The National Rifle Association's media arm is deliberately misrepresenting a proposed new law in North Carolina that would repeal background checks on private pistol sales, falsely claiming that it would merely shift required background checks from one government system to another.
In reality, the bill would eliminate a pistol permit requirement that currently ensures that buyers of pistols from private sellers at gun shows and online undergo a background check, thus creating a loophole for felons and other persons prohibited by law from purchasing firearms.
Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives are currently considering H.B. 562, a piece of legislation that would repeal a state requirement that anyone who wants to purchase a pistol first obtain a permit from their local county sheriff -- a process that involves undergoing a background check. H.B. 562 has so far passed two House committees, although an effort to fast-track it was recently abruptly canceled.
If the pistol permit requirement is repealed, individuals who buy from private sellers at gun shows or online would no longer have to undergo a background check before completing their purchase.
Right on cue, the National Rifle Association has unveiled its 2016 presidential election conspiracy theory with the baseless claim that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is harboring a secret plan to confiscate Americans' firearms. But Clinton has never endorsed such a plan and in fact has defended private citizens' right to own guns.
In a May 11 article published in the NRA's magazine and on its lobbying website, the gun group wrote, "Whether or not she understands the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton disdains and distrusts that freedom," and claimed Clinton "wants control over every aspect of your right to keep and bear arms -- so she can deny it at will."
Clinton's own recent statements about "the right of people to own guns" meant the NRA was forced to juxtapose a series of old Clinton quotes -- some dating back to the late 1990s -- and hope that its readers would make implausible leaps of logic to buy into the conspiracy theory that a President Hillary Clinton would confiscate firearms. The NRA ran a similar fearmongering campaign about President Obama during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections that also had zero basis in fact.
In the article, the NRA purports to describe a secret plan by Clinton to confiscate firearms. The alleged starting point for the plan, however, is based on a distortion of the truth.
A newly expanded version of the National Rifle Association's flagship magazine has already featured racist and sexist content, a claim that gun owners are the victim of "institutionalized discrimination," and other inflammatory commentary.
In recent weeks, the NRA has rebranded its magazine America's 1st Freedom. While the magazine was previously available in a print and digital format, a newly-launched website has more content, including "F1rst Things First" ("The Daily Threat Assessment for Your Firearm Freedoms"), features by a wide range of NRA writers and outside contributors, and material from the NRA's lifestyle magazine NRA Sharp and the NRA News commentator series.
In a May 4 feature that promoted controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws, former NRA lobbyist Darren LaSorte, who now works for the NRA's ad agency Ackerman McQueen, described a past experience where he would have felt "clearly justified in [his] mind" to push a homeless man who was yelling at him and waving his hands around his waist in front of a bus. As it turns out, LaSorte was actually able to defuse the situation by crossing the street.
LaSorte recounted how "[o]n an evening walk home from work a while back, a mentally ill man picked me out of the crowd for whatever reason and things went south from there." According to LaSorte, the man yelled at him and came "contact-close" while "[h]is hands went from waving wildly in the air to down around his waistline."
He then recalled almost pushing the man into traffic (emphasis added): "I was about to launch him away from me with an explosive and instinctive push to his chest. Just at that moment out of my peripheral vision, I noticed a city bus speeding by in the nearest lane of traffic. I stopped at the last moment and instead moved off a couple of feet to my right. If I had pushed him away from me, I would have been clearly justified in my mind, but the government might have viewed it differently if this man had been severely injured or killed by the passing bus."
Once the traffic light changed, LaSorte wrote that he walked across the street and the man did not follow him. Citing other instances of being approached by "someone suspicious," LaSorte promoted the NRA's work in advancing "Stand Your Ground" laws. These laws actually increase the incidence of homicide, and a primary criticism leveled at such laws is that they needlessly escalate situations, resulting in lethal outcomes.
Fox News contributor Rob O'Neil said the thwarted attempted terrorist attack in Garland, Texas was "a prime example of the difference between a gun-free zone and Texas," a state with permissive gun laws. But in fact, civilians were banned from bringing guns to the event where the attack took place.
On May 3, two gunmen armed with assault weapons opened fire outside The Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, wounding a security guard. An armed police officer quickly killed both men. The attackers' target was an event hosted by anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller that featured a contest of cartoon drawings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
On the May 6 edition of Fox & Friends, O'Neil, citing the attack on the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, suggested that the outcome of the Texas attack could have been far worse had the event been held in a "gun-free zone." He also said that the gunmen "were quickly introduced the Second Amendment" when they opened fire, and declared, "People need to realize that the best way to protect themselves from these attacks would be to arm yourself."
Conservative media frequently advance the evidence-free claim that "gun-free zones" -- their term for places where civilians are not allowed to carry firearms -- are vulnerable to mass shootings and invite attacks by terrorists.
The thwarted attack, however, actually did take place in what conservative media would characterize as a "gun-free zone," proving the fallacy of O'Neil's suggestion.
National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relied on numerous falsehoods to claim that President Obama will move to ban sales of all firearm ammunition before he leaves office, thus making "the very real nightmare of every single gun owner in this country" a reality.
In the May issue of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre wrote, "President Barack Obama is setting the table to ban your ammunition -- all of it," and claimed that "the remaining two years of Obama's term pose the greatest threat ever to the Second Amendment and our freedom."
LaPierre imagined a ludicrous scheme where "two fatal turns of events" would lead the EPA to ban all lead ammunition and, subsequently, the Obama administration to ban all non-lead ammunition. According to LaPierre, "The president's bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are partnering with private enviro-radicals to ban lead projectiles -- including all hunting bullets -- as hazardous."
Despite the fact that the EPA has given no indication that it is preparing regulations on lead ammunition, LaPierre insisted that the agency is still seeking a ban.
The facts prove him wrong. In December 2014, FoxNews.com reported that "[i]n a decision favorable to gun enthusiasts," a federal court ruled against environmentalists who argued that the EPA has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. According to FoxNews.com, "The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA's side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations." (The EPA does not believe it has authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.)
The National Rifle Association used riots in Baltimore to promote controversial "Stand Your Ground" self-defense laws by citing an article from conservative website Breitbart.com that claimed such laws "are an antidote for brazen in-your-face attacks on city streets."
In fact, several pieces of academic research indicate that "Stand Your Ground" laws increase the incidence of homicides. More generally, research has shown that allowing guns to be carried in public increases crime, particularly aggravated assault. "Stand Your Ground" laws have also been criticized due to research indicating that the laws are applied to minorities in a disparate manner.
On Facebook, the NRA wrote, "Videos of rioters wreaking havoc in Baltimore and photos of them risking the lives of innocents by punching, throwing objects, and, in one instance, drawing back a knife with which to stab a bystander were reminders that Stand Your Ground laws are an antidote for brazen in-your-face attacks on city streets," borrowing language from a Breitbart.com article that the Facebook post promoted:
The NRA helped draft the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which was enacted in Florida in 2005. "Stand Your Ground" subsequently spread through legislatures nationwide due to efforts by the NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council. In 2012, the law became highly controversial after the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The law would then play a substantial role in Zimmerman's acquittal on murder charges.
A new commentary feature in the National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom included sexist descriptions of an Obama administration official and a racial slur that is used to describe people from India or the Middle East.
The NRA's revamped website for its print and digital magazine America's 1st Freedom includes a new feature called WarriorWire. According to its description on the NRA's website, "'WarriorWire' is our conduit for the unvarnished, unedited reactions of law enforcement and military personnel to the mainstream media's spin. This space gives them the opportunity to set the record straight, correct inaccuracies and just plain vent."
In an April 28 WarriorWire column, NRA Life of Duty correspondent Chuck Holton wrote that State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is a "spokesperson barbie [sic]," suggested that her viewpoints on terrorism had been negatively influenced by a women's studies program, and described her as a "clueless, poorly accessorized mouthpiece."
Holton was reacting to a comment made by Harf in February during an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball that linked a lack of economic opportunity in the Middle East to terrorism. Even though a similar viewpoint had been expressed by the Bush Administration, Harf was inundated with often-sexist attacks by conservative media for her statement.
Following Loretta Lynch's historic confirmation as U.S. Attorney General, media have been silent about the implications for the National Rifle Association losing in a second consecutive high-profile nomination fight.
On April 23, Lynch was confirmed in the U.S. Senate by a vote of 56 to 43 following a protracted effort by many Republicans in the Senate to stall or sink her confirmation. She will be the first African-American female attorney general in United States history.
A Media Matters review of major U.S. newspapers and television transcripts in Nexis and internal video archives following her confirmation did not identify any instance where the NRA was discussed in relation to Lynch.
But Lynch's confirmation provides more evidence that the NRA does not win every time. According to a tired -- and incorrect -- media narrative, the NRA is always successful in its federal lobbying efforts and also has the ability to punish legislators who refuse to support the gun group's agenda. Research on election outcomes has long-indicated, however, that the NRA in fact has little effect on politicians' Election Day results through endorsements or campaign spending.
Now the failure of the NRA to stop the confirmation of two high-profile Obama nominees -- Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in December 2014 and now Lynch -- offers evidence that the NRA also does not always get its way in Congress
Fox News attacked the Obama administration by reviving the false claim that in 2012 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) began asking gun purchasers about their race and ethnicity on background check forms. In fact, ethnicity questions have been on the background check form for more than a decade.
On the April 21 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, guest host Martha MacCallum and Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano trumpeted the efforts of GOP lawmakers to stop the ATF from asking gun buyers about race. Napolitano argued, "I can only think that insisting upon knowing the race of the person, is perhaps so this Obama administration, so decidedly anti-gun, could say, oh by the way, such and such a percentage of whites buy -- and the amount of non-whites that buy is a smaller percentage, and we don't like that."
During the segment, an on-screen "Fox Facts" graphic wrongly claimed that ATF began "requiring gun buyers to answer questions about race & ethnicity on firearm applications" in 2012.
Contrary to the "Fox Facts" assertion, a question about race and ethnicity has been on the firearm background check form since at least 2001.
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.
Newly elected National Rifle Association president Allan D. Cors riffed on the NRA's "Stand and Fight" slogan by appending the words "or die" to the end and offered blatant falsehoods about a new background check law in an interview promoted on NRA News.
Cors was elected to a two year term as president of the NRA during the April 10 - 12 NRA annual meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, and replaces Jim Porter, who began his term in 2013. Before becoming president, Cors was the NRA's first vice president. Pete Brownell, who owns a company that manufactures gun parts and ammunition, was elected as the new first vice president at the meeting, meaning that he will likely become NRA president in 2017.
Cors has served on the NRA's board of directors since 1972 and is a past president of the NRA Foundation. According to an NRA profile, Cors, who has a background in governmental affairs, "enjoys his work on Capitol Hill, advocating for or against legislation."
Under the NRA's organizational structure, the direction of the gun group will still be led by executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre, who was also reelected to his position at the meeting but made headlines for complaining about the prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency by saying, "eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough."
The NRA is now introducing Cors to its supporters with an interview that aired on the April 14 edition of NRA News show Cam & Company.
During the interview, Cors described the NRA as "stronger than ever" by comparing the modern day NRA to the NRA of the 1960s that he said did not do enough to oppose the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. That legislation, enacted in the wake of the gun assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, created the federal framework for the regulation of firearms.
The main provisions of the Gun Control Act prohibit the sale of guns to felons and other dangerous people, require individuals "engaged in the business" of selling guns to obtain a Federal Firearms License, give authority to the federal government to prohibit the importation of firearms that lack "sporting purposes," and require manufacturers to affix serial numbers to guns.
Speaking of his efforts during the legislation's consideration, Cors said, "we did as much as we could to hold back some of the really bad things, but we did get rolled finally when Martin Luther King was -- when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated."
From the April 15 edition of CNN's New Day:
Loading the player reg...
During remarks at the National Rifle Association annual meeting, NRA board member Ted Nugent shared an analogy that involved him shooting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
Nugent, who is also a spokesperson for Outdoor Channel, referenced shooting Reid during an April 12 talk at the NRA's meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, at an event called, "Freedom is not Free and We the People Must Keep It Alive!"
The NRA's annual meeting also featured speeches by GOP presidential candidates and contenders including Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Rick Perry and others.
Nugent's comment came during a question and answer session where an audience member asked, "How and why did the NRA ever endorse Harry Reid to serve as the front man of Osama Obama?"
The NRA never actually endorsed Reid, but in 2010 the gun group did donate $4,000 to his reelection efforts. Any goodwill between Reid and the NRA likely ended in 2013 with Reid's introduction of legislation to expand background checks on gun sales.
In response to the question, Nugent called Reid a "lying prick," but described him as a necessary evil, stating, "If your child is dying and there is only one way to get to the doctor, would you get on Harry Reid's boat to get there? ... I'd get on the boat, get there, and then I'd shoot him."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Nugent then further described the NRA's strategy as infallible, stating, "if you see them endorse someone like Harry Reid it's because this deceptive bastard actually stood up for our Second Amendment rights contrary to the alternative candidate." He added, "when the NRA makes a move that you're not sure about, please give them the benefit of the doubt."
Conservative activist Grover Norquist was reelected to the National Rifle Association's board of directors in spite of a campaign by Glenn Beck and others that baselessly smeared Norquist as a clandestine agent of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Beck, who frequently delivers the keynote speech at the NRA's annual meeting, previously said he would quit the NRA if Norquist was reelected.
During an April 11 member's meeting at the NRA's annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, NRA election committee chairman Bill Carter announced that Norquist was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA's board, terminating in 2018:
After announcing the results, Carter added, "These are your boards ladies and gentleman and I ask that they be acknowledged ... and ladies and gentlemen, they are here for you, each and every one of you."
From the National Rifle Association's annual meeting of members on April 11:
Loading the player reg...