Wayne LaPierre

Tags ››› Wayne LaPierre
  • In Reporting On Trump’s Call For Armed Clubgoers, Some Media Miss NRA’s Extremism On Guns In Bars

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said clubgoers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where a gunman killed 49 people June 12, should have been carrying guns, many media outlets noted that Trump had staked out a position on guns in bars that was even more extreme than the National Rifle Association’s.

    Several media outlets, however, also incorrectly reported that the NRA opposes guns in bars generally.

    In fact, for years the NRA has made state-level efforts to allow concealed guns to be carried in bars so long as the person with the gun does not consume alcohol. The alcohol prohibition would largely operate on an honor system, as most concealed carry laws require that the gun remain concealed at all times unless being used for lawful self-defense or some other legal purpose.

    In recent years, the NRA has backed legislative efforts to allow guns in bars in states including Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia.

    On June 17, Trump said while discussing the Orlando mass shooting, “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here -- right to their waist or right to their ankle -- and … one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes 'boom, boom,' you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight." (Trump later dishonestly claimed he was referring only to the arming of employees or security guards.)

    Two NRA officials were asked about Trump’s remark during Sunday show appearances on June 19. NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox said people drinking in clubs should not carry guns while NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, “I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.” The NRA later clarified that LaPierre was expressing opposition only to people drinking while carrying guns in bars.

    So while Trump’s position is further out there compared to the NRA’s position, the NRA’s position itself is out of the mainstream.

    Several outlets misreported the NRA’s extreme position in guns in bars, amid confusion over both Trump and LaPierre attempting to “clarify” remarks made about guns in bars:

    • USA Today: “But NRA officials said Sunday that having armed patrons in bars with alcohol was not such a good idea.”

    • NBC’s Peter Alexander on the June 20 broadcast of Today: “Trump’s argued that if more people at that Orlando nightclub were armed with guns strapped to their waist, and that they fired back at the shooter, the carnage would have been much less. But even the NRA pushed back against that, insisting it does not believe people should carry guns in drinking establishments.”

    • Associated Press: “Donald Trump is backtracking from his contention that victims of the Orlando massacre should have been allowed to carry arms into the nightclub where they were attacked -- a stance even the NRA says is untenable.”

  • NRA’s Anti-LGBT Spokesmen Discuss Orlando Gay Nightclub Shooting On Sunday Shows

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The two National Rifle Association officials who appeared on Sunday political talk shows to respond to the June 12 massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, both made anti-LGBT remarks as recent as a month ago.

    One week after a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during a terror attack at Pulse nightclub, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation and NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) executive director Chris Cox appeared on ABC’s This Week to advocate against passing stronger gun laws in response to the mass shooting.

    As in the NRA’s official response to the shooting, which was authored by Cox, both Cox and LaPierre failed to mention that the shooting targeted a gay nightclub.

    Both LaPierre and Cox made anti-gay statements during a May 20 event at the NRA’s annual meeting. During the annual NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, Cox and LaPierre both delivered speeches that led into the NRA’s endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    Cox spoke first, and attacked societal acceptance of transgender people as “perverted” and “twisted” just seconds into his remarks. Cox lamented that “the America we know is becoming unrecognizable. Everything we believe in, everything we’ve always known to be good, and right, and true has been twisted, perverted, and repackaged to our kids as wrong, backwards, and abnormal.”

    Citing examples of America’s supposed downfall, Cox went on to say, “Who are our kids supposed to respect and admire? The media tells them Bruce Jenner is a national hero for transforming his body, while our wounded warriors, whose bodies were transformed by IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades, can’t even get basic healthcare from the VA.”

    During his speech, LaPierre said the Obama administration was “in the toilet” because of efforts by the administration to prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students.

    While ostensibly an organization focused on issues relating to guns, members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked LGBT people for years, including blaming a mass shooting on same-sex marriage, claiming gay people “created” the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and labeling or supporting the depiction of gay people as “despicable,” “perverts,” and “degenerates.”

  • 20-Plus Years Of Anti-Gay Hate From The NRA

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    While the NRA is ostensibly an organization focused on gun rights, members of its leadership have attacked LGBT people for years, including blaming a mass shooting on gay marriage, calling societal acceptance of transgender people “perverted,” claiming gay people “created” the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and labeling gay people “despicable,” “perverts,” and “degenerates.”

  • NRA Tries To Use LGBT People For Political Gain Weeks After Attacking Transgender Equality

    New Ad Appealing To LGBT Community Follows Ugly Attack On Caitlyn Jenner And Transgender Community At The NRA’s Annual Meeting

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    An NRA-affiliated group is reportedly releasing an ad that baselessly warns proposed regulations on ammunition purchases in California would disarm LGBT people just weeks after the NRA mocked societal acceptance of transgender people as “twisted” and “perverted.”

    On June 6, Time reported on growing NRA opposition to a California ballot initiative called “Safety for All” that proposes “a package of commonsense gun reforms requiring instant background checks for purchases of ammunition, strengthening background checks for gun purchases, prohibiting possession of large detachable military-style magazines, and requiring the immediate surrender of firearms for people convicted of serious and violent crimes.” The effort is being led by California’s lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom.

    In opposition to the initiative, NRA-affiliated group Coalition for Civil Liberties (CCL) is releasing a series of ads suggesting that the initiative could pose a danger to women and LGBT people by limiting their ability to defend themselves with a gun. CCL is a “project” of the California Rifle & Pistol Association, the NRA’s California affiliate group.

    But the ads come just weeks after a top NRA official cited growing acceptance of transgender people as an example of how American values have become “twisted” and “perverted” in a speech before 80,000 NRA members.

    As Time explained, the CCL’s ads will feature a woman and a transgender actor who draw a gun when confronted by an attacker, but are unable to fire the weapon because it is unloaded:

    The organization is releasing its first television ad in the state Monday targeted at suburban women, featuring a woman walking through a darkened parking structure when she is approached by an assailant. When the woman attempts to fire a handgun in her possession for self-defense, the hammer drops on an empty chamber because the weapon isn’t loaded. It concludes with the ominous slogan, “Take Away Our Rights, Take Away Our Life.”

    A second, nearly identical commercial will be released Wednesday, except the character in the spot will [be] transgender, and that ad will be targeted to areas with large concentrations of LGBT Californians.

    During a June 6 appearance on the NRA’s radio show, Richard Grenell, the GOP operative who is leading CCL efforts, claimed that Newsom “is really beginning to take away basic rights for vulnerable populations, and so what we decided to do was to make a commercial which shows the very real possibility of what could happen to someone if Gavin Newsom had his way.”

    Nothing in the ballot initiative would prevent legally eligible people from buying ammunition for their firearms, and none of the proposals would create special rules for the purchase of ammo by women or LGBT people.

    Furthermore, the CCL effort comes just weeks after the NRA’s top lobbyist mocked the notion of transgender people being accepted by society.

    During a May 20 speech before 80,000 NRA members at the NRA’s annual meeting, NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox attacked acceptance of Olympic athlete and reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner, calling her “Bruce” and “he.” Following Cox’s speech, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said the Obama administration was “in the toilet” because of efforts by the administration to prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students.

    Just moments into his speech, Cox lamented that “the America we know is becoming unrecognizable. Everything we believe in, everything we’ve always known to be good, and right, and true has been twisted, perverted and repackaged to our kids as wrong, backwards and abnormal.”

    Citing examples of America’s supposed downfall, Cox went on to claim, “Who are our kids supposed to respect and admire? The media tells them Bruce Jenner is a national hero for transforming his body, while our wounded warriors, whose bodies were transformed by IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades, can’t even get basic healthcare from the VA.”

     

     

    In a speech following Cox’s, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre railed against the Obama administration’s recent guidance explaining that public schools must allow transgender students to use facilities, like bathrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their gender identity.

    LaPierre claimed the Obama administration has not done enough to combat gang violence “in places like Chicago and Detroit” to argue that “a Clinton White House would be a dangerous extension of the Obama White House. And where has this White House put its full weight? In the toilet. In bathrooms in North Carolina, in school districts all over our country.”

     

     

    LaPierre and Cox’s speeches immediately preceded the NRA’s endorsement of Donald Trump, who has said he supports allowing states to pass discriminatory bathroom bills that broadly ban transgender people from using facilities that correspond to their gender identity.

  • The NRA’s Endorsement Of Donald Trump Is Premised On A Lie

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA supported its endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump at the group’s annual meeting by repeatedly telling the lie that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes gun ownership and would confiscate guns as president.

    The NRA lying to its members -- and anyone else observing the annual meeting -- is anathema to the group’s 2016 election messaging, which is centered on the claim that the NRA “doesn’t lie” but that instead Americans are constantly lied to by “the political and media elites at the highest levels.”

    Moments before the NRA endorsed Donald Trump at its annual meeting on May 20, the NRA’s two top members of leadership, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the group’s top lobbyist who also runs the NRA’s political efforts, told a series of lies about Clinton’s position on guns.

    According to repeated campaign trail statements, Clinton has expressed support for both people being allowed to own guns and for regulations on firearms, such as expanded background checks. PolitiFact found there is “no evidence” for the claim Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that Clinton’s position on whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership is “more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position” on the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    In his remarks, Cox claimed that Clinton thinks it’s “wrong” that “the Supreme Court said you have a right to protect your life against a murderer in your own home.” (Clinton actually believes Heller was “wrongly decided” because it “may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future” such as a child access provision that was struck down in the ruling, not because she opposes firearm ownership for lawful self-defense.)

    Cox continued, claiming Clinton “wants us to surrender our firearms,” “to live in a place where only law enforcement has guns,” and made repeated references to his claim Clinton wants “to take our guns.”

    Then, moments before the NRA’s formal endorsement of Trump, LaPierre took the stage to claim that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun” and that Clinton “craves” gun confiscation. The next day at the official meeting of members, LaPierre grouped in Clinton with other entities the NRA claims don’t support self-defense, saying, “We will not give up our God-given right to defend ourselves, our families, to the elites, to Obama, to the media, and sure as hell not to another Clinton.”

    None of these claims are true. Yet, the NRA has increasingly positioned itself as a truth-teller about the 2016 elections. In an article in the March edition of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom that attacked the honesty of Clinton and President Obama, the NRA wrote, “Let’s get something straight: The NRA doesn’t lie. The NRA tells the truth, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect or how much the truth might offend those who fear or hate freedom.”

    LaPierre made similar remarks during his March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, claiming, “At a time when all of us are bombarded with media agenda, their web of spin and political conniving, the very best, most effective and surest way to defend freedom is found in those four little words: Thou Shalt Not Lie” and that “History proves that if you give the American people the straight truth, they will choose honest freedom every time. That is why, for decades, the NRA has been the guiding light for American gun owners and those who treasure our constitutional freedom. … We’ve been exposing the liars about our freedom for decades, telling the truth that most Americans know in their hearts to be right.” In sum, LaPierre referenced “the truth” 11 times during his speech.

    LaPierre spoke on the same theme during a March 23 address to Liberty University, claiming, “The lies go on and on, an epidemic of untruth at the highest levels of our country. Everybody spins a fabric of lies, and the American public sits out there and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got to stop!’ Yet when someone does tell the truth, they get clobbered. It’s all upside-down. Lies seem normal and the truth seems like bizarre, crazy talk.”

    What the NRA has said about its endorsement of Trump also speaks to the organization’s dishonesty.

    While the NRA’s endorsement of Trump -- given his willingness to adopt the NRA’s extreme agenda -- makes sense, NRA top lobbyist Cox attempted to sugarcoat the endorsement for members, calling the decision “easy” and claiming “show me a Republican presidential nominee in our lifetimes, or for that matter, in the past 100 years, who has spoken so forcefully about not only the right to own a gun, but the right to use it to defend yourself.”

     

     

    This is the same presumptive nominee who said after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that NRA nemesis President Obama “spoke for me and every American in his remarks in [Newtown] Connecticut” -- remarks that sent the NRA into a still-ongoing fury.

     

     

  • VIDEO: The Repugnant Way The NRA Talks About Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› COLEMAN LOWNDES & TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association will surely attack Hillary Clinton during its annual meeting. Members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked Clinton for years with vile and paranoid claims.

    The NRA is holding its annual meeting from May 19-22 in Louisville, KY. On May 20, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and other conservative figures will speak at the meeting’s biggest event, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum.

    The NRA began its opposition to Clinton in earnest during its 2015 meeting with a gender-based attack. While addressing the NRA’s members, LaPierre said of the prospect of electing Clinton after President Obama’s term, “I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.” During that year's leadership forum, LaPierre claimed that Clinton “will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair” to America.

    While LaPierre supplies many of the NRA’s paranoid claims about Clinton and gun confiscation, the organization’s best-known leadership figure, board member Ted Nugent, offers disgusting attacks. Nugent has called Clinton a “toxic cunt,” a “two-bit whore,” and a “worthless bitch,” among other insults.

    Here is how the NRA leadership talks about Clinton:

     

     

     

  • Meet Troy Newman -- The Anti-Choice Extremist PBS Is Hosting To Talk About Guns

    Newman And His Associates Have A Long History Of Spouting Violent Rhetoric And Harassing Abortion Providers

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 10, PBS will air the documentary “The Armor of Light” and host an accompanying town hall encouraging audiences to examine “the relationship between guns and faith in America.” Notably, PBS’ town hall participants include Troy Newman, best known for harassing abortion providers and serving on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s pro-life coalition.

    “The Armor of Light” is an anti-gun-violence documentary that “profiles the faith journeys of two Christians as they fight gun violence.” One of these Christians is the Rev.  Rob Schenck, an anti-choice minister trying to “preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America” to communities that largely favor gun ownership.

    Newman appears in a single scene of “The Armor of Light” as a contrast to Schenck’s pro-gun-safety views. In this scene, Newman parrots NRA talking points, such as leader Wayne LaPierre’s statement that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Despite this minor role in the film, PBS invited Newman to appear in a post-screening discussion.

    Membership in Cruz’s pro-life coalition is only Newman’s most recent credential. He has long served as the president of Operation Rescue -- an anti-choice group with a history of spouting violent rhetoric, and harassing abortion providers.

    For example, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison in 1987 for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location. A Rolling Stone profile of Operation Rescue described the organization’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.” Newman’s explanation for this harassment was that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that “they can’t live a normal life.”

    To further  this strategy, Newman has trained others and supported the development of spin-off groups that continue Operation Rescue’s work across the country. Newman previously served as a board member for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood so fraudulent that CMP earned the title of Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year. CMP’s  deceptively edited videos purporting to show the illegal sale of fetal tissue have been repeatedly discredited, while numerous state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Newman claims that Operation Rescue has never endorsed violence yet in his book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman wrote that U.S. government had “abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” which would involve “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Similarly, when Paul Jennings Hill was executed for the murder of an abortion provider and a clinic escort, Newman argued that Hill should have been able to mount the defense that it was “necessary” to kill the providers in order to save "the lives of pre-born babies."

    Beyond his work with Operation Rescue, Newman also has a personal history of harassing providers -- a reputation that caused Australia to deport him out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

    Harassment, violence, and threats against abortion providers and clinics have all been increasing. According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” against abortion providers. In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was borne out tragically in November 2015 when Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Given this alarming trend of anti-choice violence, PBS’ decision to invite Newman’s participation while also failing to disclose his long history of harassment is as puzzling as it is troubling.

  • NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Says Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Disavowed The U.S. Constitution” In 2012

    LaPierre Cites Interview In Which Ginsburg Actually Praised The “Wonderful Words” Of The “Genius” U.S. Constitution

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre distorted past comments by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a column warning that “our guns and our culture would be a favored target for eradication” if Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are successful in the 2016 elections.

    In order to attack the possibility of Clinton being elected president and filling multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court with nominees like Justice Ginsburg, LaPierre smeared Justice Ginsburg by distorting her past comments about what new democracies should consider when adopting a constitution.

    In 2012, Ginsburg traveled to Egypt to offer advice to the country as it began the process of adopting a constitution. In an interview, Ginsburg said she advised Egypt to look at “all the constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II” and that she “would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Ginsburg then singled out the South African constitution, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the European Convention on Human Rights as modern examples for drafting constitutions.

    During the interview, Ginsburg also praised the U.S. Constitution, saying, “The United States in comparison to Egypt is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still enforced in the world. And it's a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words: It's we the people.” Ginsburg praised the U.S. Constitution several other times during the interview, calling the document “an instrument that endured” and referencing “the genius of the Constitution.”

    But in his monthly “Standing Guard” column in the May 2016 edition of America’s 1st Freedom, LaPierre smeared Ginsburg as part of his rallying cry that the NRA "must defeat Hillary Clinton."

    LaPierre wrote of Ginsburg, “In an Egyptian television interview in January 2011 [sic], she disavowed the U.S. Constitution.” Distorting Ginsburg’s remarks, LaPierre added, “You might ask, why would a U.S. Supreme Court justice prefer another constitution to that which was forged in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago? What makes the South African Constitution so superior?”

    LaPierre went on to claim that the South African Constitution encourages “civil disarmament,” writing, “It’s senseless, but here we have a U.S. Supreme Court justice who might find herself in the majority embracing the very essence of undefined and unknown ‘social justice.’”

    LaPierre’s smear of Ginsburg is recycled from claims the NRA made about the 2012 elections and the prospect of President Obama’s reelection. The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, released an article that distorted the Egypt comments to argue “most troubling of all is the possibility that if elected to a second term, President Obama could appoint even more justices who share Justice Ginsburg's views.”

    During the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre also attacked Ginsburg in a speech, calling her a “giddy school girl” for hugging Obama at the State of the Union and again distorting her Egypt comments.

  • Here Are The Big Players In The Inevitable Smear Campaign Against Judge Merrick Garland

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    As President Obama reportedly prepares to announce Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, media should be prepared to hear from several right-wing groups dedicated to opposing the nominee, no matter who it is. These advocacy groups and right-wing media outlets have a history of pushing misleading information and alarmist rhetoric to launch smear campaigns against Obama's highly qualified Supreme Court nominees, using tactics including, but not limited to, spreading offensive rumors about a nominee's personal life, deploying bogus legal arguments or conspiracy theories, and launching wild distortions of every aspect of a nominee's legal career.

  • NRA's Wayne LaPierre Just Called "Gun-Free Zones" The "Worst And Most Dangerous Of All Lies" While Speaking From A "Gun-Free Zone"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre decried so-called "gun-free zones" during a speech at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), calling such areas "the worst and most dangerous of all lies."

    As Daily Beast politics reporter Betsy Woodruff noted, "absolutely" no guns or other weapons are allowed at CPAC:

    The NRA frequently tells supporters that "gun-free zones" imperil their lives, enable mass shootings, and invite terrorists, even though the group often holds its annual meeting at locations that do not allow guns.

    During his speech at CPAC 2016, LaPierre claimed that "as a result" of the NRA's call for armed personnel in schools, including armed teachers and volunteers, "millions of children go to school today no longer the sitting ducks of the worst and most dangerous of all lies, gun-free zones." He went on to claim, "The news media, protected by their own armed security, they never admit it, but today millions of children are safer for one reason: the NRA." He ended his riff on "gun-free zones" with a false talking point: "The simple truth [is] that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. The politicians and the media be damned."

    During the 2015 CPAC meeting, LaPierre told the crowd that the Islamic State is "carving a bloody trail that leads to our doorstep" and suggested it is not a matter of "if" but "when" a terrorist attack will occur at "the supposedly gun-free zone of the Mall of America."

    In remarks following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, LaPierre also compared the practice of announcing no-gun policies to placing an advertisement for an "insane killer."

    Yet, despite the supposed perils of "gun-free zones," LaPierre agreed to participate in the 2016 CPAC meetings.

    No evidence exists that "gun-free zones" -- a term used by the NRA and conservative media to describe anywhere civilians are not allowed to carry guns -- are actually more unsafe than anywhere else.

    According to an analysis of 62 public mass shootings by Mother Jones, there is no evidence that any of the gunmen chose their targets because of a policy that prohibited the carrying of guns. For example, 20 mass shootings included in the analysis took place at workplaces because they "involved perpetrators who felt wronged by employers and colleagues." Furthermore, none of the 62 shootings was stopped by an armed civilian.

    Gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety tracked all mass shootings that occurred between January 2009 and July 2014 and found that just 17 percent of incidents occurred in "gun-free zones," while the rest occurred where guns can legally be carried.

    Overall, the presence of more firearms tends to increase violence rather than reduce crime.

  • NRA Silent On Ted Nugent's Anti-Semitism As It Abets An Anti-Muslim Smear Campaign Against Another Board Member

    The NRA Is Investigating Grover Norquist's Alleged Ties To Islamists But Not Ted Nugent's Anti-Semitism

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Apparently at the National Rifle Association (NRA), being the target of a conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smear is a good way to get yourself investigated and possibly kicked out of the organization. Putting forward conspiratorial, religiously-motivated smears is not.

    As the NRA continues to avoid addressing an anti-Semitism controversy that has embroiled organization board member Ted Nugent, a recall campaign against another board member -- conservative activist Grover Norquist -- is moving forward, even though the campaign's basis is a conspiratorial and anti-Muslim smear.

    Following a decades-long campaign by anti-Muslim think tank head Frank Gaffney, which in the past year has been amplified by conservative radio host Glenn Beck, ballots to officially recall Norquist from the NRA board will appear in the March editions of the NRA's magazines, according to a report by Right Wing Watch.

    For at least 15 years, Norquist, a well-known tax activist who founded Americans for Tax Reform, has been targeted by Gaffney, head of the anti-Muslim think tank Center for Security Policy, with the claim that he is a surreptitious agent of the Muslim Brotherhood. Critics of Gaffney have alleged that his smear campaign is largely motivated by the fact that Norquist is married to a Muslim woman and has Muslim in-laws. One high-profile conservative group investigated Gaffney's claims in 2012 and found them to be meritless.

    Norquist has called Gaffney his "stalker" and has accused Gaffney of also spreading rumors that he is gay and a member of "the Jewish-Russian mafia."

    Gaffney's smear campaign against Norquist made headlines again in March 2015 after it was repeatedly promoted by Beck on his nationally-syndicated radio show. Beck, a longtime supporter of the NRA, is a frequent keynote speaker at the gun group's annual meeting.

    Following Beck's endorsement of Gaffney's conspiracy theory, the NRA, at the request of executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, agreed to open an investigation into Norquist's alleged ties "to Islamist groups that have ill intent towards the United States and its allies." The findings of the investigation have yet to be released to the public.

    During the NRA's annual meeting in April 2015, Norquist was reelected to the board, but he also issued a statement saying he had "voluntarily suspended his Board activities pending the outcome of the investigation."

    The NRA has handled controversy surrounding Nugent, who posted an anti-Semitic image to his Facebook page and then subsequently made inflammatory posts and statements about the Holocaust, in a much different manner. Nugent's image suggested that laws regulating guns were the result of a Jewish conspiracy and included descriptions of alleged conspirators such as "Jew York city mayor Mikey Bloomberg," and deceased former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) who "Gave Russian Jew immigrants your tax money."

    After declining to comment on Nugent to several media outlets, the NRA released its only statement to date on the controversy: "Individual board members do not speak for the NRA."

    The NRA's refusal to seriously address Nugent's anti-Semitic post comes as the controversy has begun to become enmeshed with Sen. Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, which continues to tout Nugent's praise. (Cruz has also lavishly praised Gaffney, calling him "a patriot" who is "clear eyed about radical Islamic terrorism.")

    Unlike the controversy surrounding Norquist, the NRA has given no indication that it intends to investigate Nugent.

  • The NRA's Implausible Conspiracy Theory About CNN's "Guns In America" Town Hall

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association is claiming that CNN's recent "Guns in America" town hall event was "staged" by President Obama as it attempts to explain why NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declined to participate in the event, but then days later challenged Obama to a TV debate.

    The NRA leveled several accusations against the Obama administration and CNN in a January 15 article, including that Obama was able to see questions in advance, that Obama "personally selected" the anchor of the event, and that the White House "personally selected" questioners for the event.

    On January 7, CNN hosted an hour-long primetime program on gun violence. During the broadcast Obama answered questions about guns posed by CNN host Anderson Cooper and eight audience members who were split along ideological lines. CNN conceived the event and invited President Obama and the NRA to participate in the event. Obama accepted CNN's offer and the NRA declined. In declining to participate, the NRA claimed the event was "orchestrated by the White House," a false claim that was corrected by CNN in a January 6 article.

    Then on January 13, days after skipping his chance to go face-to-face with Obama on national television before millions of viewers, LaPierre released a video challenging Obama to "a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it."

    LaPierre's challenge was ridiculed by some in the media who pointed out that the gun group leader had his chance to confront Obama but declined to take it.

    In order to deflect from questions about why the NRA did not participate in the CNN event, the gun group has become increasingly brazen in promoting a conspiracy theory that the event was not CNN's doing, but rather was organized by the Obama administration.

    A January 15 article in the NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom leveled several allegations against the White House and CNN:

    • The NRA claimed CNN's town hall was "staged and choreographed by the White House publicity machine." According to a CNN spokesperson, the event was conceived of by CNN.
    • The NRA claimed "Obama and his handlers" were allowed to see questions in advance. It is obvious to anyone who watched CNN's town hall that this was not the case and the NRA's claim requires the belief that Obama was putting on an elaborate act as he reacted to questioners.
    • The NRA claimed that Obama "personally selected" Anderson Cooper to host the event and that Cooper's "career depends on having access to, and friendly relations with, the president and politicians in his party." CNN invited Obama, not the other way around. And again, anyone who watched the event would be puzzled by this claim given Cooper's challenging and sometimes adversarial questions to Obama.
    • The NRA claimed the people selected to ask questions during CNN's town hall were "personally selected by the White House" so that Obama could rehearse responses to their questions. This claim is debunked by an interview on the NRA's own radio show, Cam & Company. The day after the town hall, Cam & Company hosted one of the pro-gun questioners, who explained that she was selected by CNN. The guest also noted that CNN screened her question, but explained that as the event was live television, she could have said whatever she wanted to the president.
  • 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."