Larry Pratt, the leader of a gun rights group considered to be to the right of the National Rifle Association, will appear on Fox News Sunday to discuss the debate over gun laws in the year following the deaths of 20 children and six educators during a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
According to FoxNews.com, Pratt will debate Gulf War veteran and former astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was wounded during a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. Kelly and Giffords head up gun violence prevention group Americans for Responsible Solutions while Pratt is the executive director of Gun Owners of America, which despite its extremist record was reportedly influential with Republican opponents of the Senate's failed background check legislative proposal.
Despite his prior links to white supremacist groups and history of trafficking in absurd conspiracy theories, Pratt is nonetheless regularly hosted on cable news to discuss gun policy. During a representative appearance on CNN on September 11, Pratt suggested that opponents of guns in schools "like bodies piling up." Days later on CNN's Crossfire, Pratt said he "would strongly encourage" putting firearms in kindergartens. Fox News Sunday previously turned to Pratt on January 13 to discuss Newtown.
Pratt, who has said he will talk to "anyone that will let us have their microphone," is a fixture on the conspiracy theory radio circuit. He has flirted with theories that the Newtown mass shooting was a "programmed event" put on by the government. Right Wing Watch has also documented numerous conspiracy theories and outlandish charges against the Obama administration promoted by Pratt. During a January appearance on a far-right radio show, Pratt endorsed as plausible the host's claim that a race war could occur between "Christian, heterosexual white haves" against "black, Muslim and/or atheist -- not that there's much difference -- black have-nots."
Here are four reasons why mainstream outlets should stop hosting Pratt to discuss gun violence:
Pratt Was Kicked Off Of Pat Buchanan's Presidential Campaign For Association With White Supremacists
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after it was disclosed that he "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements." The Boston Globe reported in 1996 that Pratt "had attended a 1992 conference of militant white supremacists in Colorado in the aftermath of the shootout with federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho." Conference participants included figures from the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nation. Pratt reportedly spoke out in favor of the creation of "armed militia units" at that meeting.
Pratt Proposes Solving School Shootings By Putting More Guns In Schools
After Jim Kessler, co-founder of centrist think tank Third Way, claimed during a September 11 CNN appearance that he would oppose the carrying of guns in his daughter's elementary school, Pratt responded, "You like bodies piling up I see, good move." Appearing on CNN's Crossfire on September 17, Pratt said he "would strongly encourage" the carrying of guns in kindergartens.
Pratt Has Suggested Newtown And Aurora Movie Theater Mass Shootings Could Have Been False Flag Operations
During appearances on conspiracy-themed radio shows, Pratt has engaged with hosts who propose that mass shootings are actually incidents coordinated by the government. In January, after Stan Solomon, host of Talk To Solomon Show, suggested that Sandy Hook was a "programmed event" designed to aid the government in confiscating guns, Pratt called Solomon's theory "the significant point, that whether it's by design or just by opportunism." A week after a gunman killed 12 people and wounded scores more in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July 2012, Pratt told conspiracy theorist radio host Alex Jones -- on whose show he is a frequent guest -- that while he thought that "the evil of the human heart is sufficient to account for somebody that wants to go and shoot people at random," nonetheless "we have to admit that maybe this is something that our government is capable of." Pratt later walked back his Aurora comments during an interview with Media Matters.
Right Wing Watch Has Chronicled A Plethora Of Bizarre Conspiracy Theories Promoted By Pratt
In an article previewing Pratt's upcoming Fox News Sunday appearance, Right Wing Watch highlighted a number of past claims from the gun rights activist. Among the more farfetched theories documented by Right Wing Watch, Pratt has endorsed the idea of a coming race war between whites and African Americans, suggested the Obama administration would use the Affordable Care Act to put gun owners in concentration camps, and that President Obama was stockpiling ammunition to outfit a private army.