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:
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From the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action April 10 leadership forum:
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The NRA is choosing to host the pinnacle event of its annual meeting at a venue that does not allow members of the public to carry firearms, a decision that stands in sharp contrast to claims from NRA leadership that "gun-free zones" are not safe and should be avoided.
The NRA will hold its annual meeting April 10 through 12 in Nashville, Tennessee, with events primarily occurring at the Music City Center, which is an exhibition hall, and the Bridgestone Arena.
Some attendees are upset that they will not be allowed to carry guns at the Bridgestone Arena during the event, due to the venue's policy prohibiting firearms, according to Nashville Public Radio.
The NRA frequently tells supporters that gun-free zones imperil their lives, enable mass shootings, and invite terrorists.
For example, during the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told the crowd that the Islamic State is "carving a bloody trail that leads to our doorstep" and suggested it is not a matter of "if" but "when" a terrorist attack will occur at "the supposedly gun-free zone of the Mall of America."
As media turn to cover a high-profile gathering of potential Republican presidential contenders at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, the extreme stances taken by the NRA on a wide range of gun issues over the past year will also be on full display.
Numerous Republicans expected to run for president in 2016 are scheduled to appear on April 10 at a NRA Institute for Legislative Action "leadership forum" during the NRA's 2015 annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee.
But as candidates seek to improve their stature in the eyes of the NRA, they will be ingratiating themselves to an organization whose continued opposition to popular expanded background checks on gun sales represents just one extremist position it has taken in the debate over gun regulation.
According to the NRA, this year's "leadership forum" will feature Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconin Gov. Scott Walker, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham, Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Donald Trump. NRA's bombastic executive vice president Wayne LaPierre and top lobbyist Chris Cox, as well as a handful of non-contenders, will also address the forum.
Since last year's meeting, the NRA has taken several extreme positions in policy debates, including opposing legislation to disarm convicted stalkers, backing "open carry" extremists who carry assault weapons in public, attempting to hijack the issue of campus rape to push guns on campus, and floating the idea of requiring children to learn how to use a gun to advance in school.
The NRA's leadership has also expressed outrageous views. NRA head LaPierre unleashed a signature paranoid rant just prior to the 2014 midterm elections, fearmongering over the threat of an EMP attack and other calamities to encourage supporters to back NRA candidates. LaPierre also indulged an Islamophobic conspiracy theory that targets one of the NRA's own board members in order to appease Glenn Beck. NRA board member Ted Nugent continued to offend, including suggesting just weeks before the meeting that veterans are committing suicide because Obama is "the enemy." Another board member who represents the NRA in New Jersey insulted a family who lost a child in the Newtown mass shooting as a "prop," garnering outrage.
Read below for more information on these topics and descriptions of other examples of NRA extremism over the past year:
In a "special two-cover election issue" published in October 2014, NRA magazine America's 1st Freedom printed a paranoid column from LaPierre that fearmongered about terrorist attacks and social unrest in the United States before calling on supporters to "vote our guns" on Election Day.
The cover of the magazine featured a gun-toting Islamic State militant, while LaPierre's column was illustrated with a graphic that combined an image of Islamic State executioner "Jihadi John" and the exterior of a suburban home:
In a column that urged supporters to own guns and vote for NRA-endorsed candidates, LaPierre raised the specter of several calamities, including an electromagnetic pulse attack that could kill 9 of 10 Americans, terrorist attacks similar to the 2008 Mumbai attacks or the Westgate shopping mall attack, and people rioting "just for the sheer hell of it."
Experts in military and veteran suicide issues are criticizing National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent for claiming that veterans are committing suicide because they believe President Obama "is the enemy."
As reported by Right Wing Watch, during a speech at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Arizona last week, Nugent said, "20 - 25 of those guys kill themselves every day, and they haven't told you why, and they haven't told anybody else why, but they told me why: because the Commander-in-Chief is the enemy."
Nugent has made similar claims in the past. In 2013, during an appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show, he said that veterans were killing themselves in part because Obama was "violating" the Constitution.
Several experts in military suicides strongly criticized Nugent for distorting the facts and misleading the public with his "ridiculous" commentary.
National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards lashed out at a Daily Tar Heel editorial that argued guns are not the solution to campus sexual assault by claiming that the "burden" of stopping sexual assaults and other violent crimes as they occur "is on the victim."
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."
In a March 22 editorial, independent student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel criticized national group Students for Concealed Carry for raising the issue of campus sexual assault in a gambit to loosen rules on carrying guns on public campuses in North Carolina.
The Daily Tar Heel wrote, "Concealed weapons would not significantly reduce sexual assault and would create inadvertent risks within other forms of interpersonal violence," and added that proponents of guns on campus "could reinforce rape culture because the burden of stopping assault would be further placed upon women." Noting that guns increase the risk of homicide in domestic violence situations, the Tar Heel concluded that "[t]o reduce sexual assault, focus should be maintained on preventative programs that challenge rigid gender roles and promote healthy relationships as well as intervention trainings that teach peers to be active bystanders rather than on measures that will not solve the problem."
On the March 27 edition of NRA News program Cam & Company, Edwards said the editorial "could only be written by somebody on that college campus without a lot of thought and experience in the real world" and that he was "dumber [for] having read" the editorial.
In particular, Edwards took issue with the Tar Heel's argument that telling women that they should carry guns to prevent sexual assault places the "burden" of preventing such attacks on those women. Edwards repeatedly argued that the "burden" of stopping all violent crimes -- including sexual assault -- was in fact on the victim.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent called MSNBC host and civil rights activist Al Sharpton a "racist mongrel" and claimed that the only racism he can discern in the United States is "coming out of the White House" during a radio appearance.
Nugent's racially charged attack on Sharpton comes weeks before he is scheduled to appear at the NRA's annual meeting, which will be held April 10 through 12 in Nashville, Tennessee. On April 12, Nugent is scheduled to give a presentation titled "Freedom is not Free and We the People Must Keep It Alive!" According to the NRA, Nugent will "remind Americans that there is a cost for the Freedoms that we enjoy" and tell the crowd "what you can do to keep this country free" during his appearance.
During a March 24 appearance on KFYI's The Mike Broomhead Show, Nugent said that he was "shattered" to learn of racism against African-Americans as a young person, but that "by the late 60s, the 70s, I couldn't find racism. I never saw racism. I never heard of racism. I thought it was a thing of the past in isolated pockets of inbreeding and cannibalism and spiritlessness." According to Nugent, he only became aware of racism again after hearing President Obama's comments on the controversy that surrounded the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, who is African-American, by a white police officer.
Citing Obama's remarks on Trayvon Martin, "the racism of" Attorney General Eric Holder, and "racist mongrel" Al Sharpton, Nugent said, "nowhere can I find racism except coming out of the White House."
Fox News relied on claims from discredited gun researcher John Lott to falsely suggest that an FBI report inflated the occurrence of mass shootings, possibly for political reasons. In fact, the report in question covered only "active shooter situations" and explicitly noted in its introduction, "This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings."
In September 2014, the FBI released a report on 160 active shooter situations that occurred between 2000 and 2013. The report counted 1,043 total casualties and noted that over the 13-year period, the incidence of active shooter incidents rose. In its report, the FBI defined an active shooter situation as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area."
Lott, who often manipulates statistics to push a pro-gun agenda and is the inventor of the discredited "more guns, less crime" hypothesis, attacked the report in The New York Post last year with the false claim that the "FBI study discusses 'mass shootings or killings.'" Based on this false premise, Lott wrote that several of the incidents in the FBI report don't meet accepted definitions of mass shootings and therefore the report was "bogus" and being "used to promote a political agenda."
Lott's falsehoods on the FBI report are now being promoted on Fox News. On the March 25 edition of Fox & Friends First, host Heather Childers reported the claim of Lott's group, the Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC), that FBI data on mass shootings "may have been overstated for political purposes." While Childers spoke, onscreen text warned viewers of the supposedly "SHODY [sic] STATS":
CHILDERS: Are the number of mass shootings getting blown out of proportion by the government? Well the Crime Prevention Research Center says that FBI stats on mass shootings are inflated. The CPRC says because of errors and biases, the FBI data shows twice as many mass shootings than really occurred. The organization says that the stats may have been overstated for political purposes.
From the March 20 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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A new viral video that highlights ways guns have been involved in tragedies is drawing heavy criticism from conservative media and from a National Rifle Association affiliate group that wants a criminal investigation into its creation, based on the group's mistaken belief that real guns were illegally used in the video.
On March 17, gun safety group States United to Prevent Gun Violence (SUPGV) released a video debunking the notion that gun ownership makes a person safer. (Research has demonstrated that owning a gun increases the risk of death or injury.)
SUPGV conducted a "hidden camera social experiment" to record the reactions of potential gun buyers at a fake gun store they had set up in Manhattan. When prospective purchasers inquired about a firearm, the clerk informed the customer of tragedies -- including mass shootings and unintentional shootings involving children -- that involved the use of that particular model of firearm. Hidden cameras recorded prospective gun buyers' shocked reactions:
The video is paired with a website, GunsWithHistory.com, that has more information on how gun ownership increases the risk of homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings.
Cam Edwards, the host of the National Rifle Association's television and radio shows, is backtracking on a claim in his biography that he is the recipient of a Heartland Emmy Award.
After being contacted by Media Matters about multiple biographies listing Edwards' Emmy claim, Edwards updated his bio to say he "shared in" an Emmy Award as part of a documentary crew. According to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Heartland Chapter, "only our official award-winners may" call themselves Emmy winners. Edwards is not listed as any of the five named crew members in the award citation.
The Heartland Chapter is one of 20 regional groups under the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences that annually gives out Emmy Awards for accomplishments in television. Prior to joining NRA News in 2004, Edwards worked in television and radio in Oklahoma, one of several regions covered by the Heartland Chapter.
Although it has since been changed, Edwards biography page at NRA listed him as the recipient of "the Heartland Chapter Emmy Ward [sic]." A similar biography on the website of NRA advertising agency Ackerman McQueen also lists Edwards as an Emmy winner.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones brandished an assault weapon and criticized a gun safety PSA as a "full out assault on the basic underpinnings of this country" during a recent broadcast.
On March 11, in conjunction with comedy website Funny or Die, gun safety group Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence launched a parody video in which two actors playing criminals facetiously advised other criminals to visit CrimAdvisor.com -- a play on TripAdvisor -- to learn which states have the weakest gun laws making it easy for criminals to get guns.
CrimAdvisor.com has information on which states have laws making it easier or harder for felons and other dangerous individuals to obtain firearms and also lists the top source states for illegally trafficked firearms. The website asks supporters to sign a petition in support of expanding background checks to all gun sales, noting that, "Brady background checks have stopped 2.4 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers, but only 60% of current gun sales include a background check."
Jones, however, saw the pitch for more background checks -- a measure overwhelmingly popular with the American public -- as a piece of "propaganda" that is part of an effort by globalists to enslave Americans.
Glenn Beck is threatening to quit the National Rifle Association over the long-debunked conspiracy theory that NRA board member and conservative activist Grover Norquist is an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Beck has appeared as a speaker at the NRA annual meeting four times since 2008, three times as the keynote speaker.
For years, Frank Gaffney, a conservative media figure and the head of the Islamophobic think tank Center for Security Policy, has accused Norquist, an influential conservative activist who runs Americans for Tax Reform, of being "actively involved, both enabling and empowering, Muslim Brotherhood influence operations against our movement and our country." Before targeting Norquist's association with the NRA, Gaffney feuded with organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference over Norquist's routine presence at the annual event. In 2011, Gaffney's attacks on Norquist caused him to be banned from participating in CPAC.
In 2012, the board of the American Conservative Union, the group that puts on CPAC, unanimously condemned Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist. (Some of Gaffney's evidence against Norquist includes the fact that Norquist has Muslim family members.) Incidentally, the ACU board member selected to evaluate the veracity of Gaffney's claims about Norquist was attorney Cleta Mitchell, who has also served on the NRA's board of directors.
Norquist is presently running for reelection to the NRA's board of directors. The vote will occur at the gun group's annual meeting this April. Norquist reportedly circulated a letter among other board members that denounced the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theory and labeled Gaffney a "stalker."
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich suggested that sexual assaults benefit feminists and school administrators politically, and said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not," during a campus appearance to discuss how guns can be the "best defense" against sexual assault.
And in an exchange that prompted an audible reaction from the audience, Pavlich offered a sarcastic apology while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child.
On March 10, Pavlich delivered a speech called "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Conservative Perspective" at an event organized by Iowa State University's College Republicans chapter, the conservative group Young America's Foundation, and ISU's Committee on Lectures.
During her remarks, Pavlich advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses will reduce sexual assault and also argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses has been exaggerated. (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.)
Iowa State Daily reported that "Pavlich was met with resistance from multiple ISU students, including a large group of purple-clad students attending the lecture as part of an organized effort called 'Standing up to Katie Pavlich and Rape Culture.'"
After her speech, several survivors of sexual assault challenged Pavlich on her notion that guns will prevent future assaults. An ISU women's studies lecturer later told the student paper that Pavlich's remarks were "incredibly irresponsible" because "[i]t was a 'conservative take on sexual assault,' but it was clear her intent was to advocate for concealed carry laws."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Pavlich is heard suggesting that the actions of feminists and colleges end up permitting assaults to occur because victims help them push a feminist and "anti-gun" agenda. She also said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision" about whether or not they will be sexually assaulted in the seconds before an attack occurs.
Pavlich makes frequent appearances on Fox News, often as a panelist on daytime show Outnumbered.
Here are four lowlights from Pavlich's Iowa State appearance:
Pavlich claimed that "modern feminism can't survive without victims, so naturally preventing victimhood through self-defense is unacceptable." She then added, "Telling women they don't need self-defense to prevent rape is exactly what moves real rape culture forward because violent criminals can operate without resistance."