National Rifle Association (NRA) web series host Colion Noir cited the "theatrics" and the loud sound guns make as the reason people want to restrict firearms after a high-profile shooting occurs. Noir made the comment during an appearance on a conservative news show where he also defended his recent, controversial advice to the parents of two murdered Virginia journalists.
Noir, who has been helping the NRA's efforts to attract a younger audience to its media platforms, made headlines recently for warning the parents of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward to not "become so emotional" in response to their childrens' fatal shooting that they misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy." Parker's father, who has said he will make it his "mission in life" to pass stronger gun laws, called Noir's claim "insulting and disingenuous."
Noir discussed the Virginia shooting and his comments during a September 2 appearance with conservative radio host Dana Loesch on her show, Dana, which appears on Glenn Beck's network The Blaze.
After Loesch brought up an Indiana stabbing that occurred the same day of the August 26 shooting, Noir said, "What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, 'Oh my god these things are so dangerous.' With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show."
According to Noir, unlike knives, guns are treated as "the most dangerous thing in the world":
LOESCH: The same day that this Virginia story came out, Colin [sic], there was a story in Indianapolis where a guy car jacked a lady, stabbed her, ran over six people, it's almost -- it doesn't matter the tool, I mean you can't legislate away free will and evil.
NOIR: Yeah, absolutely. What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, "Oh my god these things are so dangerous." With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show. But when you have a gun it's like, "Oh my god here it is," -- look you see it, you hear it -- "Oh my god it's the most dangerous thing in the world." That's when the more irrational aspects of our mentality start to kick in and we're like "Oh we just got to get rid of the gun, we just got to get rid of the gun." Not realizing, no, the real actor is the person who is utilizing a gun. Because the same way that gun can kill is the same way it can defend.
There are a few obvious reasons guns are more dangerous than knives. Guns are used in 68 percent of murders while knives are used in only 12.2 percent. This is because guns are more effective at killing people. One-third of people who are shot die, compared to 7.7 percent of stabbing victims who do. Guns are also ubiquitous in episodes of mass violence. Of 279 mass killings documented by USA Today since 2006, 211 were committed with firearms, compared to 33 where a knife was used.
Colion Noir, a commentator and web series host for the National Rifle Association (NRA), addressed his widely criticized claim that the parents of slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward should not "become so emotional" in response to the fatal shooting of their children so as to misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy."
In an interview with Lynchburg, Virginia ABC affiliate station WSET, Noir said that as a gun rights activist he felt compelled to respond to Andy Parker, who said following the killing of his daughter that he would make it his "mission in life" to get stronger gun laws passed.
Noir told WSET, "Let's be very clear about something. The father has projected himself into this conversation, with much vigor. So I am addressing the idea and am hyper-focused on the firearm."
The NRA and Noir have been criticized in the wake of an August 30 video posted by Noir where he told the parents of Parker and Ward that "sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us." WSET reported that Noir's claims are "causing quite the controversy online."
The NRA often attacks calls for stronger gun calls by claiming such advocacy is based on emotion rather than logic, despite consensus among academic researchers on gun violence that stronger gun laws help reduce homicide.
More from WSET on Noir's "warning for the grieving parents of Parker and Ward":
On the other side of the conversation is NRA Commentator Colion Noir. "Turning this murder into a gun control dog and pony show minutes after the shooting, because you can't make sense of what just happened, is ridiculous" said Colion Noir on a Youtube video.
Noir uploaded this Youtube video on Sunday... with a warning for the grieving parents of Parker and Ward. "Sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and everything starts looking like the enemy, even if they are there to help us" said Noir.
The video has gotten more than 54-thousand views, but Noir says he almost opted out of making it. "From the NRA perspective, if they don't say anything they are considered cold and callous, if they say something immediately then they are considered capitalizing off of a tragedy" said Noir.
Noir expresses his condolences to the families of Ward and Parker in the video, but says as a gun rights advocate he felt the need to address Parker's comments. "Let's be very clear about something. The father has projected himself into this conversation, with much vigor. So I am addressing the idea and am hyper-focused on the firearm" said Noir.
The Parkers are already reaching out to leading gun control advocates including Astronaut Mark Kelly and Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Colion Noir, a commentator and web series host for the National Rifle Association (NRA), warned the parents of slain journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward against becoming "so emotional" in response to the fatal shooting of their children that they channel their "grief-inspired advocacy" to the wrong effect.
The NRA and other opponents of stronger gun laws consistently argue that calls for new gun laws in the wake of a shooting tragedy are based on emotion rather than logic. Just hours after his daughter was killed, Andy Parker announced on national television that he would make it his "mission in life" to get stronger gun laws passed.
Parker's mother, Barbara Parker, said during an interview on CNN, "We cannot be intimidated, we cannot be pushed aside, we cannot be told that this fight has been fought before and that we're just one more grieving family trying to do something."
On August 30, the NRA's Noir posted a video response to the shocking August 26 murder of Parker and Ward, which happened while they were filming a live news report. The two journalists worked for Roanoke, Virginia ABC affiliate station WDBJ and were killed by a disgruntled former co-worker.
Noir, who is the face of an NRA effort to influence a younger demographic, said in his video post that while he has "no right to tell any parent how to grieve for the loss of their child," "sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us":
NOIR: And to the parents of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, I have no right to tell any parent how to grieve for the loss of their child. Grief-inspired advocacy can be extremely effective and powerful and I say run full speed to find a way to end violence like this. However, sometimes in a fight we can become so emotional everyone and thing starts looking like the enemy, even if they're there to help us. I'm deeply sorry for your loss.
Noir wasn't as diplomatic throughout the rest of the video, saying at one point, "Turning this murder into a gun control dog-and-pony show minutes after the shooting because you can't make sense of what just happened is ridiculous."
He also claimed that Hillary Clinton, President Obama, "and the rest of the gun control Wu-Tang Clan are so full of it" because "they try to take advantage of people's ignorance about guns and their emotional response to horrible events to win votes and push an agenda that fosters an unhealthy dependence on the government..."
Claiming that arguments in favor of stronger gun laws rely solely on emotions is a major strategy the NRA employs to try and shut down the debate over gun laws every time a shooting captures national headlines.
In a June 2014, a post on the website of the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), claimed that gun safety groups "use grieving victims to invoke an emotional response and spread misinformation falsely claiming that enacting their agenda would have prevented these tragedies and will prevent future tragedies."
From the August 28 edition of Fox News' The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson:
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CBS Evening News allowed discredited gun researcher John Lott to attack the view that gun violence is a public health issue with the unsupported claim that murder rates have increased everywhere guns have been banned.
Lott is a well-known pro-gun advocate and frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence. He rose to prominence during the 1990s with the publication of his book, More Guns, Less Crime, although his conclusion that permissive gun laws reduce crime rates was later debunked by academics who found serious flaws in his research.
During an August 27 segment on CBS Evening News that discussed the shocking killing of two Virginia journalists, Lott said he did not believe gun violence was a public health issue and claimed, "Every country in the world, or place in the world, [that] has banned guns has seen an increase in murder rates, it's not just Washington, D.C. and Chicago."
Lott's claim is unsupported by the data. It's also a red herring; in the United States, sweeping gun bans were found to be unconstitutional in the 2008 Supreme Court decision, District of Columbia v. Heller, effectively making the proposition of banning all guns irrelevant in serious policy debates over gun laws, which are focused most strongly on strengthening the background check system for firearm sales.
Lott's claim about higher murder rates where gun sales are all but banned falls apart after examining one of the cities he cites, Washington D.C.
Lott is technically correct that the D.C. murder rate in 1976 -- the year a ban on private ownership or possession of handguns in nearly all circumstances went into effect -- was 26.8 people per 100,000 residents, and was 31.4 in 2008, the last year the ban was in place. But those two data points don't tell the whole story. For example, the murder rate in the last full year in which D.C. did not have a gun ban, 1975, was 32.8 -- higher than the murder rate when the ban ended
In fact, D.C.'s murder rate during the last year of the gun ban was lower than the murder rates in each of the five years before it was implemented (31.4 vs. 32.8, 38.3, 35.9, 32.8, and 37.1).
Homicide trends in D.C. also cast doubt on Lott's suggestion of a causal connection between the District's handgun ban and number of murders. Murders in D.C. peaked in 1991 -- a crack epidemic was raging at the time -- at 80.6 per 100,000 residents. During the last 17 years D.C.'s gun ban was in effect, the rate fell by more than half, suggesting that factors other than the ban were driving the murder rate.
Data from Australia also casts doubt on Lott's premise that more restrictions on firearms equal more murders. Following a series of mass shootings that culminated with the 1996 Fort Arthur massacre of 35 people, Australia enacted extremely restrictive gun laws that placed strong limits on firearm ownership -- especially for handguns and semi-automatic rifles -- and confiscated 650,000 privately owned guns.
After Australia implemented these laws, according The Washington Post, an academic study found that "the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides."
In a more general sense, an examination of research on guns and homicide by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found "case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide."
Although Lott is well-known to reporters and news producers, he should not be considered a credible source for information about gun violence. In addition to his flawed research, Lott has been embroiled in a number of ethics controversies, including his admission that he used the pseudonym "Mary Rosh" to defend his works from critics and praise his own research in online discussions. He has also faced allegations that he fabricated the results of a study on defensive gun use and has been caught attempting to surreptitiously revise his data after critics discovered errors.
The host of the National Rifle Association's radio show reacted to the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia by attacking "anti-gun politicians" and "anti-gun activists" for using the tragedy to call for stronger gun laws, claiming they "politicized" it and demonstrated "a lack of shared humanity."
But not only is the NRA hypocritical for saying gun policy debates should be off-limits after a shooting -- it has used mass shootings to call for looser gun laws -- it's also self-serving, because its political agenda benefits when potential new laws that it opposes are not debated and discussed.
The NRA's declaration that this is not the time to discuss gun policy also stands in stark contrast to comments made just hours after the shooting by the father of one of the victims, who said publicly that he will make it his life's work to convince politicians to close loopholes in gun laws.
During the morning of August 26, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, of Roanoke, Virginia's ABC affiliate station WDBJ, were gunned down while doing a live report from a recreation area. The shooter, who later that day committed suicide, was a disgruntled former co-worker. The tragedy quickly made national headlines and prompted calls for stronger gun laws and action by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife (D).
Later that same day during an afternoon broadcast, Cam Edwards, host of the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, lashed out at people who consider this latest incident of shocking public gun violence as more evidence the nation needs stronger gun laws.
Edwards complained, "Before we know any of the details, we are seeing anti-gun politicians, anti-gun activists trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage," and went on to characterize calls for new gun laws as "the wrong response to take here. I think it shows a lack of shared humanity."
He went on to lament, "It has been really disheartening to see in a matter of minutes how this story became politicized," and said, "This is a community that is absolutely heartbroken right now and you've got people who are trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage for them[selves]. I just think it's gross."
That reaction typifies the gun group's strategy whenever a shooting captures national headlines. Hiding behind expressions of concern for the victims of the attack, the NRA condemns anyone who sees the violence as a reason to change or reform laws and accuses them of "politicizing" a tragedy.
This argument is nonsensical. As Ezra Klein explained for The Washington Post following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, saying that it's not appropriate to talk about new gun laws "is a form of politicization":
When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid "politicizing" the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for "don't talk about reforming our gun control laws."
Let's be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It's just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
With statements that attempt to police what can and can't be said following a shooting, the NRA not only seeks to shut down debate that could lead to tougher gun laws, it also purports to speak for the victims and their family members.
But no one who has been personally affected by gun violence needs the NRA to speak for them. Certainly not Parker's father, who appeared on Fox News the night his daughter was shot and made an impassioned plea for gun reform.
Noting that he had spoken by phone with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Andy Parker said: "I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns," adding that McAullife told him, "I'm right there with you":
ANDY PARKER: And, you know, I'm not going to let this issue drop. We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns. And, you know, and the problem that you guys have is that -- and I know it's the news business and this is a big story. But next week it isn't going to be a story anymore and everybody is going to forget it. But you mark my words, my mission in life -- and I talked to the governor today. He called me and he said -- and I told him, I said, I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns. And he said, you go, I'm right there with you. So, you know, this is not the last you've heard of me. This is something that is Alison's legacy that I want to make happen.
Emily Miller, the chief investigative reporter for Washington, D.C.'s Fox affiliate, delivered a rare segment on gun policy for the station. Her report was appended with the disclosure from her employer that "she is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment."
Miller, who was previously one of the most prominent sources of conservative misinformation on gun violence, has largely been silent on the topic since February, following controversies related to her pro-gun advocacy.
The August 24 broadcast of Fox 5 News @ 10 and the August 25 broadcast of Fox 5 Morning News @ 5 both ran a Miller segment on Washington, D.C., police chief Cathy Lanier's recent discussion of a spike in gun violence in the city. Lanier said at a meeting of law enforcement professionals that officers are recovering more high-capacity ammunition magazines -- those that can hold 10 rounds of ammunition or more -- at crime scenes in D.C., including some incidents "where there are 40 to 50 rounds fired."
Miller's segment -- which included her questioning Lanier at a news conference -- sought to cast doubt on the claim that more high-capacity magazines are actually being recovered. Miller often submits adversarial reporting on Lanier for Fox 5. During Miller's previous stint as senior opinion editor for the conservative Washington Times, she frequently criticized Lanier with the claim that she is anti-gun.
Following both broadcasts of Miller's segment, one of the program's co-anchors said, "It should be noted that chief investigative reporter Emily Miller authored a book about the national political debate over gun control. She is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment."
The book referenced by Fox 5 is Emily Gets Her Gun: ... But Obama Wants To Take Yours, which was published in 2013 and advances conspiracy theories about a supposed desire by Obama to "disarm the populace" while pushing numerous falsehoods about gun violence.
Miller has not regularly reported on gun issues in D.C. since February, following controversy over her appearances at pro-gun rallies in Virginia and Maryland. During a January speech in front of an extremist gun group during a lobbying day at the Virginia State Capitol, Miller said that Washington D.C. "is not part of America, because they don't recognize the Second Amendment."
Miller's appearances at pro-gun rallies were criticized by journalism experts as a conflict of interest, given her coverage of gun issues in the D.C. metropolitan area.
Following the controversy, Fox 5 included a disclosure on one of Miller's reports that she "is a proponent for Second Amendment rights," but soon Miller left the gun beat entirely after a second controversy.
On February 25, The Washington Post's Erik Wemple reported that Miller had given different accounts of a 2010 "home invasion" in order to "squeeze the story for additional terror" in support of her pro-gun advocacy.
Miller's advocacy began with a series of blog posts for the Washington Times about her efforts to obtain a firearm license in Washington D.C. Miller explained that she wanted a gun in the wake of a "home invasion" in 2010.
Miller often told the story to pro-gun audiences, and in some instances described how she encountered a burglar inside of a residence she was housesitting and had to "talk him out of the house without" being harmed. Miller also had described being chased by more than a dozen of the burglar's accomplices after following him outside of the house.
But according to a series police documents obtained by Wemple, Miller told police that she encountered a suspicious man outside of the home, who gave her a business card for a tree service. Only hours later did Miller call the police after discovering that her credit card was missing from a wallet she had left inside of the house. Miller also made no mention of encountering more than a dozen of the suspected burglar's companions.
Fox 5's disclosure that Miller is "a strong advocate of the Second Amendment" is important given her long track record of spreading false information about gun violence, even while working as a reporter for the station.
During a May 19, 2014, segment on Fox 5, Miller reported on remarks about firearms given by Hillary Clinton during an appearance before the National Council for Behavioral Health. In her report, Miller claimed Clinton had "talked about hunting and fishing and all that stuff, now she is like, 'We need to pull back guns, nobody should have guns.'"
Clinton had actually said nothing of the sort. According to a video from the event, Clinton called for stronger gun laws but added, "I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own guns."
Breitbart News reacted to reports that two Virginia journalists were shot to death on-air by a disgruntled former co-worker by publishing an article with the headline, "RACE MURDER IN VIRGINIA: BLACK REPORTER SUSPECTED OF EXECUTING WHITE COLLEAGUES - ON LIVE TELEVISION!"
On August 26, two employees of Roanoke, Virginia CBS affiliate WDBJ were shot to death while reporting from Smith Mountain Lake, a public recreation area popular for boating and fishing. The gunman, who later shot himself but apparently survived, is reportedly a former employee of the affiliate.
Breitbart News reacted to the shooting with a race-baiting article authored by editor-at-large John Nolte. The piece was widely condemned by other members of the media, many of whom pointed out Breitbart News' lengthy history of racially charged reporting and commentary. The headline has since been changed.
*thinks to himself* i should definitely post my story about the scary BLACK murderer. pic.twitter.com/rvvRdqAmSe-- Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) August 26, 2015
at what point do we stop pretending breitbart is anything other than a white supremacist hate site? https://t.co/WfQEpUp6Ep-- Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) August 26, 2015
I'm too angry to be tweeting about these racist demagogues at Breitbart but I can't contain myself right now. pic.twitter.com/Jz3zTTr6HF-- Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 26, 2015
These are sick, hateful, twisted people who exploit our worst impulses, and they have real influence.-- Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) August 26, 2015
One of these things is something Breitbart dot com considers race-baiting. One is not. pic.twitter.com/lomZAdjbDm-- Elise Foley (@elisefoley) August 26, 2015
Weird, none of these Breitbart headlines about Dylann Roof have the word "white" in them pic.twitter.com/d6kgaJUOcF-- Elise Foley (@elisefoley) August 26, 2015
So, can all of us political folks stop pretending that Breitbart has any place in the mainstream discourse now? pic.twitter.com/fMimWU1agV-- Hunter Walker (@hunterw) August 26, 2015
A flack for the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA) used the Jim Crow-era term "poll tax" to describe a new Seattle ordinance that imposes a tax on the sale of guns and ammunition to fund research on gun violence, which the NRA has challenged in a lawsuit.
On August 10, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a new tax on firearm and ammunition sales. Beginning in January, firearms will be subject to a $25 tax, while most types of ammunition will be taxed at 5 cents per round. Seattle has embraced a research-based approach to preventing gun violence and already has a "hospital-based intervention program for gun violence victims." Revenue from the new tax will fund additional research. Seattle City Council data shows that in 2014, Seattle taxpayers paid $12 million to cover the direct medical costs of gunshot wounds.
During the August 21 broadcast of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) media liaison Lars Dalseide -- who has been attacking the tax in media interviews -- compared the measure to a "poll tax" that is "meant to punish a certain group."
Dalseide said, "Basically what this really is is a poll tax. It's something to stop people from doing something. I know traditionally here in the states a poll tax is tied to voting, but if you go worldwide, a poll tax is just meant to punish a certain group, and this is exactly what this is doing."
In the United States, poll taxes were voter registration fees aimed primarily at disenfranchising African-Americans that began during the 19th century following the ratification of the 15th Amendment. Poll taxes also disenfranchised poor people and women in some states. The practice was barred in federal elections by the 24th Amendment and state poll taxes have been found to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Outside of the United States, the term "poll tax" is synonymous with a "head tax" -- a fee imposed on certain immigrants depending on their country of origin that was most infamously levied against Chinese immigrants to Canada and New Zealand in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dalseide's inflammatory comparison ignores the fact that firearm sales are already taxed -- gun and ammunition sales have been subject to a federal excise tax for decades that is used to fund conservation programs.
The NRA -- which is joined in its lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and a gun industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- says the tax violates a Washington state law limiting the kinds of gun regulations localities can enact. The Seattle City Council contends that the new tax does not regulate firearms and falls within their taxation authority.
In an August 24 NRA-ILA press release, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane also referred to the tax as "nothing but a 'poll tax' on the Second Amendment..."
Fox News host Andrea Tantaros bizarrely used the thwarted terror attack on a train in France to criticize the "very strict" gun laws in that country, ignoring the fact that French laws had nothing to do with the suspect's attempted attack or the successful efforts by unarmed passengers to stop him.
On August 21, two American service members and several other passengers on a crowded, high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris confronted and overpowered a gunman as he allegedly prepared to open fire with an AK-47 assault weapon. According to French authorities, the passengers who stopped the suspected terrorist attack saved many lives with their actions.
During the August 24 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered, co-host Andrea Tantaros used the incident as an opportunity to criticize gun laws in France. Tantaros said, "The same problems that they have over there are major debates over here. So in France, gun control, very strict laws."
Tantaros' attempt to connect the train attack to France's gun laws makes no sense because nothing happened because of, or in spite, any law. While it's true that guns are more regulated in France than they are in the United States, no French law prevented unarmed passengers from subduing the alleged gunman. Furthermore, the suspect's weapons were reportedly smuggled on board at the train's point of origin, which was the Netherlands, not France.
The fact that the passengers who stopped the attack were unarmed directly contradicts the oft-heard talking point from right-wing media and the National Rifle Association that "the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun." In fact, according to an analysis of mass public shootings in the United States over a 30-year period, ordinary armed civilians have not stopped any public attacks but unarmed bystanders have.
For example, in the 2011 public shooting in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and grievously wounded then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), the gunman was overpowered by bystanders when he stopped to reload. (A bystander carrying a concealed gun later acknowledged that he almost mistakenly shot one of the people who disarmed the gunman.)
To bolster her argument, Fox's Tantaros also mischaracterized the thwarted attack last May on a Garland, Texas cartoon-drawing contest of the Prophet Mohammad. Tantaros said: "What happens when there are not Americans there to take down these terrorists? I mean the same thing happened in Texas, in Garland, Texas, it was citizens in Texas who took down what could have been two men who took out 300 people, they could have potentially taken down."
Tantaros' exploitation of the train attack to criticize France's gun laws was similar to how several Fox News figures used last January's attack on the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to criticize the country's gun laws. They ignored the fact that in the United States, where there are more privately-owned guns and much looser gun regulations than in France, there are many times more mass public shootings and the gun homicide race is more than 14 times higher.
The National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom attacks Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley on its first cover focused on the 2016 presidential race. The issue's feature article outlandishly accuses the former Maryland governor of offering "hope and change to convicted killers and criminals," but the organization's overheated rhetoric is based on unfounded attacks on O'Malley's record.
The September edition of the magazine features a cover characterizing O'Malley, who served as governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015, as a "menace" to the Second Amendment who has "made a mockery of Maryland's gun rights":
The NRA's feature attacks O'Malley on two fronts, claiming that he poses a threat to Second Amendment rights and accusing him of taking the side of criminals in Maryland -- even though courts have sided with O'Malley on gun laws and violent crime fell significantly during his tenure as governor.
Angered by O'Malley's strong support for a package of gun safety laws enacted in Maryland in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the NRA claims O'Malley "imposed the most draconian new gun bans anywhere in the country" before offering attacks from the top two members of NRA leadership.
NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is quoted in the article claiming O'Malley "has presided over some of the most spectacular, bloody and brutal failures of 'gun control' in our nation's history," while NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox suggests O'Malley becoming president could trigger "a fight for the survival of Second Amendment freedom as we know it."
The NRA also objects to O'Malley's response to the massacre of nine parishioners in a historically African-American Charleston, South Carolina, church in June, sneering that the former Maryland governor acted "decidedly un-presidential" when he wrote an email to supporters declaring he was "pissed" about inaction on gun violence while calling for bans on assault weapons and stronger background checks on gun sales.
Despite the gun group's suggestion O'Malley is jeopardizing the Second Amendment, as the article itself notes, the package of Maryland gun safety laws was upheld by a federal court.
Indeed, according to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, gun safety laws signed by O'Malley are "constitutional" because they "substantially serve the government's interest in protecting public safety ... without significantly burdening" Second Amendment rights. Furthermore gun safety laws like those signed by O'Malley, including handgun licensing and bans on assault weapons, are routinely upheld as consistent with the Second Amendment by courts.
The second prong of the NRA's attack characterizes O'Malley as weak on crime, arguing, "As governor of Maryland, O'Malley doubled down on some of the same failed crime policies that he had instituted in Baltimore."
Given this fact, the NRA stretches believability in its crime-related attacks on O'Malley. In one section the NRA nonsensically links O'Malley to a judicial decision that overturned convictions for several murderers (emphasis original): "Moreover, in 2013, a ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court resulted in convicted murderers being released from one end of 'The Free State' to the other, including more than a dozen killers in Baltimore alone. Nonetheless, Gov. O'Malley boasted in a State of the State Address that the Maryland prison population had fallen to the lowest point in decades under his leadership."
As the head of Maryland's executive branch, O'Malley of course had no control over Maryland's highest court, which is actually called the Court of Appeals, not the Maryland Supreme Court. In any case, the overturned convictions dealt with cases pre-dating 1980 -- when O'Malley would have been 17-years-old -- where judges had instructed juries in a manner that violated the defendant's right to a fair trial.
The NRA concludes its attack on O'Malley's record on crime by claiming that as governor he "was quick to offer hope and change to convicted killers and criminals" and that "he also did his best to take away the last, best hope of innocent, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from those criminals."
In one final unhinged attack that ties together claims about O'Malley on gun policy and crime, the NRA riffs on O'Malley's comments on "Black Lives Matter" to argue that "the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens":
In June, speaking to the United States Conference of Mayors' annual gathering in San Francisco--where the current mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was sworn in as president of the organization--O'Malley said, "One of the sad triumphs of white racism is the degree to which it has succeeded in subconsciously convincing so many of us, black and white, that somehow black lives don't matter."
In truth, the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens--no matter what their background.
Taylor Woolrich, who made national headlines in 2014 over her efforts to carry a gun on her college campus after being stalked, revealed that John Lott, a discredited gun researcher, was the actual author of an op-ed published at FoxNews.com under her name that portrayed her as an unconditional supporter of campus carry laws and was picked up by dozens of media outlets.
Woolich was interviewed for an August 13 Buzzfeed article that recounted how she was stalked for years by an older man - beginning when she was a teenager and continuing after she went to college 3,000 miles away - and how her story went viral after it became enmeshed with the gun lobby's efforts to allow students to carry firearms on college campuses.
In her interview with Buzzfeed, Woolich criticized Lott, alleging that he pressured her into allowing him to submit an op-ed he wrote -- "Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself" -- to FoxNews.com under her name.
Lott, a columnist for FoxNews.com, is one of the country's best-known pro-gun advocates and a frequent source of conservative misinformation about gun violence; his research linking permissive laws regarding the carrying of guns in public to lower crime rates has been debunked. He has also faced accusations of data manipulation and fabrication in order to advance a pro-gun agenda.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that her primary objective in telling her story publicly last year was to raise awareness about stalking, but that Lott's "first priority was his cause" of pro-gun advocacy, explaining, "He saw me as a really great asset" in that endeavor. She added that in the brief time she spent with Lott, "I was trying to be brave and just speak up. I didn't realize I was being turned into an NRA puppet."
Woolrich met Lott after agreeing to speak on a panel at an August 2014 conference held by Students for Concealed Carry, a group that advocates for colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns on campus, a practice that has been traditionally prohibited. According to Buzzfeed, Lott, who runs pro-gun group Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), helped fund the conference.
After learning Woolrich's story, Lott convinced her to co-author an op-ed with him for FoxNews.com about her experience, and Woolrich says she sent him details of what she had been through. Lott submitted a double-bylined piece to Fox News that included Woolrich's story, as well as his own well-worn talking points in favor of allowing concealed carry on campus. The network rejected it.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that the same day she spoke at the conference, she gave an interview to a reporter from the BBC, and when Lott learned about it, he became "extremely, inappropriately pushy" and "controlling."
By then, the media had caught wind of Woolrich's compelling story, and Fox News had changed its mind about running a piece. But it didn't want the original, co-authored op-ed -- only one written by Woolrich, with her thoughts, not Lott's. Woolrich told Buzzfeed that when Lott told her this, she responded that she didn't have time to write a new piece and he pressed her to let him write it for her. She said struggled with the decision before agreeing, thinking, "I don't know if I should just say yes and not piss him off." In return, she says, he used her as "an asset" for his agenda:
The piece incorporated elements of her talk at the conference, but otherwise it was the essentially the same article written by Lott, which is still online at the Daily Caller. "It's his op-ed," she says. "Word for word, except the chunks that match what's said in my speech." The references to Lott's disputed research? Not hers. The link to the Amazon sales page for his book? Not hers. The headline? "Dear Dartmouth, I am one of your students, I am being stalked, please let me carry a gun to protect myself."
"I think his first priority was his cause," she says. "He saw me as a really great asset."
It is unclear to what extent Fox News knew that the op-ed, which concludes with the line, "If schools and society can't guarantee my safety and the safety of victims like me, it's time we have the chance to defend ourselves so we can stop living in fear," was written by a male pro-gun advocate.
Although the piece carries an editor's note saying only that Lott "contributed to this article," according to emails viewed by Buzzfeed, Lott admitted to a Fox News editor, "It was actually easier for me to write this in the first person for her than the way I had originally written it." In a statement to Buzzfeed, Fox News Executive Vice President and Executive Editor John Moody said FoxNews.com "published what was characterized to us as a first person account of Ms. Woolrich's experiences."
Lott promoted the op-ed in a post on the website of his Crime Prevention Research Center under the headline, "Taylor Woolrich's op-ed at Fox News describes what it is like to be stalked, lots of other media coverage."
Accompanying the post, Lott wrote, "Taylor Woolrich has a very powerful op-ed at Fox News that starts this way," before offering an excerpt. The post noted that Woolrich's story was gaining national media coverage, listing dozens of outlets that had covered the story including Fox News, NBC, MSNBC, and BBC.
Woolrich told Buzzfeed that she "wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking." Her interaction with Lott, she said, left her feeling like "an NRA puppet":
"It's not like John Lott held a gun to my head and told me to talk to the media," Woolrich says. "I wanted to talk to the media, if it could mean something positive. But I wanted to talk to the media about stalking." In response to the flurry of interview requests, she changed her number and did not return Lott's or Riley's messages.
"I thought I was doing something good, and I thought it would be good for other girls," Woolrich says. "I was trying to be brave and just speak up. I didn't realize I was being turned into an NRA puppet."
Fox News' response to Buzzfeed on the op-ed controversy marks the second time in recent months that the conservative network has been forced to respond to something Lott has said or done. In June, Lott claimed in a CPRC fundraising letter that Fox News had "agreed to start systematically publishing news stories about mass public shootings that have been stopped by concealed handgun permit holders." (According to a survey of mass public shootings over a 30-year period by Mother Jones, this is not a phenomena that actually happens.) Fox News denied Lott's claim in a statement to The Washington Post's Erik Wemple.
This is also not the first time Lott has written from the perspective of a woman. In 2003, Lott was caught defending and promoting his own work online while writing under the name "Mary Rosh," who described herself as a former student of Lott's -- "the best professor I ever had" -- and wrote about how she needed a gun in case she had to defend herself from a larger male attacker.
According a 2003 Post exposé on Lott's use of the "Rosh" pseudonym, "In postings on Web sites in this country and abroad, Rosh has tirelessly defended Lott against his harshest critics. He is a meticulous researcher, she's repeatedly told those who say otherwise. He's not driven by the ideology of the left or the right. Rosh has even summoned memories of the classes she took from Lott a decade ago to illustrate Lott's probity and academic gifts."
After Lott was revealed to be "Rosh" by a blogger at the libertarian CATO Institute, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin wrote that the episode showed Lott's "extensive willingness to deceive to protect and promote his work."
CPRC published a post on its website, disputing Woolrich's characterization of her experience working with Lott and calling the BuzzFeed article a "hit piece."
The National Rifle Association's online magazine attacked an analysis of federal data that found that more than 200 hate crimes were committed with firearms between 2011 and 2013, writing that the number is not "enough to merit mention." The gun group also falsely claimed that the data in question "shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes." The NRA's stunning statements come less than two months after a white man shot to death nine African-American parishioners at a historically black church in South Carolina, in what authorities have classified as a racially-motivated attack.
An Aug. 12 article in the NRA's online magazine, America's 1st Freedom, headlined, "Gun Hating Justifies Race-Baiting," accuses The Trace of "twisting federal data to taint guns with the most radioactive subject in American politics: race" because it published an article that analyzed federal hate crime data to determine how many incidents involved guns.
Although only recently launched, The Trace -- an online venture that describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit media organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States" -- has quickly become a target for criticism by NRA-run media, which span online, print, and radio. (Though editorially independent, The Trace received part of its seed funding from Everytown for Gun Safety, whose founder, Michael Bloomberg, is perhaps the NRA's top adversary in the gun debate.)
In an Aug. 10 article, The Trace analyzed data from the FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and found that between 2011 and 2013, 207 hate crimes involving firearms were reported. As The Trace notes -- and even the NRA acknowledges -- only around one-third of police departments in the country report this type of data to the FBI. In addition to hate crimes that go unreported, this means that the total number of hate crimes committed with guns is very likely greater than the number of incidents in the NIBRS.
The Trace article, headlined "The Gun Doesn't Have To Go Off for it to Be a Hate Crime," cited several hate crime incidents, including June's mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina as well as an incident from the NIBRS where an African-American woman and her children were repeatedly threatened by a white man who waved a gun and yelled racial epithets at them. The Trace's analysis of FBI data found "79 [hate crime] incidents in which an anti-black bias was the known motive (more than twice as many as crimes driven by any other bias)."
The NRA took issue with The Trace's characterization of the FBI data, writing in America's 1st Freedom that the piece "took a stab at creating the impression of a nationwide hate-crime spree fueled by bigots waving firearms" and made an attempt at "smearing guns and gun owners with such a dingy film of racism."
The NRA article nonsensically countered that the FBI data actually "shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes" -- even though official reports from NIBRS include 207 such incidents between 2011 and 2013. From America's 1st Freedom:
Analysis; Data; Pattern. One can almost see the banks of lights flickering on The Trace's supercomputer. After all, it would take one to look at federal data that shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes, yet at the same time see an epidemic of bigots intimidating minorities just by waving guns around.
America's 1st Freedom also accused The Trace of "manipulat[ing] the numbers so self-servingly, any self-respecting database would be ashamed to be cited by them," apparently because The Trace broke down data in several categories, including charts showing the races of victims and perpetrators and a graphic showing which type of bias is most common in reported hate crimes.
Although the NRA article initially denied the incidence of hate crimes with guns at all, it later acknowledged that these crimes do occur, but argued that they do not happen often enough to merit attention.
In response to The Trace's observation that incidents in which a gun is used to threaten violence in a racially-charged situation are not "often talked about in America," the NRA responded: "It's not talked about because, by your own 'research,' it's not freaking happening often enough to merit mention. Your own research finds that only 2.6 percent of hate crime involves firearms."
That's more than 200 gun-abetted hate crimes that the NRA doesn't think is enough to warrant a discussion.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent sided with Donald Trump in the candidate's recent feud with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, calling Trump "a good guy" and saying he turns on Kelly's show "just to look at her" and often does so naked, while loading his gun.
In the wake of Fox News' Aug. 6 Republican presidential debate, Trump and the network engaged in a short-lived feud that began when Kelly, one of the debate's three moderators, asked Trump to address his history of derogatory and sexist comments about women, including calling them "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals."
After the debate, Trump ignited controversy by saying of Kelly: "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her -- wherever," a remark many took as a reference to menstruation. The ensuing dust-up between Trump and Kelly's employer, Fox News, ended days later following a phone call between Trump and network president Roger Ailes.
During an Aug. 12 appearance on WIBX's Keeler in the Morning, Nugent defended Trump, whom he says is his favorite presidential candidate, by making crude comments about Kellyand suggesting she may be becoming "stupid."
Nugent said, "I'm a big fan of Donald Trump because I believe in bold, aggressive, unapologetic truth. Period. And I'm not a fan of Megyn Kelly, although I often turn on Fox just to look at her. Sometimes when I'm loading my [gun ammunition] magazines, I like to just look at her. And I usually sit naked on the couch dropping hot brass on my stuff."
Nugent then criticized Kelly for asking Trump about his history of sexist comments, stating, "I'm afraid the gorgeous, stunning, otherwise professional and tuned-in Megyn Kelly absolutely fell of the cliff of political correctness when she proposed that obnoxious, meaningless, nonsensical, biased question for Donald Trump."
Nugent continued: "Megyn Kelly absolutely broke all of our hearts as only a Megyn Kelly could when she went into the status quo world. She isn't status quo, but she started acting, and sounding, and looking like one, and I don't believe she is. I think she is playing some games, either that or she's getting bad advice, either that or she's just getting stupid. Either way, Donald Trump is the good guy, currently Megyn Kelly ain't."
Like Trump, Nugent has a history of misogynist commentary. He has called Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch" and a "toxic cunt," and labeled other women "worthless whore," "fat pig," and "dirty whore."
During his appearance on WIBX, Nugent called model and actress Charlotte McKinney a "fine-ass, greasy-ass bitch" in the context of a discussion about fast food chain Carl Jr.'s 2015 Super Bowl commercial, which featured McKinney and Nugent's music.
National Rifle Association past president and Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer promoted the NRA's plan to force Florida colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns by claiming that opponents of the measure are "engaged in a war on women," given the epidemic of campus sexual assault.
The NRA has increasingly co-opted the issue of sexual assault on college campuses to push legislation that would allow guns on campus, even though no evidence exists that more guns would make campuses safer for women. In fact, research has repeatedly indicated that where there are more guns, women are more likely to be murdered, often by an intimate partner.
During an Aug. 10 appearance on the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, Hammer touted the re-filing of a proposed law in Florida to allow guns on campus that died in committee in the last legislative session. Florida's next legislative session begins in January.
Hammer, a paid NRA lobbyist and past president of the NRA who also heads NRA affiliate group Unified Sportsmen of Florida, was one of the chief architects of the nation's first Stand Your Ground law, which was signed into law in 2005 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
On Cam & Company, Hammer claimed that "a gun-free-zone campus" is "a sanctuary where criminals can rape and commit mass murder without fear of resistance," adding, "Not only are opponents of this bill engaging in a war against the Second Amendment and self-defense, they are engaging in a war against women who need to be able to defend themselves against rape and physical violence on a college campus."
Hammer also attacked the League of Women Voters of Florida, a prominent opponent of the NRA's legislation, saying the group is part of an "anti-women, anti-self-defense movement."
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the League of Women Voters of Florida is hosting a "Gun Safety Summit" on Aug. 13 with the goal of "uniting with students, professors, administrators and the national organization, Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus" to oppose the bill in 2016 .
Hammer ended her appearance on Cam & Company by lashing out at higher-ed administrators and educators who oppose "campus carry" laws, saying, "The message should be very clear that college administrators and liberal anti-gun professors who oppose self-defense on campus are turning a blind eye to rape and violent crime."
All available evidence, however, indicates that guns are not an antidote to the epidemic of campus sexual assault and that the presence of firearms actually increases danger for women.
In fact, according to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report "being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college" compared to students who did not carry guns. A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health suggested that students who kept firearms on campus did not help make the school grounds safer, finding that they were more likely to engage in risky or illegal behaviors.
There is also no evidence that women rely on guns to defend themselves from sexual assaults. David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, studied 10 years of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and found that out of 1,100 victims who reported experiencing sexual assault, just one used a firearm in self-defense.
On the contrary, research has repeatedly indicated that the presence of firearms increases danger for women, because most male attackers target someone they know. Although the NRA is framing "campus carry" legislation as a women's issue, the legislation would apply to women and men, who are much more likely to carry guns. And where men have more guns, more women die in domestic violence incidents.
According to a fact sheet issued by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "A study of risk factors for violent death of women in the home found that women living in homes with 1 or more guns were more than 3 times more likely to be killed in their homes. The same study concluded that women killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative were 7 times more likely to live in homes with 1 or more guns."
Research from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that in states where more guns are owned, women are more likely to die violent deaths from unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides. The Atlantic reported that this is true "even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates."
Despite all evidence indicating that guns on campus are not the solution to campus sexual assault, the NRA has increasingly cited sexual assault in its campaign to arm college students nationwide. The host of Cam & Company, Cam Edwards, has argued that people who oppose guns on campus legislation are "OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented."
Edwards has also attacked the argument that women should not have to carry guns to defend themselves, saying that the burden is on the victim to stop the attack. According to Edwards, "It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."