The Associated Press' (AP) report on a meeting between lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) completely ignored the nationwide controversy Bundy sparked in 2014 when he made a series of racist comments about "the Negro." Paul himself repudiated Bundy at the time for his "offensive" commentary, a fact that was also missing from the AP article.
According to the AP, Bundy and Paul met during a June 29 campaign event in Mesquite, Nevada. Bundy said of Paul to the AP, "In general, I think we're in tune with each other." Politico additionally reported that the two men spoke for 45 minutes.
In its report, AP described the April 2014 armed standoff between Bundy supporters and federal law enforcement agents as "one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years," but made no mention of Bundy's infamous racist commentary or that Paul had previously condemned him:
Paul's meeting with Bundy recalled one of the more dramatic conflicts over land rights in recent years.
Hundreds of armed supporters joined Bundy in April 2013 to stop a roundup of his cattle near Bunkerville about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management says he owes more than $1 million in grazing fees over more than 20 years. Bundy argues the federal government has no authority there.
Indeed, in April 2014 violence nearly broke out as armed militia members pointed guns at federal agents from the Bureau of Land Management over Bundy's decades-long refusal to pay grazing fees for his use of federal land despite several court orders. (While the AP article presents the question of whether Bundy owes fees as an open question, journalists who have covered the Nevada rancher's legal dispute say his claims are baseless.)
Significantly, the AP article made no mention of the major controversy after The New York Times reported on racist remarks made by Bundy. In comments to supporters about "the Negro," Bundy suggested that African-Americans may have been better off as slaves and that "[t]hey abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton." After the Times' report, Media Matters posted video of Bundy's comments, and Bundy's champions in conservative politics and media largely fled his cause.
Sen. Paul was among those who condemned Bundy, releasing a statement saying that the rancher's "remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him." While the AP excluded mention of the controversy and Paul's previous rebuke of Bundy, those details made it into reports on the meeting between Bundy and Paul by Politico and CNN.com. Politico reported that "Paul's presidential campaign did not respond to a request to explain why he held a private meeting with Bundy 14 months" after the controversy.
Watch video of Bundy's infamous comments below:
The Sportsman Channel has decided to not renew the National Rifle Association's (NRA) weekday news show, Cam & Company, ending the program's two-and-a-half year run on the outdoor-themed network.
The hour-long show served as a vehicle for the NRA's frequent misinformation and extremism on the issue of gun violence. During the June 26 broadcast, host Cam Edwards announced the end of the series, effective that day.
Edwards said, "Beginning next Monday, you will be seeing a different program here at 5 p.m. Eastern on Sportsman Channel. We do want to thank all the folks at Sportsman Channel for our time here on the program. I wish I -- there's no drama, there's no dramatic backstory to this. It's just one of those decisions that has happened."
The NRA's three-hour weekday radio show, also called Cam & Company, will continue to air at NRANews.com and on SiriusXM.
Cam & Company debuted on Sportsman Channel on January 15, 2013. In a press release, the network claimed the show would be "the one and only news-talk series on television that can authoritatively address the issues that are vital to America's more than 80 million sportsmen and sportswomen."
In a nod to the fact that the show debuted just one month after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the release stated, "With national passions running high on the issue of firearms ownership and rights in America, the series launch is especially timely."
The NRA's executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre added, "The partnership expansion of these two great American brands, the Sportsman Channel and the NRA, comes at a critical time in the history of preserving our Second Amendment freedom."
The launch of the show kicked off a growing partnership between Sportsman Channel and the NRA, with the network participating in both the 2014 and 2015 NRA annual meetings. In January 2015, Sportsman Channel was acquired by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a media company that has a "strategic partnership" with the NRA through its Outdoor Channel.
In a June 24 press release, Sportsman Channel announced several changes to its lineup for the third quarter, including 13 new series, beginning on June 29.
Sportsman Channel issued the following statement to Media Matters about the end of the Cam & Company television show:
We have enjoyed our relationship with Cam & Company and appreciate their efforts over the 2 1/2 years they were on our air. Sportsman Channel was proud to be the first network to take the forward step to air a daily show focused on our second amendment rights. Unfortunately, we are not able to continue with the program. We continue to support Cam & Company and the NRA, as well as to air a robust schedule of the best in class firearms programming.
Viewers can continue to watch the Cam & Company show on NRANews.com from 2-5 p.m. each weekday. Also, previously aired shows and interviews are available at http://www.nranews.com/cam/list/cam-company and podcasts can be found on iHeartRadio and iTunes. In addition, Cam & Company is simulcast on SiriusXM.
The complete schedule can be viewed at www.nranews.com/cam/list/cam-and-co-schedule.
Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski falsely reported that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence must pay more than $200,000 to ammunition dealers that supplied a gunman who attacked moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado in 2012. The misleading article was published after a court dismissed a lawsuit against the companies.
In fact, the plaintiffs in the case - parents of one of the victims - were ordered to pay the ammunition companies' legal fees because of a special carve-out in Colorado law for the gun industry.
On July 20, 2012, a man wearing body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms and tear gas fatally shot 12 people and wounded 58 others during a midnight screening at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater. The Brady Center subsequently filed a lawsuit against companies that had supplied the gunman, on behalf of Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica Ghawi, was killed in the shooting.
The lawsuit alleged that Lucky Gunner and several other companies had negligently supplied the gunman with thousands of rounds of ammunition, body armor, a high-capacity drum magazine that could hold 100 rounds of ammunition, and canisters of tear gas.
In April, a federal court dismissed the lawsuit and Lucky Gunner and other defendants moved to collect attorney's fees from the plaintiffs. On June 17, a judge granted that request, ordering the Phillipses to pay $203,000. The decision is currently under appeal.
On June 29, Beacon staff writer Gutowski reported on this development, but botched his analysis to claim that the Brady Center, rather than the Phillipses, was ordered to compensate companies that supplied the Aurora gunman.
In an article headlined, "Federal Judge Orders Brady Center to Pay Ammo Dealer's Legal Fees After Dismissing Lawsuit," Gutowski wrote, "A federal judge has ordered that the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence pay the legal fees of an online ammunition dealer it sued for the Aurora movie theater shooting." The actual order, which is cited in the article, contradicts this claim by describing at length how the plaintiffs, who are listed at the top of the order as Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, must pay fees to companies that enabled their daughter's killer.
Conservative media used the Supreme Court decision affirming that marriage is a fundamental right of all Americans to argue that the Constitution also requires states to recognize concealed carry permits issued by other states. But the Supreme Court has never held that carrying a gun in public is a fundamental right.
Conservative media and the National Rifle Association (NRA) quickly seized on the decision to draw a parallel with concealed carry reciprocity, a top federal legislative priority of the NRA. Reciprocity legislation, also known as federally mandated concealed carry, would force states to recognize permits to carry concealed guns issued by other states, regardless of what the issuing state's standards are for issuing permits.
Reciprocity legislation has been introduced in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, but conservative media and the NRA view Obergefell as an opportunity to argue that the Constitution extends at least some right to reciprocal permit recognition regardless of whether Congress acts. The problem with that argument, however, is that the 2008 landmark Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller limited the scope of the Second Amendment right to gun possession to people's homes.
Despite this, on the June 26 broadcast of the NRA's news show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards made the argument that the marriage ruling "might present an additional argument to make at the legal level for extending reciprocity nationwide," remarking, "Since we're talking about licenses, a lot of gun owners are wondering, ok, does this, could this have an impact on the debate for instance over right-to-carry reciprocity?"
The numbers don't lie.
Since 9/11, more Americans have died at the hands of homegrown "white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims," the New York Times reported this week. Citing a count provided by Washington research center New America, the Times confirmed that with the race-base mass murder in Charleston, S.C. last week, 48 Americans have now been killed by "people espousing racial hatred, hostility to government and theories such as those of the 'sovereign citizen' movement," as compared to 26 Americans who have been killed by "self-proclaimed jihadists."
Those figures might come as a surprise to most Americans. Indeed, the media narrative since 9/11, and certainly the conservative media account, has been that Jihadists are waging an escalating war on the U.S. By contrast, how often in recent years have news consumers seen or heard extended debate and discussions about right-wing or white supremacists killers in the U.S.? Killers who appear to be twice as deadly to Americans as jihadists?
"There's an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown," Dr. John Horgan of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell told the Times. "And there's a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated."
The New America research findings confirm what Media Matters has been highlighting for years: From neo-Nazis killers, to a rash of women's health clinic bombings and attacks, as well as assaults on law enforcement from anti-government radicals, acts of right-wing extreme violence continue to unfold regularly in the United States.
And Media Matters has also been shining a spotlight on the fact that not only does Fox News downplay homegrown acts of right-wing, anti-government and white supremacist violence, treating them as rogue, isolated events (if covering the events at all), they also hype beyond proportion and common sense attacks by Muslims in America.
That attack mode allows Fox to accuse President Obama of being "soft" on Islamic terror. (Obama's administration is too "politically correct.") It also lets Fox advocate for bugging mosques and eliminating other Constitutional rights. Recall that it was on Fox that viewers were told, "not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."
Right-wing violence? Fox News doesn't recognize a clear and present danger.
Larry Pratt, the leader of far-right Gun Owners of America (GOA), claimed that the murders of nine people at Mother Emanuel AME Church were a consequence of Reverend Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for "disarmament of people in the state of South Carolina."
Pinckney, along with eight others, was killed in a June 17 attack inside the Charleston, South Carolina church. A 21-year-old man with a history of racist beliefs was charged with the killings.
Pratt, who has suggested that politicians should fear being shot by GOA supporters and has flirted with the conspiracy theory that high-profile mass shootings are government-staged events, was forced to leave Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign in 1996 after his past ties to white supremacists were revealed. Still, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz heaped lavishly praise on GOA a recent town hall event.
During a June 24 appearance on Sky News to discuss the Charleston killings, Pratt said the parishioners "would have at least had a chance if they had a firearm to respond to the threat. As it was, their pastor, who was also a state senator, was a leading anti-Second Amendment advocate who had supported disarmament of people in the state of South Carolina. Ideas have consequences, and that's what we are talking about -- the idea of gun control is deadly."
Pratt went on to cheer the armed standoff between supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government. Pratt said, "Even more recently there was an effort by our federal government to throw a man off land he had contractual rights to use, federal lands, and at Bunkerville, Nevada people came from around the region to defend him with arms until the government finally withdrew. So the Second Amendment is alive and well and that's its main function, to keep the government under control as a servant of the people."
Despite Pratt's decades-long history of inflammatory rhetoric and questionable associations, Cruz recently praised GOA while addressing its members in a May 27 "Tele-Town Hall." Cruz opened his remarks by saying, "GOA endorsed me early on when I ran for the Senate and played a critical part in helping get me elected and sending me from the State of Texas to represent 27 million Texans,"and added that GOA supporters are "patriots."
Later in his remarks, Cruz added, "I agree with Ronald Reagan, who said we must paint in bold colors and not pale pastels - that's why I'm running and that's one of the things I love about GOA - is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels."
Pratt is not the first pro-gun advocate to attack Rev. Pinckney. Shortly after the shooting, NRA board member Charles L. Cotton wrote online that Pinckney "voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent distorted recent comments President Obama made on the race issue in America to defend the use of the N-word including its racist use by former LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman.
In a June 24 column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent addressed President Obama's reference to the word "nigger" on Marc Moran's WTF podcast. Obama said, "Racism, we are not cured of it. And it's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'nigger' in public."
Apparently misinterpreting the point Obama was making about racism, Nugent praised Obama, writing that he "is not afraid of speaking honestly without fear of politically correct word nazi's going berserk."
Nugent went on to heap praise on the word, without mentioning its long and vile association with racism. Citing himself as someone who "continue[s] to use the word nigger at one time or another," Nugent listed several well-known people, including Fuhrman, whom he said were not bound by "political correctness" in their use of the word:
Along with President Obama and my hero Richard Pryor, we join Howard Stern, Johnny Cochran, Mark Furman [sic], O.J. Simpson, Kid Rock, James Brown, the mighty Funkbrothers, Al not so Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakhan, Malcom X, Kanye West, Fifty Cent and pretty much every black rapper and hip hopper on earth, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, a few thousand NBA, NFL, MLB sports stars, legions of famous and not so famous musicians, actors, politicians, media personalities and assorted celebrities of every color, creed, ethnicity and walk of life, along with a few million others around the world who have used and continue to use the word nigger at one time or another.The dishonest referencing of the word by its first letter is the epitome of political correctness gone mad.
Fuhrman, who is now a Fox News contributor, was an LAPD homicide detective on the O.J. Simpson murder case. During Simpson's trial, the defense produced tapes of Fuhrman using the N-word more than 40 times over a 10-year period. According to the tapes, in his capacity with the LAPD, Fuhrman said things to African-Americans like, "You do what you're told, understand, nigger?" He was also recorded bragging that he liked lining up "niggers against the wall and shooting them."
In his WND column, Nugent lavishly praised the word. He wrote, "The word nigger has historically been used in a powerfully positive way when describing the proud heritage and history of deeply respected, even revered 'blackness,'" and noted that he considered it "the greatest compliment" when someone uses the word to describe his music.
Nugent added, "The word is used constantly across America in a friendly, even tribal greeting and salutation with no hint whatsoever of negativity nor hostility," and compared its use to the "'MF' word" -- a reference to "mother fucker" that he never spelled out, although his column did spell out the word "nigger" five times.
Nugent also wrote, "As blacks blow away blacks in record numbers in Chicago and other urban hellzones each weekend, does anyone have the audacity to believe that words play any role in this insane widespread criminality?" adding, "What sort of goofball could possibly believe that certain words are OK for one group of people but forbidden by others?"
On Facebook, Nugent promoted his WND column in a post that said, "When I play my Motown guitar, I niggerup."
Nugent, who has a lengthy history of racially-charged rhetoric, is correct that he has used the N-word before. In a 1990 interview with Detroit Free Press Magazine, Nugent defended the apartheid system in South Africa and said, "I use the word nigger a lot because I hang around with a lot of niggers, and they use the word nigger, and I tend to use words that communicate ... I don't mean to offend."
In a 1995 interview with Bob Mack of Grand Royal magazine, Nugent claimed "real America" was full of "working hard, playing hard, white motherfucking shit kickers, who are independent and get up in the morning," before saying of James Brown and several other African-American musicians, "Those are niggers, those are fucking spirited, genuine African-Americans."
During an interview for the release a 2002 album, Nugent reportedly said, "So when ever someone tries to claim that I'm a racist because I use the word 'nigger,' the word 'nigger' is a badge of honour where I come from."
Beyond his use of racial slurs, Nugent has called Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and has claimed that African-Americans should be racially profiled the same way members of a community might profile a breed of dog that was biting children. He also said that African-Americans could "solve the black problem" if they were more honest and law-abiding, and that the African-American community has a "mindless tendency to violence" and an inability to "read or speak clearly."
This post has been updated to include additional information.
During an appearance on the National Rifle Association's radio show, conservative radio host Tony Katz said relatives of the victims of the Charleston church shooting showed "serious weakness" in forgiving the accused gunman and suggested that it would be justifiable to kill members of the gunman's family out of retribution.
On June 19 several family members of victims killed in a June 17 mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, attended the first court appearance of the alleged gunman and forgave the man for killing members of their family.
Hours later Katz, who makes regular Friday appearances on the NRA program Cam & Company, reacted to the court appearance by calling the move to forgive not "a moment of strength" but rather "a moment of serious weakness that we do not respond with a 'you don't get to kill us, we kill you.'"
Katz continued, "As a matter of fact, we kill you tenfold, who's in your family today?" -- putting forward the suggestion that the family members of accused murderers should be murdered themselves in retribution.
He concluded by calling his reaction -- which included advocacy for the killing of innocent people -- "far more natural and in many ways far more decent than sometimes the reactions I see." Host Cam Edwards responded, "All right, far more natural I might agree with, far more decent, I don't -- I'm going to have to disagree with you there."
KATZ: Now we know me and we know you and others who may think about being attacked and put ourselves in positions not to be or at least be able to fight back, but that's what I come to and I get the fact, I get it, not everybody is going to agree with me, but I think that my reaction is far more natural and in many ways far more decent than sometimes the reactions I see.
EDWARDS: All right, far more natural I might agree with, far more decent, I don't -- I'm going to have to disagree with you there.
Katz previously appeared on NRA News to criticize the victims of several calamities, including Hurricane Katrina, for not doing enough to save themselves from death or injury.
Katz is not the first conservative figure to criticize those affected by the Charleston shooting. In a June 18 post on a pro-gun web forum, NRA board member Charles L. Cotton wrote that the victims "died because of" Reverend Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for gun safety laws. Pinckney was also killed in the attack.
During the June 24 broadcast of Tony Katz and the Morning News on 93.1 WIBC, Katz addressed his June 19 comments he made on NRA News about the Charleston shooting victims' family members forgiving the gunman. Katz said that he was "sickened," "disgusted," and "very bothered" by the forgiveness shown to the alleged perpetrator, but also said it was "probably wrong" of him to characterize the forgiveness given by victims' family members as "weakness" and that he was not "entitled" to say so.
He also said, "I think I did a poor job of pivoting, which has happened to me before, and I don't believe in hiding these things. I don't believe in saying, 'Oh, it's just one conversation, it's no big deal.' And some people will tell me, 'Tony, you dwell on this stuff too much.' I believe that if we're going to be honest with each other the only way to do that is to when you think you don't do it right, or you don't do it clearly, you go back and do it clearly. Let me say it again, and I don't apologize for what I said, I'm going to go for clarity. I look at forgiveness of somebody who murders your family not as a virtue. I look at it and I say, 'I don't get it.'"
Katz also talked about his suggestion that it would be acceptable to murder members of the gunman's family out of retribution. During his June 19 appearance on NRA News, Katz said, "We do not respond with a 'you don't get to kill us, we kill you.' As a matter of fact, we kill you tenfold, who's in your family today?" During his June 24 WIBC broadcast, Katz said, "One of the non-journalistic organizations of the world, Media Matters for America, picked it up they called me bloodthirsty because they were discussing how I'm proactively wishing that these family members would go out and kill the family members of this murderer, Dylann Roof. Which is not-- it, it goes to a much larger conversation that I have, and that conversation is about being prepared for moments and being a society in which those who wish to do harm, because you can't stop people from doing harm if they really want to, you can't stop the sick, you can't stop the demented, but those who want to do harm, they should at least have to question whether or not they should do it to you."
Katz's full discussion of his comments:
Fox News chief White House correspondent Ed Henry argued that the 2016 presidential race provides "the perfect backdrop to talk about the economy" and asked, "Why are people getting pulled into other issues like gun control right now in the wake" of the June 17 gun attack on a Charleston church "and not talking about the economy, which is what matters most to people?" But the Charleston attack is just the latest mass shooting to shock Americans, and with more presidential candidates stepping forward every day, it appears Henry is unaware a national conversation about gun laws is already underway.
Henry questioned the need to talk about gun laws during a discussion about national economic issues with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) during the June 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
HENRY: But senator, here we have the perfect backdrop to talk about the economy, a presidential campaign that everybody is really starting to pay attention with. A lot of candidates on the Republican side, less on the Democratic side, but perhaps some competition now with Bernie Sanders gaining at least a little bit on Hillary Clinton. Bottom line question for you, if this is so important, why are people getting pulled into other issues like gun control right now in the wake of this tragedy and not talking about the economy, which is what matters most to people?
But there are innumerable reasons why Americans are talking about national gun laws:
From the June 21 edition of Fox News' MediaBuzz:
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National Rifle Association board member Charles L. Cotton wrote that the victims of a mass shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina church died because of Reverend Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for gun safety laws.
Pinckney, along with eight others, was killed by a gunman during a June 17 attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 2013, Pinckney, who was also a South Carolina State Senator, introduced legislation to require more comprehensive background checks on gun sales and supported several other gun safety measures during his career as a legislator.
In a post on an online forum for Texas supporters of the concealed carry of handguns, Cotton wrote, "he [Rev. Pinckney] voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue."
At the bottom of Cotton's post was an image that promoted NRA membership:
Cotton, who is active in Texas NRA affiliate group Texas State Rifle Association, faced criticism in February for his assertion that corporal punishment for children could prevent him from "having to put a bullet in him later." According to Talking Points Memo Cotton wrote:
"I'm sick of this woman and her 'don't touch my kid regardless what he/she did or will do again' attitude," Cotton wrote in a thread titled "HB567: Corporal punishment in schools."
"Perhaps a good paddling in school may keep me from having to put a bullet in him later," he added.
Cotton is listed in the NRA's magazine as a member of the board of directors, with his term expiring in 2017.
According to NRAOnTheRecord.org, Cotton has served on the NRA board for more than a decade and has also served on the Board of Trustees of the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott falsely claimed that guns are "banned" in South Carolina churches to blame the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on "gun-free zones."
On the evening of July 17, a gunman opened fire during a bible study meeting at the church, killing nine people.
Lott, who invented the debunked "more guns, less crime" hypothesis and is a frequent source of conservative misinformation on gun violence, quickly blamed "gun-free zones" for the shooting. On the website of his group, Crime Prevention Research Center, Lott wrote, "Not surprising that yet another mass public shooting has taken place where guns were banned. Yet, again, the ban only ensured that the victims were vulnerable." Lott titled his article, "Another Shooting in a Gun-free Zone: Nine Dead at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina."
Lott then offered a "synopsis" of South Carolina law - taken from an article on CriminalDefenseLawyer.com - that suggested guns cannot be carried in churches and some other locations.
Lott's synopsis linked to S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215, which says that individuals with concealed carry licenses can bring guns into churches with the permission of a church official. Here is what the actual law says:
M) A permit issued pursuant to this section does not authorize a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon into a:
(8) church or other established religious sanctuary unless express permission is given by the appropriate church official or governing body;
In an opinion piece for FoxNews.com, Lott similarly mischaracterized South Carolina law, writing, "the massacre took place in a gun-free zone, a place where the general public was banned from having guns." Lott also speculated that gun policies formed the shooter's motive, writing, "Churches, like the one in Charleston, preach peace, but the killer there probably chose that target because he knew the victims were defenseless."
Fox's Sean Hannity gave 2016 GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush a platform to claim that the gun policies he supported as governor of Florida helped create "a less violent society," even though he signed the nation's first "Stand Your Ground" law, which studies show has actually contributed to more violence.
Bush appeared on the June 16 broadcast of Hannity for a wide-ranging interview in front of a studio audience. Hannity asked, "Should citizens, if they are law-abiding, no records, have the right to carry a weapon?"
Bush responded, "Absolutely, and in Florida, you know who leads the nation in concealed weapons permits by far? Over a million. It's Florida. It creates a ... less violent society and crime goes down when law-abiding citizens that don't commit crimes have guns."
But experts say controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws, like the one the jury used to acquit George Zimmerman of killing unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, make society more violent.
Fox News host Steve Doocy questioned why a gunman who attacked Dallas police headquarters was able to legally purchase an armored van but ignored questions about how the gunman acquired an arsenal of firearms and bombs.
Authorities say James Boulware attacked police headquarters in Dallas in the early hours of June 13. The New York Times reported that "officers narrowly escaped injury and death as they dodged bullets" when Boulware opened fire on the headquarters building and vehicles in the parking lot. Boulware also placed pipe bombs outside of the building, at least one of which exploded. Boulware fled in an armored van he had recently purchased online, and following a chase and a standoff, he was killed by a police sniper.
But on the June 15 broadcast of Fox & Friends, the focus was on Boulware's van -- a modified 1995 Ford he bought in Georgia that was advertised online as a "full armored zombie busting vehicle." Doocy asked, "Just how did that Dallas police shooter over the weekend get his hands on an armored car that gave him enough protection when he opened fire on cops?" (Reports say Boulware was actually "on foot" when he initially attacked the headquarters.)
Doocy also said, "You would think that selling an armored car just to anybody is not safe," and, "The question is whether or not this stuff, once it's military surplus, should wind up in the hands of private individuals, because we saw over the weekend that can turn out bad."
No mention was made of questions surrounding how Boulware acquired the firearms he used in the attack or whether he was legally allowed to possess them. Boulware, who reportedly acted out of anger over a court decision in a custody dispute, was subject to "numerous temporary restraining orders granted to his son's mother," according to court documents viewed by Crooks & Liars.
CNN anchor Alisyn Camerota posited that "mental illness" may "lead to violence" while discussing a recent shooting in Dallas, a problematic framing of mental health issues that feeds false stigmas and ignores research debunking the notion of a direct causal link between mental health and violence.
James Boulware attacked Dallas police headquarters with a gun before fleeing in an armored van on June 13. He was killed after a brief standoff with police, and his relatives are now saying Boulware had a history of mental health issues.
Discussing the Dallas shooting on June 15, CNN's Alisyn Camerota implied there may be a direct connection between mental health issues and violence, asking her guest, "Do you see this as just another sad case of someone's mental illness leading to violence?" Citing the Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT shootings, Camerota then said, "We hate to give the impression that mental illness leads to violence, but does mental illness lead to violence, like in these cases?"
But there is no evidence of a direct connection between mental health and violence -- A 2013 report from The Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy explained how most people with mental health issues are "more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence," noting that only about 4 percent of violence in the United states "is attributable to mental illness.":
Many recent gun violence prevention policy discussions have assumed a direct causal connection between mental illness and violence. The research evidence suggests that violence has many interacting causes, and that mental illness alone very rarely causes violence.
Importantly, only a very small proportion of violence in the United States - about 4% - is attributable to mental illness.
According to the Consortium, only under very limited circumstances does a link exist between "individuals with serious mental illness" and violence:
Most people with serious mental illness - which includes conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - are never violent toward others, and are in fact more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violence. However, research suggests that small subgroups of individuals with serious mental illness, at certain times, such as the period surrounding a psychiatric hospitalization or the first episode of psychosis, are at elevated risk of violence. In addition, the population with serious mental illness experiences high rates of co-occurring substance use, an important risk factor for violent behavior in the general population.
Out of the Consortium report grew the Gun Violence Restraining Order proposal, which would allow family members of a "person who is at an elevated risk of harm to self and/or others to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from that individual."
Speculation like Camerota's feeds into the misperception that people with mental health issues are inherently violent, a myth about which the public is already misinformed. This misunderstanding is often fueled by entertainment and news media that mostly portray such people as dangerous, leading to widespread stigma and discrimination.