Cam Edwards

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  • 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 ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS & JULIE ALDERMAN

    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.

  • NRA News Tries To Shut Down The Debate: Calls For New Gun Laws Show "A Lack Of Shared Humanity"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The host of the National Rifle Association's radio show reacted to the fatal shooting of two journalists in Virginia by attacking "anti-gun politicians" and "anti-gun activists" for using the tragedy to call for stronger gun laws, claiming they "politicized" it and demonstrated "a lack of shared humanity."

    But not only is the NRA hypocritical for saying gun policy debates should be off-limits after a shooting -- it has used mass shootings to call for looser gun laws -- it's also self-serving, because its political agenda benefits when potential new laws that it opposes are not debated and discussed.

    The NRA's declaration that this is not the time to discuss gun policy also stands in stark contrast to comments made just hours after the shooting by the father of one of the victims, who said publicly that he will make it his life's work to convince politicians to close loopholes in gun laws.

    During the morning of August 26, reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, of Roanoke, Virginia's ABC affiliate station WDBJ, were gunned down while doing a live report from a recreation area. The shooter, who later that day committed suicide, was a disgruntled former co-worker. The tragedy quickly made national headlines and prompted calls for stronger gun laws and action by President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Virginia Gov. Terry McAullife (D).

    Later that same day during an afternoon broadcast, Cam Edwards, host of the NRA radio show, Cam & Company, lashed out at people who consider this latest incident of shocking public gun violence as more evidence the nation needs stronger gun laws.

    Edwards complained, "Before we know any of the details, we are seeing anti-gun politicians, anti-gun activists trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage," and went on to characterize calls for new gun laws as "the wrong response to take here. I think it shows a lack of shared humanity."

    He went on to lament, "It has been really disheartening to see in a matter of minutes how this story became politicized," and said, "This is a community that is absolutely heartbroken right now and you've got people who are trying to turn this tragedy into some sort of political advantage for them[selves]. I just think it's gross."

    That reaction typifies the gun group's strategy whenever a shooting captures national headlines. Hiding behind expressions of concern for the victims of the attack, the NRA condemns anyone who sees the violence as a reason to change or reform laws and accuses them of "politicizing" a tragedy.

    This argument is nonsensical. As Ezra Klein explained for The Washington Post following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, saying that it's not appropriate to talk about new gun laws "is a form of politicization":

    When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid "politicizing" the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for "don't talk about reforming our gun control laws."

    Let's be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It's just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

    With statements that attempt to police what can and can't be said following a shooting, the NRA not only seeks to shut down debate that could lead to tougher gun laws, it also purports to speak for the victims and their family members.

    But no one who has been personally affected by gun violence needs the NRA to speak for them. Certainly not Parker's father, who appeared on Fox News the night his daughter was shot and made an impassioned plea for gun reform.

    Noting that he had spoken by phone with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Andy Parker said: "I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns," adding that McAullife told him, "I'm right there with you":

    ANDY PARKER: And, you know, I'm not going to let this issue drop. We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns. And, you know, and the problem that you guys have is that -- and I know it's the news business and this is a big story. But next week it isn't going to be a story anymore and everybody is going to forget it. But you mark my words, my mission in life -- and I talked to the governor today. He called me and he said -- and I told him, I said, I'm going to do something, whatever it takes, to get gun legislation to shame people, to shame legislators into doing something about closing loopholes in background checks and making sure crazy people don't get guns. And he said, you go, I'm right there with you. So, you know, this is not the last you've heard of me. This is something that is Alison's legacy that I want to make happen.

  • NRA News Guest: "Cowardly" Amy Schumer Only Spoke Out Against Gun Violence To Advance Her Career And Win An Oscar

    Breitbart.com's John Nolte Says If Schumer "Actually Cared About" Lafayette Theater Shooting She Would Tell "Gun-Free Zone" Jokes

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Breitbart.com's John Nolte attacked actress and comedian Amy Schumer's recent call for gun safety measures, claiming that the Trainwreck star doesn't actually care about a mass shooting that occurred during a screening of her film, but rather that she hoped to cynically use the shooting as "a great opportunity" to advance her career.

    Two women were killed and nine other people were injured after a gunman opened fire during a screening of Trainwreck at a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana on July 23. The gunman, who had a history of domestic violence and bizarre behavior, committed suicide.

    Following up on her pledge to engage on the issue of gun violence following the shooting, Schumer appeared alongside her cousin, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), at a press conference to promote new legislation to ensure that disqualifying records are submitted by states into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill includes other measures to address substance abuse and mental health issues.

    During the Aug. 3 press conference, Amy Schumer said, "We're here today to say is enough is enough. To mass shootings in our schools, our college campuses, our military bases, and even in our movie theaters. These shootings have got to stop." She continued, "For me, the pain I share with so many other Americans on the issue of gun violence was made extremely personal to me on Thursday, July 23 when ... he sat down for my movie, Trainwreck, at the Grand Theater in Lafayette, Louisiana. Two lives were tragically lost and others injured and I've thought about these victims each day since the tragedy."

    A visibly emotional Schumer concluded her remarks by saying, "These are my first public comments on the issue of gun violence, but I can promise you they will not be my last."

    On the Aug. 3 broadcast of the National Rifle Association's radio show Cam & Company, Breitbart News editor-at-large John Nolte attacked Schumer's motives, claiming that she did not care about the shooting but rather wished to use the tragedy to advance her career.

    According to Nolte, Schumer sees the mass shooting as "a great opportunity, this occurred at my movie and now the focus is on me, and what can I do to enhance my career."

    "If she had any moral courage and she actually cared about what happened she would come out and she would say, 'Listen putting a sign on a movie theater that says no one inside it is armed, that this is a gun-free zone, is stupid.' She has the power to do this. She could make jokes about how stupid these gun-free zones are," Nolte continued.

    Instead, Schumer "is dressing up like she is a grown-up and she's just exploiting the situation because it's an opportunity for her to maybe increase her box office over the weekend," he said, calling her advocacy  "cowardly."

    Nolte continued to claim that Schumer was using the shooting to advance her career, saying, "She's not thinking, she's just trying to please the right people to enhance her career. And she also -- there is a lot Oscar talk around her movie and that probably has something to do with it, too. You go the Angelina Jolie route so everybody suddenly starts to take you seriously." Nolte said all he sees "is cynicism behind" Schumer's call for action.

    Cam & Company host Cam Edwards said that he disagreed with Nolte's assessment and would not impugn Schumer with a cynical motive for her comments on gun violence. Nolte responded, "You're a nicer guy than I am, but I just see these unthinking Hollywood types and it just enrages me."

  • The National Rifle Association's Mass Shooting Hypocrisy

    How The Gun Lobby Attempts To Shut Down Debate For Stronger Gun Laws

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    After a gunman killed nine people in a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, gun safety advocates responded with calls to expand the national background check system. Just as quickly, the National Rifle Association (NRA) reacted to those calls, slamming gun safety groups for "exploiting" the tragedy for "political purposes."

    One month later, another gunman killed five members of the military at a naval facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The NRA was again quick to respond, but this time claimed the incident provided proof that firearm policies on military bases must be changed to loosen the rules about service members carrying guns.

    So which is it? The NRA apparently thinks it is exploitative to discuss gun violence following mass shootings -- unless, of course, the discussion is about why we should loosen gun laws. Their stance on the issue changes based on how to best advance the organization's interests.

    Following the mass murder at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, the NRA went into its post-mass shooting standard operating procedure -- shutting down its social media accounts and refusing to speak to the press. Two days later, the NRA's media arm addressed the shooting, with NRA News host Cam Edwards opining that it was "completely inappropriate" to discuss gun policies the day after the incident, adding, "I did not receive a single email communication chastising me or complaining that we should have been talking about policy and politics as opposed to remembering the victims in Charleston."

    Soon, though, the NRA was forced to issue an official statement after one of its board members created controversy by blaming the shooting on the church's slain pastor, who was a supporter of gun safety policies.

    While distancing itself from the board member's comments, the NRA claimed on June 20 that out of "respect" for the victims, "we do not feel that this is [a] appropriate time for a political debate," adding, "We will have no further comment until all the facts are known."

    Three weeks later, the NRA did offer an additional comment on the Charleston shooting, following a push by gun safety advocates for expanded background checks. (It would later be revealed that the gunman was able to purchase a weapon despite being legally prohibited because of an NRA-backed loophole in federal law.) In a July 8 statement attacking gun safety groups, the NRA said, "gun control advocates are offering a solution that won't solve the problem. Even they admit that the legislation they are pushing wouldn't have prevented the tragic crimes they are exploiting for political purposes."

    The NRA has continued to advance this narrative on the Charleston shooting and proposed gun law reforms. In a July 17 post on the website of its lobbying arm, the NRA lashed out at Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) after the South Carolina congressman proposed eliminating the NRA-backed loophole that helped arm the Charleston gunman.

    Clyburn was "exploiting a recent tragedy" according to the NRA, which also said, "Gun control advocates are shameless in their willingness to exploit tragedy to achieve their agenda." The NRA re-published its attack on Clyburn at the conservative news website Daily Caller on July 19.

    The very next day, the NRA's top lobbyist used the July 16 Chattanooga mass shooting to call for changes to gun laws, telling Military Times, "It's outrageous that members of our armed services have lost their lives because the government has forced them to be disarmed in the workplace. Congress should pursue a legislative fix to ensure that our service men and women are allowed to defend themselves on U.S. soil."

    So when the NRA called for a policy change it claimed was justified by the Chattanooga shooting, was it exploiting those victims?

    The fact is that after pretty much any high-profile national event, mass shooting or otherwise, policy debates are often triggered. In the NRA's hypocritical world view, however, calls for stronger gun laws are disrespectful, exploitative, and shameless -- while calls for less restrictions are sensible, timely, and relevant. Even worse, the gun group's post-shooting strategy operates from behind a façade of "respect" for the victims.

    The NRA's doublespeak on Charleston and Chattanooga, however, reveals that its real concern is its own agenda. 

  • REPORT: "No Evidence" To Support Conservative Media's Claim That DOJ Anti-Fraud Program Targeted Gun Stores

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation has found no evidence that the anti-fraud program "Operation Choke Point" targeted gun retailers, contrary to what conservative media outlets and the National Rifle Association (NRA) have long claimed.

    Operation Choke Point was conceived as an anti-fraud program by the DOJ's Consumer Protection Branch in November 2012 based on the suspicion that some banks -- acting with knowledge or willful blindness -- entered into businesses relationships with individuals engaged in fraud. As an early memo explained, Choke Point was designed as "a strategy to attack Internet, telemarketing, mail, and other mass market fraud against consumers, by choking fraudsters' access to the banking system."

    Conservative media and the NRA have repeatedly insisted that Choke Point was part of a government conspiracy to target gun retailers -- based on the belief that the Obama administration is "anti-gun." But a new report from the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) -- the office responsible for "investigating allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys" -- has decisively concluded "that the evidence did not demonstrate that Operation Choke Point" was used to target firearm sellers.

    In January 2014, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee opened an investigation into Choke Point to determine whether the program may have "inappropriately target[ed] two lawful financial services: third-party payment processing and online lending."

    Although no mention of gun retailers was made during the first congressional inquiries, NRA News host Cam Edwards began connecting Choke Point to claims by some firearm retailers that banks were refusing to do business with them.

    With no evidence to bear that claim out, Choke Point then became a regular topic of discussion by the NRA and conservative media, which characterized it as another Obama administration scandal. The anti-fraud program was discussed dozens of times on the NRA's radio and (since-cancelled) television show, and the NRA's lobbying wing, the Institute for Legislation Action, offered frequent updates on the so-called scandal.

    Choke Point was also widely reported on by the conservative Washington Times, which interviewed gun retailers who claimed their business relationships with banks had been terminated because of the program. (At the time, Media Matters exposed the dubiousness of these claims. For example, one gun retailer had his account terminated by his bank months before Choke Point was even proposed by DOJ.) The Washington Times editorial board declared, "Obama wants to use the banks to void the Second Amendment."

    False claims about Choke Point's targets were also picked up by Fox News, with network contributor Katie Pavlich claiming that DOJ was "discriminating" against gun owners. As recently as April 13, Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher falsely reported on The Kelly File that "Operation Choke Point was created by the Obama administration to choke out businesses it finds objectionable, like gun shops, casinos, and tobacco sellers."

    None of this is true, according to the DOJ OPR investigation, which examined "memoranda, subpoenas, and contemporaneous emails" related to the operation. The July 7 report found no evidence that Choke Point had "compelled banks to terminate business relationships" with firearm sellers (emphasis added):

    OPR also concluded that the evidence did not demonstrate that Operation Choke Point compelled banks to terminate business relationships with other lawful businesses, a concern raised in your letter and the Staff Report. Indeed, OPR found no evidence establishing that any CPB attorney intentionally targeted any of the industries listed in the Staff Report (including credit repair companies, debt consolidation and forgiveness programs, online gambling-related operations, government grant or will-writing kits, pornography, online tobacco or firearms sales, pharmaceutical sales, sweepstakes, magazine subscriptions, etc.). None of the subpoenas or memoranda issued or drafted in connection with Operation Choke Point focused on specific categories of purportedly fraudulent businesses, except for fraudulent Internet payday lending, to the limited extent discussed above. Moreover, the CPB attorneys' e-mail records contained no discussion or even mention of targeting any such specific industries.

    As the report noted, there was no evidence that attorneys involved in Choke Point ever discussed firearm businesses at any time during Choke Point.

  • National Rifle Association's Televised News Show Canceled

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The Sportsman Channel has decided to not renew the National Rifle Association's (NRA) weekday news show, Cam & Company, ending the program's two-and-a-half year run on the outdoor-themed network.

    The hour-long show served as a vehicle for the NRA's frequent misinformation and extremism on the issue of gun violence. During the June 26 broadcast, host Cam Edwards announced the end of the series, effective that day.

    Edwards said, "Beginning next Monday, you will be seeing a different program here at 5 p.m. Eastern on Sportsman Channel. We do want to thank all the folks at Sportsman Channel for our time here on the program. I wish I -- there's no drama, there's no dramatic backstory to this. It's just one of those decisions that has happened."

    The NRA's three-hour weekday radio show, also called Cam & Company, will continue to air at NRANews.com and on SiriusXM.

    Cam & Company debuted on Sportsman Channel on January 15, 2013. In a press release, the network claimed the show would be "the one and only news-talk series on television that can authoritatively address the issues that are vital to America's more than 80 million sportsmen and sportswomen."

    In a nod to the fact that the show debuted just one month after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, the release stated, "With national passions running high on the issue of firearms ownership and rights in America, the series launch is especially timely."

    The NRA's executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre added, "The partnership expansion of these two great American brands, the Sportsman Channel and the NRA, comes at a critical time in the history of preserving our Second Amendment freedom."

    The launch of the show kicked off a growing partnership between Sportsman Channel and the NRA, with the network participating in both the 2014 and 2015 NRA annual meetings. In January 2015, Sportsman Channel was acquired by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, a media company that has a "strategic partnership" with the NRA through its Outdoor Channel.

    In a June 24 press release, Sportsman Channel announced several changes to its lineup for the third quarter, including 13 new series, beginning on June 29.

    Sportsman Channel issued the following statement to Media Matters about the end of the Cam & Company television show:

    We have enjoyed our relationship with Cam & Company and appreciate their efforts over the 2 1/2 years they were on our air. Sportsman Channel was proud to be the first network to take the forward step to air a daily show focused on our second amendment rights. Unfortunately, we are not able to continue with the program. We continue to support Cam & Company and the NRA, as well as to air a robust schedule of the best in class firearms programming.

    Viewers can continue to watch the Cam & Company show on NRANews.com from 2-5 p.m. each weekday. Also, previously aired shows and interviews are available at http://www.nranews.com/cam/list/cam-company and podcasts can be found on iHeartRadio and iTunes. In addition, Cam & Company is simulcast on SiriusXM.

    The complete schedule can be viewed at www.nranews.com/cam/list/cam-and-co-schedule.