Fox & Friends presented emerging smart gun technology as "fascinating," reliable, and not vulnerable to hacking in a segment that highlighted a shotgun that can only be fired by an authorized user who wears a special ring.
The National Rifle Association claims that it does not oppose the development of smart gun technology, but in practice it often raises unfounded concerns that the technology is unreliable or could be disabled by hackers. The NRA has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the government could use the technology to take control of private firearms to implement a de facto ban on gun ownership.
A November 24 segment on Fox & Friends featured an interview with Jonathan Mossberg, the inventor of a "Magnetic Tag-enabled shotgun," that debunked these myths.
According to Mossberg's website, authorized users for the firearm wear a ring and "when the ring comes in close range to the normal ring-finger placement on the firearm's stock, the iGun compares a unique code from the ring to the gun to see if there is a match. If the code matches, the trigger unlocks" and the gun can be fired.
Proponents of smart guns promote the technology as a way to prevent unauthorized users -- such as children or someone trying to access a law enforcement officer's gun -- from accessing a weapon.
A segment on the November 24 broadcast of Fox & Friends opened by comparing smart gun technology with something that might be seen in a James Bond movie. Fox News "CyberGuy" Kurt Knutsson participated in a demonstration of the technology with Mossberg and concluded, "I tested it out, I can tell you right now that guns are about to become a lot like an iPhone where you could just simply use your fingerprint to open a gun, or even in this case you use a ring."
During the demonstration Knutsson attempted to fire Mossberg's shotgun, but was unable to do so. He then passed the firearm to Mossberg, who was able to fire the gun instantly because he was wearing a ring for an authorized user.
After the demonstration, Mossberg explained that people who oppose the technology are "people that jump to conclusions, that don't do homework, and don't do research are against it. You may not want to buy one. That's fine. But don't be against it."
Mossberg's explanation of the unfounded reasons people oppose smart gun technology sounds like a summation of the attacks on the technology from the NRA's media arm, NRA News. (Interestingly, Mossberg's family operates O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a sponsor of the NRA News web series Noir.)
In contrast to the successful demonstration of the technology on Fox News, the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company has spread false information about the failure rate of the technology, featured content suggesting smart guns are a "dumb idea" and that "gun owners won't trust an electronic firearm to save the day," and hosted guests to claim the technology doesn't work. The NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom has endlessly criticized smart gun technology, recently describing it as "floundering."
These attacks are baseless -- market-ready smart guns have a similar mechanical failure rate compared to firearms that do not have the technology.
The Fox & Friends segment also addressed claims that the technology could be hacked by criminals or by the government for nefarious purposes. Knutsson explained, "The fact is, this particular technology right here, 15 million combinations to that ring is what it would take to hack through it."
"The people who hate technology, smart guns, they think that big bad government can shut my guns down. Mine does not work on WiFi, mine does not work on any signal other than this far apart," added Mossberg, demonstrating the distance between his thumb and index finger.
NRA News has promoted the type of conspiratorial claims described by Mossberg. In April 2014, conservative media distorted comments made by then-Attorney General Eric Holder about smart gun technology similar to Mossberg's -- it would use a bracelet rather than a ring -- to claim that the government wanted to track gun owners using the technology. Conservative media falsely claimed Holder promoted "tracking" bracelets, when instead the purpose of the bracelet Holder discussed was to send a signal to the firearm authorizing its use.
Despite being a complete distortion of what Holder said, NRA News hosted multiple guests to push the conspiracy theory, with one guest claiming, "For some reason they feel like they need to keep an eye on where your gun is and where my gun is, and Eric Holder can do pretty much whatever he wants with government funds."
The NRA's publication American Rifleman also promoted the conspiracy theory that "a criminal, a hacker or even a government agency could turn your gun on or off anytime they wanted" if smart gun technology was adopted. The author of the article appeared on NRA News to claim the technology could be hijacked by "politicians, let's be frank, who would just as soon ban all handguns."
During the Fox & Friends segment, Mossberg and Kilmeade both expressed opposition to legislation that would mandate the adoption of the technology, which is in line with the NRA's position, but nonetheless Kilmeade concluded the segment by describing Mossberg's invention as "fascinating."
Fox & Friends' treatment of smart gun technology stands in sharp contrast to previous coverage of the technology on Fox & Friends; the show was one of many conservative media outlets to push the conspiracy theory about Holder and "gun tracking bracelets."
The Blaze's Dana Loesch joined the NRA's media arm with the release of a commentary video that falsely and conspiratorially suggested that President Obama could require a family member who gives another family member a gun to register as a federally licensed firearm dealer and open their house to inspection by the government.
Loesch is now listed on the NRA News website as part of its commentators series, which the NRA describes as showcasing a "new generation of advocates and activists for the Second Amendment." She is also employed by Glenn Beck's conservative network The Blaze, hosts a nationally syndicated conservative radio show, and is a frequent guest on Fox News.
In her first video for the NRA, released on November 18, Loesch claimed, "The president could use his phone and his pen to require that even the simple transfer of a firearm between family members -- like if my husband handed down his rifle to our oldest son -- be treated in accordance with FFL [Federal Firearm License] requirements."
"So right now the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives] doesn't issue FFLs for total personal use only," Loesch continued, "But if this were to change, then the ATF would be required to treat your home, and your family, as they do all gun dealers. This means regular inspections. You would be publicly listed with the other licensees and you must allow the ATF to inspect your recordkeeping. Ta-da. National registry. It's the same thing, by the way, that Hillary Clinton has proposed as an executive action should she ever become president."
The scenario described by Loesch is absurd. In recent months both the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign have expressed interest in executive action that would partially close the "private sales loophole" that allows a significant number of guns to be sold without a background check.
Under current federal law, individuals "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must obtain a Federal Firearm License (FFL) and run background checks on customers. People who are engaged in "occasional sales" or sell out of their "personal collection" do not need to obtain an FFL or run checks on buyers.
Some gun sellers, including firearms traffickers, take advantage of the vagueness of the definition of what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms in order to sell large numbers of guns without a background check.
The Obama administration and the Clinton campaign are considering proposals to require people who are engaged in significant commercial firearm activity to perform background checks on customers, but the suggestion that these proposals would reach a father handing a gun down to a son is baseless and conspiratorial.
According to The Washington Post, the Obama administration is examining proposals "to impose background checks on individuals who buy from dealers who sell a significant number of guns each year." The paper reported that one such proposal considered in 2013 by the administration would impose the requirement for individuals who sell more than 50 guns a year.
Likewise, Clinton is also only considering an FFL requirement for sellers of large numbers of guns. According to a Clinton aide the proposal would "ensure that high-volume gun sellers are covered by the same common-sense rules that apply to guns stores -- including requiring background checks on gun sales."
Policy papers by leading gun safety advocacy groups also make it clear that proposals would target people who are actually commercial sellers, and nothing in their proposals approaches requiring a father to obtain an FFL to give a gun to his son.
Loesch's claim about home inspections by the ATF, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws and regulating gun dealers, is also baseless fearmongering.
The ATF has limited resources, in large part due to the NRA's repeated efforts to hinder the agency. There are currently around 140,000 FFLs, and the ATF aims to inspect dealers every three to five years. According to The Trace, just 7 percent of dealers were inspected in 2014, and in 2013 just 42 percent of FFLs had been inspected by the ATF in the previous five years. If transfers of firearms between family members were to require an FFL, the ATF would be tasked with tens of millions of inspections each year, a scenario that highlights the absurdity of Loesch's claim.
Loesch concluded her video with another conspiracy, claiming that proponents of "common sense" gun laws actually want anyone who ever told a doctor or mental health professional that they were "moody" or anyone who ever got angry or shouted at work to be put into a database that disqualifies gun ownership. In reality, the Affordable Care Act contains NRA-backed provisions that prohibit certain data collection about gun ownership and laws that prohibit people from owning guns on the basis of serious mental health conditions do so on the basis of the individual being a danger to themselves or others, not whether they got angry at work.
A commentary video from the National Rifle Association claimed it's "a complete lie" that "the only acceptable definition of minority is non-white, or sometimes non-straight" before drawing a parallel between the experiences of gun owners and racial and LGBT minorities.
The claim was made on the NRA's Noir web series, a show hosted by gun blogger turned NRA News commentator Colion Noir. The series is part of the NRA's increasing efforts to appeal to a younger demographic.
The November 10 episode of Noir displayed stock footage of civil rights marches and suffragette protestors while Noir said, "No other country empowers its minorities the way that we do. We defend minorities' speech, minority opinion, and yes, minority gun rights, because differences are the foundation of our greatness."
While suggesting that gun owners are a minority and that "majorities by definition accept the status quo, minorities change it," Noir likened people who have guns to several great Americans, including "Martin Luther King Jr., who thought about race differently."
Noir drove his claim home that gun owners are like minorities by saying it's "a complete lie" that "in today's media-driven world, the only acceptable definition of minority is non-white, or sometimes non-straight."
Noir's grouping of gun owners with racial minorities, LGBT people, and women who fought for equal rights falls flat. Protected classes are often formed upon the theory that it is wrong to discriminate against people because of their immutable characteristics, such as skin tone, gender, or sexual orientation. Gun ownership is not immutable, it's a choice.
Another common characteristic of a protected class is that it encompasses an individual or group who has unequal access to the political process, something that cannot be said for gun owners, especially given the political efforts of the NRA.
And Noir did nothing to establish that gun owners have faced the type of systematic and institutional discrimination that protected classes have historically faced.
A better argument might be to contend that gun ownership falls within the same class as other rights that the Supreme Court has deemed "fundamental," but that wouldn't produce the type of inflammatory hot take that Noir is known for.
The claims in the November 10 episode of Noir represent the other side of the coin to the NRA's common claim that restrictions on firearms are tantamount to Jim Crow, segregation, or other laws that discriminate on the basis of race. Past NRA president Marion Hammer infamously put forward this argument with her claim that assault weapons bans are like racial discrimination because "banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again. The color of a gun. The way it looks. It's just bad politics."
A new video from the National Rifle Association's (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre claims that President Obama "has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed" of gun violence in big cities but chooses not to because he supposedly refuses to enforce federal gun laws.
In fact, the NRA has engaged in a decades-long campaign to hinder the efforts of the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
In an October 27 video released by NRA News, LaPierre claimed, "Under the existing federal gun laws, [Obama] could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more. But he won't do it, his Justice Department won't do it, and the media never asks why."
The video also featured LaPierre's continued apparent use of racially coded language by contrasting "thugs like De'Eris Brown," "criminal gangbangers with illegal guns in Chicago," and "violent thugs" with "the good, honest Americans living out in farm towns in Nebraska or Oklahoma or working two jobs in inner-city Chicago or Baltimore." The video was introduced by LaPierre claiming "[n]othing illustrates America's breakdown like the way the president's hometown celebrates its holidays," before describing Chicago shootings as a "kind of third-world carnage."
LaPierre concluded with a false claim: "No organization has been louder, clearer or more consistent on the urgent need to enforce the federal gun laws than the NRA."
The NRA's lie is brazen given widespread reporting explaining how the gun group interferes with ATF operations. As USA Today reported in 2013, "lobbying records and interviews show the [NRA] has worked steadily to weaken existing gun laws and the federal agency charged with enforcing them."
According to The Washington Post, "the gun lobby has consistently outmaneuvered and hemmed in ATF, using political muscle to intimidate lawmakers and erect barriers to tougher gun laws. Over nearly four decades, the NRA has wielded remarkable influence over Congress, persuading lawmakers to curb ATF's budget and mission and to call agency officials to account at oversight hearings."
The NRA's opposition to the ATF has been extreme. The gun group has threatened to attempt to abolish the agency all together and LaPierre infamously called federal law enforcement agents "jack-booted government thugs" who wear "Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."
Here are four things the NRA does that are detrimental to the enforcement of federal gun laws:
The NRA routinely cajoles its allies in Congress to limit the ATF's budget (even as other federal law enforcement agency budgets grow) and pass riders to appropriations legislation that further limit the agency's ability to enforce federal gun laws. As a 2013 report from Center for American Progress explained, one set of riders, often called the Tiahrt Amendments, "have limited how ATF can collect and share information to detect illegal gun trafficking, how it can regulate firearms sellers, and how it partners with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies." The NRA has also backed legislation to hamper the ability of the ATF to go after criminal gun dealers, in one instance backing a bill that the Washington Post editorial board explained, "would make it all but impossible for the ATF to press forward with any case."
In 2006, an NRA-backed amendment to the re-authorization of The Patriot Act created the requirement that the Senate confirm permanent ATF directors who are nominated by the president. The NRA subsequently opposed nominees for a permanent director, in one case comparing Obama's 2010 nominee Andrew Traver to an arsonist. After seven years of not having a permanent director, B. Todd Jones was confirmed by the Senate in 2013, but resigned after just two years. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement officials have told The New York Times that having a permanent director vacancy "has inevitably depleted morale and kept the agency from developing a coherent agenda."
While LaPierre repeatedly referenced felons with guns in his video, his organization attempts to make the ATF use its budget to rearm felons. For more than two decades, standard appropriations language prohibited the ATF from using budget money on a program that allowed people who had lost their legal right to buy or own a gun because of a felony conviction to apply for restoration of that right. Without having to operate the program, the ATF has had more funding to enforce federal gun laws. In June, an NRA ally in Congress offered a successful amendment to reverse the longstanding language. While the amendment was under consideration the NRA repeatedly promoted it with the blatant falsehood that the program would only be available to nonviolent felons.
Under current federal law, gun dealers are allowed to proceed with a gun sale if the federal background check is not returned as a "proceed" or "denied" after three business days. Known as a "default proceed" sale, this feature of federal law is also called the "Charleston loophole" after the gunman who perpetrated the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME church, who received his gun without a completed background check (he would have been disqualified because of a drug charge). The "Charleston loophole" allows a significant number of prohibited persons to obtain firearms and diverts the resources of the ATF and other law enforcement agencies who must attempt to recover guns that would not have been sold without a completed background check. The loophole was created by an NRA-backed amendment to the 1993 Brady background check bill and following the Charleston massacre, the NRA vigorously defended the loophole as "a critical safety valve" to shield prospective gun purchasers from undergoing delays in the completion of background checks -- even though more than 90 percent of background checks are completed instantly.
A new commentary video from the National Rifle Association admitted that the odds of needing to use a gun for self-defense are exceedingly small while still promoting the ownership of firearms for self-defense.
The admission was made on the NRA's Noir web series, a show hosted by gun blogger turned NRA News commentator Colion Noir. The series is part of the NRA's increasing efforts to appeal to a younger demographic.
The October 20 edition of Noir opened with Noir playing the role of a magician as he laid out a deck of 52 cards in random order. After the skit ended, Noir said, "There are 318.9 million American citizens. The odds of you and me needing a gun to protect our lives is not that much better than Colion the Incredible putting these cards back in the exact order."
This admission from an NRA media product is surprising, but also accurate. The odds of randomly laying out two decks of cards in the same order are infinitesimal.
The odds of using a gun defensively are actually so low that it is difficult to accurately measure the number of defensive gun uses that occur each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).
Despite admitting the rarity of defensive gun uses, the NRA commentary video did not admit the logical conclusion of that fact, which is that guns do not typically make people safer.
In the commentary video, Noir still promoted guns as a life-saving tool. While acknowledging the long odds of actually needing a gun for self-defense, Noir stated, "Some people like to be prepared for the unlikely but possible. Other people like to cross their fingers and play the statistics. As American citizens we have the right to do both. But we don't have the right to do is limit someone's ability to be prepared for something we don't believe will happen until it does."
And Noir giving equal weight to owning a gun and being "prepared for the unlikely but possible" as opposed to not owning a gun and "play[ing] the statistics" does not make much sense if the ultimate goal is to improve personal safety.
This is because the evidence clearly indicates that gun ownership increases the risk of injury and death. While Noir frequently challenges those skeptical of gun ownership with a hypothetical scenario where it is obvious that having a gun would be better than not having one, firearm ownership on balance makes the average gun owner and his or her family less rather than more safe throughout that person's life. Peer-reviewed research has repeatedly established that gun ownership raises the likelihood of death by suicide, homicide, and through unintentional shooting.
Emerging research has also challenged the notion that guns are the best tools during a self-defense situation.
According to an analysis of federal government data from the National Crime Victimization Survey, "having a gun provides no statistically significant benefit to a would-be victim during a criminal confrontation" because victims who used a firearm to defend themselves were injured 10.9 percent of the time during a "criminal confrontation" compared to 11 percent of unarmed victims who were injured. Furthermore, the research indicated that 4.1 percent of victims were injured "after brandishing a firearm," compared to just 2.4 percent of victims who were injured after running or hiding.
Noir's admission that people are unlikely to actually use a gun in self-defense is also counter to the NRA's typical paranoid message, which posits that guns should be permissively purchased and carried so that gun owners can confront constant threats to their lives.
For example, in a February 2013 op-ed that was widely ridiculed for its outlandish claims and racially charged overtones, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre suggested that gun ownership was necessary to ensure "survival." LaPierre argued that Americans who don't buy firearms risk death from a number of sources:
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face--not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. It's responsible behavior, and it's time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
LaPierre used similar language in a 2014 speech at CPAC, raising a number of frightful scenarios including "knockout gamers," "haters," "vicious waves of chemicals or disease" to support his claim that "there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want":
We don't trust government, because government itself has proven unworthy of our trust. We trust ourselves and we trust what we know in our hearts to be right. We trust our freedom. In this uncertain world, surrounded by lies and corruption everywhere you look, there is no greater freedom than the right to survive and protect our families with all the rifles, shotguns, and handguns we want. We know in the world that surrounds us there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all.
Several conservative media outlets cited a recent study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine to conclude that gun laws do not effectively deter criminals from obtaining firearms, even though the study actually found that gun laws in Chicago make it harder for criminals to acquire firearms by increasing opportunity costs. The study's authors are now speaking out against media misrepresentations of their work.
A new commentary video produced by the National Rifle Association's (NRA) NRA News suggests that school shootings occur because children do not "respect" firearms or know how to handle them safely.
The claim came during the September 23 episode of the NRA News' series, Defending Our America, which brings together conservative commentators to participate in a roundtable discussion in each episode. Defending Our America has been heavily promoted by the NRA as part of the "new" NRA News, which launched on September 8. Other NRA News shows include talk radio show Cam & Company, a web series aimed at millennials called Noir, and Frontlines, a military-themed show that recently promoted the paranoid idea that North Korea could use a satellite to launch an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on America. Defending Our America is sponsored by gun manufacturer Sig Sauer.
During the Defending Our America episode, co-host Del Wilber said, "When I was growing up, part of the curriculum at high schools was firearm safety and marksmanship. And we didn't have 'Columbines' or 'Newtowns' because kids were taught to respect firearms, they were taught how to handle them safely and taught what their purpose was for, and that's been long gone."
The perpetrator in the Newtown, CT school shooting was highly-trained in the use of firearms and frequented shooting ranges. Authorities who investigated the killing of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary school found an NRA certificate bearing the gunman's name as well as an NRA firearm training manual in his house.
From the September 23 edition of NRA News' Defending Our America:
A contributor to the National Rifle Association's (NRA) Frontlines series suggested that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack on America could kill 90 percent of the population and cause people on food assistance to start "eating each other in the streets."
The NRA routinely fearmongers that an EMP attack -- where a nuclear bomb is detonated in space, supposedly causing the destruction of the power grid -- would cause widespread chaos and death, even though experts have dismissed such claims as coming from a "crowd of cranks and threat inflators."
During the September 22 broadcast of the NRA's radio show Cam & Company, Frontlines contributor Chuck Holton promoted an episode of his series featuring former CIA director James Woolsey. Called "The Fight for Light: The Coming Catastrophe," the episode largely speculated about the prospect of North Korea using a satellite to detonate a nuclear bomb in space to destroy the United States' power grid.
Frontlines is hosted by NRA board member and Iran-Contra figure Oliver North and takes viewers "inside the most dangerous threats and critical events concerning your freedom."
While promoting the North Korea EMP episode, Holton said on Cam & Company, "Like Admiral Woolsey said in that piece -- you know, this is the former director of the CIA, it's not just some old guy that we found on the street, OK? He knows what he is talking about. And they're estimating that 90 percent of Americans would die in the case of a large-scale grid down situation."
"You're talking about mass starvation, disease breaking out," Holton continued. "It's not just like people are going to die because their iPhone doesn't work anymore, you're talking about large scale -- people eating each other in the streets, because when you have these sort of systemic issues in our government of nearly half of the people in the United States receiving some sort of subsidy from the government, imagine what happens when all the EBT cards start flashing zeroes."
The NRA's claims about the chance of an EMP attack are greatly overblown. For one thing, North Korean satellites are not sophisticated enough to be used as reliable delivery systems for nuclear bombs (and look nothing like the highly-sophisticated satellite depicted as exploding over the United States in the Frontlines' episode.)
As Wired noted after "hysterical headlines" in 2012 about how North Korea had "finally managed to put an object into orbit around the Earth after 14 years of trying," North Korea's satellite is 2.5 feet by 3.5 feet tall and weighs just 220 pounds. While the satellite was supposed to transmit "scientific data when orbiting over the DPRK and the hymns of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il the rest of the time," it is apparently non-functional.
Woolsey, whom the NRA's considers its expert on EMP attacks, has also been criticized for his EMP claims and promotion of the conspiracy theory that Iraqis were responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
In a 2013 article in Foreign Policy, nonproliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis criticized Woolsey for a Wall Street Journal op-ed suggesting the United States should launch pre-emptive strike on North Korea to prevent an EMP attack on the United States.
Even if an EMP attack somehow occurred, Lewis demonstrated how past experimentation suggests that the "EMP crowd" has baselessly speculated about what would actually happen during an attack:
Even if we understand how an electromagnetic pulse works and have data about the vulnerability of equipment, a modern system like a power grid or communications network presents just too complex a set of resiliencies and vulnerabilities.
The solution of the EMP Commission was simply to collect more data, essentially creating laundry lists of things that might go wrong. For example, the EMP Commission exposed 37 cars and 18 trucks to EMP effects in a laboratory environment. While EMP advocates claim the results of an EMP attack would be "planes falling from the sky, cars stalling on the roadways, electrical networks failing, food rotting," the actual results were much more modest. Of the 55 vehicles exposed to EMP, six at the highest levels of exposure needed to be restarted. A few more showed "nuisance" damage to electronics, such as blinking dashboard displays.
The NRA routinely fills its magazines with advertisements for bulk survival food and alternative power sources in case the grid goes offline.
Just before the 2014 elections, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre urged supporters to "vote your guns" while fear mongering over the prospect of a Russia, China or North Korea-led EMP attack that could kill "as much as 90 percent of the population of the U.S." by bringing about the reemergence of "Third World" diseases like "amoebic dysentery, typhoid, [and] cholera -- killing our youngest and frailest family members."
From the September 10 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom:
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National Rifle Association (NRA) web series host Colion Noir cited the "theatrics" and the loud sound guns make as the reason people want to restrict firearms after a high-profile shooting occurs. Noir made the comment during an appearance on a conservative news show where he also defended his recent, controversial advice to the parents of two murdered Virginia journalists.
Noir, who has been helping the NRA's efforts to attract a younger audience to its media platforms, made headlines recently for warning the parents of Virginia journalists Alison Park and Adam Ward to not "become so emotional" in response to their childrens' fatal shooting that they misdirect their "grief-inspired advocacy." Parker's father, who has said he will make it his "mission in life" to pass stronger gun laws, called Noir's claim "insulting and disingenuous."
Noir discussed the Virginia shooting and his comments during a September 2 appearance with conservative radio host Dana Loesch on her show, Dana, which appears on Glenn Beck's network The Blaze.
After Loesch brought up an Indiana stabbing that occurred the same day of the August 26 shooting, Noir said, "What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, 'Oh my god these things are so dangerous.' With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show."
According to Noir, unlike knives, guns are treated as "the most dangerous thing in the world":
LOESCH: The same day that this Virginia story came out, Colin [sic], there was a story in Indianapolis where a guy car jacked a lady, stabbed her, ran over six people, it's almost -- it doesn't matter the tool, I mean you can't legislate away free will and evil.
NOIR: Yeah, absolutely. What the gun suffers from, unfortunately, is its inherent theatrics. With a gun, it's loud, it explodes, it's very theatrical in nature. So it's easy to prop it up on a screen when somebody gets shot with a gun and say, "Oh my god these things are so dangerous." With a knife it's quiet, it's very swift, it's unknown, and so there is really not much to show. But when you have a gun it's like, "Oh my god here it is," -- look you see it, you hear it -- "Oh my god it's the most dangerous thing in the world." That's when the more irrational aspects of our mentality start to kick in and we're like "Oh we just got to get rid of the gun, we just got to get rid of the gun." Not realizing, no, the real actor is the person who is utilizing a gun. Because the same way that gun can kill is the same way it can defend.
There are a few obvious reasons guns are more dangerous than knives. Guns are used in 68 percent of murders while knives are used in only 12.2 percent. This is because guns are more effective at killing people. One-third of people who are shot die, compared to 7.7 percent of stabbing victims who do. Guns are also ubiquitous in episodes of mass violence. Of 279 mass killings documented by USA Today since 2006, 211 were committed with firearms, compared to 33 where a knife was used.
The host of the National Rifle Association's radio show reacted to the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia by attacking "anti-gun politicians" and "anti-gun activists" for using the tragedy to call for stronger gun laws, claiming they "politicized" it and demonstrated "a lack of shared humanity."
But not only is the NRA hypocritical for saying gun policy debates should be off-limits after a shooting -- it has used mass shootings to call for looser gun laws -- it's also self-serving, because its political agenda benefits when potential new laws that it opposes are not debated and discussed.
The NRA's declaration that this is not the time to discuss gun policy also stands in stark contrast to comments made just hours after the shooting by the father of one of the victims, who said publicly that he will make it his life's work to convince politicians to close loopholes in gun laws.
During the morning of August 26, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, of Roanoke, Virginia's ABC affiliate station WDBJ, were gunned down while doing a live report from a recreation area. The shooter, who later that day committed suicide, was a disgruntled former co-worker. The tragedy quickly made national headlines and prompted calls for stronger gun laws and action by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife (D).
Later that same day during an afternoon broadcast, Cam Edwards, host of the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, lashed out at people who consider this latest incident of shocking public gun violence as more evidence the nation needs stronger gun laws.
Edwards complained, "Before we know any of the details, we are seeing anti-gun politicians, anti-gun activists trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage," and went on to characterize calls for new gun laws as "the wrong response to take here. I think it shows a lack of shared humanity."
He went on to lament, "It has been really disheartening to see in a matter of minutes how this story became politicized," and said, "This is a community that is absolutely heartbroken right now and you've got people who are trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage for them[selves]. I just think it's gross."
That reaction typifies the gun group's strategy whenever a shooting captures national headlines. Hiding behind expressions of concern for the victims of the attack, the NRA condemns anyone who sees the violence as a reason to change or reform laws and accuses them of "politicizing" a tragedy.
This argument is nonsensical. As Ezra Klein explained for The Washington Post following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, saying that it's not appropriate to talk about new gun laws "is a form of politicization":
When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid "politicizing" the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for "don't talk about reforming our gun control laws."
Let's be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It's just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
With statements that attempt to police what can and can't be said following a shooting, the NRA not only seeks to shut down debate that could lead to tougher gun laws, it also purports to speak for the victims and their family members.
But no one who has been personally affected by gun violence needs the NRA to speak for them. Certainly not Parker's father, who appeared on Fox News the night his daughter was shot and made an impassioned plea for gun reform.
Noting that he had spoken by phone with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Andy Parker said: "I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns," adding that McAullife told him, "I'm right there with you":
ANDY PARKER: And, you know, I'm not going to let this issue drop. We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns. And, you know, and the problem that you guys have is that -- and I know it's the news business and this is a big story. But next week it isn't going to be a story anymore and everybody is going to forget it. But you mark my words, my mission in life -- and I talked to the governor today. He called me and he said -- and I told him, I said, I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns. And he said, you go, I'm right there with you. So, you know, this is not the last you've heard of me. This is something that is Alison's legacy that I want to make happen.
A flack for the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association (NRA) used the Jim Crow-era term "poll tax" to describe a new Seattle ordinance that imposes a tax on the sale of guns and ammunition to fund research on gun violence, which the NRA has challenged in a lawsuit.
On August 10, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved a new tax on firearm and ammunition sales. Beginning in January, firearms will be subject to a $25 tax, while most types of ammunition will be taxed at 5 cents per round. Seattle has embraced a research-based approach to preventing gun violence and already has a "hospital-based intervention program for gun violence victims." Revenue from the new tax will fund additional research. Seattle City Council data shows that in 2014, Seattle taxpayers paid $12 million to cover the direct medical costs of gunshot wounds.
During the August 21 broadcast of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) media liaison Lars Dalseide -- who has been attacking the tax in media interviews -- compared the measure to a "poll tax" that is "meant to punish a certain group."
Dalseide said, "Basically what this really is is a poll tax. It's something to stop people from doing something. I know traditionally here in the states a poll tax is tied to voting, but if you go worldwide, a poll tax is just meant to punish a certain group, and this is exactly what this is doing."
In the United States, poll taxes were voter registration fees aimed primarily at disenfranchising African-Americans that began during the 19th century following the ratification of the 15th Amendment. Poll taxes also disenfranchised poor people and women in some states. The practice was barred in federal elections by the 24th Amendment and state poll taxes have been found to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Outside of the United States, the term "poll tax" is synonymous with a "head tax" -- a fee imposed on certain immigrants depending on their country of origin that was most infamously levied against Chinese immigrants to Canada and New Zealand in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Dalseide's inflammatory comparison ignores the fact that firearm sales are already taxed -- gun and ammunition sales have been subject to a federal excise tax for decades that is used to fund conservation programs.
The NRA -- which is joined in its lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation and a gun industry trade group, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) -- says the tax violates a Washington state law limiting the kinds of gun regulations localities can enact. The Seattle City Council contends that the new tax does not regulate firearms and falls within their taxation authority.
In an August 24 NRA-ILA press release, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Larry Keane also referred to the tax as "nothing but a 'poll tax' on the Second Amendment..."
National Rifle Association past president and Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer promoted the NRA's plan to force Florida colleges and universities to allow students to carry guns by claiming that opponents of the measure are "engaged in a war on women," given the epidemic of campus sexual assault.
The NRA has increasingly co-opted the issue of sexual assault on college campuses to push legislation that would allow guns on campus, even though no evidence exists that more guns would make campuses safer for women. In fact, research has repeatedly indicated that where there are more guns, women are more likely to be murdered, often by an intimate partner.
During an Aug. 10 appearance on the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, Hammer touted the re-filing of a proposed law in Florida to allow guns on campus that died in committee in the last legislative session. Florida's next legislative session begins in January.
Hammer, a paid NRA lobbyist and past president of the NRA who also heads NRA affiliate group Unified Sportsmen of Florida, was one of the chief architects of the nation's first Stand Your Ground law, which was signed into law in 2005 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
On Cam & Company, Hammer claimed that "a gun-free-zone campus" is "a sanctuary where criminals can rape and commit mass murder without fear of resistance," adding, "Not only are opponents of this bill engaging in a war against the Second Amendment and self-defense, they are engaging in a war against women who need to be able to defend themselves against rape and physical violence on a college campus."
Hammer also attacked the League of Women Voters of Florida, a prominent opponent of the NRA's legislation, saying the group is part of an "anti-women, anti-self-defense movement."
According to the Tallahassee Democrat, the League of Women Voters of Florida is hosting a "Gun Safety Summit" on Aug. 13 with the goal of "uniting with students, professors, administrators and the national organization, Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus" to oppose the bill in 2016 .
Hammer ended her appearance on Cam & Company by lashing out at higher-ed administrators and educators who oppose "campus carry" laws, saying, "The message should be very clear that college administrators and liberal anti-gun professors who oppose self-defense on campus are turning a blind eye to rape and violent crime."
All available evidence, however, indicates that guns are not an antidote to the epidemic of campus sexual assault and that the presence of firearms actually increases danger for women.
In fact, according to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report "being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college" compared to students who did not carry guns. A 2002 study in the Journal of American College Health suggested that students who kept firearms on campus did not help make the school grounds safer, finding that they were more likely to engage in risky or illegal behaviors.
There is also no evidence that women rely on guns to defend themselves from sexual assaults. David Hemenway, the director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, studied 10 years of data from the National Crime Victimization Survey and found that out of 1,100 victims who reported experiencing sexual assault, just one used a firearm in self-defense.
On the contrary, research has repeatedly indicated that the presence of firearms increases danger for women, because most male attackers target someone they know. Although the NRA is framing "campus carry" legislation as a women's issue, the legislation would apply to women and men, who are much more likely to carry guns. And where men have more guns, more women die in domestic violence incidents.
According to a fact sheet issued by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "A study of risk factors for violent death of women in the home found that women living in homes with 1 or more guns were more than 3 times more likely to be killed in their homes. The same study concluded that women killed by a spouse, intimate acquaintance, or close relative were 7 times more likely to live in homes with 1 or more guns."
Research from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that in states where more guns are owned, women are more likely to die violent deaths from unintentional shootings, suicides, and homicides. The Atlantic reported that this is true "even after controlling for factors such as urbanization, alcohol use, education, poverty, and divorce rates."
Despite all evidence indicating that guns on campus are not the solution to campus sexual assault, the NRA has increasingly cited sexual assault in its campaign to arm college students nationwide. The host of Cam & Company, Cam Edwards, has argued that people who oppose guns on campus legislation are "OK with some sexual assaults occurring when they could be prevented."
Edwards has also attacked the argument that women should not have to carry guns to defend themselves, saying that the burden is on the victim to stop the attack. According to Edwards, "It is the truth that if you are the victim of violent crime or the victim of an attempted violent crime, it is not the patriarchy that puts the burden on you to defend yourself, it is not rigid gender roles, it is -- it's a fact of life."
Breitbart.com's John Nolte attacked actress and comedian Amy Schumer's recent call for gun safety measures, claiming that the Trainwreck star doesn't actually care about a mass shooting that occurred during a screening of her film, but rather that she hoped to cynically use the shooting as "a great opportunity" to advance her career.
Two women were killed and nine other people were injured after a gunman opened fire during a screening of Trainwreck at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana on July 23. The gunman, who had a history of domestic violence and bizarre behavior, committed suicide.
Following up on her pledge to engage on the issue of gun violence following the shooting, Schumer appeared alongside her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), at a press conference to promote new legislation to ensure that disqualifying records are submitted by states into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill includes other measures to address substance abuse and mental health issues.
During the Aug. 3 press conference, Amy Schumer said, "We're here today to say is enough is enough. To mass shootings in our schools, our college campuses, our military bases, and even in our movie theaters. These shootings have got to stop." She continued, "For me, the pain I share with so many other Americans on the issue of gun violence was made extremely personal to me on Thursday, July 23 when ... he sat down for my movie, Trainwreck, at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two lives were tragically lost and others injured and I've thought about these victims each day since the tragedy."
A visibly emotional Schumer concluded her remarks by saying, "These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence, but I can promise you they will not be my last."
On the Aug. 3 broadcast of the National Rifle Association's radio show Cam & Company, Breitbart News editor-at-large John Nolte attacked Schumer's motives, claiming that she did not care about the shooting but rather wished to use the tragedy to advance her career.
According to Nolte, Schumer sees the mass shooting as "a great opportunity, this occurred at my movie and now the focus is on me, and what can I do to enhance my career."
"If she had any moral courage and she actually cared about what happened she would come out and she would say, 'Listen putting a sign on a movie theater that says no one inside it is armed, that this is a gun-free zone, is stupid.' She has the power to do this. She could make jokes about how stupid these gun-free zones are," Nolte continued.
Instead, Schumer "is dressing up like she is a grown-up and she's just exploiting the situation because it's an opportunity for her to maybe increase her box office over the weekend," he said, calling her advocacy "cowardly."
Nolte continued to claim that Schumer was using the shooting to advance her career, saying, "She's not thinking, she's just trying to please the right people to enhance her career. And she also -- there is a lot Oscar talk around her movie and that probably has something to do with it, too. You go the Angelina Jolie route so everybody suddenly starts to take you seriously." Nolte said all he sees "is cynicism behind" Schumer's call for action.
Cam & Company host Cam Edwards said that he disagreed with Nolte's assessment and would not impugn Schumer with a cynical motive for her comments on gun violence. Nolte responded, "You're a nicer guy than I am, but I just see these unthinking Hollywood types and it just enrages me."
After a gunman killed nine people in a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, gun safety advocates responded with calls to expand the national background check system. Just as quickly, the National Rifle Association (NRA) reacted to those calls, slamming gun safety groups for "exploiting" the tragedy for "political purposes."
One month later, another gunman killed five members of the military at a naval facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The NRA was again quick to respond, but this time claimed the incident provided proof that firearm policies on military bases must be changed to loosen the rules about service members carrying guns.
So which is it? The NRA apparently thinks it is exploitative to discuss gun violence following mass shootings -- unless, of course, the discussion is about why we should loosen gun laws. Their stance on the issue changes based on how to best advance the organization's interests.
Following the mass murder at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, the NRA went into its post-mass shooting standard operating procedure -- shutting down its social media accounts and refusing to speak to the press. Two days later, the NRA's media arm addressed the shooting, with NRA News host Cam Edwards opining that it was "completely inappropriate" to discuss gun policies the day after the incident, adding, "I did not receive a single email communication chastising me or complaining that we should have been talking about policy and politics as opposed to remembering the victims in Charleston."
Soon, though, the NRA was forced to issue an official statement after one of its board members created controversy by blaming the shooting on the church's slain pastor, who was a supporter of gun safety policies.
While distancing itself from the board member's comments, the NRA claimed on June 20 that out of "respect" for the victims, "we do not feel that this is [a] appropriate time for a political debate," adding, "We will have no further comment until all the facts are known."
Three weeks later, the NRA did offer an additional comment on the Charleston shooting, following a push by gun safety advocates for expanded background checks. (It would later be revealed that the gunman was able to purchase a weapon despite being legally prohibited because of an NRA-backed loophole in federal law.) In a July 8 statement attacking gun safety groups, the NRA said, "gun control advocates are offering a solution that won't solve the problem. Even they admit that the legislation they are pushing wouldn't have prevented the tragic crimes they are exploiting for political purposes."
The NRA has continued to advance this narrative on the Charleston shooting and proposed gun law reforms. In a July 17 post on the website of its lobbying arm, the NRA lashed out at Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) after the South Carolina congressman proposed eliminating the NRA-backed loophole that helped arm the Charleston gunman.
Clyburn was "exploiting a recent tragedy" according to the NRA, which also said, "Gun control advocates are shameless in their willingness to exploit tragedy to achieve their agenda." The NRA re-published its attack on Clyburn at the conservative news website Daily Caller on July 19.
The very next day, the NRA's top lobbyist used the July 16 Chattanooga mass shooting to call for changes to gun laws, telling Military Times, "It's outrageous that members of our armed services have lost their lives because the government has forced them to be disarmed in the workplace. Congress should pursue a legislative fix to ensure that our service men and women are allowed to defend themselves on U.S. soil."
So when the NRA called for a policy change it claimed was justified by the Chattanooga shooting, was it exploiting those victims?
The fact is that after pretty much any high-profile national event, mass shooting or otherwise, policy debates are often triggered. In the NRA's hypocritical world view, however, calls for stronger gun laws are disrespectful, exploitative, and shameless -- while calls for less restrictions are sensible, timely, and relevant. Even worse, the gun group's post-shooting strategy operates from behind a façade of "respect" for the victims.
The NRA's doublespeak on Charleston and Chattanooga, however, reveals that its real concern is its own agenda.