Conservative media are attacking Cosmopolitan magazine for working in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety to run a feature highlighting the dating issues surrounding gun ownership and domestic violence. Conservative media attacked the feature, comparing it to anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda and labeling it a "war on men with guns" while saying Cosmo wants its readers to be "slutty and defenseless." Several conservative media critics expressed skepticism that Cosmo was capable of publishing serious reporting.
National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent participated in a softball interview to attack his critics as "mentally challenged" and "the devil" following outrage over his promotion of an anti-Semitic image.
On February 8, Nugent posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page alleging that Jews were behind a conspiracy to enact gun regulations. After being condemned by civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League, Nugent doubled down by posting more inflammatory content, including an image of Jews being rounded up by Nazis alongside his comment "Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me."
In the ensuing controversy, Nugent has been condemned by diverse voices including civil rights groups, Jewish organizations, and both gun safety groups and pro-gun organizations and writers. Several organizations called on the NRA to remove Nugent from its board of directors. (Nugent was praised by white nationalists, and his support for Ted Cruz is still displayed prominently on the GOP contender's website.)
In a February 11 interview with an unnamed questioner, available only on his Facebook page, Nugent suggested that his critics are "mentally challenged" and said, "To attack me one would have to not only play devil's advocate, one would actually be the devil's advocate or more probably the devil itself." To deny charges of anti-Semitism, Nugent stated, "I admire and love my good Jewish friends even more than usual because of their valiant dedication to 'Never Again!'"
The unnamed interviewer fawned over Nugent and provided him cover, describing the Israeli flags that were used to label Jewish American politicians in Nugent's anti-Semitic image as "proud."
Instead of asking actual questions, the interviewer instead served up friendly prompts to Nugent such as, "You aren't anti-semitic. For certain," and "You support the state of Israel."
Below the interview, Nugent posted a link to a press release issued by a fringe gun group called The Zelman Partisans, a more hardline spin-off of the far-right gun group Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO).
The press release, which excused Nugent's use of the anti-Semitic image and played on the same anti-Semitic tropes espoused by Nugent, suggested that The Zelman Partisans would accept Nugent's conduct if he joined the group.
According to the press release, "Nugent is correct that Jewish individuals play an outsized role in U.S. anti-gun leadership. (Aaron Zelman, in his inimitable style, called them 'bagel brains.')" The Zelman Partisans still chided Nugent for his image but made him an "offer" that he could prove he is "really pro-Jewish" by joining the organization.
The Zelman Partisans is an offshoot of JPFO, which was founded by Aaron Zelman. (JPFO, whose website claims that many Jews who support guns safety efforts are "professional victims," released an alert condemning Nugent but then deleted it from their website.)
The organization, formed after Zelman passed away in 2010, explains,"We will not let Aaron's philosophy -- the philosophy to which we are all also committed -- be watered down, betrayed, or 'disappeared.'"
The group's website contains far-right pro-gun material and sells a shooting target that allows target shooters to take aim at quotes from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), other gun safety proponents, and Hitler.
The most extreme pro-gun organizations are condemning National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent after he posted an anti-Semitic graphic to his Facebook page alleging a Jewish conspiracy to enact gun regulations. The leaders of these groups have their own histories of extremism, including instances of anti-Semitism, misappropriating the Holocaust to make points about the modern gun debate, and using violent rhetoric -- and even they think Nugent has gone too far.
Ted Cruz's presidential campaign is still touting praise from National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, even as Nugent is embroiled in an anti-Semitism controversy.
Nugent has been condemned by civil rights groups, Jewish organizations, and both gun safety groups and pro-gun advocates -- several of which are calling for Nugent to be ousted from the NRA's board -- but Cruz's campaign is still touting the claim that Cruz is Nugent's "favorite" candidate:
Cruz's campaign links to a September 2015 Buzzfeed article, which quotes Nugent asserting during a radio interview that Cruz would "make a wonderful president."
While Nugent has said that he will not endorse a Republican candidate during the primary race, he has effusively praised both Cruz and GOP front-runner Donald Trump.
During a January 20 interview with Newsmax TV, Nugent said, "Donald Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you are going to get in politics," but also said, "Now my dream would be if Ted Cruz became president tonight."
Nugent's Facebook post -- which promoted the anti-Semitic claim that efforts for stronger gun laws are the result of a Jewish conspiracy -- received praise in white nationalist circles, but was roundly condemned by a diverse group of organizations and individuals:
White nationalists, including a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, praised National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent for posting an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page, claiming Nugent had "the courage" to tell "the truth," lauding the fact that Nugent "appears to have doubled-down" on his anti-Semitism, and celebrating that a large audience was exposed to anti-Semitism by Nugent.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent responded to backlash over his posting of an anti-Semitic image on Facebook by calling Jewish people who support gun safety laws "nazis in disguise."
On February 8, Nugent shared an image on Facebook headlined, "So who is really behind gun control?" with Israeli flags next to the faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates. Some of the pictures featured descriptions such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg" and the accusation that deceased former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) "Gave Russian Jew immigrants your tax money":
Nugent was criticized in the media for his post and condemned by civil rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which described Nugent's image as "conspiratorial anti-Semitism." He was also denounced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper stating, "Ted Nugent has every right to advocate against gun control laws. However he won't be getting a free pass for his anti-Semitic bigotry."
Nugent responded to backlash with a subsequent Facebook post where he asked "What sort of racist prejudiced POS could possibly not know that Jews for guncontrol are nazis in disguise?" Responding to the charge that he is an anti-Semite, Nugent wrote, "Meanwhile I adjust my yamika at my barmitzva playing my kosher guitar":
Nugent made another inflammatory Facebook post on February 8, suggesting that America is on the path to a genocide similar to the Holocaust. His post included an image of Jews being rounded up by Nazis with his comment, "Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me."
Nugent, who has a lengthy history of invoking Nazis and the Holocaust to demonize his critics, was previously condemned by the ADL for comparing Jewish filmmaker Harvey Weinstein to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. The ADL has also condemned the NRA several times in recent years after its leadership figures misappropriated the Holocaust to try to make political points about the gun debate.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent suggested that America is on the path to a genocide similar to the Holocaust by posting an image on Facebook of Jews being rounded up by Nazis and commenting, "Soulless sheep to slaughter. Not me."
Nugent's post came just hours after he was condemned by the civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for posting an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page.
Nugent's latest image depicts the rounding up of Jews in Nazi Germany and is accompanied by the text, "Back when I learned about the Holocaust in school, I remember thinking, 'How did Hitler get MILLIONS of people to follow along blindly and NOT fight back?' Then I realized I am watching my fellow Americans take the same path":
Earlier on February 8, Nugent shared an image headlined, "So who is really behind gun control?" with Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates. Some of the pictures feature descriptions such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg." Nugent captioned the image, "Know these punks. They hate freedom, they hate good over evil, they would deny us the basic human right to self defense & to KEEP & BEAR ARMS while many of them have tax paid hired ARMED security! Know them well. Tell every1 you know how evil they are. Let us raise maximum hell to shut them down."
ADL responded by calling for Nugent to remove the image with organization CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt characterizing Nugent's post as "conspiratorial anti-Semitism."
Nugent, who has a lengthy history of invoking the Holocaust to demonize his critics, was previously condemned by the ADL for comparing Jewish filmmaker Harvey Weinstein to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent shared a graphic suggesting that Jews are "really behind" gun-safety laws. The image was previously posted on Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website.
In a February 8 post on his Facebook page, Nugent shared an image headlined, "So who is really behind gun control?" with Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates. Some of the pictures feature descriptions such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg." Nugent captioned the image, "Know these punks. They hate freedom, they hate good over evil, they would deny us the basic human right to self defense & to KEEP & BEAR ARMS while many of them have tax paid hired ARMED security! Know them well. Tell every1 you know how evil they are. Let us raise maximum hell to shut them down":
A similar image was used by a commenter on the white supremacist website Stormfront in 2014:
Nugent has claimed those shot in mass shootings are "losers amongst us ... [who] fall for the big lie of political correctness, and get cut down by murderous maniacs like blind sheep to slaughter."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent used the outcome of the Iowa caucuses to call Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a "lying America destroying criminal ass bitch."
Nugent's attack on Clinton comes weeks after he said that Clinton and President Obama should be hanged for treason.
In a February 2 post on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote:
Nugent has called Clinton a "worthless bitch," "toxic cunt," "two-bit whore," and claimed she has "spare scrotums."
A video released by conservative commentator Steven Crowder that dishonestly suggested that it is not possible to buy a firearm at a gun show without a background check was touted by the National Rifle Association and conservative media despite its false conclusion.
In 32 states, laws regarding background checks for gun sales have not been expanded beyond federal law, meaning that it is possible to engage in a "private sale" to buy a firearm at a gun show -- or other venues including over the internet and through newspaper classified ads -- without a background check.
Under current federal law, individuals who are "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and run background checks on customers, while so-called "private sellers" who say they only engage in "occasional sales" do not have to run a background check. This discrepancy is what is known as the "gun show loophole" or "private sales loophole." Recent executive actions announced by President Obama seek to limit the scope of this loophole by clarifying that high-volume commercial gun sellers do need to obtain a license.
On January 28, Glenn Beck's The Blaze released a video of Crowder's "undercover stunt" purporting to determine whether the "gun show loophole" exists. At the end of the video, Crowder concluded that the "gun show loophole" is "nonexistent."
The video, which was broken into two parts, featured Crowder approaching various firearm vendors at gun shows where he tries and then fails to purchase a firearm without a background check.
In the first section, Crowder unsuccessfully attempted to buy fully automatic machine guns without a background check. But rules surrounding the sale of automatic weapons have nothing to do with the "gun show loophole." Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), people who wish to own fully automatic weapons must obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that includes undergoing a background check. (People were, however, exploiting a loophole in the NFA that allowed the background check requirement to be avoided by purchasing weapons through a trust. The ATF is currently finalizing a rule to close that loophole.)
The real issue covered by the "gun show loophole" is the purchase of semi-automatic and other firearms from private sellers at gun shows without a background check, an occurrence Crowder purported to debunk in the second part of his video.
In his video, Crowder is seen approaching gun vendors at a gun show in Crown Point, Indiana. Debunking Crowder's premise is reporting that indicates "private sales" without a background check have been allowed at that gun show.
Crowder is seen engaging in bizarre interactions with vendors that result in him not being able to purchase a firearm without a background check. In one interaction, Crowder tells a vendor that he has DUI conviction because he ran over a pregnant woman with his car and that he previously shot someone.
One of two things is occurring when Crowder fails to buy a gun from the vendors he approaches. Either his overtly strange behavior is raising red flags with vendors, or he is simply approaching licensed dealers (not "private sellers") who are required to perform background checks on customers.
Some of the scenes were not even filmed at a gun show. In at least two scenes, Crowder is seen attempting to buy a gun without a background check from a brick and mortar gun store, and then expressing exasperation when they refuse to complete the sale. At one of the stores, Crowder is seen filling out the paperwork for a background check, but fails to complete it after he draws a penis on the form.
According to actual undercover investigations of gun shows, many private sellers are willing to sell a gun to someone who discloses in a more subtle manner that they probably cannot pass a background check.
Despite the absurdity of Crowder's video, it was widely cited throughout conservative media in order to attack the notion of the "gun show loophole." The video was also promoted by the National Rifle Association:
Crowder's stunt is not original. In May 2014, Media Research Center released a video attempting to make the same claim. Unlike Crowder's video, MRC's video was not released in an undercover format, but it used the same tactic of approaching licensed dealers to create the misleading impression it is not possible to buy a gun without a background check at a gun show.
Leading up to last night's mainstage GOP debate, Fox News noted that "gun control" was "the most searched issue last month" and that Americans "want to hear about gun control." But during the debate, the moderators failed to ask any questions about gun policy.
Fox News and Google sponsored a January 28 Republican primary debate featuring Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). According to a Washington Post transcript, the issue of gun policy was only mentioned in passing when moderator Chris Wallace asked Rubio about his accusation that Christie is a flip-flopper.
In failing to ask a gun policy question, Fox News moderators missed an opportunity to ask the Republican field about why they oppose background checks for all gun sales even when the measure is overwhelmingly popular with Republicans.
Due to its partnership with Google, Fox News was aware that Americans wanted to hear a question about gun policy. In a January 28 segment on Fox News program Happening Now about "what issues are most important" to voters, Fox News anchor Shannon Bream noted that according to Google Trends data, people "want to hear about gun control."
During Fox's January 28 undercard debate for candidates that failed to qualify for the main debate, moderator Martha MacCallum noted "according to Google, gun control is the most searched issue last month, making up nearly 80 percent of all the U.S. searches," before asking a question about how much funding the federal government should spend on building new mental health institutions. (Conservative media frequently overly conflate gun policy with mental health policy, even though the vast majority of people with a mental health condition are not violent.)
Jim Wallace, the head of the National Rifle Association's Massachusetts affiliate organization, compared a local ordinance that requires people who want to carry a gun in public to show a good reason for doing so to an unconstitutional poll tax.
On the January 27 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Wallace, who is the executive director of Gun Owners Action League, criticized a new ordinance in Lowell, Massachusetts, that requires applicants for an unrestricted gun license -- the license typically needed to carry a concealed gun in public in that state -- to explain in writing why the license should be granted. The ordinance also requires seekers of the unrestricted licenses to take additional gun training and pay additional fees.
Wallace said of the ordinance, "I suppose it's balanced and reasonable to somebody who doesn't want you to exercise your civil right. I mean the people who initiated the original poll tax probably thought that was very reasonable as well":
Unlike poll taxes, which were used to discriminate against African Americans and others and violate the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement discretion for issuing concealed carry permits has been upheld as consistent with the Second Amendment by federal appeals courts.
Like other conservative media outlets covering the Lowell ordinance, Fox News described the written requirement for the license as an "essay" requirement, creating the false impression that it is unusual.
In fact, a written requirement, sometimes called a "good cause statement," is a common feature of states that have what are known as "may issue" concealed carry permitting systems that generally give local law enforcement discretion in determining who is allowed to carry a gun in public.
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Massachusetts is one of nine states with "may issue" licensing schemes. Another 17 states give local law enforcement "limited discretion" in awarding permits.
Several U.S. Courts of Appeals have rejected recent legal challenges to different states' discretionary permitting systems, in some cases reversing lower federal district court decisions. In 2013, New Jersey's "justifiable need" requirement for a concealed carry permit was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The Supreme Court let that decision stand, declining to hear an appeal of the case in 2014. (The Supreme Court has also declined to hear similar cases out of New York and Maryland.)
The NRA frequently compares the conditions placed on firearm ownership to unconstitutional racial discrimination, and draws parallels with Jim Crow laws and the segregation-era "separate but equal" doctrine. The vast majority of laws regulating firearms, however, are found by courts to comport with the Second Amendment.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called for President Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to be hanged over their supposed malfeasance during the 2012 Benghazi, Libya terrorist attacks.
In a January 20 post published on his Facebook page, Nugent wrote that Clinton and Obama "should be tried for treason & hung" while pushing the conservative media myth that Obama or Clinton issued a "stand down" order during the September 11, 2012, attack:
An Associated Press profile of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's history of firearm ownership and views on firearm regulation failed to mention that Cruz is closely associated with Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that was once linked to white supremacists and whose leader has repeatedly said pro-gun safety politicians should fear being shot.
The Associated Press chronicled Cruz's history with guns in a January 19 article that noted "Cruz has made the defense of Second Amendment rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaign," but also raised questions about his bona fides as an anti-gun regulation absolutist, characterizing a legal brief filed by Cruz in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case as "nuanced" because it accepted that prohibitions on felons owning firearms, and some other restrictions on gun ownership, are constitutional.
(The AP article glossed over Cruz's record in the Senate, failing to mention that he has repeatedly credited himself as the driving force behind defeating overwhelmingly popular legislation in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks on gun sales following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.)
The article also noted that the first written reference to Cruz owning a gun occurred in 2003 and that Cruz's first hunting license on record was issued in 2006, suggesting that Cruz's "passion for the issue emerged relatively recently in his life, coinciding with his ascent in Republican circles in Texas."
The article devoted a great deal of space to establishing whether Cruz is or is not a devoted hunter, garnering comments from a campaign spokeswoman, but failed to mention Cruz's relationship with GOA, only noting support from the National Rifle Association on his campaign website. Cruz has significant ties to GOA, a gun rights group that is widely considered to be to the right of even the NRA, and which has called for the abolishment of all background checks on gun sales.
During a May 2015 GOA "Tele-Town Hall" event, Cruz -- the only Republican presidential candidate to participate -- said GOA was "critical" to his election as a U.S.Senator and said "one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels." GOA in turn endorsed Cruz in September 2015 in a statement filled with conspiratorial and anti-immigrant undertones. Cruz has touted GOA during GOP debates, stating that he is "honored" to be endorsed by the group.
It is hard to overstate the extremism of GOA head Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter, has claimed the Second Amendment was "designed" for people like President Obama, has supported putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and has warned the federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically."
Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories that suggest the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government to build support for more gun regulation, and has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war.
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported he "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a "contributing editor" to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist "tabloid" published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.
The New York Times editorial board called for stronger state and federal gun laws after highlighting "shortcomings" that in many cases allow domestic abusers to acquire a firearm even after being determined to be a threat by a court.
Noting that in 2013 61 percent of women killed by gun violence were killed by former or current intimate partners, The Times explained "people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking."
The editorial also noted that current federal law does not require so-called "private sellers" of firearms to run background checks on customers, creating another avenue for domestic abusers to obtain firearms.
From The Times January 16 editorial:
While the gun violence debate often focuses on mass shootings of strangers, hundreds of Americans are fatally shot every year by spouses or partners. In 2013, 61 percent of women killed with guns were killed by husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. And in 57 percent of shootings in which four or more people were killed, one of the victims was the shooter's partner or family member, according to an analysis by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Yet shortcomings in federal and state law allow many domestic abusers to have access to firearms, even after courts have determined that the abusers pose a threat to their partners.
Federal law prohibits anyone convicted of any felony, or of misdemeanor domestic violence against a spouse, from owning a gun. People subject to a domestic violence restraining order issued after a hearing (not a temporary order issued before a hearing can take place) are also prohibited from owning guns. But people convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors against partners with whom they never lived are not prohibited from owning guns under federal law, nor are those convicted of misdemeanor stalking. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representatives Debbie Dingell and Robert Dold have introduced bills to close these loopholes, but the bills have gained little traction.
Some states, like California and Connecticut, allow police to confiscate guns from someone who is determined by a court to be a threat to a partner, even if a domestic violence restraining order is not in place.
State and federal lawmakers need to follow the example of states that have closed loopholes and enacted surrender laws to prevent the dangerous from possessing deadly weapons.