NRA News

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  • What To Know About The NRA And Smart Guns

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    On April 29, the Obama administration released a report on what federal agencies can do to further develop smart gun technology that prevents anyone other than authorized users from discharging a firearm. With the gun industry already attacking Obama’s technology push, it is important to note that while the NRA claims it doesn’t oppose the technology’s development, its media and lobbying arms routinely make false claims about its reliability and promote conspiracy theories about the federal government wanting to use the technology to spy on gun owners.

  • NRA Spins Primary Results With False Claim Clinton’s Support For Gun Safety Laws Is Hurting Her Campaign

    NRA News On CT Primary: “Hillary Clinton Did Not Win Newtown, Donald Trump Won Newtown”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm offered a faulty and misleading analysis of Connecticut’s presidential primary results to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s support for stronger gun safety laws is a detriment to her campaign, while arguing that she somehow lost the primary to Donald Trump.

    During the April 27 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attacked a Huffington Post article headlined “Hillary Clinton Wins Newtown, After Making Gun Control Central To Her Campaign.”

    Newtown was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which claimed 26 lives.

    Clinton won a seven point victory over Bernie Sanders in Newtown, beating her overall state victory margin of five points during Connecticut’s April 26 primary.

    Edwards attacked the notion that Clinton’s focus on gun safety and subsequent win was “significant” by fallaciously arguing that “Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” because Trump received more total votes in the primary:

    EDWARDS: On the Republican side, in Newtown, Connecticut, Hillary Clinton didn’t beat Donald Trump in terms of the vote numbers. … So in terms of all of the candidates that residents and voters in Newtown could vote for, no, Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown. I don't think you’re going to see that headline at Huffington Post. ... So if Hillary Clinton's win in Newtown in the Democratic primary is significant, well then what is the significance of (a) a Republican candidate actually getting the most votes of all of the candidates on the ballot there in Newtown, (b) one who has expressed support for the right to keep and bear arms. What's the significance there ya think?

    Trump received 1,654 votes in the Republican primary in Newtown while Clinton received 1,362 votes in the Democratic primary.

    Edwards also said, “It's worth noting that statewide, Hillary Clinton actually did get more votes than Donald Trump, she got about 50,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but not in Newtown, Connecticut. ... I just think it's worth pondering what the significance of the fact that Hillary Clinton did not actually get the most votes in Newtown might be.”

    Edwards’ comparison between vote totals for Clinton and Trump is nonsensical. By definition, primaries are not contests between candidates of different parties -- and Connecticut has a closed primary system meaning voters can only vote for candidates of their registered party.

    Edwards claim that “Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” also doesn’t make sense when voter trends in Connecticut are analyzed:

    • For a variety of factors, far more Republicans have voted in 2016 primaries compared to Democrats.
    • Newtown has more active registered Republicans (5126) than active registered Democrats (4358). Mitt Romney easily won Newtown in the 2012 presidential election.
    • Even so, Democratic turnout was higher (58%) compared to Republican turnout (56%) in Newtown.
    • Edwards argued it was significant that Trump received more votes than Clinton in Newtown, even though Clinton “got about 50,000 more votes” than Trump statewide. But in Newtown there are 768 more active registered Republicans than Democrats, while statewide there are 303,635 more registered active Democrats compared to active registered Republicans.
  • New NRA Talking Point Falsely Equates Gun Owners With LGBT People

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The host of the National Rifle Association's radio show drew a false parallel between being LGBT and being a gun enthusiast while discussing a controversy involving a college professor.

    The NRA has a lengthy history of comparing the treatment of gun owners to the treatment of people with immutable characteristics, including drawing false parallels between legal regulations on guns and Jim Crow-style laws that discriminated on the basis of race.

    Cam Edwards, the host of the NRA's radio show Cam & Company, compared gun owners to LGBT people while discussing an April 18 opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the piece, an anonymous college professor grappled with mixed feelings and asked for advice after being asked to write a letter of recommendation to a teacher-credential program for a student who is a "gun enthusiast." The anonymous professor wrote:

    I lay all of this out here now because I don’t know what to do about the recommendation.

    It’s so complicated. On one side are all of my ideas about supporting students, honoring their individuality and their journeys, creating a safe space for them (and myself), not taking things out of context, not overinterpreting. On the other side are my memories of growing up in a situation where guns, people, and bullets had to be rigorously kept apart, lest they find each other in a tragic moment of instability.

    Edwards responded to the opinion piece by attacking the anonymous professor and drawing a false comparison between gun owners and LGBT people, claiming during the April 19 broadcast of his show, "Now imagine this piece written but instead of a gun owner, they’re talking about, I don’t know, any other group out there. ... Member of the LGBT community. A transgendered [sic] student. Any other identifying factor":

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): Now imagine this piece written, but instead of a gun owner, we're talking about, I don’t know, any other group out there. Vegetarian. Member of the LGBT community. A transgendered [sic] student. Any other identifying factor -- I don’t want to help this person because I don’t agree with them. Well this professor is in for a world of controversy, aren’t they? Probably have students demanding to know who this professor really is. Professor would probably worried about being dismissed from her job for being so intolerant. But when it comes to a woman who wants to own a firearm for self defense, nah it's OK for this professor to try to treat that student like dirt. As long as the student is not aware of it, mind you.

    Edwards and the NRA have a well-established track record of comparing conditions placed on gun ownership to the experience of racial discrimination. In June 2013, Edwards compared gun owners in Colorado to victims of “segregation” following Colorado's adoption of stronger gun laws after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and Aurora movie theater shooting. Edwards has also claimed that a requirement that Colorado students who own guns on campus must live in a designated dorm means "we are back to segregation now."

    A July 2014 commentary video from the NRA compared modern gun regulations to “Jim Crow laws,” claiming current gun laws are “equally as unconstitutional” as laws that codified racial discrimination.

    And in January 2013, former NRA president Marion Hammer compared Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) then-proposed ban on assault weapons to racial discrimination, claiming on the NRA's radio show, "Well, you know, 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."

    The NRA is now expanding this inaccurate and offensive comparison to the LGBT community.

  • NRA Commentator: People Who Hate Guns Should Own Body Armor As A “Passive Way To Protect Yourself From Being Shot”

    NRA's Colion Noir: “You Don’t Have To Watch The News Longer Than An Hour To Realize That The Structure Of Society Can Go Downhill In A Heartbeat”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A bizarre video released by an NRA News commentator touted several reasons to own body armor, including the claim that “if you don’t like guns and want nothing to do with them, you have every right to make less than smart decisions with your life, but I can’t think of a more passive way to protect yourself from being shot than owning body armor.”

    The video was published on April 20 by Colion Noir, who is an NRA News commentator and host of the NRA’s supposedly millennial-geared web series Noir.

    The video, “5 Reasons You Should Want Body Armor,” offers several arguments in favor of buying a plate carrier vest -- a piece of tactical gear that holds body armor -- and body armor plates to keep at home or carry while in public.

    While most of Noir’s suggestions were apparently geared toward gun owners, he also recommended people who make “make less than smart decisions with your life” and “want nothing to do with” guns should still own body armor because he “can’t think of a more passive way to protect yourself from being shot”:

    NOIR: Look, if you don’t like guns and want nothing to do with them, you have every right to make less than smart decisions with your life, but I can’t think of a more passive way to protect yourself from being shot than owning body armor. I’m not saying you have to channel your inner 50 Cent and wear a vest general purpose. But have armor in your home or bag, you have nothing to lose. You may not like guns or me for liking guns, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about your safety.

    In the video, Noir explains, “When people come to my place, it’s not the Rifle Dynamics AK-47 sitting on a coffee table that gives them pause; it’s my body armor,” before describing several other scenarios where he recommends owning body armor:

    • “Home Defense”: Noir said, “Along with my gun and flashlight, I keep a plate carrier with AR-500 armor plates in close proximity to my bed. If I’m incredibly unlucky and hear that bump in the night, it doesn’t take much effort to slip on the plate carrier or soft body armor and grab my gun. Sure that THOT [That Ho Over There] you just met and brought home from the club will likely look at the plate carrier sitting next to your bed a little funny, but you shouldn’t be dealing with THOTs without protection anyway.”
    • “Active Shooter – Conceal Carry”: Noir said, “Yes, you read that correctly, I conceal-carry body armor. … Since I’m usually carrying a bag of sorts, why not slip one of the AR-500 soft body armor plates into the bag. If I’m out and about and there happens to be an active shooter, I can just throw on the bag and use it as a shield, or give the bag to someone I love to do the aforementioned.”
    • “Civil UnRest/Apocalypse/SHTF”: Over footage that included the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and the televised beating of trucker Reginald Denny, Noir said, “Please believe, if the fall of society happens at two o’clock on a Tuesday, and for whatever reason I have to go outside, I’m walking outside like this. You don’t have to watch the news longer than an hour to realize that the structure of society can go downhill in a heartbeat. It may just be a temporary breakdown in society, like a crazy protest or looting after a major storm. But very permanent things can happen in temporary situations.”
    • “Road Trip”: Noir said, “I already have a rifle in my vehicle when I’m traveling. It was kind of a no-brainer to throw my carrier in as well. God forbid I’m stuck on a highway watching a terrorist go from car to car shooting at people. That carrier could come in pretty handy.”

    Noir often intertwines his commentary on guns with his commentary on women. In recurring segments on his show Noir, he narrated videos that appeared to be praising the appearance and personality attributes of an attractive woman, but at the end it is revealed that instead he was talking about the features of a high-end military-style assault weapon.

    Noir’s pro-gun commentary is often inflammatory. In February, Noir said that a tax that he had to pay on a firearm purchase was “rape.” He later apologized for the claim.

    Following the high-profile murder of two Virginia journalists who were shot to death during a live television broadcast in August 2015, Noir warned the victims' parents not to "become so emotional" in response to the shooting that they become advocates for stronger gun laws.

  • Apparently, The NRA Is Now OK With Illegal Gun Possession

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    New York City has cracked down on an alleged scheme to circumvent local gun licensing requirements, and the National Rifle Association’s media arm reacted not by calling for enforcement of gun laws but by falsely calling NYC’s laws unconstitutional. The NRA also downplayed the danger the scheme posed to the public and excused the alleged crimes by saying NYC’s law invited corruption.

    The scheme involved a man allegedly bribing New York Police Department officers to obtain up to 150 gun licenses, including licenses to carry a gun in public. The NRA repeatedly excused the alleged crime in segments on NRA News, in a departure from its oft-repeated talking point that instead of passing new gun laws, officials should enforce the laws on the books.

    On April 18, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of Brooklyn resident Alex Lichtenstein for allegedly masterminding a scheme to bribe police officers in order to obtain gun licenses. According to a press release from the office, “As alleged, Lichtenstein offered the officer $6,000 per license, bragging that he had already used his NYPD connections to obtain 150 gun licenses.”

    The New York Times reported that Lichtenstein is accused of obtaining licenses that included “full- and limited-carry permits, which are difficult to obtain in New York City.” The prosecutor in the case asked for Lichtenstein to be held without bail, calling him an “arms dealer” and a “danger to the community.”

    The April 18 and 19 broadcasts of the NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, used news of the scheme to attack gun laws in New York City -- which has strict laws and very low rates of gun violence compared to other big cities -- and to downplay the seriousness of the allegations and the threat the scheme posed to public safety.

    NRA News host Cam Edwards repeatedly downplayed the alleged scheme by falsely suggesting that the gun licensing systems in NYC and elsewhere violate the Second Amendment and by claiming that the alleged bribery was a natural result of the city’s gun laws.

    But in making his argument, Edwards dismissed the reality that the alleged bribery scheme let people possess guns illegally.

    During the April 18 broadcast of Cam & Company, Edwards claimed gun permit laws violate the Second Amendment: “You don’t have this problem if you actually recognize the right to keep and bear arms. … Here’s a simple proposal: Get rid of the gun permits in New York City. Don’t require a permit to own a firearm in New York City. Abide by the words of the Second Amendment, and then you don’t have an opportunity for corruption.”

    In segments posted on April 18 and 19, Edwards said, “If you don’t need permission to exercise a fundamental individual constitutional right, then you can’t bribe someone in order to exercise said fundamental individual constitutional right,” and, “When you see a right as a privilege to be doled out, guess what happens? Corruption, I think, inevitably follows.”

    Edwards’ excuse for the alleged crime -- that gun licensing laws violate the Second Amendment right -- is unfounded. Courts have repeatedly found permitting and licensing systems to own guns or carry guns in public to be consistent with the Second Amendment. In 2015, a federal court upheld New York’s licensing system.

    Edwards also claimed on April 19 that leaders in NYC “would rather deal with corruption probes every year than put in place a policy that recognizes and acknowledges the Heller decision … and the very words of the Second Amendment."

    Edwards’ argument is nonsensical in light of the Heller decision he mentions, the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, where a conservative majority struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban. In response to the ruling, D.C. changed its law to comply with the Second Amendment by implementing a system similar to New York City's that requires licensing to own a firearm.

    During his NRA News segments on April 18 and 19, Edwards also repeatedly downplayed the danger to the public the alleged scheme posed by distorting the allegations surrounding it.

    On April 18, Edwards said, “I assume, by the way, this is a pistol permit, not a permit to carry. We’ll try to get more details here.” The details were already available. The April 18 U.S. Attorney’s Office press release that kicked off news reports of the scheme indicated that the case involved licenses to carry guns in public. The New York Times reported this same fact on April 18.

    Edwards repeatedly described the scheme as a matter of merely expediting license requests. He claimed on April 18, “There are no allegations at this point that anybody got a permit who wasn’t legally eligible for one,” suggesting instead that the alleged mastermind of the scheme was someone who could just “help you get your permit a little bit faster.”

    In fact, the U.S. attorney’s April 18 press release stated that one person who obtained a permit through the scheme “had been arrested for forgery, received approximately 10 moving violations and three vehicle-related summonses, and had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, including one in which he was accused of threatening to kill someone,” while noting that “the NYPD License Division indicates that it may reject applications if the investigation reveals a history of arrest, driving infractions, or domestic violence incidents, among other reasons.”

    On April 19, Edwards had apparently become aware of this fact, but he continued to downplay it, stating that the man “had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, but not even arrests, but much less a conviction here.” Edwards never mentioned that one of the domestic violence incidents allegedly involved a threat to kill somebody, as the article he said he was referencing during the segment explained. He also misleadingly claimed, “And this is the one guy that was supposedly the worst of the worst” of Lichtenstein's alleged customers.

    In fact, the U.S. attorney’s press release indicates that a review of Lichtenstein’s application files “is ongoing,” meaning at this time it is unknown if licenses were given to other problematic people. As the press release explained, the scheme allowed individuals who wanted a gun "to forego the full investigation typically conducted before the NYPD License Division approves or disapproves an application."

    This is not the first time Edwards has attacked New York’s gun laws rather than the people who violate them. In March 2013, Edwards called for the dismissal of an illegal gun possession charge faced by New York linen mogul George Bardwil, who was caught with a gun while on trial for domestic violence charges. In July 2014, Bardwil was convicted on charges of slamming his ex-wife's head into the ground after she refused to have sex with him. In June 2015, Bardwil pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to two years in prison for domestic assault and illegal gun possession.

  • NRA Falsely Claims That Obama Gave “El Chapo” A Sniper Rifle

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A National Rifle Association video falsely claims that President Obama gave Mexican drug trafficker “El Chapo” a .50-caliber sniper rifle in order to claim that the president may be on the “side” of drug cartels.

    But the NRA video never mentioned that the gun in question was manufactured by an NRA board member or that the NRA has strongly opposed efforts to ban the sale of .50-caliber sniper rifles. The class of firearm is “among the most destructive weapons legally available to civilians” and has been linked by law enforcement to “terrorism, outlaw motorcycle gangs, international and domestic drug trafficking, and violent crime.”

    In an April 15 video, NRA News commentator Dana Loesch criticized President Obama over news reports that a .50-caliber sniper rifle associated with Operation Fast and Furious was recovered at the hideout of Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who is widely known as “El Chapo,” following the narcotrafficker’s January arrest.

    Fast and Furious was a failed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation to track firearms sold to traffickers at retail stores in the United States to high-level drug cartel figures in Mexico. The ATF lost track of many of the guns after they crossed the border, and the operation, which was terminated in 2011, became public knowledge after one of the guns was used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Fast and Furious was spun off of the botched Bush administration Operation Wide Receiver, which also failed to track trafficked guns to high-level targets.

    While an independent investigation found that the failure of Fast and Furious was due to “flawed” tactical decisions on the ground, the NRA has long conspiratorially claimed that Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder hatched the operation as a secret plot to cause violence in Mexico and thus justify more restrictive gun laws in the United States.

    In NRA video, Loesch claimed, “El Chapo did not get that .50-cal from a [concealed handgun license] holder in Texas; he got it from Barack Obama and Eric Holder,” before asking, “Who's side are they on?”

    It is well-established that Obama and Holder were not aware of Fast and Furious while the operation was underway. While the NRA continues to push conspiracies about the operation, even Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the primary congressional investigator into the failed sting, has said it is “important” to acknowledge that an independent investigation found that Holder was unaware of the program during its existence.

    The independent investigation, undertaken by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, found that “ATF's Phoenix Field Division, together with the U.S. Attorney's Office, bore primary responsibility for the conduct of Operations Wide Receiver and Fast and Furious.” The investigation also debunked the NRA’s conspiracies about the purpose of Fast and Furious, finding “no evidence that the agents responsible for the cases had improper motives or were trying to accomplish anything other than dismantling a dangerous firearms trafficking organization.”

    The NRA video also failed to mention the organization’s own role in making the .50-caliber sniper rifle -- a gun whose round “can penetrate structures and destroy or disable light armored vehicles, radar dishes, helicopters, stationary and taxiing airplanes” -- easily available to the public.

    According to pro-gun blogs and groups, the rifle recovered at El Chapo’s hideout was a Barrett .50-caliber M82 sniper rifle. The Barrett rifle can be seen in a still from the NRA’s video:

    There is no federal law that specifically regulates .50-caliber rifles, meaning they can be purchased by anyone aged 18 or older who passes a background check at a licensed gun dealer (and in many states the rifle can be bought without a background check through the private sale loophole).

    The NRA has long opposed proposals in Congress to ban the sale of the .50-caliber rifle, falsely arguing that .50-caliber weapons pose no danger to the public. In 2013, the gun organization successfully urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to veto a .50-caliber rifle ban. The NRA also lobbied against a 2005 U.S. House of Representatives bill to restrict .50-caliber rifle ownership -- which it misleadingly labeled as a "hunting rifle ban" -- and has opposed state efforts to regulate the .50-caliber rifle in California and Hawaii. Other material from the NRA-ILA has falsely claimed, ".50 caliber rifles are not used in crimes -- .50 caliber rifles are too large and heavy to be employed in normal criminal behavior," and attacked critics of the .50-caliber sniper rifle as engaging in "phony terrorism hype."

    The NRA has a financial interest in promoting access to the .50-caliber rifle. The inventor of the .50-caliber rifle, Ronnie Barrett, sits on the NRA board of directors. Barrett has maintained a close relationship with the NRA, and his company has donated between $50,000 and $99,000 to the gun group. In 2010, the NRA gave Barrett an award that recognized "exemplary achievement by individuals who were responsible for the development, introduction, and promotion of equipment that has made a profound and enduring impact on the way Americans shoot and hunt."

  • NRA Fakes CDC Statistic To Attack Cosmopolitan For Calling Attention To Women And Gun Violence

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A commentary video from the National Rifle Association (NRA) falsely claimed that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found there were up to 3.3 million defensive gun uses each year in the United States. But the CDC has never released a study with that conclusion. 

    Moreover, the CDC is actually prevented from researching gun violence due to decades of NRA lobbying efforts.

    In an April 7 video, NRA News commentator Dana Loesch, who is also a radio host for Glenn Beck’s The Blaze network, criticized Cosmopolitan for running recent features on women and gun violence, claiming the magazine is “sexist” and believes “women are less valuable than their potential rapists, and its rapists' feelings which we should prioritize rather than women’s safety.”

    To support this claim, Loesch fabricated a statistic, stating a “CDC report commissioned by Barack Obama … shows that there are anywhere from 500,000 to 3.3 million instances of defensive gun use annually” and that the “CDC said that concealed carry is ‘a great deterrent to crime.’”

    Loesch is likely referring to a 2013 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council (NRC) report requested by Obama in order to provide the CDC a possible research agenda should the agency be allowed to research gun violence.

    One of the contributors to the report was criminologist Gary Kleck and included in the report is his repeatedly discredited research that claims that there are between 500,000 and 3 million defensive gun uses each year. The citation of Kleck's research in an NRC report is not indicative of the CDC’s conclusions about defensive gun uses, as Loesch falsely claimed.

    The consensus view among gun violence researchers is that guns are used far more often to commit crimes than they are used to prevent crimes. Research has also found that defensive gun uses are so rare they are difficult to measure.

    The NRA’s claim that the “CDC said that concealed carry is ‘a great deterrent to crime’” is also fabricated. Loesch may have been referring to more Kleck research in the NRC report which found “self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,” although the words quoted by Loesch do not even appear in the NRC report.

    Loesch previously included fake historical Second Amendment quotes in her 2014 book about firearms, Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America.

  • Weeks After Board Member's Anti-Semitism Controversy, The NRA Is Already Back To Making Hitler Comparisons

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A commentary video from the National Rifle Association about gun laws in Scotland claimed that "anti-gun" American politicians denying that they are secretly plotting to ban guns is "like telling a Jew you're not an anti-Semite, you just love Hitler."

    NRA News commentator Colion Noir makes the comparison in a video released March 21 called "Scotland: Where Nightmares Are Reality." It attacks Scotland's move toward requiring residents who own airguns to obtain a permit, a proposal spurred by the death of a 2-year-old boy who was killed after being struck in the head by an airgun pellet in 2015. In 2011, the last year data is available, Scotland had 13 gun deaths, three of which were homicides.

    Suggesting that Scotland-style gun regulation could come to the United States, Noir attacked President Obama and other politicians who have praised the United Kingdom and Australia for passing laws to address gun violence.

    According to Noir, praising gun laws in Australia and the U.K. without also having a secret plan to ban guns in the U.S. is "like telling a Jew you're not an anti-Semite, you just love Hitler."

    Noir began his Hitler analogy by mentioning Obama and Hillary Clinton, whose faces were displayed in the video. Then, as he discussed "anti-gun" politicians, images appeared of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), all of whom are Jewish:

    NOIR: President Obama got up on national television and said that it's a conspiracy theory to think that anyone is trying to ban guns.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    OBAMA: Are you suggesting that we are creating a plot to take everybody's guns away sothatwe can impose martial law -- is a conspiracy? Yes, that is a conspiracy.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    NOIR: Yet, this is the same president, along with Hillary Clinton and every other anti-gun politician, who praises the gun control laws in places like the U.K. and Australia where they've banned guns. That's like telling a Jew you're not an anti-Semite, you just love Hitler. I'm not trying to ban guns, I just like the gun laws in that country where they ban guns.

    The NRA's comparison between Jewish "anti-gun" politicians with supposed secret plans to ban guns and people who "love Hitler" follows an anti-Semitism controversy sparked by NRA board member Ted Nugent in February.

    On February 8, Nugent shared an image on his Facebook page headlined "So who is really behind gun control?" that depicted Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish-American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates. Some of the pictures featured descriptions such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg."

    The civil rights organization the Anti-Defamation League quickly condemned Nugent, but he doubled down on his post with the claim "Jews for guncontrol are nazis in disguise." Nugent eventually apologized more than a week later, claiming he did not realize the image he posted -- which was filled with obvious anti-Semitic imagery and text -- was anti-Semitic.

  • NRA News Spins Facts On Kalamazoo Shooting Rampage To Avoid Blaming Guns

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    While the National Rifle Association has not released an official statement on the shooting rampage that left six people dead in Kalamazoo, MI, on February 20, the gun group's media arm is already spinning the facts of the tragedy, suggesting that firearms should not be blamed because there were no "red flags" related to "gun ownership" in the suspect's background.

    In fact, according to a widely available report, neighbors say the suspect used firearms in a "troubling manner," including firing a gun out of his back door and randomly firing a gun into the air.

    Jason Dalton is accused of shooting people at random in and near Kalamazoo, MI, on the night of February 20. Eight people were shot, and six of them died. Police apprehended Dalton in the early hours of February 21.

    On the February 22 broadcast of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attempted to downplay the implications surrounding the use of a firearm in the mass killing. He said that regarding "gun ownership, there have been no indications that the suspect in this case raised any red flags, in fact the opposite -- neighbors talk about what a nice guy he seemed to be. Family man, married, a couple of kids."

    Edwards added, "Here on this program, I got to say, I think the responsibility lies with the individual who committed these acts, and we will simply offer our thoughts and our prayers to the victims, and their families, the people of Kalamazoo, and the state of Michigan."

    In fact, at the time of the NRA's broadcast, it had been reported in national media that neighbors said Dalton "used guns in a troubling manner." According to The New York Times, one of Dalton's neighbors said that he was a "nice guy" but also, "He periodically shot his gun out the back door," and, "He would shoot randomly into the air":

    In the rural area outside the city where Mr. Dalton lived, police searched his brown, one-story home on Sunday morning. Sally Pardo, a retired nurse who lived across the street from him and his family, said she and her husband had always thought of Mr. Dalton as a "nice guy" who worked on cars in his spare time. But he used guns in a troubling manner and sometimes sounded a little paranoid, she said.

    "He periodically shot his gun out the back door," Ms. Pardo said. "He would shoot randomly into the air."

    Edwards' claim that "the responsibility lies with the individual who committed these acts" is a repetition of the logically fallacious NRA catch phrase "guns don't kill people; people kill people." As David Kyle Johnson explained in his column on logic in Psychology Today, arguing that it's people, not guns, who kill people doesn't offer a persuasive conclusion about whether guns should be more or less regulated.

    It is undeniable, however, that mass killings in the United States are committed most often with a firearm. Of 279 mass killings identified by USA Today between January 2006 and the June 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, SC, church, 211 were committed with firearms.

  • NRA Commentator: Paying Taxes On A Firearm Purchase "Is Rape"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Colion Noir, the host of a National Rifle Association web series and an NRA News commentator, compared the tax on a firearm he purchased to rape.

    On February 23, Noir wrote on Twitter, "Just to own a rifle w/ a 15inch barrel I have to pay a $200 tax, wait 3-5months & BG Check & anti gunners want us to compromise. #ThatsRape":

    In response to a critic, Noir doubled down on his rhetoric, writing, "an arbitrary $200 tax on a gun I've paid 1-2k for is rape":

    Noir is likely referring to special procedures in place for purchasing firearms designated as Class III by the National Firearms Act. Individuals who wish to purchase fully automatic machineguns, short-barreled rifles, and silencers must apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and pay additional taxes and undergo a heightened background check.

    Since becoming an NRA host and commentator, Noir has demonstrated a penchant for making inflammatory pro-gun arguments. Following the high-profile murder of two Virginia journalists who were shoot to death during a live television broadcast in August 2015, Noir warned the victims' parents not to "become so emotional" in response to the shooting that they would advocate for stronger gun laws. Andy Parker, whose daughter was killed in the attack, responded, calling Noir's commentary "insulting and disingenuous."

    Noir has previously been criticizing for running segments on his NRA web series Noir that fetishized assault weapons as attractive women. In the segments, Noir appeared to be praising the appearance and personality attributes of an attractive woman, but at the end it is revealed that instead he was talking about the features of a high-end military-style assault weapon.

    UPDATE: After being criticized for comparing a tax on firearms to rape, Noir offered several justifications for his analogy on Twitter, arguing that rape was akin to the taking of property. In one instance, Noir wrote, "Your def of rape is myopic (only sex). True definition includes property":

  • Conservative Media Attack Cosmopolitan For Highlighting The Issue Of Women And Gun Violence

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media are attacking Cosmopolitan magazine for working in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety to run a feature highlighting the dating issues surrounding gun ownership and domestic violence. Conservative media attacked the feature, comparing it to anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda and labeling it a "war on men with guns" while saying Cosmo wants its readers to be "slutty and defenseless." Several conservative media critics expressed skepticism that Cosmo was capable of publishing serious reporting.

  • The NRA's Wayne LaPierre Wants To Debate President Obama -- He Should Debate 1999 Wayne LaPierre First

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After skipping his chance to go face-to-face with President Obama during CNN's January 7 "Guns in America" town hall, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has released a video challenging Obama to a nationally televised one hour debate.

    While it might make an interesting spectacle to watch LaPierre confront Obama with his signature paranoid gun confiscation fantasies, what would be truly remarkable is a debate between 2016 Wayne LaPierre and adamant background check supporter 1999 Wayne LaPierre.

    The NRA has gone apoplectic since Obama's January 5 announcement of executive actions on gun violence, a key component of which expands background checks on gun sales.

    Having already positioned itself as a virulent opponent of expanding background checks following legislative battles in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the NRA turned its rhetoric up even higher leading up to Obama's announcement, labeling the president "our biggest threat to national security" in a January 4 video posted to its NRA News website.

    In a follow-up released on January 6, LaPierre strongly attacked the notion of expanded background checks, claiming in a video called "The Truth About Background Checks" that "the only thing the average American has heard about background checks is the absolute fallacy that what we need is more."

    Now LaPierre has issued a challenge to Obama, stating in a January 13 video, "I'll tell you what. I'll meet you for a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it. No pre-screened questions and no gas-bag answers."

    Before LaPierre debates Obama, he may want to reconcile his organization's January 2016 position with what the NRA advocated for in 1999. During a May 28, 1999, appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, LaPierre represented the NRA and said, "Let's talk about what's reasonable and what's not. We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale, at every gun show no loopholes anywhere for anyone."

    So are more background checks "reasonable" or are calls for more checks an "absolute fallacy"?

    Also significant to LaPierre's debate challenge is that he already had the opportunity last week to confront Obama live, before millions of viewers. In trying to create cover for this telling fact, LaPierre and the NRA have repeatedly lied about the nature of CNN's town hall event on gun violence.

    First, in declining to participate in the event, the NRA claimed the town hall was "orchestrated by the White House." That wasn't true; the event was conceived by CNN, which invited both Obama and the NRA. Only Obama accepted.

    Then the NRA repeatedly advanced the notion that questions during the town hall were screened by the White House.

    During a Fox News appearance that immediately preceded the end of the town hall, top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox attempted to explain the NRA's refusal to participate by telling Fox News host Megyn Kelly, "I know that you don't send your questions over to the White House so I would rather have a conversation with you that's intellectually honest than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question." At the time, Cox scoffed at the notion of the NRA meeting with the president to have a serious conversation about gun violence, saying, "So what are we going to talk about, basketball?"

    The notion that the CNN event was stacked against the NRA also surfaced in LaPierre's January 13 video, where he claimed the NRA "won't get suckered into any of Obama's fixed fights" where "pre-screened questions that lead to [Obama's] long-winded answers are anything but an honest dialogue."

    But for the NRA, the notion that CNN's event was "fixed" was debunked by a guest on their own NRA News program Cam & Company. The day after the event, NRA News hosted Kimberly Corban, a pro-gun sexual assault survivor, who unlike the NRA, did have the courage to challenge Obama with a question during CNN's town hall.

    As Corban explained, the questions were screened by CNN (not the White House) and because the event was live she could have said whatever she wanted to the president. Host Cam Edwards asked Corban, "[CNN] said, 'Come up with a couple questions and we'll tell you which one we want you to use?" She replied: "Yup. Which isn't - to a point I was able to at least craft those questions on my own, those are my own words, and I could have gone as much off script as I wanted to as the event was live, but they knew basically what I was going to ask."

  • NRA Commentary: Gun Violence Survivors Were "The Wrong People" For Obama To Share The Stage With During Gun Violence Speech

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A commentary video from the National Rifle Association claimed that President Obama stood in front of "the wrong people" when delivering a speech about gun violence before gun violence survivors, and that instead he should have stood before "the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders."

    On January 5, Obama announced during a speech from the White House that his administration is taking executive action to address gun violence in light of Congress' inaction following several high-profile mass shootings. During his remarks, Obama stood in front of several survivors of gun violence. He was introduced by Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son Daniel during the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.

    The NRA lashed out at Obama for speaking before victims of gun violence in a January 8 video narrated by NRA News commentator Dana Loesch, who is also a conservative radio host for Glenn Beck's The Blaze. In the video, Loesch called the gun violence survivors present at Obama's speech "the wrong people":

    LOESCH: On January 5, 2016, the president held a press conference and shared the stage with survivors of gun violence and family members of the affected. The problem is he is dishonest. He stood in front of the wrong people. He pledges to help those affected by illegally possessed and used firearms, but actions speak louder than words. If the president wanted to stand in front of a group of people so as to claim that he is helping them, he should surround himself with -- and stand in front of -- the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders.

    Loesch went on to argue that when it comes to crime in the United States, Obama is on the side of criminals rather than the victims of crimes. This claim echoes an oft-stated falsehood by the NRA that Obama refuses to enforce existing gun laws.

    In fact, if there is any entity that frustrates the enforcement of federal gun laws the most, it is clearly the NRA, which has for decades attempted to hinder the operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws. Furthermore, included in Obama's executive actions are several measures to ensure that current gun laws are being enforced in an effective manner.

  • NRA Says Executive Action On Gun Violence Is Frivolous, Terrifying

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association has offered contradictory criticisms of President Obama's plan to release a series of executive actions to address gun violence. While the NRA has dismissed the actions as "not really doing anything" when talking to the media, the group has warned its members that Obama's plan represents a serious national security threat.

    On January 5, Obama announced several ways his administration will attempt to reduce gun violence in response to a series of mass shootings and subsequent inaction by Congress. A large share of media coverage of Obama's move focused on the president's plan to expand background checks by clarifying what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, although the plan also includes provisions addressing effective enforcement of existing gun laws, funding for mental health treatment, and developing gun safety technology.

    The day before the plan was released, the NRA offered contradictory criticisms, one to the press and the other to its members.

    On January 4, an NRA spokeswoman commented to the New York Times, saying of the plan, "This is it, really?"

    A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association said on Monday that the organization's lawyers would look at the president's proposals more closely to determine if there was anything they might go to court to challenge. But she said that at first glance the plan seemed surprisingly thin.

    "This is it, really?" asked Jennifer Baker, an official with the N.R.A.'s Washington lobbying arm. "This is what they've been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they've spent seven years putting together? They're not really doing anything."

    The same day, the NRA released a video on its NRA News network. Far from downplaying the plan as "not really doing anything," the NRA claimed that Obama's plan to take executive action meant that he is now "our biggest threat to national security":

    According to a Media Matters review of internal video archives, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all reported on the NRA's statement to the Times downplaying the significance of Obama's executive action, while none of these networks mentioned the NRA's unhinged messaging to its member base.