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  • Latest NRA Talking Point: Opponents Of New Colorado Gun Laws Are Like Victims Of Racial Segregation

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards compared the experience of opponents of new gun laws in Colorado during the legislative process to the experiences of victims of racial segregation. 

    Edwards hosted Laura Carno, the founder of conservative nonprofit I am Created Equal that is seeking to remove Colorado Senate President John Morse from office for supporting legislation to require background checks on gun sales and limit high-capacity magazines. During this discussion, Edwards said, "We have seen a great deal of disrespect shown to gun owners throughout this process," and added, "It's not just that our rights aren't being respected, our voices aren't being respected."

    He then read from the dissent in the 1896 Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which railed against the majority ruling that established the racially discriminatory "separate but equal" doctrine. Quoting from Justice John Marshall Harlan's dissent, Edwards said, "In the view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here," and, "In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful."

    From the June 4 edition of NRA News' Cam & Company:

  • Adam Kokesh Calls Off Armed March On D.C. In Favor Of 50 State March For "Orderly Dissolution Of The Federal Government"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Adam Kokesh is cancelling his planned July 4 armed march on Washington, D.C., and instead calling for a march on all 50 state capitols with the goal of overthrowing the federal government.

    Kokesh, a former host for Russian state-sponsored RT television who now hosts an internet radio showtold conspiracy theorist radio host Pete Santilli that it was time to "escalate our tactics" before cancelling the Washington march and urging supporters to march on their state capitol instead.

    On May 28, Santilli, a promoter of conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks who recently drew scrutiny from the Secret Service over vicious comments made about Hillary Clinton, aired an interview where Kokesh read from a press release and provided other details about the expansion of his plans.

    Previously, Kokesh launched a Facebook page to organize his armed march on Washington, an event he hoped would draw at least 1,000 attendees. The page currently lists more than 5,000 attendees. 

    In an interview with Buzzfeed, Kokesh detailed how he and others planned to march across the Memorial Bridge -- which separates Washington from Virginia -- while openly carrying firearms in violation of District of Columbia law. Kokesh told Buzzfeed that the event would be non-violent and said, "We're not going to resist government by force in any way." The Facebook description of the event stated, "This will be a non-violent event, unless the government chooses to make it violent." District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier stated that those who bring weapons illegally into Washington would face arrest

    In the press release, Kokesh called for "A new American revolution" where "the American Revolutionary Army will march on each state capital to demand that the governors of these 50 states immediately initiate the process of an orderly dissolution of the federal government through secession and reclamation of federally held property." Kokesh also gave the federal government a one-year deadline to comply with his demands before possibly taking violent action, writing, "Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible."

  • The Lunatic World Of Gun Rights Radio

    How Gun Activists Team Up With Fringe Conspiracy Theorists

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ & BEN DIMIERO

    As the debate over gun legislation has raged in recent months, prominent gun activists have been appearing on the radio and TV shows of fringe conspiracy theorists to push their message.

    The hosts of these shows believe in a range of absurd conspiracies, including that the U.S. government perpetrated the 9-11 attacks; that the recent mass shootings in Newton and Aurora were somehow staged; and that impoverished black men are gearing up to kill "white heterosexual Christians."

    Despite regularly uniting with fringe conspiracy theorists -- and often joining them in espousing outlandish conspiracies -- Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt, longtime National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, and former NRA president David Keene represent organizations that still wield considerable influence in the debate over gun legislation.

    The NRA says that it has millions of members and annual revenues in excess of $200 million, and their annual meetings regularly draw leading Republican presidential candidates. Pratt's group Gun Owners of America has also become an important player in the gun debate; an April article by The New York Times highlighted how GOA was "emerging as an influential force" over then-pending Senate gun legislation, while ignoring Pratt's own record of extremism.

    In recent weeks, extremist radio host Pete Santilli has made headlines for violent comments he made about Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and the Bush family. (Santilli's inflammatory comments include saying the he wants to shoot Clinton "in the vagina and let her suffer right before my eyes" over her supposed "treason.")

    While it's tempting to dismiss Santilli as just another crackpot with a microphone and an Internet connection, his show has been validated by appearances from major gun activists like Pratt and Nugent.

    Nugent and Pratt's appearances on Santilli's show are not an aberration; they're symptomatic of how prominent gun activists have teamed up with fringe conspiracy theorists to oppose gun legislation and spin fantastical theories about the government disarming (or going to war with) American citizens.

    Working with these fringe hosts may be a deliberate strategy; during an appearance with infamous conspiracy theorist Alex Jones last year, Pratt praised Jones for helping increase GOA's exposure, saying "thank you for having me on, because we have a much bigger voice because of you, my friend." (During that same interview, Pratt suggested the government may have been behind the mass shooting in Aurora.)

    In this report, we look at gun activists' appearances with:

  • Tony Katz On NRA's Radio Show: Hurricane Katrina Victims Should Not Have Expected To Be Rescued

    Katz On Katrina Victims: "If You Don't Know How To Get To Dry Land Or How To Move Before The Storm Comes, This Is What You Get"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative commentator Tony Katz said on the National Rifle Association's radio program that some victims of both the May 23 bridge collapse in Washington state and Hurricane Katrina were blameworthy for not doing enough to protect themselves.

    Katz, who hosts a radio show and is a contributor to a number of conservative news sites, also claimed that not a single British citizen cared about a May 22 attack on a British soldier in London "because they have an entire society now where you can kill a soldier in broad daylight and no one says, 'let's do something about this.'" Host Cam Edwards claimed that bystanders in the aftermath of the attack were "docile" and "nobody did anything." From the May 24 edition of Cam & Company on NRANews.com:

    While criticizing the actions of victims of recent disasters, Katz claimed that some victims of Hurricane Katrina were "up to their knees in water screaming out, where is the government to help me?" He added: "Well if you don't know how to get to dry land or how to move before the storm comes, this is what you get."

  • Gun Rights Activist David Kopel Duped By Fake Story About Gun Executive Being ID'ed As Terrorist

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    David Kopel, a gun activist who frequently writes for the National Rifle Association's publications, has been identified by Denver Fox affiliate KDVR/FOX31 as a source for a fake story about a gun executive who was supposedly detained after being misidentified as a terrorist.

    Kopel, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver's law school, is currently representing a group of sheriffs who seek to overturn Colorado's newly enacted gun violence prevention laws. In January, Kopel testified against stronger gun laws before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    According to a May 22 article, Kopel put KDVR in touch with a woman who claimed that Daniele Perazzi, an executive for Italian shotgun company who actually died in 2012, had been taken in for questioning by police in Denver after a cab driver misidentified him as a terrorist. It later became apparent that the woman, identified as Korrine Aguirre, fabricated the account.

    KDVR reported that Kopel "first told FOX31 Denver" about the incident and referred them to Aguirre, "who, it now appears, concocted an elaborate but false story." The news outlet was also in touch with NRA board member Steve Schreiner, who claimed to be at the Colorado Gun Collectors Association show, where Perazzi was supposedly heading to when he was accused of being a terrorist:

    Two trusted sources who told FOX31 Denver that an Italian gun company executive was questioned by local law enforcement after a Denver cab driver thought he might be a terrorist now say they were misled.

    David Kopel, a nationally-recognized Second Amendment attorney with the Independence Institute in Denver, first told FOX31 Denver about the alleged incident Saturday. He referred us to Korrine Aguirre, who, it now appears, concocted an elaborate but false story.

    [...]

    Steve Schreiner, a Colorado board member of the National Rifle Association, told us he was at the gun show. He said Aguirre told him about the alleged questioning of Perazzi by police.

    FOX31 Denver News Director Ed Kosowski has acknowledged, "More steps should have been taken to corroborate Aguirre's story and verify information provided by Kopel and Schreiner."

  • Daily Caller Affixes Image Of Marching Nazis To NRA Press Release

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The Daily Caller's "Guns and Gear" section used an image of Nazi soldiers on parade to accompany the republication of a National Rifle Association press release that attacked proponents of stronger gun laws.

    Appended to the top of the press release was an image of Nazi soldiers performing the goose step in front of Hitler and his generals during an October 1939 parade in Warsaw, Poland:

    The NRA press release identified three Democratic members of the New Jersey Legislature, Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein, who were reportedly "complaining" that proposals to strengthen gun laws in New Jersey do not go far enough. The NRA further claims that one of the legislators was caught on tape saying, "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate." As the New Jersey Star-Ledger notes, it is actually not clear which legislator named by the NRA, if any, made the comment or what words were said before "confiscate":

    As a committee hearing on new gun-control legislation began winding down Thursday, three state senators started chatting amongst themselves.

    What they didn't realize was the microphone was still on.

    A recording of the exchange -- which appears to be between Democrats Loretta Weinberg, Sandra Cunningham and Linda Greenstein -- ended up on YouTube, and gun supporters said today they were upset by the remarks.

    The recording opens with what sounds like a senator or staff member saying, "We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate" -- although it is not clear who is speaking or if this is what she is saying.

    PolitickerNJ.com also reported on the recording, noting that the "confiscate" comments were made by "an unknown voice." Reached for comment, Weinberg stated, "All I know is it's not my voice and I don't know who said it or in what context."

    Two of the three lawmakers mentioned in the press release that The Daily Caller illustrated with Nazi soldiers are Jewish.

  • REPORT: NRA News' Misplaced Outrage Over Children And Guns

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    As media scrutinize accidental shootings involving children, the National Rifle Association's news program Cam & Company has instead repeatedly highlighted incidents where students clashed with administrators over school policies that relate to guns.

    Accidental shootings involving children have been a much discussed topic over the past few weeks, with some incidents receiving widespread coverage. In particular, a fatal accident in Burkesville, Kentucky, where a 5-year-old boy unintentionally shot his 2-year-old sister with a rifle designed to be used by young children, was covered by The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, CBSNews.com, and MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes.

    Between the Kentucky accident that occurred on April 30 and May 14, Cam & Company spent only 5 minutes and 33 seconds covering gun accidents, mostly by attacking the media for reporting on the incidents. In comparison, the show spent 71 minutes and 13 seconds highlighting instances where host Cam Edwards felt that students had been unfairly treated by schools for their participation in gun culture. During the sole segment that covered a gun accident, Edwards criticized The New York Times for its reporting on the Burkesville accident.

    School incidents that received ample coverage on Cam & Company, which airs on The Sportsman Channel, include:

    • 9 minutes 43 seconds: A West Virginia middle school student was arrested and suspended for a day after refusing to remove a National Rifle Association T-shirt with an image of a gun. Administrators have alleged that the student was arrested for "disrupting the school process" and not because of the content of his shirt.
    • 33 minutes 12 seconds: A North Carolina high school senior faced serious consequences after bringing two unloaded shotguns onto school property, which he claimed to have done so inadvertently. The student will be allowed to graduate and has been offered a scholarship to two universities, although he is scheduled to appear in court and may still face other repercussions.
    • 14 minutes 52 seconds: Two Virginia elementary school students were suspended for two days after pretending to shoot each other with pencils.
    • 13 minutes 26 seconds: Segments that discussed multiple incidents or gun-related school controversies generally.
  • Media Credulously Repeat Sen. Ayotte's Claim To Have Voted For Background Checks

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Mainstream media outlets are blindly repeating the claim by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) that she supported expanded background checks by voting for Republican legislation that would actually have weakened the background check system.

    On April 17, Ayotte voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment, a legislative proposal to expand background checks to sales at gun shows and over the Internet, facing political backlash as a result. Ayotte, however, co-sponsored and voted in favor of a replacement bill offered by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that purported to improve the background check system by increasing the number of mental health records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

    In fact, the Grassley-Cruz proposal would weaken the gun background check system by changing the way mental health records are reported, potentially invalidating mental health records that are currently in the system. Specifically, Section 103 would change current law by only creating a disqualifying background check record if an individual is designated as dangerously mentally ill by a court or other adjudicative body. Under present law, adjudications by all lawful authorities create a record that prohibits an individual from buying a firearm.

    To the contrary, Manchin-Toomey would have increased the number of mental health records in NICS by offering states financial incentives and disincentives to include missing records in the system, in addition to expanding background checks

  • Conservative Media Misread Data To Declare Gun Violence Epidemic Over

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Members of conservative media are trumpeting a government report indicating that gun homicides have fallen as proof that the need for stronger gun laws is unwarranted, while ignoring multiple factors that could account for the decrease. At the same time, firearm violence continues to be a problem as firearm homicides have fallen less than serious violent crime in general and the rate of gun violence in the United States still far outpaces other high-income nations.

    In a May report, the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicated that the number of gun homicides fell 39 percent from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011. The Pew Research Center adjusted the figures to represent per capita rates in its report on the BJS data, finding that the incidence of firearm homicide has fallen 49 percent during that time period. 

    Right-wing media have quickly seized upon this data to dismiss the need for stronger gun laws. According to the National Review Online's Charles C. W. Cooke, the BJS and Pew reports make "embarrassing reading for those who spend their time trying to make it appear as if America is in the middle of a gun-crime wave." John Nolte of Brietbart.com wrote, "This report not only proves the media wrong, it proves the NRA right." Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin wrote that the reports represent "rotten data for anti-gun advocates trying to revive the Newtown, Conn., anti-gun legislative package." Townhall's Katie Pavlich, who is also a contributor at Fox News, added, "Once again more guns do in fact equal less crime."

    But there is no logic to their arguments that data from the reports constitutes evidence against proposals to strengthen gun laws. Gun availability has been repeatedly linked to higher incidence of firearm homicides, and firearms remain the driving factor of homicides, with 70 percent of murders involving guns. According to an October 2012 report from BJS, the rate of serious violent crime declined 75 percent between 1993 and 2011, meaning that gun homicides are declining at a slower pace than overall crime.

    Other factors may help explain the fall of gun crime since the early 1990s including reductions in lead levelsthe end of the crack epidemic, advances in medicine that allow more gunshot victims to survive their wounds, and a declining rate of gun ownership.

  • "Amazing": Fox's Dobbs Promotes Plastic, Printable, And Untraceable Guns

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox Business' Lou Dobbs hosted Cody Wilson -- a self-described anarchist who was named one of Wired's top 15 Most Dangerous People In The World -- to promote his 3D-printed gun, which has come under intense scrutiny.

    On March 5, Forbes reported that Wilson, a law student at the University of Texas, became the first person to fire a real bullet from a plastic gun made with a 3D-printer. The gun, named the "Liberator," is made almost entirely of plastic, with the exception of a single nail used as the firing pin and a six-ounce piece of steel to comply with the Undetectable Firearms Act, which makes it illegal to manufacture or possess any firearm that is not detectable by a walk-through metal detector. However, this six-ounce piece of steel is non-essential to the functionality of the plastic firearm; the gun would be just as effective without it.

    During a May 7 interview with Wilson, Dobbs gushed over the prospect of more of these guns, saying that they could potentially allow "every human being on the planet to go to a printer and come back and be an armed citizen or revolutionary, depending on your perspective."

    Later in the segment, Wilson said he is "sympathetic with the traditional school of anarchist thought," to which Dobbs replied: "In that view, which is to assert really individual freedom ... it's not entirely, well, dissident with American exaltation of self-reliance and independence."

    The invention of a working firearm created with a 3D-printer has proven controversial. As The New Yorker reported, 3D-printed guns would be "virtually untraceable." And as Slate explained:

    The weapon, which Wilson calls the "Liberator," is being both hailed and denounced as a major blow to gun control. Wilson's nonprofit, Defense Distributed, has already put the design plans for the gun online for anyone to download. That means people could start printing out working firearms in their living rooms today. Of even greater concern to lawmakers, criminals could theoretically thwart security measures by carrying the all-plastic guns into secure buildings without setting off metal detectors.

    In reality, though, we aren't quite there yet. For one thing, this fully 3-D printed gun isn't fully fully 3-D printed, Wilson explained to me in a phone interview. Because federal law bans firearms that aren't detectable by metal detectors, Wilson added a six-ounce, non-functional metal component to his version. Of course, anyone 3-D printing the gun at home could skip that step. But again, that would be against the law. And there's one other part that actually can't yet be 3-D printed: the firing pin. "We tried a lot of plastic pins," Wilson said. "They were a little too soft," so they deformed when they hit the primer.

    New York Congressman Steve Israel has announced legislation to renew a ban on plastic guns. New York Senator Charles Schumer has called for legislation that would ban 3D-printed guns that fire real bullets, noting that this technology makes it possible for anyone to "essentially open a gun factory in their garage."

    Even Wilson has acknowledged the dangers of his project. In an interview with Forbes, Wilson said, "You can print a lethal device ... It's kind of scary, but that's what we're aiming to show."

    These potential consequences seemed lost on Dobbs, who praised the invention as "amazing" and asked Wilson to direct viewers on where they could go to download the design plans for the gun. Dobbs also said that he would post a link to the plans on his own website.

    It should be noted that Wilson's manufacturing of the firearm was done legally. According to The New Yorker, he has received a federal firearms license, and has been in contact with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to ensure compliance.