AWR Hawkins

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  • Conservative Media Invert Study's Conclusion To Argue Against Stronger Gun Laws

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Several conservative media outlets cited a recent study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine to conclude that gun laws do not effectively deter criminals from obtaining firearms, even though the study actually found that gun laws in Chicago make it harder for criminals to acquire firearms by increasing opportunity costs. The study's authors are now speaking out against media misrepresentations of their work.

  • Donald Trump Revives Conservative Media's False Claim Bill Clinton Banned Guns On Military Bases

    FACT: Clinton Was Not President In 1992

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media's false claim that Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases is back in the news after being repeated by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

    Following the mass shooting at Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard facility in 2013, conservative media sought to pin blame on President Clinton by seizing on a March 1993 Army regulation that they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under George H.W. Bush that became "effective immediately" in February of that year. (The Bush directive actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances and military experts have said more permissive gun carrying rules are a bad idea.)

    Although this falsehood led to the National Rifle Association's news show issuing a rare correction, it's been given new life after being repeated by Trump and subsequently trumpeted by the right-wing media echo chamber.

    In a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump was asked (emphasis original), "Would you have a problem allowing our military bases to set their own polices with regard to personal weapons and do away with the 'Gun Free Zones' death trap?"

    In his response, Trump said, "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases" (emphasis and brackets original):

    Donald Trump:

    "[gun free zones] No, not optional. As Commander-in-Chief, I would mandate that soldiers remain armed and on alert at our military bases.

    President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases. America's Armed Forces will be armed.

    They will be able to defend themselves against terrorists. Our brave soldiers should not be at risk because of policy created by civilian leadership. Political correctness has no place in this debate."

    Trump's false claim about Clinton was then repeated in conservative media. The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard reported,"Pistol-packing GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump ripped a policy implemented by former President Bill Clinton making military bases 'gun free zones,' declaring that as president bases would no longer be defenseless against terror attacks."

    The comment was also promoted by Breitbart.com's AWR Hawkins, the conservative writer who made the claim on the NRA's news show following the Navy Yard shooting, leading to their correction.

    The NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, praised Trump's vow that he would change military base policies in a July 14 post that excised Trump's false claim about Clinton.

    This is not the first time that Trump has campaigned on falsehoods invented by conservative media. During a July CNN appearance, Trump falsely claimed that there are 34 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, a vastly overstated and false figure that had previously circulated in conservative media.

  • Conservative Media Argue Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Creates Constitutional Right To Carry A Gun In Public

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media used the Supreme Court decision affirming that marriage is a fundamental right of all Americans to argue that the Constitution also requires states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. But the Supreme Court has never held that carrying a gun in public is a fundamental right.

    On June 26, the Supreme Court issued a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment requires that states issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

    Conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly seized on the decision to draw a parallel with concealed carry reciprocity, a top federal legislative priority of the NRA. Reciprocity legislation, also known as federally mandated concealed carry, would force states to recognize permits to carry concealed guns issued by other states, regardless of what the issuing state's standards are for issuing permits.

    Reciprocity legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, but conservative media and the NRA view Obergefell as an opportunity to argue that the Constitution extends at least some right to reciprocal permit recognition regardless of whether Congress acts. The problem with that argument, however, is that the 2008 landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller limited the scope of the Second Amendment right to gun possession to people's homes.

    Despite this, on the June 26 broadcast of the NRA's news show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards made the argument that the marriage ruling "might present an additional argument to make at the legal level for extending reciprocity nationwide," remarking, "Since we're talking about licenses, a lot of gun owners are wondering, ok, does this, could this have an impact on the debate for instance over right-to-carry reciprocity?"

  • Misleading Breitbart.com Campaign Baselessly Links Country Star Tim McGraw With Gun Confiscation

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Breitbart.com is engaging in a campaign to attack musician Tim McGraw over his planned performance at a gun safety fundraiser by repeatedly connecting him to baseless fearmongering over "legalized firearm confiscation."

    On April 13, McGraw and gun safety group Sandy Hook Promise announced a July 17 concert in Hartford, Connecticut, to benefit Sandy Hook Promise's "mission of protecting children from gun violence." According to a statement on McGraw's website, "This cause is close to Tim's heart, as it is to the fiddle player in his touring band, Dean Brown, a longtime friend to Mark Barden, a musician and father of a child, who was killed in the 2012 tragedy" at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Sandy Hook Promise, which was founded by family members of victims of the December 2012 mass shooting that claimed 26 lives in Newtown, Connecticut, describes itself as "a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible non-policy and policy solutions that protect children and prevent gun violence."

    Following the announcement, conservative media moved to attack McGraw. In the ensuing controversy, opening act Billy Currington canceled his appearance at the fundraiser. McGraw released a statement defending his involvement in the event that noted that as a gun owner he "believe[s] that with gun ownership comes the responsibility of education and safety -- most certainly when it relates to what we value most, our children. I can't imagine anyone who disagrees with that."

    Breitbart.com author AWR Hawkins has led efforts to attack McGraw for his scheduled appearance and has published at least three articles that falsely connect McGraw with gun confiscation.

  • Breitbart.com: Gabby Giffords Is A "Human Shield"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Breitbart.com's AWR Hawkins labeled prominent gun safety advocate Gabby Giffords a "human shield" for the gun safety movement. In January 2011, Giffords, then a member of Congress, was wounded during mass shooting at a constituent event in Tucson, Arizona, that left six dead and 13 injured by gunfire.

    Hawkins' latest attack on Giffords follows his controversial March 4 article that criticized Giffords for advocating for background checks on gun sales because the gunman that shot her passed a background check to obtain his weapon. Giffords is the founder of gun safety group Americans for Responsible Solutions which advocates for background checks and measures to reduce illegal firearms trafficking.

    Hawkins' March 4 article received widespread attention and condemnation after the National Rifle Association sent a Tweet with the article's headline: "Gabby Giffords: Everyone Should Have to Pass Background Check My Attacker Passed." Hawkins is a frequent guest on NRA News.

  • Guns Make Domestic Violence Deadlier

    Conservative Media Attack Gun Safety Proposals That Keep Women Safe

    Blog ››› ››› HANNAH GROCH-BEGLEY

    When guns are involved in domestic violence, women die.

    This simple fact was the basis for a tweet from Everytown for Gun Safety, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg's new gun violence prevention group, which noted that the presence of a gun makes it five times "more likely that domestic violence will turn into murder." Everytown has stated that they want to help prevent these deaths by closing "the loopholes that make it easy for domestic abusers to get guns without a background check." While federal law prohibits a convicted domestic abuser or individual subject to a permanent restraining order from owning a gun, abusers subject to temporary restraining orders can still buy firearms in many states, and abusers can avoid background checks by purchasing their firearms through private sales. 

    But conservative media ignored these facts to falsely claim Everytown wanted to "disarm women," not their abusers, and argued women would be safer if they had increased access to guns to use as self-defense. Breitbart.com's AWR Hawkins wrote that Everytown was putting victims in danger because "the gun may be the only thing that gives the victim of abuse a fighting chance of survival." Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich told NRA News that the gun safety group was playing on the fears of "ignorant, emotional women." And former Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller claimed on Fox that all of Everytown's gun safety efforts were merely an effort "to lure in women voters," arguing that because gun murders are down, it was somehow impossible that domestic murder could be a significant problem facing women.

    But the data shows that Everytown is right. Having a gun in the house doesn't make women safer -- in fact, studies have shown that domestic violence involving guns is significantly more likely to result in women dying.

  • Stealing Kennedy: Conservatives Try To Hijack The JFK Legacy

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    As the nation mourns the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, conservative media figures have attempted to appropriate his legacy and attribute to the beloved former president their conservative ideas and positions. This effort runs counter to Kennedy's stated positions, speeches, and other historical facts surrounding his presidency.