Facebook has announced new policies that aim to prevent illegal gun sales through the social media website, following a petition campaign by gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
In a March 5 posting, Facebook says it will post language where firearms transactions are set up that "clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations." Facebook will also limit postings about gun sales to users over the age of 18. Moms Demand Action reportedly entered into "formal discussions" with Facebook in February.
During the petition campaign, the National Rifle Association's media arm attempted to discredit Moms Demand Action by falsely claiming that the group's campaign sought to ban any gun-related speech on Facebook.
On the March 4 edition of NRA News show Cam & Company host Cam Edwards said it was "true" that Moms Demand Action was moving to "ban" pro-Second Amendment speech on Facebook. Edwards claimed that Moms Demand Action wanted to ban "a conversation" and suggested that the group sought to "ban fan pages or pages related to guns and the Second Amendment." Edwards concluded by claiming that Moms Demand Action are "not just anti-Second Amendment, oh no. Apparently they have issues with the First Amendment too."
On his radio show, also called Cam & Company, Edwards claimed on March 4 that there's a "real push" on "the left right now" for "a war on the idea of freedom of speech." He added, "For the left -- supposedly espouses tolerance and acceptance of others -- man there's a lot of oppression and intolerance I'm seeing these days."
Edwards' claims greatly mischaracterized the goals of the Moms Demand Action campaign. Furthermore the First Amendment constrains the government's restriction of speech, not a private company like Facebook. The social media network is free to create policies that seek to limit behavior it finds unacceptable, as it has already done through other community standards. (Right-wing media frequently misinterpret the First Amendment to accuse businesses of victimizing conservatives.)
Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano made the evidence-free claim that Attorney General Eric Holder personally approved low-level Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) undercover stings that have recently come under criticism because of their use of faulty investigative techniques.
ATF storefront sting operations -- where undercover law enforcement agents set up sketchy storefronts to attract drugs and firearms which are then taken off the street -- came under scrutiny in January 2013 with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's investigative reporting on a Milwaukee sting known as Operation Fearless. According to the Journal Sentinel, Operation Fearless "resulted in a string of mistakes and failures, including an ATF military-style machine gun landing on the streets of Milwaukee and the agency having $35,000 in merchandise stolen from its store." A follow-up report identified six other problematic storefront stings conducted by ATF.
The ATF has acknowledged flaws in the storefront sting process and has issued new guidelines that aim to prevent future debacles. At the same time ATF has also pointed to more than 250 convictions obtained and over 1,300 firearms recovered as a result of the stings. The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General is also conducting a review of four of the 37 undercover storefront operations conducted by ATF. The ATF is cooperating with the investigation and currently has no active storefront sting operations.
Fox News is trying to pin the blame for the failed stings on Holder. On the March 4 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy introduced the idea of Holder's supposed involvement in the stings by stating, "So it's a dumb idea, it's a bad idea, it's an illegal proposition. Okay, who's at the head of the Department of Justice? Eric Holder. Would this have been approved by him?"
Napolitano replied, "I don't know personally if it was approved by him, but it's almost inconceivable after Fast and Furious that something of this magnitude could happen without him knowing. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say he had to approve it because it involved too much expenditure of money and too much manpower. They set it up in 40 different cities."
This baseless accusation is the latest attempt by Fox News to use failed ATF law enforcement operations as a way to bludgeon Holder.
Conservative website The Daily Caller published in its entirety an over-the-top fundraising pitch from National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre that suggested the only way to save America is to buy an NRA membership.
The March 3 column posted in the Caller's "Guns and Gear" section included the phone number for an NRA membership hotline and a link to a website where Caller readers can purchase a discounted NRA membership:
Like other material published by the NRA at the Caller, the fundraising pitch was filled with paranoid rhetoric based on the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is plotting to confiscate privately owned firearms.
Controversy surrounding Republican Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent -- after Nugent called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" -- demonstrates how far-right media figures can damage the GOP brand.
While the Abbott campaign initially feigned ignorance of Nugent's hateful and alienating rhetoric, the "subhuman mongrel" slur received substantial media attention when it was made public in January.
As the controversy unfolded, Nugent, who is also a spokesman for the Outdoor Channel, was also widely derided for his profane and derogatory descriptions of women, leading some to point out that Abbott's campaign decision was at odds with the GOP's purported plan to provide better outreach to women and minorities.
A look back at the how the story progressed is below.
The National Rifle Association's Connecticut lobbyist detailed a plan to remove from office lawmakers who voted for bipartisan gun safety legislation following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and boastfully suggested that the NRA was responsible for the decision of two pro-gun safety legislators not to run for reelection this year.
The NRA's claims about being able to influence the outcome of elections -- often advanced by a lazy media conventional wisdom -- are overstated. In fact research has shown that the NRA's endorsement and campaign contributions have little impact on the outcomes of elections, clearly evidenced by the NRA's disastrous 2012 federal election spending where more than 95 percent of $18 million spent by the NRA went to elections where the NRA-backed candidate lost.
Appearing on an NRA News program, the NRA's Connecticut state liaison Anna Kopperud said that 2014 will be "the year where we pick up our baggage and move forward" and spoke of a need to "correct some of the wrongs that we saw last year" following the enactment of gun safety legislation in the state.
While requiring background checks on gun sales is overwhelmingly popular with the general public, members of conservative media have used false statements and paranoid rhetoric to fight legislation to require checks for more than 20 years.
This week marks the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, commonly known as the Brady Bill or Brady Act. Signed by President Clinton in 1993 after a multi-year legislative effort, the law requires licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on customers to prevent felons and other dangerous people from acquiring firearms. While a legal challenge invalidated a waiting period requirement in the Brady Bill created so local law enforcement could process background checks, in 1998 the FBI-administered National Instant Criminal Background Check System was launched, allowing gun dealers to perform often instantaneous background checks on customers. Since then, the law has stopped more than 2 million gun sales to prohibited individuals.
The law derives its name from President Ronald Reagan's press secretary Jim Brady, who was shot and seriously injured during an assassination attempt on Reagan on March 30, 1981, at the Washington Hilton. Reagan was shot in the chest and arm and underwent lifesaving emergency surgery. In a 1991 letter published in The New York Times, Reagan ruminated on the anniversary of the 1981 shooting, writing, "This nightmare might never have happened if legislation that is before Congress now -- the Brady bill -- had been law back in 1981." Jim and his wife Sarah Brady continue to advocate for gun violence prevention polices through their close work with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
PolitiFact reports that National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesperson Ted Nugent exaggerated his law enforcement credentials, which included his claim that he is "a cop in Lake County, Michigan" and that he "conduct[s] federal raids with the DEA and ATF and U.S. Marshals and the FBI and Texas Rangers."
In giving Nugent's claims a "pants on fire" designation, PolitiFact said none of the agencies mentioned by Nugent confirmed his participation in raids. The Texas Rangers issued a flat denial, telling PolitiFact, "In regards to your question about the Texas Rangers, that did not occur." The ATF, the federal agency tasked with enforcing gun laws, said "[w]e are not aware of him conducting any raids with us." The U.S. Marshals confirmed that Nugent had shot footage of a ride-along in 2005 when a raid was conducted for his Spirit of the Wild TV show, but that civilian observers of raids "cannot go with us into private residences."
PolitiFact concluded, "He is not a cop in Michigan by any conventional meaning of the word. No agency said that he presently plays any role in any of their raids."
While PolitiFact only rated Nugent's claims about his law enforcement credentials that were made during a recent appearance on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront, Nugent has also previously claimed that for decades he has received "official" training from elite military units.
Media covering the controversy over Republican Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent are touting a poll showing Abbott with an 11 point lead as proof that Nugent has not hurt Abbott's campaign. But data collection for the poll ended on February 17, a day before the Nugent-Abbott controversy first received widespread attention.
On February 18, the day Nugent made two campaign appearances with Abbott, the Texas Democratic Party condemned Abbott for campaigning with someone who had recently called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel." A week-long media firestorm ensued that included condemnations of Nugent from prominent GOP figures, a disingenuous apology from Nugent, and a contentious appearance by Nugent on CNN.
On February 24, University of Texas/Texas Tribune released a poll conducted between February 7 and 17 showing Abbott leading likely opponent Democrat Wendy Davis 47 percent to 36 percent. 17 percent of voters were undecided in the poll. Notably, the polling covers a period when Davis was receiving largely negative press coverage because of a right-wing media smear campaign about her biography.
Still, members of the media have erroneously used the polling to offer insights about the impact of the Nugent controversy on the Texas governor's race.
From the February 25 edition of KFTK's The Dana Show:
Loading the player reg...
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent suggested that the Obama administration is causing a "power struggle between the different races," in a similar manner to the events that preceded the Holocaust.
Nugent, who also represents the Outdoor Channel as a spokesperson, made his latest inflammatory remark while appearing on comedian Dennis Miller's radio show to discuss fallout from his widely condemned recent claim that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel." After Miller objected to Nugent's frequent comparison of his political opponents to Nazis, Nugent responded by comparing the Obama administration to Nazi Germany:
In a disingenuous effort to deflect the firestorm that has engulfed him for calling President Obama a "subhuman mongrel," Ted Nugent is dishonestly claiming that President Obama previously said the same thing.
Nugent's comments were criticized from politicians of both parties and the media after he appeared at two campaign rallies for Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott last week. The National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesman offered an insincere apology on February 21 for the racist remark, but two days later began demanding apologies of his own on Twitter after discovering that "Obama called blacks mongrels on the View." He will likely offer a similar argument when he appears on tonight's edition of CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront.
But words in different contexts can have different connotations. Nugent's comments are in no way comparable to Obama's.
During a July 2010 discussion of race relations on The View, Obama was asked why he identifies as African-American rather than biracial given that his mother was white. Obama replied that because "the world saw me as African-American," he embraced that. He added that because many who identify as African-American have some white ancestry, "we are sort of a mongrel people." He concluded that he is "less interested in how we label ourselves, and more interested in how we treat each other."
BARBARA WALTERS: You do not describe yourself as a black president, but that's the way you are described. Your mother was white. Would it be helpful, or why don't you say "I'm not a black president, I'm biracial."
OBAMA: Well you know, when I was young, and going through the identity crises that any teenager goes through -- I wrote a whole book about this -- part of what I realized was that if the world saw me as African-American, then that wasn't something I needed to run away from, that's something that I could go ahead and embrace. And the interesting thing about the African-American experience in this country is that we are sort of a mongrel people. I mean, we're all kind of mixed up. That's actually true for white America as well, but we just know more about it. And so, I'm less interested in how we label ourselves, and more interested in how we treat each other. And if we're treating each other right, then I can be African-American, I can be multi-racial, I can be, you name it, what matters is, am I showing people respect, am I caring for other people, that's I think the message we want to send.
By contrast, during his January 2014 interview, Nugent attacked Obama as a "Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel" and an "ACORN community organizer gangster" who should be imprisoned for treason.
NUGENT: I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame enough Americans to be ever vigilant not to let a Chicago communist raised communist educated communist nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America. I am heartbroken but I am not giving up. I think America will be America again when Barack Obama, [Attorney General] Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, [Sen.] Dick Durbin, [former New York City Mayor] Michael Bloomberg and all of the liberal Democrats are in jail facing the just due punishment that their treasonous acts are clearly apparent.
So a lot of people would call that inflammatory speech. Well I would call it inflammatory speech when it's your job to protect Americans and you look into the television camera and say what difference does it make that I failed in my job to provide security and we have four dead Americans. What difference does that make? Not to a chimpanzee or Hillary Clinton, I guess it doesn't matter.
Anyone who claims that these comments are comparable only exposes themselves as either a liar or a fool.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent has offered a disingenuous and tepid apology after being condemned across partisan lines for his description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." The apology only came after Nugent attacked his critics on Twitter and elsewhere, at one point comparing CNN to a top Nazi propagandist.
But while Nugent has taken some measure of responsibility for his "subhuman mongrel" remark, the comment is just a drop in the bucket compared to his long history of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, animus towards immigrants, and propensity to use violence-tinged language.
Nugent's racist characterization of the president received widespread attention and created problems for the campaign of Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott after Abbott tapped Nugent to participate in campaign events.
Appearing on The Ben Ferguson Show, Nugent apologized, though "not necessarily to the president" for his "subhuman mongrel" comment, then attacked the president as a lying, law-breaking racist who engages in Nazi tactics.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Arizona Senator John McCain, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Speaker of the House and current CNN host Newt Gingrich have all condemned National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent for describing President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." Nugent has reportedly offered a half-hearted apology for his remark.
Nugent's racist slur of Obama came while he was representing the Outdoor Channel at a January gun industry trade show. In an interview with Guns.com, Nugent also called Obama a "gangster" and suggested that he should face the "just due punishment" for treason. This week, a maelstrom of controversy erupted around Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott's decision to campaign with the inflammatory Nugent.
Abbott has quietly distanced himself from Nugent -- he will no longer appear at campaign events -- but has not publicly condemned Nugent's "subhuman mongrel" comment. A number of prominent conservatives, however, have offered varying levels of condemnation for Nugent's remark:
From the February 20 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
Loading the player reg...
A Storm Lake, Iowa, police sting operation that resulted in the arrest of a felon attempting to buy guns through Facebook demonstrates the latest evolution of a dangerous and unregulated "private sales" gun market in the United States.
In February 1994, the Brady Law went into effect, requiring licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on customers to keep guns out of the hands of felons and other dangerous individuals. This meant that gun shows -- which attracted unlicensed "private sellers" -- became the ubiquitous public unregulated gun marketplace in the United States. But over the past 20 years private sellers and buyers expanded the unregulated marketplace first through the classified sections of print newspapers before sales went online. Internet sales have since spread from gun-themed marketplaces to popular websites like Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram.
As the unregulated marketplace has expanded, so have the efforts of gun violence prevention advocates to pressure sales venues to enact responsible rules for gun sales. A recently launched campaign by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America has already resulted in more than 55,000 letters asking Facebook to stop facilitating firearms sales. The campaign has been aided by a video explaining how Facebook is used to sell guns that riffs on Facebook's 10th anniversary "look back" feature:
The vast unregulated gun market is a result of the federal law governing firearms sales.