Issues ››› Guns
  • Jovan Belcher And The Media Myth Of NRA Dominance

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    NRAWith every tragic shooting comes the same series of media narratives. Some in the right-wing media will proclaim that now is not the time for a discussion about the larger issue of gun violence, and the steps that can be taken to prevent it. Other conservatives will claim that the tragedy could have been averted if the victims were armed. And inevitably, someone in the traditional media will push the myth that no action can be taken because of the supposed power of the National Rifle Association.

    National Journal Editor-in-Chief Reid Wilson is the latest to go down the latter path. In a December 13 column, he writes in response to the "missing conversation" that followed  NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher's murder of his girlfriend and suicide and the subsequent response from sports journalists:

    The president is unlikely to devote political capital to any sort of serious push for new gun-control legislation. Though the National Rifle Association's power has waned from its peak, Republicans remain firmly on the NRA's side while Democrats remain deeply scarred by the gun-rights group's success in ousting pro-gun-control legislators.

    While Wilson acknowledges that the NRA's power has diminished, he does not question the central premise of the myth of the NRA's electoral dominance. While reporters have cited this phenomenon for years, there is little evidence to support the notion that the group has an outsized role in winning elections.

  • Ohio Newspapers Fail To Connect ALEC To New Efforts To Loosen Firearms Laws

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    ALECOhio's largest newspapers ignored the influence that gun lobby campaign contributions and the American Legislative Exchange Council may have had in pushing forward a bill that would that would loosen firearms regulations in the state. The proposal, which closely resembles ALEC model legislation, would allow gun owners to bring firearms and loaded clips into the parking lots under the state Capitol and require the recognition of out-of-state conceal carry licenses.  

    The Columbus Dispatch described Ohio House Bill 495, which has been pushed forward by an Ohio Senate committee:

    House Bill 495 essentially would treat concealed-carry licenses like drivers' licenses -- if you have one in another state, it would be recognized in Ohio.

    In addition, the bill would allow people without concealed-carry licenses to now carry loaded ammunition clips in their vehicles, so long as they are stored in a compartment separate from the unloaded gun. It also would allow people to bring their guns to the Statehouse or the Riffe Center parking garages on Capitol Square, as long as the guns remain in their vehicles.

    The bill, pushed by the National Rifle Association and other Ohio pro-gun groups, also says that a concealed-carry licensee no longer has to demonstrate competency when renewing the license.

    Current Ohio law bars those convicted of misdemeanor offenses of violence and drug offenders from obtaining concealed-carry licenses, and require applicants to demonstrate firearms safety competence. As many other states have no such requirements, residents of those states who would not be eligible to earn a license if they were Ohio residents would gain the ability to legally carry concealed if House Bill 495 were passed into law.

    While the Dispatch noted that the gun lobby was pushing the bill, they failed to point out that this 'push' took the form of significant campaign contributions to one of the bill's sponsors, Ohio House Majority Whip John Adams (R), who is "the top recipient of gun industry money in Ohio's current legislature," according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Public Campaign, a group dedicated to reducing the role of special interest money in politics.

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer fared no better in exposing gun lobby money. Its story quoted Senate President Tom Niehaus (R), who is responsible for bringing the bill to the floor, as supporting the bill. But thousands of dollars in political contributions to Niehaus from, among others, the NRA and the Buckeye Firearms Association, were omitted from the Plain Dealer's article. 

    Equally egregious is the fact that both publications completely omitted the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy conservative organization behind the passage in many states of "stand your ground" laws that became infamous in the wake of the shooting death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin earlier this year. House Bill 495 closely resembles ALEC model legislation, the "Concealed Carry True Reciprocity Act," which states:

    A person licensed or permitted to carry a firearm in any state whose laws recognize and give effect in that state to a license or permit issued under the laws of the State of {insert state} shall be authorized to carry a firearm in this state.

    Twenty-three co-sponsors of House Bill 495 are or have been members of ALEC, including Adams, who chairs the group's Ohio arm. Two members of the Senate committee who approved the bill on Wednesday are members as well.

    What's more, the Dispatch and the Plain Dealer reported that the Senate committee's initial proposal would have prevented Ohio universities from banning guns on campus, but this language was narrowed after concerns from officials at Ohio State University. The papers failed to mention that ALEC and the NRA have teamed up in the past to push for laws allowing firearms on campus, even after mass shootings devastated Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University.

  • Jon Stewart Highlights Fox's Unwillingness To Ever Talk About Gun Violence

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Daily Show called out Fox News' hypocrisy in determining who is and isn't allowed to talk about gun violence. 

    Fox heavily criticized NBC's Bob Costas after he quoted at length from Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock's column on the recent murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher. Costas' endorsement of part of the column that expressed concern about "our current gun culture" came under attack immediately from Fox News as cowardly and inappropriate.

    Watch the full segment in the videos below:


    For Fox News, It's Never The Right Time To Discuss Gun Violence

    Right-Wing Media Shout Down Costas' Attempt To Discuss "Gun Culture" In Wake Of NFL Murder-Suicide

    Bob Costas Responds To Fox News Attacks: "Sometimes The Quality Of The Thinking Of Those Who Oppose You Speaks For Itself"

    Fox's Bolling: Bob Costas Is "Kind Of A Coward" For Quoting From Jason Whitlock's Column On NFL Shooting

  • Wash. Times' Emily Miller Downplays Gun Violence With Debunked Statistic

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller falsely claimed that guns are used to prevent crimes about 2 million times a year, a defensive gun use statistic that has been repeatedly debunked. 

    Miller's claim comes in response to a statement by NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who noted that "bad things happen" as a result of firearm use. Miller compared the defensive gun use statistic, which comes from the discredited research of criminologist Gary Kleck, to the 30,000 gun deaths that occur on average annually in the United States to conclude that firearm use is actually a net social benefit.

    Mr. Costas expanded on his theme by saying, "Far more often, bad things happen -- including unintentional things -- than things where the presence of a gun diminishes or averts danger." He's only telling half the story. About 30,000 people are killed by firearms, but guns are are [sic] also used to prevent crimes approximately 2 million times a year. 

  • Fox News Stokes Obama Gun Ban Fears And Then Reports On "Booming" Gun Sales

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Fox News is reporting that gun owners are rushing to buy firearms in light of President Obama's reelection at the same time it promotes the very conspiracies about the president's gun policies triggering those sales.

    A December 6 article on the firearms "buying spree" reports that to gun owners, "Obama's re-election, and the apocalypse -- amount to the same thing" while also credulously quoting the unfounded claim of NRA president David Keene that, "Obama is coming right at us" and his second term will be "an all-out assault on the Second Amendment."

    The simultaneous reporting of an uptick in gun sales and promotion of wild-eyed conspiracy theories about Obama's gun policies is commonplace at Fox News, despite the fact that President Obama expanded, rather than restricted, where a gun can be carried during his first term.

    On the December 3 edition of Hannity on Fox News, WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush discussed the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher, alleging, "Whenever there is a high-profile gun crime the fearmongering begins, the histrionics begin, and all of this stuff really has its genesis in the political left, and particularly the big government political leftists, who want to disarm the public."

  • Bob Costas And Bill O'Reilly Agree: Conduct Background Checks On All Gun Sales

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Since NBC sportscaster Bob Costas commented on the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher during Sunday Night Football, he has received a torrent of criticism from conservatives in media and the National Rifle Association. On the December 5 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Costas called for all gun sales to be conducted with a background check, a proposal that host Bill O'Reilly, the American public, and even NRA members largely support.

    Costas drew the ire of right-wing media after favorably quoting a column that noted, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and [his victim] Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today." The National Rifle Association accused Costas of being involved in a "media conglomerate" conspiracy to ban all firearms. Although Costas did not mention any specific gun violence prevention proposals in his commentary, Fox News accused Costas of "lecturing America on gun control." Fox Nation and the Drudge Report claimed that Costas went on a "gun control rant."

    Now Costas has gotten specific, and his proposal - to conduct background checks on all gun sales - is wildly popular.  

  • Fox's Gutfeld Echoes Misleading GOP Talking Points To Claim Guns Are "Vitamin[s] Of Safety"

    Blog ››› ››› MELODY JOHNSON

    Fox News co-host Greg Gutfeld echoed statistics used by a Republican congressman to suggest right-to-carry laws decrease violent crime -- but studies have shown no such correlation. Gutfeld also hyped the debunked claim that there are "2.5 million instances each year" in which a gun is used in self-defense.

    Pundits and commentators have been discussing gun-related violence following NFL player Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide. NBC Sports' Bob Costas has been ridiculed by right-wing media for comments he made on the subject during a Sunday night football broadcast.

    During a segment on The Five about Belcher's murder-suicide and Costas' comments, Gutfeld said:

    GUTFELD: If you want to look at the FBI uniform crime report -- right-to-carry states, 30 percent have lowered their homicide rates. Forty-six percent -- lower assault and robbery. Overall, 22 percent violent [sic] rates gone down in right-to-carry. Basically, when you're not arming people, you're actually creating a health hazard. A gun is a vitamin of safety.

    Gutfeld's statistics mirror those used by a Republican congressman in a House Judiciary Committee press release issued following the House's 2011 passage of a national right-to-carry bill. The press release quoted Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX):

    [House Judiciary Committee] Chairman Smith: "The Second Amendment is a fundamental right to bear arms that should not be constrained by state boundary lines. This legislation enhances public safety and protects the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

    "Studies show that carrying concealed weapons reduces violent crime rates by deterring would-be assailants and by allowing law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.  Data from the FBI's Annual Uniform Crime Report shows that 'right-to-carry' states, or those that widely allow concealed carry, have 22% lower total violent crime rates, 30% lower murder rates, 46% lower robbery rates, and 12% lower aggravated assault rates, as compared to the rest of the country.

    But studies show there is not actually a correlation between right-to-carry laws and lower violent crime rates. A 2011 PolitiFact post reported that "using the 2009 [FBI] data, we don't see any evidence that state gun laws correlate with violent crime rates one way or the other, at least not 'across the board.' "

  • Townhall's Katie Pavlich Falsely Paints Gun Violence As Only An Urban Problem

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Townhall news editor Katie Pavlich makes a facile comparison between "two gun cultures" in America and claims that gun violence is largely limited to urban areas. However, high levels of gun death exist throughout America, and many of the states with the highest rates of gun death are rural states with weak gun laws.

    In one gun culture, Pavlich claims firearms are used "to celebrate American history, for collection, personal protection, hunting and sport" while the other gun culture "can be found in the inner city of Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and others."

    In publishing today's column, Pavlich joined a growing chorus of conservatives in media scrambling to deny the link between firearm availability and gun violence in the wake of the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher. From her column:

    Historically in America we've had a deep respect for firearms. The vast majority of people have used them to celebrate American history, for collection, personal protection, hunting and sport. We see American gun culture celebrated each year when dads take their kids elk hunting for the first time. We see it when women head to the range to safely practice shooting their new pink pistols. We see it when a mother shoots an intruder while she is home alone in order to protect her children. We see it practiced when thousands of people sign up for concealed carry permit and hunters' safety classes each year. Not to mention, the multi-billion-dollar firearms industry employs millions of people and provides the government with billions in tax revenue every year. 

    The other gun culture in America can be found in the inner city of Chicago, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and others. Ironically, violent gun culture is found within gangs in cities with the strictest gun laws. It is the same culture promoted in Hollywood films made by liberals, glorified by rappers whose music is worshiped in violent gang plagued neighborhoods and disrespectfully joked about at NBA parties.

  • Conservatives Make Bizarre Excuses To Avoid Discussing Gun Culture's Role In Murder

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    Conservative media figures have offered up several bizarre excuses in order to deflect attention from the role gun violence played in the murder of Kasandra Perkins by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher.

    In order to evade the gun issue, conservatives have explained -- in detail -- alternative methods in which Belcher could have committed murder. In addition, they have attacked NBC Sports commentator Bob Costas for even broaching the topic of gun violence, suggesting that it was inappropriate to do so during an NFL broadcast, while others compared it to racially charged commentary from Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus.