of the story because quite honestly, you know, I know this stuff -- this is coming. It's insane, but anything -- I've warned you for months -- anything that they can do to discredit, they will. That's why I've said, you must know what you know. Do not allow me or anyone else to be your voice. You be your voice. You know what you know. Learn as much as history as you possibly can. Prepare for a time where there will be no national voice that you can turn to.

[...]

BECK: I have a gun I will never, ever fire. In fact, I have two guns I will never, ever fire. Does that make me crazy, because I have these two guns?

STU BURGUIERE (Glenn Beck Program executive producer): It's sort of a silly sidebar here, but, I mean, yes, it might have something to do with motivation if you're a collector --

BECK: Yes.

BURGUIERE -- and you have 5,000 guns, then obviously that's different than having 5,000 guns that -- to shoot police officers as they come in your front door.

BECK: Exactly right. An arsenal is somebody who is planning on using them, you know, in some sort of militia movement.

SHEPPARD: But I think one of the -- but I think one of the other aspects here is: Under the current administration with a Democrat-controlled Congress, knowing what Obama's positions were, as a senator and also as an Illinois senator, is it an irrational fear of any gun owner at this point --

BECK: No.

SHEPPARD: -- to think that gun -- to think that gun laws are going to be changed?

BECK: No.

SHEPPARD: The answer is no. That is actually a rational fear.

BECK: It's not irrational at all. They have said it.

SHEPPARD: It's actually a rational fear. Yeah.

BECK: They have said it. Why can't we take people at their word? They have said it.

SHEPPARD: Right.

BECK: OK, look, if the president wanted to calm people down -- but there's no reason to in the first place because what we're talking about is a crazy man on Saturday.

SHEPPARD: Right.

BECK: But if he wanted to calm anybody who had any fears he would have said, "This is such a tragedy. And let me reassure: The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment, and I will not infringe on those rights in any way, shape, or form." But he won't say that because he can't say that. Because he will slowly but surely take away your gun or take away your ability to shoot a gun, carry a gun. He will make them more expensive; he'll tax them out of existence. He will because he has said he would. He will tax your gun or take your gun away one way or another.

From the April 7 edition of Salem Radio Network's The Mike Gallagher Show:

GALLAGHER: Continuing here on The Mike Gallagher Show -- I'm glad you're along for the ride, you gotta hear this audio, it's extraordinary. Last night on MSNBC's Hardball, liberal David Shuster, the host, teaming up with liberal writer Charles Blow, who wrote a column trying to blame the shooting deaths of three Pittsburgh police officers on conservatives on the airwaves and bloggers. So listen to this -- listen to how Shuster gets right to it, when he's talking to The New York Times columnist Charles Blow.

SHUSTER [audio clip]: Richard Poplawski killed three police officers in Pittsburgh a couple days ago, because he thought President Obama was -- and others and the Feds were coming to take his guns away. And I guess my question is --

GALLAGHER: By the way, no proof of that at all. That's just been speculated in the media, and it's all anecdotal. Who knows? But this guy -- I mean, even I as a radio host often will say carefully "allegedly," "it's been suggested" -- for David Shuster -- he killed three cops because he thought Obama was coming to take his guns. That's it. In his world, that's -- now that's what passes for responsibility on MSNBC? You got to be kidding me.

[begin audio clip]

SHUSTER: -- Charles, to you, who's responsible for that? Is it this deranged guy? Or how much of a factor is the stuff that's out there in the right-wing megaphone contributing to this -- the -- this thought process of these people?

BLOW: Right. I don't know what's happening in his case yet. And I -- and he will go to trial. We will find out more about his case. But I think that what's happening in that echo chamber is very dangerous, because it only takes a couple of people -- or one person -- to do something that -- with a gun that is very irresponsible, that leads to something like this. And I feel like, if you are going to let these people ramble on, and if they feel like that's a responsible way to use the platform that they have, then that's very unfortunate.

[end audio clip]

GALLAGHER: Unfortunate. The echo -- let's listen to what he called it.

BLOW [audio clip]: What's happening in that echo chamber is very dangerous.

GALLAGHER: What's happening -- what's dangerous? People are talking and worried and concerned, and want to defend this country and defend themselves? With guns?

BLOW [audio clip]: What's happening in that echo chamber is very dangerous.

GALLAGHER: Now listen to Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation. He did a great job by the way. I was cheering for him in my living room last night, because he defended the position of defending the Second Amendment brilliantly. In a very hostile environment by the way -- you've got the host who's against him as well as the other guest.

[begin audio clip]

GOTTLIEB: Well, let's put it this way. It pales in significance compared to the vitriol aimed at President Bush by Obama and his supporters. But, if you look at the recent Pew research poll show showing --

SHUSTER: Alan, name one supporter --

GOTTLIEB: Wait. If you look at the recent Pew research poll put out on polarization, Barack Obama is the most polarizing president that we have had in over four decades.

SHUSTER: And whose fault is that? Whose fault is that, Alan?

GOTTLIEB: I think it's Barack Obama's fault. It's his rhetoric and his supporters.

[end audio clip]

GALLAGHER: Listen to Shuster cackling. He can't -- "Obama's fault? It's gotta be the conservatives' fault for him being polarizing." Now listen to the way Gottlieb does a great job in explaining logically why people are worried about what the Obama administration wants to do with our guns.

[begin audio clip]

SHUSTER: Alan, let's start with you. Do you believe that the Obama administration and the Feds are coming to take away everybody's guns?

GOTTLIEB: I believe that's what they would like to do. I don't think we're going to let them get away with it. But, if you look at Obama's record back from when he was a state senator --

SHUSTER: No, but -- but, to be honest, do you believe that that's what they're planning? Do you believe that they are planning to come and take everybody's guns away?

GOTTLIEB: Well, let's put it this way. Attorney General Eric Holder has already made an announcement that he would like to do it. Hillary Clinton has talked about it.

SHUSTER: Where did he make the announcement? Where did he say he's coming to take your guns away?

GOTTLIEB: He would like to put back in a ban on so-called assault weapons, or what we call sport-utility rifles and shotguns.

SHUSTER: Right. But that's very different from taking everybody's guns away, which is the kind of stuff Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and others have said. And the reason I ask this --

GOTTLIEB: Well, hold on a second.

SHUSTER: No, this is serious.

GOTTLIEB: Hold on a second.

SHUSTER: The reason I ask this is --

GOTTLIEB: He also filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court saying people didn't have the right to keep and bear arms in the Washington, D.C., case, when the court struck down the gun ban there. So, there's no doubt they support gun bans.

[end audio clip]

GALLAGHER: What's the matter -- what's the matter, David Shuster? Cat got your tongue? And listen to the way Gottlieb leaves the liberal columnist stuttering and stammering, explaining very eloquently why so many of us are worried and scurrying to buy guns right now.

[begin audio clip]

GOTTLIEB: People have legitimate reasons to be fearing the government right now. It's nationalizing industries.

BLOW: What are they, Alan?

GOTTLIEB: It's nationalizing industries. It's going -- it's trying to control people's health care. It's infringing on gun rights in lots of different ways, with executive orders and things the administration is doing behind the scenes. Believe me, there's a lot of fear out there, and it's being propagated by the administration.

BLOW: Right, and that's --

GOTTLIEB: All they have to do is say we're not going to do these things, and life would be fine.

BLOW: And we should confront that fear with guns? And we should confront that fear with guns?

GOTTLIEB: No, I'm not saying confront that fear with guns, but that doesn't mean you can't own one. And if you think the government might take your rights away from you, you want to try and exercise them before that happens. It's a normal reaction. Everybody does it, left or right. In fact, a lot of the people buying guns, first-time gun owners, happen to be liberal Democrats.

BLOW: OK, a lot of people buying guns are also not liberal Democrats. Across the spectrum people are buying guns.

[end audio clip]

GALLAGHER: I mean, he's just reduced to a quivering mass of Jell-O, this liberal columnist Charles Blow. He doesn't even know what to say. You know what? I've just gotten inspiration. See, liberals hate the idea of an armed citizenry. They just hate the concept, they despise it -- it terrifies them.

You know what? I have been promising for the last six months that I want to get a gun. I mean, it's no question -- there's no mystery that my wife, Denise, when she was alive, she abhorred the idea. We fought about it -- we actually had some pretty bad arguments, because I really felt as her guardian and as my family's protector, I want to have a gun. She died last June. It's time I get a gun, and do what I know to be right.

Well, you know what? I don't want to do it alone. I just realized something. You know what would be a perfect exercise for our show, which this week Talkers magazine announced is now the -- is it -- are we the fifth or sixth most listened to radio show in America. We reach a lot of people -- North, South, East, West. You know what we need to do on The Mike Gallagher Show? We need to get a national movement to register as many people as we can, who like me, have not been gun owners, to become gun owners.

I -- we're gonna do -- and I, you know, I have one of those moments. Once and awhile I get these inspirational moments, where I just know it's going to come together. We're going to set up a website, we're going to get listener participation on this, we're going to register and create as many gun owners -- new, first-time gun owners as possible. I don't even want to set a number. I'm number one -- I'll be the first one.

Eric Hansen on my staff says he's going to do it -- he loves the idea. We're going to start a movement on The Mike Gallagher Show and register as many people as possible to become legitimate, lawful, law-abiding gun owners for the first time. We'll set up a site, we'll have you sign on, we'll figure out a way to verify it, just so we can, you know, confirm the number, and get as many people as possible to register and become first-time gun owners.

And by the way, don't even bother to try and call and say it's a bad idea, because I think this is one of the best ideas I've had in a lot of years. So get ready for it, brace yourself, because we're going to do it.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.