Issues ››› Guns
  • Civil Rights Groups Call On NRA To Revoke Invitation To Islamophobic General

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    William BoykinThe Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are calling on the National Rifle Association to revoke its invitation to Islamophobic retired Lt. General William Boykin to keynote the organization's prayer breakfast at its annual meeting this week.

    In a letter to NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre sent today, MRFF executive director Mikey Weinstein writes:

    No prayer breakfast should be used as a forum for hate speech, and no organization that boasts of defending the U.S. Constitution should give extremists who degrade the faith of soldiers fighting for our country a national platform. Therefore, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: unequivocally demands that the National Rifle Association (NRA) revoke its invitation to the rabidly Islamophobic retired Lt. General William Boykin.

    MRFF represents over 27,000 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, cadets, midshipmen, and armed forces veteran clients. We also represent more than 10% of all Muslim Americans in the armed forces.


    The General's unabashed hostility towards the Muslim community represents an open insult to that which countless generations of service members have shed precious blood to protect: democracy and religious freedom, as embodied and guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We're all Americans regardless of how, where, and to whom we pray, if at all. The NRA's invitation to Boykin is an egregious slander against the thousands of honorable Muslim Americans serving in the U.S. military, and a desecration of the memory of those patriotic soldiers of Muslim faith who have fallen or have suffered injury in their service to this country. MRFF calls on the NRA to immediately revoke its invitation to the vociferously racist and intolerant retired Lt. General William G. Boykin.

    Yesterday in a letter to NRA president David Keene, ADC President Warren David wrote of Boykin's rhetoric:

    These statements are unacceptable and reflect Lt. Gen. Boykin's disregard and seeming hatred of Islam and Muslims. Because the NRA is an organization that stands for the Second Amendment rights of all Americans and many Americans are Arab American and/or Muslim, I urge you to withdraw the invitation and cancel Lt. Gen. Boykin's speech at your upcoming festivities. Doing so would reaffirm your commitment to protect the Second Amendment rights of the entirety of American citizens, including those Arab-American and Muslim citizens that chose to exercise their Second Amendment rights and also support the NRA.

    Boykin received international attention in 2003 after the Los Angeles Times and NBC News reported on speeches he had given in full military dress at religious events suggesting that the United States was fighting a "spiritual battle" in the Middle East against "a guy called Satan" who "wants to destroy us as a Christian army." He subsequently drew criticism from then-President Bush, among others.

  • Buchanan Should Run A Background Check On His Talking Points

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    In his latest column, Pat Buchanan weighs in on the killing of Trayvon Martin. The former MSNBC contributor (wisely) moves on from discussing the racial aspects of the case, instead using his space to promote the gun lobby's talking points.

    Buchanan's take is that the calls from gun violence prevention activists who cite the impact of Florida's gun laws on the case should be ignored, stating that "when it comes to Second Amendment rights, Middle America has spoken -- at the ballot box and the gun store."

    Citing record numbers of background checks of prospective gun buyers, Buchanan claims that Americans are "arming themselves," adding "More and more citizens, says the National Rifle Association, fear that if or when they confront a threat to their family, lives or property, the police will not be there."

    Buchanan contrasts this theory with the statements of gun violence prevention advocates:

    Gun-control organizations claim that gun ownership is actually declining, that fewer and fewer people are buying more and more of these guns.

    But the numbers seem to contradict the gun-controllers.

    A 2005 Gallup survey found that three in 10 Americans own a gun, that 40 percent had a gun in the house, that nearly half of all men own a gun, as do one in seven women. Two-thirds of all gun owners gave as a reason they own a gun: protection against crime.

    Buchanan's analysis makes little sense. Citing only the 2005 Gallup survey is meaningless; in order to disprove a stated trend, you need to analyze more than one data point.

    And indeed, according to the General Social Survey (an annual national survey that constitutes "the most frequently analyzed source of information in the social sciences" other than the U.S. Census), the number of people who say they or a member of their household owns a gun is at a record low.

  • ALEC, NRA Unite To Curtail State And Local Governments' Emergency Powers

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    After law enforcement disarmed New Orleans residents as part of their effort to evacuate the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the National Rifle Association (NRA) teamed up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for a nationwide campaign to promote legislation in dozens of states banning governors and local officials from seizing firearms during emergencies.

    The two groups similarly have worked in tandem to spread across the nation Florida-style "Kill at Will" self-defense laws as well as legislation allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring guns on college campuses.

    In September 2005, less than a month after Katrina made landfall, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre devoted his column to gun confiscation in the wake of the hurricane, describing it as "a tyranny that must be stopped -- never to happen again." He promised that the NRA would be "enacting laws to prohibit state and federal authorities from seizing firearms from innocent citizens under a state of emergency due to a natural disaster or terrorist attack."

    On March 24, 2006, the NRA announced that several pieces of "NRA-Backed" legislation had been filed in advance of the start of the Louisiana legislature's session in order to "prevent the seizure and confiscation of legally-possessed firearms during a state of emergency." Five days later they trumpeted the introduction by then-Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) of federal legislation "amending federal emergency statute laws to stop local authorities from confiscating lawfully owned firearms during times of disaster."

    In the months that followed the NRA repeatedly touted both the federal and Louisiana legislation and urged their members to take action to ensure the passage of both. On June 12, 2006, the group celebrated and took credit when the Louisiana legislationwas signed into law.

    The next month, ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force unanimously adopted a model Emergency Powers Firearm Owner Protection Act. The NRA termed the model bill "similar in concept" to Jindal's. Portions of that model legislation are also strikingly similar to Louisiana's law.

  • Islamophobic General Forced To Withdraw From West Point Speech To Keynote NRA Prayer Breakfast

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The National Rifle Association is planning to host retired Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, who has a long record of hateful comments about Muslims and Islam, as keynote speaker of the prayer breakfast at their annual meeting later this month.

    In January Boykin withdrew from a similar event at the United States Military Academy at West Point in the face of criticism of his divisive rhetoric from cadets, faculty, Muslim organizations, and progressive veterans groups. As VoteVets put it, Boykin had repeatedly used "incendiary rhetoric regarding Islam and Muslims, even characterizing America's wars as Christianity versus Islam." The same month People for the American Way and the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on officials in Ocean City, MD to cancel their invitation for Boykin to speak at the Ocean City Mayor's Prayer Breakfast.

    NRA website

    NRA's website urges annual meeting attendees not to "miss this opportunity for encouragement, fellowship and sharing with your NRA family," and is charging $35 for tickets to see Boykin, "World Champion Elk Caller" Chad Shearer, and country music artist Bryan White at the April 15 event. The prayer breakfast comes on the final day of the four-day convention, which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri and feature speeches from Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and a variety of Republican officeholders.

    Boykin received international attention in 2003 after the Los Angeles Times and NBC News reported on speeches he had given in full military dress at religious events suggesting that the United States was fighting a "spiritual battle" in the Middle East against "a guy called Satan" who "wants to destroy us as a Christian army." Boykin also said of a Somali fighter who said that Allah would protect him from Americans, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

    (Boykin later apologized and claimed that he had meant that the man's God was "money and power.")

  • Using Tragedy As A Political Weapon

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    One of the more macabre elements of the conservative response to President Obama's comments on the Trayvon Martin case has been the surge of what-about-ism. After the president gave his statement on Martin (which was primarily one of empathy for the slain boy's parents), the right began combing the obituary pages to find examples of recently killed young Americans and demanding to know why the president weighed in on one Florida teenager's death but not other murders. ("He commented on Martin, but what about...")

    The point of the exercise is not to promote awareness of the violence epidemic plaguing the inner cities or the disproportionate number of young African Americans who find themselves victims of violent crimes. It's to use these tragedies as a weapon against the president. served up a particularly gross example of this phenomenon yesterday, highlighting the shooting death of 6-year-old Aliyah Shell in Chicago to attack Obama: "No mention of Aliyah from the president. No public outpouring for a young mother who sat untangling her daughter's hair as shots rang out. Nothing."

    They argue that this can be explained -- and I'm not joking here -- by Saul Alinsky:

  • NRA Spent Anniversary Of Trayvon Martin's Death Pushing Law Protecting His Killer

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    Last week we noted that the National Rifle Association's (NRA) effort to push the Florida-style "Kill at Will" laws that protected Trayvon Martin's killer from prosecution had continued unabated in the wake of Martin's death.

    The gun lobby has given no indication of backing down in the face of the revelation of their role in promoting these laws. In fact, BloombergBusinessweek reports that the group spent the one-month anniversary of Martin's death trying to pass "Kill at Will" legislation in Alaska:

    On the one-month anniversary of Trayvon Martin's killing this week, the National Rifle Association was in Alaska lobbying for a law like the one at the center of the Florida shooting.

    The gun rights group urged supporters to contact senators on the "stand your ground" bill, calling it "vital self- defense legislation." A lobbyist worked the halls in gun-friendly Juneau, telling at least one senator that the highly publicized slaying of the unarmed black teen in Sanford, Florida, is "irrelevant" to the debate in Alaska, according to Senator Hollis French, an Anchorage Democrat.

    Former NRA president and Florida lobbyist Marion Hammer has acknowledged that the NRA helped draft that state's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law, and the group was instrumental in its 2005 passage. Shortly after, Hammer appeared before the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and successfully urged them to adopt Florida's law as model legislation. Together, NRA and ALEC pushed for the adoption of similar laws in dozens of states.

    The tragic circumstances of Martin's killing have forced these laws into the spotlight. As BloombergBusinessweek notes, this has led to several setbacks for the gun lobby:

    As the 4-million-member NRA continued its push in Alaska, it faced mounting challenges in other states. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick pledged yesterday to veto a similar bill if it made it to his desk. Legislation in New York and Iowa stalled in committees as lawmakers in Georgia, Texas and other states said they would try to repeal laws already on the books. A Florida-like measure in Minnesota was vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton on March 5, before the Martin case was widely covered in the national media.

  • Ted Nugent Blames "Pimps And Whores And Welfare Brats" For Decline Of Detroit

    Blog ››› ››› CHRIS BROWN

    National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent is well known for his inflammatory rhetoric. In a recent interview with NRA News Nugent -- known by the moniker 'Motor City Madman" -- aimed his typical style of vile insults at none other the Motor City itself, Detroit, Michigan.

    During a discussion about Nugent's fondness for his current home of Texas, Nugent offered up a diatribe blaming "liberal policies", "pimps" "whores" and "welfare brats" for the decline of Detroit, which he labeled a "canker sore."

    NUGENT: My birth state is Michigan. I was raised where neighbors helped neighbors and people got up early and put their heart and soul into being the best that they can be. And I think we can all look to my beloved birth city of Detroit as example of what liberal policies will do to greatness. Detroit is a canker sore compared to this glowing city on the Detroit River that I was raised in and it's direct result of the Mayor Coleman Young and the Jennifer Granholms of the world and the tragedy of pimps and whores and welfare brats being blood suckers and destroying the greatest city in the world.

    Nugent went on to say that there are still "wonderful people" living in Detroit.

    Last year, Nugent wrote that "[b]eing poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly decision," and concluded, "we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better."