Cam Edwards

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  • NRA's "Second Amendment" News Program All But Ignores Trump's "Second Amendment People" Firestorm

    NRA News Is “Your First Source For Second Amendment News” -- Except, Apparently, For Information About The Trump Outrage

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s news program for “the Second Amendment and other freedom-related issues” barely mentioned GOP nominee Donald Trump’s claim that “Second Amendment people” could do something about Hillary Clinton’s judicial nominations.

    The August 10 broadcast of Cam & Company offered no substantive discussion of Trump’s comment, only turning to the remark near the end of the broadcast to immediately dismiss it as a “manufactured controversy” and then using it to pivot to attack Clinton.

    During a August 9 rally in North Carolina, Trump said, “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”

    The comment was widely interpreted -- including by members of conservative media -- as a reference to a violent overthrow of a potential Clinton administration or as a threat of violence against Clinton or her judicial nominees.

    In the face of these condemnations, the NRA -- which largely invented, and often promotes, the idea that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to allow the violent overthrow of a "tyrannical" government -- defended Trump by twisting what he had said to make it seem less extreme. (The NRA endorsed Trump in May during the group’s annual meeting.)

    The next day, August 10, Trump’s “Second Amendment people” comment continued to dominate the news cycle, making it one of the most widely discussed Second Amendment stories in 2016.

    The most notable news show devoted to Second Amendment issues, the NRA’s Cam & Company, failed to offer significant coverage or discussion of Trump's "Second Amendment people" claim.

    Cam & Company addressed the firestorm surrounding Trump only toward the end of its three-hour Wednesday broadcast. Returning from commercial break, host Cam Edwards said, “Your first source for Second Amendment news and information, it is NRA News Cam & Company.”

    After introducing his guest Stephen Kruiser of PJ Media, Edwards said, “So listen, I got to tell you, I have not spent a lot of time talking about the manufactured controversy du jour today,” and then, adopting a mock-incredulous tone, he continued, “But did you hear what Donald Trump said yesterday? What does it mean?”

    Edwards never shared what Trump actually said, quickly pivoting to attacking the media for allegedly devoting insufficient coverage to supposed controversies surrounding the Clinton campaign before turning to general complaints about media coverage of the 2016 election. Then Edwards changed the subject, joking with Kruiser at length about a news report concerning the escape of a service monkey.

    Cam & Company could have taken the time to discuss the Trump's “Second Amendment people” comment if Edwards had wanted to: The August 10 broadcast also devoted nearly seven minutes to criticizing the new Ghostbusters reboot.

  • NRA Radio Show Tells Kim Kardashian West To Shut Up About Stronger Gun Laws

    NRA News Host Cam Edwards On Kardashian West: “Maybe She Should Get Rid Of Her Armed Security”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm is attacking Kim Kardashian West for calling for stronger gun laws, nonsensically claiming that she is a hypocrite because she employs armed security.

    Kardashian West in the past week has expressed her support for gun safety laws at several events, attending a lunch organized by gun safety groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and speaking about the need for stronger gun laws at an annual conference for women bloggers. Kardashian West wrote on social media that at the lunch she met with “families of loved ones who were killed by gun violence” and “I learned a lot from listening to their stories. Life is so precious! What will it take for this to stop?”

    The NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, criticized Kardashian West’s advocacy, trotting out a well-worn and deeply flawed NRA talking point that anyone who employs armed security is a hypocrite if they advocate for gun safety laws.

    During the August 8 broadcast of Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards asked Jenn Jacques of the gun blog Bearing Arms if she felt Kardashian West was employing a “double standard” and was in effect saying, “‘I can protect my family, but Jenn [Jacques] can’t protect hers.’” Jacques responded,“I think it’s disgusting that at the same time [Kardashian West is] calling for strengthening gun laws in America she’s utilizing her celebrity status to have armored tanks and armored vehicles carry her family around with teams of armed body guards. It’s just flat-out hypocrisy.”

    Edwards, who “found it a little hypocritical” himself, hoped his discussion with Jacques would “prompt some thinking and some soul searching on the part of Kim Kardashian West and if she is really that opposed to guns and if she really is that paranoid and freaked out, then maybe she should get rid of her armed security.”

    However, this poorly reasoned “hypocrisy” theory does not make sense. It would be logical only if Kardashian West were calling for laws that would prevent law-abiding people from buying guns to protect themselves. That isn't what she's advocating.

    The organization she met with, Everytown for Gun Safety lists on its website expanding background checks, preventing domestic abusers from accessing guns, promoting the safe storage of firearms, and preventing illegal gun trafficking as its policy objects. 

    A recent NRA ad used the same false attack against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, asserting that Clinton is a hypocrite for calling for stronger gun laws while receiving protection from the Secret Service. Like Kardashian West, Clinton has expressed support for further regulations of firearms, such as requiring background checks for gun sales, but not for a ban on gun ownership that would allow only hired security guards to have guns.

  • White NRA Radio Host Lectures John Lewis On “What The Sit-Ins Were About In The Civil Rights Movement”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    As civil rights hero and noted sit-in organizer Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) led a sit-in on the U.S. House of Representatives floor to demand votes on gun violence prevention measures, the host of the National Rifle Association’s radio show gave a lecture on “what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement.”

    Shortly before noon on June 22, Lewis and other Democratic members of Congress sat on the House floor, refusing to return to regular order until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call a vote on background check legislation and legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. The sit-in lasted through the night and has continued today through posting time.

    During the June 22 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards said of the sit-in, “I don’t know what to call it” and proceeded to give a lecture on what a sit-in is, referencing famous lunch counter protests during the civil rights movement, before concluding “That’s what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement.”

    Lewis served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and famously organized numerous sit-ins, including lunch counter protests, to protest racial discrimination during the 1960s.

    Edwards went on to attack the Lewis-led sit-in, characterizing it as “House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit,” a reference to the claim that Democratic legislation to prohibit gun sales to suspected terrorists violates the due process clause of the Constitution.

    In fact, any gun sale denials are already subject to a due process procedure. If someone, for example, is erroneously flagged as a felon and denied the purchase of a gun, they have the ability to have the denial adjudicated by filing an appeal. Democrats have also expressed willingness to ensure that legislation to prevent sales to suspected terrorist affords due process to individuals who have sales denied.

    Edwards closed out his lecture about sit-ins with a bizarre analogy that compared efforts to destroy ISIS to what he claimed Democrats are doing to the Bill of Rights, claiming, “These are House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit, to view the Bill of Rights as an impediment to lawmakers, to treat it as such and to try to degrade. Kind of like what they say with ISIS right? Degrade and destroy. We’re kind of witnessing the degradation and the destruction of the Bill of Rights right now.”

    From the June 22 broadcast of Cam & Company:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): Again, the pro-- I don’t know what to call it, a sit-in, again, generally speaking we saw the sit-ins in the civil rights movement that were advocating for individuals being able to enjoy the same rights that other Americans enjoyed, right? That’s what the protests were, that’s what -- we’re sitting at this lunch counter and we’re not leaving until we get served. Not we’re sitting at this lunch counter and we’re not leaving until you remove this item from the menu. We’re going to sit right here and we’re not leaving until you recognize us as human beings, as Americans who have the same rights that that guy has over there and that she has over there. That’s what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement. This, on the other hand, this isn’t Congress demanding more rights for Americans, this isn’t Congress demanding rights for themselves, this is Congress demanding power. These are House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit, to view the Bill of Rights as an impediment to lawmakers, to treat it as such and to try to degrade. Kind of like what they say with ISIS right? Degrade and destroy. We’re kind of witnessing the degradation and the destruction of the Bill of Rights right now. Where again you’ve got self-professed thought leaders who say it’s time to repeal the Second Amendment, the Constitution itself is outdated, and then you've got lawmakers who just want to ignore the Bill of Rights.

  • NRA Radio Show Compares Participants In Rep. John Lewis’ Gun Violence Sit-In To “Criminals And Terrorists”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s radio show compared participants in a sit-in in the U.S. House of Representatives being led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to “criminals and terrorists” reasoning that like terrorists, the sit-in participants were not following the rules.

    While the House was in session on June 22, Lewis and other Democratic members of Congress sat on the floor of the House, refusing to return to regular order until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call a vote on legislation to prevent gun violence.

    CNN.com described the move as “a dramatic protest inside the House of Representatives” that was “rich with historic symbolism.” Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organized numerous sit-ins to protest racial discrimination during the 1960s, has been described as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.”

    During the June 22 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, as the sit-in proceeded, host Cam Edwards claimed, “So in order to push legislation that the sponsors say would not have prevented the attacks in Orlando, Florida, they’re also going to flout the House rules. Kind of like, you know, criminals and terrorists flout the rules that we have in place right now and will continue to do so?”:

     

     

  • NRA News Says Katie Couric Isn’t A Journalist Because She Made A Documentary About Gun Violence

    Couric’s Documentary Demonstrated That Regular NRA Members Support Background Checks On All Gun Sales

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm reacted to publicity surrounding Katie Couric’s new documentary Under The Gun by claiming that the project does not deserve to be called a documentary and by attacking Couric as dishonest and questioning her credibility as a journalist.

    During the May 11 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards mockingly suggested several times that Couric should come onto his program, neglecting to mention that NRA leadership was invited to be interviewed for the documentary but declined to do so.

    Couric was the executive producer and narrator for Under The Gun, a documentary that premieres May 15 at Epix.com. According to its website, Under The Gun “examines the events and people who have kept the gun debate fierce and the progress slow, even as gun deaths and mass shootings continue to increase.”

    During his show, Edwards trashed Couric and the “very, very, anti-NRA” documentary, riffing on Couric’s promotion of the film during her appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Throughout his discussion of Under The Gun, Edwards said he would only call the project a “film,” pointedly refusing to call it a “documentary.”

    Edwards mocked Couric’s credibility as a journalist, sarcastically referring to Yahoo’s global news anchor as a “serious news person” and suggesting that in using the term “gun safety,” Couric “can’t be honest about what [the documentary team is] really all about. That’s kind of bad if you want to call yourself a respected and unbiased journalist.” (While Edwards' holds himself out as the host of a "news" show, he is listed as an employee of the NRA's public relations firm Ackerman McQueen.)

    Throughout the segment, Edwards mockingly invited Couric onto his show, saying, “So anyways, Katie’s making the rounds. … If she will go on Stephen Colbert, do you think maybe she’ll go on Cam & Company?” and stating, “Well, we will try to figure out who is doing the publicity for her new film because I would love to have her on the show. I think it would be fascinating, don’t you?”

    Though Edwards is now complaining about the content of Couric’s documentary, he does not acknowledge that the NRA previously turned down the opportunity to participate in the film. At the film’s conclusion, on-screen text lists several members of NRA leadership, including executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who were contacted for interviews but declined to participate.

    The film does feature interviews with NRA members, though. In two scenes, the majority of a group of self-identified NRA members interviewed on the street, seemingly outside the NRA’s annual meeting, are shown supporting background checks for all gun sales and expressing concern that individuals on the terror watch list are not prohibited from buying firearms. According to polling, 74 percent of NRA members support requiring a background check for all gun purchases.

  • What To Know About The NRA And Smart Guns

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    On April 29, the Obama administration released a report on what federal agencies can do to further develop smart gun technology that prevents anyone other than authorized users from discharging a firearm. With the gun industry already attacking Obama’s technology push, it is important to note that while the NRA claims it doesn’t oppose the technology’s development, its media and lobbying arms routinely make false claims about its reliability and promote conspiracy theories about the federal government wanting to use the technology to spy on gun owners.

  • Conservative Media Lash Out At John Boehner For Calling Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    Blog ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing media condemned former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) for referring to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “Lucifer in the flesh” and the most "miserable son of a bitch” he has ever worked with.

    Former House Speaker John Boehner Calls Ted Cruz “Lucifer In The Flesh”

    NY TimesBoehner Described Ted Cruz As Lucifer In The Flesh, The Most "Miserable Son Of A Bitch” He Ever Worked With. The New York Times reported on April 28 that Boehner “described Senator Ted Cruz as ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ … and said that he would not vote for” Cruz if he became the Republican presidential nominee:

    Former House Speaker John A. Boehner described Senator Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” during a forum at Stanford University on Wednesday and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee.

    [...]

    Mr. Boehner’s harshest assessment was saved for Mr. Cruz, who he has not forgiven for spearheading the 2013 government shutdown.

    “I have Democrat friends and Republican friends,” Mr. Boehner told David Kennedy, an emeritus history professor, at the event. “I get along with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” [The New York Times4/28/16]

    Conservative Media Lash Out At Boehner, Call His Comments A “Witless Cheap Shot”

    National Review Editors: Boehner’s Comments Are “A Witless Cheap Shot” And “Petty Grudge-Holding. National Review’s editorial board wrote on April 28 that Boehner’s characterization of Cruz was a “witless cheap shot.” The editors said the comments were “petty grudge-holding” and speculated that these “knee-jerk responses … though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals”:

    We get it. John Boehner doesn’t like Ted Cruz. In a witless cheap shot, Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh” at an event at Stanford University. Boehner’s attitude is widespread among Republican insiders who are foolishly allowing personal ill will to cloud their reasoned judgment about who, among the candidates left in the GOP race, is the best representative of conservative principles and policies, and about who would be the best candidate in the upcoming general election.

    [...]

    [P]rominent conservatives who might not be counted among Cruz’s friends — Lindsey Graham and Jeb Bush come to mind — have urged the party to rally around Cruz as the only reliable conservative left in the race.

    They’re right to do so, and not to give in to the petty grudge-holding of John Boehner. In 2013, when Cruz was engineering his ill-fated government shutdown, his Republican critics, including us, warned against interpreting tactical disagreements as evidence of disagreements about objectives. We encouraged conservatives not to indulge in knee-jerk responses that, though cathartic, would ultimately set back our common goals. That argument works in both directions. Whatever his personal feelings, Boehner agrees with Cruz on most questions of principle and policy, and it’s a shame he can’t act accordingly. [National Review4/28/16]

    Sean Hannity: “John Boehner, Shut Up … You Failed The Republican Party.” On the April 28 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity told Boehner to “shut up,” calling his performance as speaker “weak, timid, feckless, visionless.” Hannity asserted that Boehner “failed the Republican Party,” concluding, “We don’t need lectures from you”:

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST):  All right, I’ve got to tell you something. I can't say this strongly enough. John Boehner, shut up. You know what? You gave us $4 trillion in debt. You were weak, timid, feckless, visionless. And I’ve got to be honest, you want to know why Cruz and Trump are doing so well? Look in the mirror, because you are afraid of your own shadow that you might get blamed for a government shutdown, so you wouldn't defund Obamacare, you wouldn’t use the power of the purse, you wouldn’t defund executive amnesty, which was -- which Republicans ran on in 2014. You failed the Republican Party. We don't need lectures from you against presidential candidates that are resonating with the American people, thank you very much. [Fox News, Hannity4/28/16]

    Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter: Boehner “Today Just Demonstrated His Utter Contempt For” The People On The Right. During the April 28 edition of NRA News’ Cam & Company, conservative Townhall columnist Kurt Schlichter said Boehner’s remarks “proved” that he was “a giant waste of air.” Schlichter concluded, “The people on the right are angry … at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them”:

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): How about that? “Lucifer in the flesh.” So, I saw that description today, and for whatever reason, Kurt, the phrase “Goldwater’s baby” came to mind --

    KURT SCHLICHTER: Its eyes! Its eyes! What did you do to its eyes!

    EDWARDS: I want somebody to use that as an insult this year, I just want to hear somebody call someone else “Goldwater’s baby.”

    SCHLICHTER: Oh my gosh. You know, with Boehner, sometimes it's like, you know, we all knew it, and then it happens. This guy literally says he would vote for Hillary Clinton before one of the nominees by the other Republicans. This was our speaker. We were all saying you know, this guy is a giant waste of air, and then he comes out and just completely proves it.

    [...]

    SCHLICHTER: The people on the right are angry. They’re angry at people like John Boehner, who today just demonstrated his utter contempt for them. And they always knew it, and there were people saying, "No, no, no, he really doesn’t feel that way." And well I said, “You know, I kind of think he does.” And now he’s kind of proved it. I think people are justifiably angry. They’re not going to -- to quote Roger Daltrey, "won't be fooled again!" [NRA News, Cam & Company4/28/16]

    Fox’s Laura Ingraham: “I Don’t Like That Comment By John Boehner. At All.” On the April 29 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group’s The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham decried Boehner’s comments as “not helpful.” Ingraham called Boehner and “establishment” Republicans “devils,” saying, “I have the idea it’s devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different”:

    LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): This John Boehner comment about Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh"? Not helpful. I said yesterday when I saw that this had been said that, I mean, John Boehner should just button it. It's not helpful. Now, you see, I have the idea it's devilish to run on one thing and then govern on something quite different. I think that's very deceiving, as the devil is deceiving. Ted Cruz actually said he was going to run on some basic principles, and for the most part it seems like Ted Cruz actually, you know, tried to fulfill his Senate duties with those principles in mind. Now that's “Lucifer in the flesh”? What? It seems like the revolt against the establishment is making it pretty clear who people think the devils are. The devils are the people who say they’re going to oppose Obama only to fund his entire budget. The devils are the people who say they’re pro-life only to fund Planned Parenthood. The devils are the people who spend most of the good part of an entire year pushing Obama's Trade Promotion Authority. The devils are the people who say they’re going to get rid of Obamacare only to allow Obamacare to be funded. Those are the devils. The devils are the people who call the people the loud people, or make fun of them and say “it’s too hard,” like John Boehner did. So I don't like that comment by John Boehner. At All. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show4/29/16]

    Conservative Radio Host Hugh Hewitt: “Despicable Is My Term For [Boehner’s] Attack On [Cruz].

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell: “Boehner Doesn’t Have The Guts To Apologize. He Is A World-Class Coward.”

    [Twitter, 4/29/16]

    The Blaze’s Dana Loesch: “John Boehner Gets Along With Every Beltway Elitist -- But Not The Average American. This Is Why He’s Out To Pasture.”

    [Twitter, 4/28/16]

     

  • NRA Spins Primary Results With False Claim Clinton’s Support For Gun Safety Laws Is Hurting Her Campaign

    NRA News On CT Primary: “Hillary Clinton Did Not Win Newtown, Donald Trump Won Newtown”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm offered a faulty and misleading analysis of Connecticut’s presidential primary results to suggest that Hillary Clinton’s support for stronger gun safety laws is a detriment to her campaign, while arguing that she somehow lost the primary to Donald Trump.

    During the April 27 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attacked a Huffington Post article headlined “Hillary Clinton Wins Newtown, After Making Gun Control Central To Her Campaign.”

    Newtown was the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting which claimed 26 lives.

    Clinton won a seven point victory over Bernie Sanders in Newtown, beating her overall state victory margin of five points during Connecticut’s April 26 primary.

    Edwards attacked the notion that Clinton’s focus on gun safety and subsequent win was “significant” by fallaciously arguing that “Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” because Trump received more total votes in the primary:

    EDWARDS: On the Republican side, in Newtown, Connecticut, Hillary Clinton didn’t beat Donald Trump in terms of the vote numbers. … So in terms of all of the candidates that residents and voters in Newtown could vote for, no, Hillary Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown. I don't think you’re going to see that headline at Huffington Post. ... So if Hillary Clinton's win in Newtown in the Democratic primary is significant, well then what is the significance of (a) a Republican candidate actually getting the most votes of all of the candidates on the ballot there in Newtown, (b) one who has expressed support for the right to keep and bear arms. What's the significance there ya think?

    Trump received 1,654 votes in the Republican primary in Newtown while Clinton received 1,362 votes in the Democratic primary.

    Edwards also said, “It's worth noting that statewide, Hillary Clinton actually did get more votes than Donald Trump, she got about 50,000 more votes than Donald Trump, but not in Newtown, Connecticut. ... I just think it's worth pondering what the significance of the fact that Hillary Clinton did not actually get the most votes in Newtown might be.”

    Edwards’ comparison between vote totals for Clinton and Trump is nonsensical. By definition, primaries are not contests between candidates of different parties -- and Connecticut has a closed primary system meaning voters can only vote for candidates of their registered party.

    Edwards claim that “Clinton did not win Newtown, Donald Trump won Newtown” also doesn’t make sense when voter trends in Connecticut are analyzed:

    • For a variety of factors, far more Republicans have voted in 2016 primaries compared to Democrats.
    • Newtown has more active registered Republicans (5126) than active registered Democrats (4358). Mitt Romney easily won Newtown in the 2012 presidential election.
    • Even so, Democratic turnout was higher (58%) compared to Republican turnout (56%) in Newtown.
    • Edwards argued it was significant that Trump received more votes than Clinton in Newtown, even though Clinton “got about 50,000 more votes” than Trump statewide. But in Newtown there are 768 more active registered Republicans than Democrats, while statewide there are 303,635 more registered active Democrats compared to active registered Republicans.
  • New NRA Talking Point Falsely Equates Gun Owners With LGBT People

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The host of the National Rifle Association's radio show drew a false parallel between being LGBT and being a gun enthusiast while discussing a controversy involving a college professor.

    The NRA has a lengthy history of comparing the treatment of gun owners to the treatment of people with immutable characteristics, including drawing false parallels between legal regulations on guns and Jim Crow-style laws that discriminated on the basis of race.

    Cam Edwards, the host of the NRA's radio show Cam & Company, compared gun owners to LGBT people while discussing an April 18 opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In the piece, an anonymous college professor grappled with mixed feelings and asked for advice after being asked to write a letter of recommendation to a teacher-credential program for a student who is a "gun enthusiast." The anonymous professor wrote:

    I lay all of this out here now because I don’t know what to do about the recommendation.

    It’s so complicated. On one side are all of my ideas about supporting students, honoring their individuality and their journeys, creating a safe space for them (and myself), not taking things out of context, not overinterpreting. On the other side are my memories of growing up in a situation where guns, people, and bullets had to be rigorously kept apart, lest they find each other in a tragic moment of instability.

    Edwards responded to the opinion piece by attacking the anonymous professor and drawing a false comparison between gun owners and LGBT people, claiming during the April 19 broadcast of his show, "Now imagine this piece written but instead of a gun owner, they’re talking about, I don’t know, any other group out there. ... Member of the LGBT community. A transgendered [sic] student. Any other identifying factor":

    CAM EDWARDS (HOST): Now imagine this piece written, but instead of a gun owner, we're talking about, I don’t know, any other group out there. Vegetarian. Member of the LGBT community. A transgendered [sic] student. Any other identifying factor -- I don’t want to help this person because I don’t agree with them. Well this professor is in for a world of controversy, aren’t they? Probably have students demanding to know who this professor really is. Professor would probably worried about being dismissed from her job for being so intolerant. But when it comes to a woman who wants to own a firearm for self defense, nah it's OK for this professor to try to treat that student like dirt. As long as the student is not aware of it, mind you.

    Edwards and the NRA have a well-established track record of comparing conditions placed on gun ownership to the experience of racial discrimination. In June 2013, Edwards compared gun owners in Colorado to victims of “segregation” following Colorado's adoption of stronger gun laws after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and Aurora movie theater shooting. Edwards has also claimed that a requirement that Colorado students who own guns on campus must live in a designated dorm means "we are back to segregation now."

    A July 2014 commentary video from the NRA compared modern gun regulations to “Jim Crow laws,” claiming current gun laws are “equally as unconstitutional” as laws that codified racial discrimination.

    And in January 2013, former NRA president Marion Hammer compared Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) then-proposed ban on assault weapons to racial discrimination, claiming on the NRA's radio show, "Well, you know, banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again. The color of a gun. The way it looks. It's just bad politics."

    The NRA is now expanding this inaccurate and offensive comparison to the LGBT community.

  • Apparently, The NRA Is Now OK With Illegal Gun Possession

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    New York City has cracked down on an alleged scheme to circumvent local gun licensing requirements, and the National Rifle Association’s media arm reacted not by calling for enforcement of gun laws but by falsely calling NYC’s laws unconstitutional. The NRA also downplayed the danger the scheme posed to the public and excused the alleged crimes by saying NYC’s law invited corruption.

    The scheme involved a man allegedly bribing New York Police Department officers to obtain up to 150 gun licenses, including licenses to carry a gun in public. The NRA repeatedly excused the alleged crime in segments on NRA News, in a departure from its oft-repeated talking point that instead of passing new gun laws, officials should enforce the laws on the books.

    On April 18, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York announced the arrest of Brooklyn resident Alex Lichtenstein for allegedly masterminding a scheme to bribe police officers in order to obtain gun licenses. According to a press release from the office, “As alleged, Lichtenstein offered the officer $6,000 per license, bragging that he had already used his NYPD connections to obtain 150 gun licenses.”

    The New York Times reported that Lichtenstein is accused of obtaining licenses that included “full- and limited-carry permits, which are difficult to obtain in New York City.” The prosecutor in the case asked for Lichtenstein to be held without bail, calling him an “arms dealer” and a “danger to the community.”

    The April 18 and 19 broadcasts of the NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, used news of the scheme to attack gun laws in New York City -- which has strict laws and very low rates of gun violence compared to other big cities -- and to downplay the seriousness of the allegations and the threat the scheme posed to public safety.

    NRA News host Cam Edwards repeatedly downplayed the alleged scheme by falsely suggesting that the gun licensing systems in NYC and elsewhere violate the Second Amendment and by claiming that the alleged bribery was a natural result of the city’s gun laws.

    But in making his argument, Edwards dismissed the reality that the alleged bribery scheme let people possess guns illegally.

    During the April 18 broadcast of Cam & Company, Edwards claimed gun permit laws violate the Second Amendment: “You don’t have this problem if you actually recognize the right to keep and bear arms. … Here’s a simple proposal: Get rid of the gun permits in New York City. Don’t require a permit to own a firearm in New York City. Abide by the words of the Second Amendment, and then you don’t have an opportunity for corruption.”

    In segments posted on April 18 and 19, Edwards said, “If you don’t need permission to exercise a fundamental individual constitutional right, then you can’t bribe someone in order to exercise said fundamental individual constitutional right,” and, “When you see a right as a privilege to be doled out, guess what happens? Corruption, I think, inevitably follows.”

    Edwards’ excuse for the alleged crime -- that gun licensing laws violate the Second Amendment right -- is unfounded. Courts have repeatedly found permitting and licensing systems to own guns or carry guns in public to be consistent with the Second Amendment. In 2015, a federal court upheld New York’s licensing system.

    Edwards also claimed on April 19 that leaders in NYC “would rather deal with corruption probes every year than put in place a policy that recognizes and acknowledges the Heller decision … and the very words of the Second Amendment."

    Edwards’ argument is nonsensical in light of the Heller decision he mentions, the landmark 2008 Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, where a conservative majority struck down Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban. In response to the ruling, D.C. changed its law to comply with the Second Amendment by implementing a system similar to New York City's that requires licensing to own a firearm.

    During his NRA News segments on April 18 and 19, Edwards also repeatedly downplayed the danger to the public the alleged scheme posed by distorting the allegations surrounding it.

    On April 18, Edwards said, “I assume, by the way, this is a pistol permit, not a permit to carry. We’ll try to get more details here.” The details were already available. The April 18 U.S. Attorney’s Office press release that kicked off news reports of the scheme indicated that the case involved licenses to carry guns in public. The New York Times reported this same fact on April 18.

    Edwards repeatedly described the scheme as a matter of merely expediting license requests. He claimed on April 18, “There are no allegations at this point that anybody got a permit who wasn’t legally eligible for one,” suggesting instead that the alleged mastermind of the scheme was someone who could just “help you get your permit a little bit faster.”

    In fact, the U.S. attorney’s April 18 press release stated that one person who obtained a permit through the scheme “had been arrested for forgery, received approximately 10 moving violations and three vehicle-related summonses, and had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, including one in which he was accused of threatening to kill someone,” while noting that “the NYPD License Division indicates that it may reject applications if the investigation reveals a history of arrest, driving infractions, or domestic violence incidents, among other reasons.”

    On April 19, Edwards had apparently become aware of this fact, but he continued to downplay it, stating that the man “had been the subject of at least four domestic violence complaints, but not even arrests, but much less a conviction here.” Edwards never mentioned that one of the domestic violence incidents allegedly involved a threat to kill somebody, as the article he said he was referencing during the segment explained. He also misleadingly claimed, “And this is the one guy that was supposedly the worst of the worst” of Lichtenstein's alleged customers.

    In fact, the U.S. attorney’s press release indicates that a review of Lichtenstein’s application files “is ongoing,” meaning at this time it is unknown if licenses were given to other problematic people. As the press release explained, the scheme allowed individuals who wanted a gun "to forego the full investigation typically conducted before the NYPD License Division approves or disapproves an application."

    This is not the first time Edwards has attacked New York’s gun laws rather than the people who violate them. In March 2013, Edwards called for the dismissal of an illegal gun possession charge faced by New York linen mogul George Bardwil, who was caught with a gun while on trial for domestic violence charges. In July 2014, Bardwil was convicted on charges of slamming his ex-wife's head into the ground after she refused to have sex with him. In June 2015, Bardwil pleaded guilty to the gun charge and was sentenced to two years in prison for domestic assault and illegal gun possession.

  • NRA News Spins Facts On Kalamazoo Shooting Rampage To Avoid Blaming Guns

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    While the National Rifle Association has not released an official statement on the shooting rampage that left six people dead in Kalamazoo, MI, on February 20, the gun group's media arm is already spinning the facts of the tragedy, suggesting that firearms should not be blamed because there were no "red flags" related to "gun ownership" in the suspect's background.

    In fact, according to a widely available report, neighbors say the suspect used firearms in a "troubling manner," including firing a gun out of his back door and randomly firing a gun into the air.

    Jason Dalton is accused of shooting people at random in and near Kalamazoo, MI, on the night of February 20. Eight people were shot, and six of them died. Police apprehended Dalton in the early hours of February 21.

    On the February 22 broadcast of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards attempted to downplay the implications surrounding the use of a firearm in the mass killing. He said that regarding "gun ownership, there have been no indications that the suspect in this case raised any red flags, in fact the opposite -- neighbors talk about what a nice guy he seemed to be. Family man, married, a couple of kids."

    Edwards added, "Here on this program, I got to say, I think the responsibility lies with the individual who committed these acts, and we will simply offer our thoughts and our prayers to the victims, and their families, the people of Kalamazoo, and the state of Michigan."

    In fact, at the time of the NRA's broadcast, it had been reported in national media that neighbors said Dalton "used guns in a troubling manner." According to The New York Times, one of Dalton's neighbors said that he was a "nice guy" but also, "He periodically shot his gun out the back door," and, "He would shoot randomly into the air":

    In the rural area outside the city where Mr. Dalton lived, police searched his brown, one-story home on Sunday morning. Sally Pardo, a retired nurse who lived across the street from him and his family, said she and her husband had always thought of Mr. Dalton as a "nice guy" who worked on cars in his spare time. But he used guns in a troubling manner and sometimes sounded a little paranoid, she said.

    "He periodically shot his gun out the back door," Ms. Pardo said. "He would shoot randomly into the air."

    Edwards' claim that "the responsibility lies with the individual who committed these acts" is a repetition of the logically fallacious NRA catch phrase "guns don't kill people; people kill people." As David Kyle Johnson explained in his column on logic in Psychology Today, arguing that it's people, not guns, who kill people doesn't offer a persuasive conclusion about whether guns should be more or less regulated.

    It is undeniable, however, that mass killings in the United States are committed most often with a firearm. Of 279 mass killings identified by USA Today between January 2006 and the June 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, SC, church, 211 were committed with firearms.

  • Conservative Media Attack Cosmopolitan For Highlighting The Issue Of Women And Gun Violence

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Conservative media are attacking Cosmopolitan magazine for working in partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety to run a feature highlighting the dating issues surrounding gun ownership and domestic violence. Conservative media attacked the feature, comparing it to anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda and labeling it a "war on men with guns" while saying Cosmo wants its readers to be "slutty and defenseless." Several conservative media critics expressed skepticism that Cosmo was capable of publishing serious reporting.

  • When Mass Shootings Happen, The NRA And Conservative Media Blame The Victim

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Another Mass Shooting

    Conservative media and the National Rifle Association's increasing insistence that victims of mass shootings should have been armed is beginning to sound a lot like blaming the victim.

    The familiar right-wing talking point has emerged again, as America grapples with yet another instance of mass public violence. This time a man opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center with an AK-47-style assault weapon, killing three people -- including a police officer -- while leaving nine others wounded.

    The pronouncements from gun advocates in the media were all too familiar. On Fox News, a network contributor asked, "What if more people had guns there, guys? What if people could've defended themselves?"

    Similar commentary was heard from the NRA's media arm, NRA News, where a guest said during the first broadcast following the Planned Parenthood shooting, "I would have loved it if somebody who worked at Planned Parenthood, or one of the patients, or somebody who was waiting had a concealed carry permit and was able to stop this guy before he killed three people and injured nine or ten others," garnering agreement from NRA News host Cam Edwards.

    These claims wrongly imply that it is the responsibility of mass shooting victims to stop their would-be killers as opposed to society's responsibility to stop would-be killers from accessing weapons that make mass murder possible.

    The argument that victims of gun violence should have been armed entered the spotlight in December 2012 with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's commentary on the murder of Kasandra Perkins by her boyfriend, NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher. According to LaPierre, "The one thing missing in that equation is that woman owning a gun so she could have saved her life from that murderer." (Perkins did actually own guns.)

    Just weeks later, members of conservative media raised eyebrows by insisting armed teachers could have stopped the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. As high-profile mass shootings have continued unabated since then, the argument has become increasingly loud, and in some cases increasingly ugly.

    After a mass shooting claimed the lives of nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June, a member of the NRA's board of directors and the head of the extremist Gun Owners of America group both criticized the victims for being unarmed, citing slain pastor Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for stronger gun laws.

    And after a man killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in October, NRA board member Ted Nugent claimed that unarmed victims of mass shootings are "losers," while presidential candidate Ben Carson remarked of the gunman, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me."

    The notion that victims bear the responsibility of preventing crimes committed against them has long lurked in the conservative media and NRA consciousness, and claims surrounding the victims of the Planned Parenthood attack indicate that this argument is not about to go away.

    But even if this type of claim from conservative media and the NRA didn't wrongly shift the onus toward victims to stop their own murders, the argument is not based in reality.

    According to an analysis of 62 public mass shootings over a 30 year period, not a single one was stopped by a civilian with a firearm. Simulations of mass shootings also offer little hope that more concealed guns will prevent these attacks.

    The United States has so many mass shootings and also so many guns and so many concealed carry permits, but the notion that victims of mass shootings will use guns to take out their attackers has not borne itself out as a reliable real-world solution to the problem of mass violence -- and the insistence that victims should have armed themselves wrongly shifts the burden toward those who are killed as opposed to the killers and the policies that arm them.

  • Even Fox News Is Fascinated By Smart Gun Technology

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Fox & Friends presented emerging smart gun technology as "fascinating," reliable, and not vulnerable to hacking in a segment that highlighted a shotgun that can only be fired by an authorized user who wears a special ring.

    The National Rifle Association claims that it does not oppose the development of smart gun technology, but in practice it often raises unfounded concerns that the technology is unreliable or could be disabled by hackers. The NRA has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the government could use the technology to take control of private firearms to implement a de facto ban on gun ownership.

    A November 24 segment on Fox & Friends featured an interview with Jonathan Mossberg, the inventor of a "Magnetic Tag-enabled shotgun," that debunked these myths.

    According to Mossberg's website, authorized users for the firearm wear a ring and "when the ring comes in close range to the normal ring-finger placement on the firearm's stock, the iGun compares a unique code from the ring to the gun to see if there is a match. If the code matches, the trigger unlocks" and the gun can be fired.

    Proponents of smart guns promote the technology as a way to prevent unauthorized users -- such as children or someone trying to access a law enforcement officer's gun -- from accessing a weapon.

    A segment on the November 24 broadcast of Fox & Friends opened by comparing smart gun technology with something that might be seen in a James Bond movie. Fox News "CyberGuy" Kurt Knutsson participated in a demonstration of the technology with Mossberg and concluded, "I tested it out, I can tell you right now that guns are about to become a lot like an iPhone where you could just simply use your fingerprint to open a gun, or even in this case you use a ring."

    During the demonstration Knutsson attempted to fire Mossberg's shotgun, but was unable to do so. He then passed the firearm to Mossberg, who was able to fire the gun instantly because he was wearing a ring for an authorized user.

    After the demonstration, Mossberg explained that people who oppose the technology are "people that jump to conclusions, that don't do homework, and don't do research are against it. You may not want to buy one. That's fine. But don't be against it."

    Mossberg's explanation of the unfounded reasons people oppose smart gun technology sounds like a summation of the attacks on the technology from the NRA's media arm, NRA News. (Interestingly, Mossberg's family operates O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a sponsor of the NRA News web series Noir.)

    In contrast to the successful demonstration of the technology on Fox News, the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company has spread false information about the failure rate of the technology, featured content suggesting smart guns are a "dumb idea" and that "gun owners won't trust an electronic firearm to save the day," and hosted guests to claim the technology doesn't work. The NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom has endlessly criticized smart gun technology, recently describing it as "floundering."

    These attacks are baseless -- market-ready smart guns have a similar mechanical failure rate compared to firearms that do not have the technology.

    The Fox & Friends segment also addressed claims that the technology could be hacked by criminals or by the government for nefarious purposes. Knutsson explained, "The fact is, this particular technology right here, 15 million combinations to that ring is what it would take to hack through it."

    "The people who hate technology, smart guns, they think that big bad government can shut my guns down. Mine does not work on WiFi, mine does not work on any signal other than this far apart," added Mossberg, demonstrating the distance between his thumb and index finger.

    NRA News has promoted the type of conspiratorial claims described by Mossberg. In April 2014, conservative media distorted comments made by then-Attorney General Eric Holder about smart gun technology similar to Mossberg's -- it would use a bracelet rather than a ring -- to claim that the government wanted to track gun owners using the technology. Conservative media falsely claimed Holder promoted "tracking" bracelets, when instead the purpose of the bracelet Holder discussed was to send a signal to the firearm authorizing its use.

    Despite being a complete distortion of what Holder said, NRA News hosted multiple guests to push the conspiracy theory, with one guest claiming, "For some reason they feel like they need to keep an eye on where your gun is and where my gun is, and Eric Holder can do pretty much whatever he wants with government funds."

    The NRA's publication American Rifleman also promoted the conspiracy theory that "a criminal, a hacker or even a government agency could turn your gun on or off anytime they wanted" if smart gun technology was adopted. The author of the article appeared on NRA News to claim the technology could be hijacked by "politicians, let's be frank, who would just as soon ban all handguns."

    During the Fox & Friends segment, Mossberg and Kilmeade both expressed opposition to legislation that would mandate the adoption of the technology, which is in line with the NRA's position, but nonetheless Kilmeade concluded the segment by describing Mossberg's invention as "fascinating."

    Fox & Friends' treatment of smart gun technology stands in sharp contrast to previous coverage of the technology on Fox & Friends; the show was one of many conservative media outlets to push the conspiracy theory about Holder and "gun tracking bracelets."

  • Conservative Media Invert Study's Conclusion To Argue Against Stronger Gun Laws

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Several conservative media outlets cited a recent study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine to conclude that gun laws do not effectively deter criminals from obtaining firearms, even though the study actually found that gun laws in Chicago make it harder for criminals to acquire firearms by increasing opportunity costs. The study's authors are now speaking out against media misrepresentations of their work.