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  • The NRA’s Endorsement Of Donald Trump Is Premised On A Lie

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA supported its endorsement of presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump at the group’s annual meeting by repeatedly telling the lie that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton opposes gun ownership and would confiscate guns as president.

    The NRA lying to its members -- and anyone else observing the annual meeting -- is anathema to the group’s 2016 election messaging, which is centered on the claim that the NRA “doesn’t lie” but that instead Americans are constantly lied to by “the political and media elites at the highest levels.”

    Moments before the NRA endorsed Donald Trump at its annual meeting on May 20, the NRA’s two top members of leadership, executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, and Chris Cox, the group’s top lobbyist who also runs the NRA’s political efforts, told a series of lies about Clinton’s position on guns.

    According to repeated campaign trail statements, Clinton has expressed support for both people being allowed to own guns and for regulations on firearms, such as expanded background checks. PolitiFact found there is “no evidence” for the claim Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and that Clinton’s position on whether the Second Amendment confers an individual right to gun ownership is “more or less in line with the George W. Bush administration’s position” on the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    In his remarks, Cox claimed that Clinton thinks it’s “wrong” that “the Supreme Court said you have a right to protect your life against a murderer in your own home.” (Clinton actually believes Heller was “wrongly decided” because it “may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future” such as a child access provision that was struck down in the ruling, not because she opposes firearm ownership for lawful self-defense.)

    Cox continued, claiming Clinton “wants us to surrender our firearms,” “to live in a place where only law enforcement has guns,” and made repeated references to his claim Clinton wants “to take our guns.”

    Then, moments before the NRA’s formal endorsement of Trump, LaPierre took the stage to claim that “if she could, Hillary would ban every gun” and that Clinton “craves” gun confiscation. The next day at the official meeting of members, LaPierre grouped in Clinton with other entities the NRA claims don’t support self-defense, saying, “We will not give up our God-given right to defend ourselves, our families, to the elites, to Obama, to the media, and sure as hell not to another Clinton.”

    None of these claims are true. Yet, the NRA has increasingly positioned itself as a truth-teller about the 2016 elections. In an article in the March edition of the NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom that attacked the honesty of Clinton and President Obama, the NRA wrote, “Let’s get something straight: The NRA doesn’t lie. The NRA tells the truth, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect or how much the truth might offend those who fear or hate freedom.”

    LaPierre made similar remarks during his March 3 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, claiming, “At a time when all of us are bombarded with media agenda, their web of spin and political conniving, the very best, most effective and surest way to defend freedom is found in those four little words: Thou Shalt Not Lie” and that “History proves that if you give the American people the straight truth, they will choose honest freedom every time. That is why, for decades, the NRA has been the guiding light for American gun owners and those who treasure our constitutional freedom. … We’ve been exposing the liars about our freedom for decades, telling the truth that most Americans know in their hearts to be right.” In sum, LaPierre referenced “the truth” 11 times during his speech.

    LaPierre spoke on the same theme during a March 23 address to Liberty University, claiming, “The lies go on and on, an epidemic of untruth at the highest levels of our country. Everybody spins a fabric of lies, and the American public sits out there and goes, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s got to stop!’ Yet when someone does tell the truth, they get clobbered. It’s all upside-down. Lies seem normal and the truth seems like bizarre, crazy talk.”

    What the NRA has said about its endorsement of Trump also speaks to the organization’s dishonesty.

    While the NRA’s endorsement of Trump -- given his willingness to adopt the NRA’s extreme agenda -- makes sense, NRA top lobbyist Cox attempted to sugarcoat the endorsement for members, calling the decision “easy” and claiming “show me a Republican presidential nominee in our lifetimes, or for that matter, in the past 100 years, who has spoken so forcefully about not only the right to own a gun, but the right to use it to defend yourself.”

     

     

    This is the same presumptive nominee who said after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that NRA nemesis President Obama “spoke for me and every American in his remarks in [Newtown] Connecticut” -- remarks that sent the NRA into a still-ongoing fury.

     

     

  • Ted Nugent Reelected To NRA Board After 2016 Of Hate

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Ted Nugent was reelected to the National Rifle Association’s board of directors just weeks after he promoted a fake video of Hillary Clinton being shot and during a year in which he caused a national controversy for promoting anti-Semitic material.

    During a May 21 meeting of members  at the NRA's annual meeting in Louisville, KY, NRA election committee chairman Carl T. Rowan announced that Nugent was one of 25 individuals elected to a three-year term on the NRA's board, terminating in 2019. Nugent received the second most votes:

     

     

    As a musician and conservative commentator, Nugent is to many the most recognizable member of NRA leadership. He has served on the gun group's board of directors for more than 20 years. In the group's 2013 board elections Nugent was second only to Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for most votes in favor of reelection. He frequently mixes his pitches for the NRA with inflammatory commentary, such as when he told people to join the NRA while calling for the “evil carcasses” of President Obama and other progressive politicians.

    Nugent is a fixture of the NRA's annual meeting, delivering talks in 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. During his speech at last year’s meeting, Nugent talked about shooting Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and called the president “Osama Obama” and offered to charter a boat ride to take Obama “back to Kenya.” At the 2012 meeting, Nugent set in motion a visit with the Secret Service after telling NRA members he would be “dead or in jail” if Obama was reelected as president.

    As the NRA annual meeting wraps up tomorrow, Nugent will deliver a talk called “2016 Election Do or Die for America and Freedom.”

    Nugent’s 2016 has so far been marked by particularly ugly rhetoric.

    • In January, Nugent called for Obama and Hillary Clinton to be hanged for treason for their supposed malfeasance during the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks.

    • Nugent caused widespread controversy in February after sharing an image on his Facebook page that suggested Jews are behind a conspiracy to enact stricter gun laws. After coming under fire from the Anti-Defamation League and other groups, Nugent further claimed that Jewish supporters of gun safety laws are “Nazis in disguise.” As condemnations continued to roll in, even from far-right pro-gun organizations (but not the NRA), Nugent eventually apologized, claiming he did not realize the image he shared that placed Israeli flags next to faces of 12 Jewish American politicians and gun violence prevention advocates had a "connection whatsoever to any religious affiliation."

    • In March, Nugent called a critic with a Hispanic name a "beanochimp" and suggested the man should die.

    • Later that same month, Nugent shared a misogynist chain message about why men supposedly prefer guns over women, which included claims like "guns function normally every day of the month” and “A gun doesn't mind if you go to sleep after you use it.”

    • On March 31, Nugent posted a racially derogatory image on his Facebook page that he said was an advertisement for a moving company called "2 niggers and a stolen truck."

    • In a May 10 post to his Facebook page, Nugent shared a fake video that showed Hillary Clinton being graphically shot to death by Bernie Sanders. He added his own comment: “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”

     

  • VIDEO: The Repugnant Way The NRA Talks About Hillary Clinton

    Blog ››› ››› COLEMAN LOWNDES & TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association will surely attack Hillary Clinton during its annual meeting. Members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked Clinton for years with vile and paranoid claims.

    The NRA is holding its annual meeting from May 19-22 in Louisville, KY. On May 20, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and other conservative figures will speak at the meeting’s biggest event, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action Leadership Forum.

    The NRA began its opposition to Clinton in earnest during its 2015 meeting with a gender-based attack. While addressing the NRA’s members, LaPierre said of the prospect of electing Clinton after President Obama’s term, “I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough.” During that year's leadership forum, LaPierre claimed that Clinton “will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair” to America.

    While LaPierre supplies many of the NRA’s paranoid claims about Clinton and gun confiscation, the organization’s best-known leadership figure, board member Ted Nugent, offers disgusting attacks. Nugent has called Clinton a “toxic cunt,” a “two-bit whore,” and a “worthless bitch,” among other insults.

    Here is how the NRA leadership talks about Clinton:

     

     

     

  • Sponsor Of NRA Leadership Forum Routinely Smears Slain Black Youths And Their Families

    Trump To Address NRA Faithful At Forum

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The co-sponsor of the NRA’s upcoming leadership forum routinely attacks African-American youths killed in controversial shootings, and he has more than once smeared the mothers of two deceased Florida teenagers as liars motivated by money in their opposition to Stand Your Ground laws.

    On May 20, Donald Trump and other Republican politicians will speak at the National Rifle Association's annual Institute for Legislative Action leadership forum. The event is being held at the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, KY, which runs from May 19-22.

    According to the NRA’s website, the forum will be co-sponsored by Bearing Arms and Townhall Media. Bearing Arms is a well-known gun blog run by Bob Owens.

    Owens frequently makes inflammatory claims. In October 2015, he authored a post on his blog suggesting that “radical” Democrats will be hanged after they start a civil war against Republicans over issues including gun ownership. Owens illustrated his post with an image of gallows. In 2010, when Media Matters documented another instance in which Owens fantasized about a second civil war in the U.S., Owens responded by writing that he hopes the "propagandists" at Media Matters “feel threatened.”

    Owens has weighed in on the shooting deaths of African-American youths Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Tamir Rice, in each instance also attacking a member or members of the deceased’s family.

    In a recent post on his website, Owens called Martin “a semi-literate violent criminal,” among other insults. Owens has also claimed that Martin’s mother opposes controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense laws because she wishes to enrich herself through a lawsuit.

    Owens has also attacked the mother of Jordan Davis, a Florida teenager who was killed in a gas station parking lot by a man angry about the volume of Davis’ music. Owens called Davis’ mother, Lucy McBath, a “serial liar” for accurately noting that Stand Your Ground played a role in the George Zimmerman trial.

    Owens has also attacked Tamir Rice, blaming both the 12-year-old and his parents for Rice’s death.

    Trayvon Martin

    Owens frequently directs invective toward deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. In February 2012, Martin, then 17, was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. A confrontation between Martin and Zimmerman occurred after Zimmerman began to follow Martin as the high school student walked from a convenience store to his father’s house.

    While Zimmerman has a well-documented history of violence -- both before and after the Martin shooting, including an assault on a police officer and multiple domestic violence allegations -- Owens routinely attacks Martin’s character.

    In a May 11 blog post, Owens called Martin “a violent, drug-abusing thug who appeared to get off on hurting people” and “a semi-literate violent criminal,” and he slammed an upcoming musical about Martin’s life, which he claimed would be “whitewashing a black heart” and which he called an attempt to “whitewash a thug’s death.”

    In a 2014 post, Owens argued that “good people … will arm themselves against violent young predators like Trayvon Martin” because “any society that hopes to survive simply has no choice.”

    Owens has also attacked Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. In a 2013 post, he claimed that Fulton had raised a “monster” and that her advocacy against Stand Your Ground laws, like the one cited by a juror in explaining Zimmerman’s acquittal, was really about personal enrichment.

    Owens wrote:

    As for why Fulton and her attorneys and Democratic lawmakers in general want Stand Your Ground laws repealed, that’s blisteringly obvious as well.

    Money.

    A provision of Stand Your Ground law in many states is that if a person is found not guilty during a criminal trial, then that defendant win (sic) civil immunity, and that keeps the families of deceased street thugs from suing the survivors for millions of dollars in civil court.

    Jordan Davis

    Owens called the mother of slain Florida teenager Jordan Davis a “serial liar” over her advocacy against Stand Your Ground laws following Davis’ killing. In fact, Owens is the one lying about Stand Your Ground.

    In November 2012, Davis, 17, was murdered by Michael Dunn in a Jacksonville, FL, gas station parking lot. Dunn had told Davis and his friends to turn down their music before he fired 10 rounds into the car Davis was sitting in.

    In February 2014, Dunn was found guilty on four charges, including three for attempted second-degree murder on the other teens in the car, but the jury could not come to a decision on the first-degree murder charge tied to Davis' death. During closing arguments, Dunn’s attorney cited Stand Your Ground in arguing against a murder conviction for Davis’ death. A mistrial was declared on the murder charge, and Dunn was subsequently convicted of first-degree murder during a second trial that concluded in October 2014.

    Following Davis’ killing, his mother, Lucy McBath, has become an outspoken advocate against Stand Your Ground laws. Owens attacked McBath for this advocacy in a May 13 post, claiming, “She has become radicalized, and now travels the nation attempting to strip law-abiding citizens of their most basic natural right as a human being, the right [to] bear arms for self defense.”

    According to Owens, “McBath has become a serial liar, and sadly seems to be more comfortable with her lies as time goes on,” because she wrote an opinion piece that said Stand Your Ground played a role in the Zimmerman trial.

    While Owens claimed McBath is a liar because “Stand Your Ground laws had nothing at all do do (sic) with the [Zimmerman] case,” he is wrong.

    The language of Stand Your Ground was included in instructions to the jury considering whether to convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder. Prior to the law’s enactment in 2005, the instructions given to the jury were much different. As explained by a former Florida state senator, the change in the letter of the law “fundamentally changed the analysis used by juries to assign blame in these cases.” Following Zimmerman’s acquittal, a juror told CNN that Zimmerman was found not guilty “because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground.” Zimmerman also benefited from Stand Your Ground pre-trial, as local government officials cited the law as the reason Zimmerman was not initially arrested.

    Owens also called McBath a liar because she wrote that Stand Your Ground laws “promote a culture of shoot first, ask questions later, a culture that upends traditional self-defense law and emboldens individuals to settle conflicts by reaching for their firearms, even when they can safely walk away from danger.” But McBath is correct; academic research has established that Stand Your Ground laws increase homicide by “lower[ing] the cost of using lethal force.”

    Tamir Rice

    Owens frequently defends the widely criticized police shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. In November 2014, Rice was shot in a public park in Cleveland, OH, after a 911 caller reported seeing Rice waving around an Airsoft replica pistol. Police shot Rice within two seconds of coming onto the scene, apparently mistaking the toy gun for a real firearm (the 911 caller’s repeated suggestion that the gun was “probably fake” was not relayed to the responding officers).

    After the city of Cleveland agreed to a monetary settlement with Rice’s family, the local police union caused controversy by arguing that some of the money should be used “to help educate the youth of Cleveland in the dangers associated with the mishandling of both real and facsimile firearms.”

    Owens weighed in on the controversy, attacking the deceased 12-year-old and his family. Of Rice, Owens wrote that “it is entirely fair to ‘blame the victim’ when it was the specific actions of the victim that led to his demise” and that “Tamir Rice died because he made poor choices.”

    He also suggested that Rice’s family was responsible for his death, claiming that the Rice family’s outrage over the police union suggestion means “perhaps the Rice family doesn’t care any more about being responsible after Tamir’s death than they did about teaching him to be responsible with realistic toy guns while he was alive.”

  • Gun Safety Groups Slam Ted Nugent's "Vile," "Horrifying," “Deplorable” Promotion Of Video Showing Hillary Clinton Being Shot

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Gun safety groups are condemning National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent for promoting a fake video of Hillary Clinton being shot. The groups are calling for the NRA to condemn Nugent or remove him from the organization’s board of directors and suggesting that “common sense NRA members” should disassociate themselves from the group if it will not confront Nugent.

  • Even A Gun Blogger Who Called Trayvon Martin “A Semi-Literate Violent Criminal” Says Ted Nugent Is Ruining The NRA’s Image

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Well-known gun blogger Bob Owens slammed NRA board member Ted Nugent for promoting a video on Facebook that depicted Hillary Clinton being shot, writing that “In one stupid and pointless post, Mr. Nugent has done great harm” to the NRA’s efforts to market itself to the public.

    In his May 11 blog post condemning Nugent’s actions, Owens implored the NRA board member, “If you can’t control yourself, sir, maybe it’s time to man up and resign, before you cause any more damage to the NRA and the 5 million people it represents.”

    On May 10, Nugent posted a fake video that graphically depicted Bernie Sanders murdering Hillary Clinton with a handgun during a presidential debate, writing the comment “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!” above the video.

    Owens’ condemnation of Nugent is particularly significant, given Owens’ own history of incendiary rhetoric. In October 2015, Owens authored a post at his blog suggesting that “radical” Democrats will be hanged after starting a civil war against Republicans. Owens illustrated his post with an image of gallows.

    In fact, on the very same day Owens condemned Nugent, he also wrote a post calling deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin “a violent, drug-abusing thug who appeared to get off on hurting people,” “a semi-literate violent criminal,” and slamming an upcoming musical about Martin’s life, which he claimed would be “whitewashing a black heart.”

    Owens’ website, Bearing Arms, is a co-sponsor of the NRA’s annual leadership forum, an event that will feature remarks from Donald Trump and other high-profile Republicans as part of the NRA’s annual meeting in Louisville, KY, from May 19 to May 22. Nugent will also deliver a speech at the meeting.

    In his blog post on Nugent, Owens worried about the negative effect he believes Nugent has on the NRA’s image:

    The anti-gun media is of course loving this.  Nugent’s decision to share this stupid, pointless and violent sentiment of one Democrat Presidential candidate murdering the other in cold blood perpetuates the unwarranted stereotype that gun owners in general (and the NRA in specific) crave the deaths of opponents. The much different reality of the matter is that we regularly “slaughter” with facts, logic, and reason.

    Thanks, Ted.

    [...]

    As an NRA member, I want to communicate to the world that is not who we are as an organization. This filth is not what we represent as part of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights group. In particular, this is beneath Nugent as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Rifle Association.

    I’ve watched the NRA pour incredible time and effort into a 19-spot campaign over the past year depicting us for who we really are, “Freedom’s Safest Place.”

    In one stupid and pointless post, Mr. Nugent has done great harm to that image, giving enemies of the natural right to bear arms more ammunition to depict us as being violent, dim-witted, and crude.

  • PBS Gave Troy Newman A Platform To Whitewash His Anti-Choice Record -- And That’s Exactly What He Did

    PBS Fails To Call Out Newman’s Radical History During Gun Safety Town Hall

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 10, PBS hosted a town hall conversation about gun violence and faith in America and invited anti-choice extremist Troy Newman to participate. During the town hall, PBS and host Michel Martin failed to identify Newman’s history of extremism and allowed him to downplay his organization’s role in harassing abortion providers.

    Newman is the long-serving president of Operation Rescue and is best known for his ties to extreme anti-choice groups and history of harassing abortion providers with violent rhetoric. A 2014 Rolling Stone profile called Newman “one of the nation's most prominent anti-abortion activists.” His reputation is so infamous that in 2015 Australia deported Newman out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

    A number of reproductive rights groups warned PBS that giving Newman a national platform to “whitewash” his history of anti-choice extremism was “not only irresponsible” but also “downright frightening and potentially dangerous.” NARAL Pro-Choice America senior vice president Sasha Bruce argued that given the unprecedented uptick in anti-choice violence over the past year, “PBS should be ashamed of itself for giving weight to Troy Newman's dangerous opinions."

    Despite all of this, PBS provided Newman a platform to downplay his history of anti-choice extremism -- and that’s exactly what he did.

    At the beginning of the town hall, Martin identified Newman as the “president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue” with no explanation of the group’s extreme history or current work. For the rest of the town hall Newman was identified on screen exclusively as a “Presbyterian Minister” with no further mention of Operation Rescue.

    Similarly, at the conclusion of the town hall, Martin allowed Newman to spread misinformation about the safety of abortion and mischaracterize Operation Rescue’s goal of ending patient access to the procedure. In his final remarks, Newman claimed that because of abortion, “the most dangerous place to be in America today is in the womb.” Martin did not challenge Newman, allowing him to continue that Operation Rescue’s goal is to “close abortion clinics through peaceful non-violent means”:

    TROY NEWMAN: I have to say yes and amen to that. Preach it. I will continue to do what I have done for the past 25 years and that is advocate for the least of these among us. We talk about violence. The most violent place or the most dangerous place to be in America today is in the womb. Over 1 million babies die from abortion. And I will continue to advocate for their lives. And you talk about beating your swords into plowshares, what we do is we close abortion clinics through peaceful non-violent means, so that’s what I will continue to do. I will continue to preach non-violence everywhere it rears its ugly head. And I would just close by saying this: I so appreciate this forum, I appreciate all of you, I appreciate the discourse.

    Although Newman has claimed Operation Rescue is peaceful, this characterization ignores the organization’s history and current pattern of harassment against abortion providers.

    For example, in 1987, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location.

    Far from Newman’s characterization, Rolling Stone’s profile explained Operation Rescue’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.”

    Newman also told Rolling Stone that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that, “As long as they're embedded in the abortion industry receiving blood money, they can't live a normal life.” Treating abortion as abnormal or shameful reinforces abortion stigma -- the “shared understanding that abortion is morally wrong and/or socially unacceptable." Abortion is both common and overwhelmingly safe, but Newman’s demonization of abortion providers is part of a larger strategy by anti-choice groups to “exploit the stigma of abortion” in order to deter patients from accessing this essential health care service.

    By failing to identify Newman’s history or call out the extreme nature of his anti-choice views, PBS and Michel Martin gave him a free platform to stigmatize abortion and normalize the further harassment of abortion providers.

  • NRA’s Ted Nugent Promotes Fake Video Of Hillary Clinton Being Shot

    Nugent To Clinton: “I Got Your Guncontrol Right Here Bitch!”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, who will deliver a speech at the NRA’s annual meeting this month, shared a fake video that depicts Hillary Clinton being graphically murdered by Bernie Sanders with a handgun during a presidential debate.

    In a May 10 post on his Facebook page, Nugent shared a video with the descriptions “Bernie Sanders destroys Hillary Clinton in debate on Vermont gun laws” and “Bernie Sanders absolutely killed Hillary over this issue.”

    Nugent added his own comment: “I got your guncontrol right here bitch!”

    The video features edited footage of a CNN debate between Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). As Clinton is answering a question about the gun issue, Sanders is depicted as pulling out a handgun and shooting her in the chest. Blood spurts from Clinton’s chest as she falls to the ground:

    On Facebook, Nugent proceeded to like a comment by a supporter who fantasized about Clinton’s death.

    Nugent is slated to speak at the NRA’s annual meeting, which will be held May 19 – 22 in Louisville, KY. According to the NRA, Nugent will deliver a speech called “2016 Election Do or Die for America and Freedom.” The description of the event claims, “The Obama/Clinton liberal Democrat gang is maniacal in their attack on all things individual rights, truth, logic, commonsense and The American Way. Are there enough of us willing to do battle with these evil forces?”

    Nugent is also up for re-election on the NRA’s board of directors. The results of the election will be announced at the May meeting.

    In recent months, Nugent has used his Facebook page to promote anti-Semitic, racist, and misogynist commentary.

  • Reproductive Rights Organizations Call Out PBS For Giving Anti-Choice Extremist A Town Hall Platform

    Groups Call Inclusion Of Troy Newman In PBS Town Hall “Disappointing,” “Downright Frightening And Potentially Dangerous”

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Following a showing of the pro-gun-safety documentary “The Armor of Light” on May 10, PBS is airing a town hall discussion on guns and faith including known anti-choice extremist Troy Newman.

    In response, a number of reproductive rights organizations have criticized PBS for giving a national platform to Newman, who is best known for his ties to extreme anti-choice groups and history of harassing abortion providers with violent rhetoric.

    Reproaction, a “direct action group” fighting to increase abortion access and advancing reproductive justice, said in a statement on its website, “It is incredibly disappointing that PBS would give a man whose organization has terrorized abortion providers a platform for anything, much less to support gun rights with no restrictions.” Reproaction further detailed Newman’s history of anti-choice activism and criticized PBS for giving “a terrorist whose rhetoric has spawned violence against abortion providers ... a national platform to state an extremist view on guns.”

    There has been an unprecedented uptick in anti-choice violence since David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – of which Newman was a board member -- released their deceptively edited videos attacking Planned Parenthood. The videos constituted a smear campaign so fraudulent it earned CMP the title of Media Matters2015 Misinformer of the Year.

    Citing this increased threat to abortion providers and clinics, Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, criticized PBS in a statement sent to Media Matters. She wrote that giving “Newman this platform to advocate for the carrying of guns is not only irresponsible, it is downright frightening and potentially dangerous.”

    Smeal noted that Newman was an especially inappropriate choice given his defense of other anti-choice extremists who have murdered abortion providers. For example, in discussing the 2003 execution of Paul Hill for murdering Dr. John Bayard Britton and his clinic escort, Newman argued “that ‘there are many examples of where taking the life in defense of human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law.’”

    Karin Roland, chief campaigns officer at UltraViolet, also pointed to Newman’s “long history of anti-choice extremism” and defense of violence against abortion providers as reasons PBS should have excluded him from the panel. She told Media Matters that “by giving Newman a platform, on a panel about gun violence in America no less, PBS is providing Newman with an opportunity to whitewash his history of extremism and violence.”

    According to Sasha Bruce, senior vice president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, “Troy Newman is a man who believes that the murder of abortion providers can be a justifiable action.” She wrote, “Despite these horrifying facts, PBS still chose to include him in its town hall about how we tackle the epidemic of gun violence in this country.” In her statement to Media Matters, Bruce concluded that “PBS should be ashamed of itself for giving weight to Troy Newman's dangerous opinions."

  • NRA Attack On Clinton Accidentally Makes The Case For Background Checks

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A National Rifle Association video attacking Hillary Clinton for the State Department’s approval of arms exports during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state unwittingly makes the case for background checks for weapons sales.

    The NRA video falsely claims that during Clinton’s tenure, the State Department based decisions on arms export permits on whether a country had donated money to the Clinton Foundation. In fact, the State Department’s statutory role in deciding when to grant arms export permits is “to promote our national security interests and foreign policy objectives.” As explained by the State Department, The United States’ controls over arms exports are considered the “gold standard” throughout the world, meant “to prohibit the transfer or transshipment of capabilities to rogue states, terrorist groups, and groups seeking to unsettle regions.”

    As a function of its permitting responsibilities, the State Department operates a program called the Blue Lantern that conducts investigations into entities receiving U.S. arms exports to ensure that arms transfers are within the U.S. national security interest.

    In a video promoted on the NRA’s news website, NRA News commentator Dana Loesch attacked Clinton by claiming that according to the International Business Times, “during the first three fiscal years of Clinton's term as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 countries whose governments gave money to the Clinton Foundation. Do you think that they underwent background checks?”

    Loesch went on to claim, “when Hillary Clinton isn't trying to disarm women and prevent us from the equal opportunity exercise of our pro-choice right to self-defense, she is approving billion-dollar arms sales to countries with horrendous human rights records. Countries where women have little to no rights, countries like Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and others.”

    According to Loesch, the State Department approved arms exports to Qatar and other countries in exchange for monetary donations to the Clinton Foundation and to members of Clinton’s family.

    Loesch’s claims about the Clinton Foundation are conspiratorial. Despite discredited claims in conservative media, stemming from Peter Schweizer’s book “Clinton Cash,” there is no evidence that the Clinton family charity organization existed as part of a quid pro quo scheme used by foreign countries hoping to influence U.S. policy.

    In the video, Loesch asked whether countries that received arms exports “underwent background checks,” seeming to suggest that in exchange for donations, Clinton would approve arms exports to dangerous world actors.

    In fact, because of the State Department’s statutorily mandated responsibility, arms can be exported only after the State Department, and in some cases other federal agencies, grants a permit. The reason for the permit is to avoid the proliferation of arms.

    In 1976, Republican President Gerald Ford signed The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) into law, legislation that gave the president broad latitude in approving or disapproving arms sales for the purpose of preserving national and international security. Ford soon signed an executive order delegating this responsibility to the Department of State. Subsequent executive orders during the Bush and Obama administrations have clarified and streamlined this delegation of authority.

    Under the AECA and related laws, the U.S. has what are considered the highest standards in the world for deciding whether to approve arms sales to foreign nations. While the NRA video attempts to scandalize the State Department’s approval of arms exports during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, the agency’s actions during her tenure merely indicate that it carried out its statutory duty, as it has done for 40 years.

    In the NRA video, Loesch also misleads by suggesting that Clinton is opposed to women’s rights because of sales approved to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman. Left unsaid is that Clinton and the State Department routinely condemned human rights abuses, including those that targeted women, in those countries.

    While one role of the State Department is to promote human rights around the world, another facet of U.S. foreign policy is to promote national security interests. (And the NRA must have a keen interest in that goal, as it routinely raises concerns about terror in the Middle East.)

    One way the country promotes these interests is by helping to arm countries that are engaged in the war on terror. For example, as a March State Department fact sheet explains, the department has approved arms sales to Oman because the country is “a vital U.S. partner on a wide range of regional, political, and security issues facing the Middle East” including “cooperation on maritime security, military preparedness, arms transfers, cybersecurity, and counterterrorism.”

    The NRA’s video gets many things wrong, including its simplistic approach to foreign policy and conspiratorial claims about Clinton. But the video also inadvertently acknowledges the value of background checks in ensuring that weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands -- a point that counters the NRA’s usual position.

  • USA Today Lets Extremist Gun Group Distort Merrick Garland’s Judicial Record

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    USA Today gave a representative of extremist gun organization Gun Owners of America (GOA) a platform to smear Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The group wrote a column distorting the facts on several U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit opinions to claim Garland “had 4 chances to vote against gun rights, and he took them all.”

    GOA is a far-right organization with past ties to anti-Semites and white supremacist groups and a leader, Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter if they pass laws regulating firearms.

    In a May 1 column at USAToday.com, GOA general counsel Michael Hammond distorted Garland’s involvement in four cases decided before the D.C. Circuit, where Garland sits as chief judge, to claim Garland is “anti-gun.”

    In one case Hammond cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling, but rather took part in a vote to decide whether the entire D.C. Circuit should rehear the case, which would require the full panel of judges to consider it. According to legal experts, a judge’s vote to rehear or not rehear a case is not indicative of what the judge thinks the outcome of the case should be. Two of the cases Hammond cited were not actually decided on Second Amendment grounds and cannot be characterized as showing bias for or against gun rights. And in the fourth case he cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling and the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds.

    Parker v. District of Columbia

    Hammond first attacked Garland for his participation in a vote related to Parker v. District of Columbia, a 2007 challenge to Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban. In a 2-1 panel decision -- which Garland did not participate in -- the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower court's decision upholding the ban, finding that D.C.'s law violated the Second Amendment.

    Following the ruling, Garland was one of four judges, including George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Raymond Randolph, to vote to have the entire D.C. Circuit rehear the case en banc. A majority of D.C. Circuit judges voted not to rehear the case, and it moved on to the Supreme Court, where it became the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.

    The claim that Garland’s en banc vote in Parker means that he is "anti-gun" is a smear developed by the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a discredited right-wing group that is spending millions to oppose Garland's nomination. Numerous legal experts, however, have debunked the claim that an en banc vote is representative of how a judge would rule on the merits if the case were reheard.

    According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, an en banc rehearing “ordinarily will not be ordered unless” a full panel’s “consideration is necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of the court's decisions; or the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.” As PolitiFact noted, the Parker case satisfied both of those conditions.

    Seegars v. Gonzalez

    Hammond also attacked Garland for his involvement in a case preceding Parker that unsuccessfully challenged D.C.'s handgun ban. As in Parker, Garland did not participate in the decision in Seegars v. Gonzalez, but rather participated in a vote on whether to rehear the case en banc.

    The Seegars case was brought by a group of District of Columbia residents who argued that D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws violated their Second Amendment rights. In 2005, the D.C. Circuit ruled against the residents in an opinion authored by Reagan appointee Judge Stephen F. Williams.

    While the D.C. residents made a Second Amendment argument against D.C.’s gun law, the court never ruled on the merits of this argument. Instead, the court dismissed the case on procedural grounds, with the majority opinion finding that “under controlling circuit precedent no plaintiff has standing” to challenge D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws. The vote to rehear the case failed 7-3, with Garland voting against rehearing alongside D.C. Circuit judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans. Then-D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, filed a concurrence in the denial to rehear the case. As in Parker, Garland’s vote does not indicate how he would have ruled on the merits of the case.

    National Rifle Association v. Reno

    Hammond also cited Garland’s joining of the 2000 decision National Rifle Association v. Reno as supposed evidence of “anti-gun” bias. As with his citation of the Parker case, Hammond’s attacks concerning NRA v. Reno originate from debunked talking points pushed by JCN.

    In Reno, the NRA claimed that the way the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases temporarily retained data on gun owners violated a federal prohibition on creating a registry of gun owners.

    On appeal, the NRA lost the decision, 2-1, with Garland joining Judge David S. Tatel's majority opinion, which ruled: “Finding nothing in the Brady Act that unambiguously prohibits temporary retention of information about lawful transactions, and finding that the Attorney General has reasonably interpreted the Act to permit retention of such information for audit purposes, we affirm the district court's dismissal of the complaint.”

    As with the Seegars case, the ruling was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Rather, the case was one of statutory construction and interpretation, assessing whether the NICS system of temporary record retention was permissible under the language of the Brady Act and the Department of Justice’s interpretation of that act.

    Furthermore, no court accepted the NRA’s argument that the NICS system was tantamount to a gun registry. The NRA lost the case at the federal district court level, then again at the D.C. Circuit in the ruling Garland joined, before the then-conservative-leaning Supreme Court finally denied a request by the NRA to hear the case. In fact, Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft opposed the NRA’s request that the Supreme Court hear the case, writing that the D.C. Circuit decision Garland joined was “correct.”

    United States v. Burwell

    The last example Hammond cited as supposed evidence of Garland’s “anti-gun” bias was the 2012 decision United States v. Burwell, where the D.C. Circuit reheard a case involving a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence given to a man convicted of possessing a machine gun while committing a "crime of violence."

    At issue was whether the criminal defendant in that case, who had brandished a fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle during a series of bank robberies, knew that the firearm was capable of fully automatic fire (the gun in question was capable of both automatic and semi-automatic fire).

    A 2012 decision before the entire D.C. Circuit – after members of the court had voted to rehear the case en banc – affirmed the D.C. Circuit’s original decision in a majority opinion that upheld the defendant’s conviction.

    Garland joined the majority opinion authored by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee.

    Like with the Seegars and Reno cases, it is misleading to claim that the opinion here offers an indication of a judge’s view on gun rights because the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Instead, the case was decided on statutory grounds: whether the sentencing minimum law required the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew whether the firearm used in a crime of violence was fully automatic.

    The ruling affirming the defendant’s conviction largely relied upon prior precedent within the D.C. Circuit -- a 1992 case called United States v. Harris. In that case, a panel of judges composed of Carter appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg, George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas, and Reagan appointee Laurence H. Silberman issued a per curiam opinion that reached the same legal conclusion as the opinion Garland joined in the Burwell case.

  • Fox Business Pushes Four Lies About Smart Guns In 45 Seconds

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A brief segment on Fox Business Network about President Obama’s push to develop smart gun technology included falsehoods about Obama’s plan, the availability and reliability of smart guns, and law enforcement’s position on the issue.

    On April 29, President Obama announced a plan for the Defense Department (DOD), Homeland Security Department (DHS), and Justice Department (DOJ) to assist in the development of technology that allows only the authorized user of a firearm to fire it. As Obama explained, the purpose of the initiative is “identifying the requirements that smart guns would have to meet in order for law enforcement to purchase and use them effectively - and keep themselves and the public safer in the process.”

    During the May 3 broadcast of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich offered a litany of falsehoods to attack the Obama administration’s announcement:

    1. Varney opened the segment by claiming Obama “might use executive orders to push for smart guns.”

      In fact, Obama’s announcement was an update on his administration’s January announcement of executive actions, not orders. Conservative media frequently mislabel executive actions -- where, in this case, federal agencies are operating within their respective purviews to help expedite the development of technology – by terming them executive orders in an attempt to make claims about supposed Obama administration overreach.

    2. Calling smart guns “actually very dumb,” Pavlich claimed that “there are a lot of federal law enforcement agencies, and local police departments, and sheriff’s departments that are pushing back.”

      First, several federal executive departments that administer law enforcement agencies – DOJ, DOD, and DHS -- are involved in carrying out the administration’s plan, not opposing it.

      There has been only one high-profile law enforcement group that has been outspoken on Obama’s plan, and that group has a major conflict of interest. The head of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Jim Pasco, was quoted in several news outlets criticizing Obama’s plan, without the disclosure that the FOP’s charity has received large amounts of money from the National Shooting Sporting Foundation, a gun industry trade group that often attacks smart gun technology. A 2010 investigation by The Washington Post identified several instances where the interests of clients at Pasco’s lobbying business aligned with positions subsequently taken by FOP.

    3. Pavlich claimed that “smart gun technology has been on the market for years now.”

      While smart gun technology has been in development for years, smart guns are not yet available for purchase by the general public in America, except for in rare instances. This is because gun dealers largely refuse to stock the first market-ready smart gun, the Armatix iP1, a semi-automatic handgun that uses radio-frequency identification technology. In 2014, a Maryland gun dealer was the subject of death threats and harassment from gun rights activists after the dealer announced his intention to sell the iP1. He later canceled his plan to sell the firearm. A similar incident occurred in California when a gun store attempted to sell the iP1.

    4. Pavlich claimed smart gun technology is “not reliable” and “when you’re talking about a life-or-death self-defense situation, people just aren’t going to go there and risk it with the smart gun technology.”

      Pavlich’s claim echoes a frequent attack from the National Rifle Association, which often makes false claims about the reliability of smart gun technology. Smart guns have to meet certain reliability benchmarks to be sold. For example, to be sold in California, the iP1 had to be able to fire 600 rounds with a malfunction rate of less than 1 percent.

      Obama’s announcement on smart guns also said the DOD would continue to allow manufacturers to use a testing facility in Maryland to improve reliability.​ According to a leading developer of the technology at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the next generation of smart guns will have an operational failure rate “comparable to mechanical failure rate in many consumer side-arms.”

    From the May 3 broadcast of Varney & Co.:

    STUART VARNEY: President Obama, he might use executive orders to push for smart guns. What do you make of this?

    KATIE PAVLICH: Well, the problem with smart guns is they’re actually very dumb. And there are a lot of federal law enforcement agencies, and local police departments, and sheriff’s departments that are pushing back on President Obama’s idea that smart guns should be used, not only just in law enforcement, but across the country. The fact is that smart gun technology has been on the market for years now and people don’t buy them because they are not reliable. The president’s argument is that, look you have to be able to have guns that can only be fired by their owners, but when you’re talking about a life-or-death self-defense situation, people just aren’t going to go there and risk it with the smart gun technology.

  • 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.

  • Meet Troy Newman -- The Anti-Choice Extremist PBS Is Hosting To Talk About Guns

    Newman And His Associates Have A Long History Of Spouting Violent Rhetoric And Harassing Abortion Providers

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    On May 10, PBS will air the documentary “The Armor of Light” and host an accompanying town hall encouraging audiences to examine “the relationship between guns and faith in America.” Notably, PBS’ town hall participants include Troy Newman, best known for harassing abortion providers and serving on Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s pro-life coalition.

    “The Armor of Light” is an anti-gun-violence documentary that “profiles the faith journeys of two Christians as they fight gun violence.” One of these Christians is the Rev.  Rob Schenck, an anti-choice minister trying to “preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America” to communities that largely favor gun ownership.

    Newman appears in a single scene of “The Armor of Light” as a contrast to Schenck’s pro-gun-safety views. In this scene, Newman parrots NRA talking points, such as leader Wayne LaPierre’s statement that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Despite this minor role in the film, PBS invited Newman to appear in a post-screening discussion.

    Membership in Cruz’s pro-life coalition is only Newman’s most recent credential. He has long served as the president of Operation Rescue -- an anti-choice group with a history of spouting violent rhetoric, and harassing abortion providers.

    For example, Operation Rescue vice president Cheryl Sullenger was sentenced to prison in 1987 for conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic. Sullenger also communicated with Scott Roeder, the convicted assassin of Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, providing him information about Tiller's schedule and location. A Rolling Stone profile of Operation Rescue described the organization’s strategy as a “smear campaign … to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting.” The article said Operation Rescue members “rummage through employees’ garbage … tail them around town as they run errands … picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re in line at Starbucks.” Newman’s explanation for this harassment was that he wanted providers and clinic employees to know that “they can’t live a normal life.”

    To further  this strategy, Newman has trained others and supported the development of spin-off groups that continue Operation Rescue’s work across the country. Newman previously served as a board member for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the organization responsible for propagating a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood so fraudulent that CMP earned the title of Media Matters' 2015 Misinformer of the Year. CMP’s  deceptively edited videos purporting to show the illegal sale of fetal tissue have been repeatedly discredited, while numerous state investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

    Newman claims that Operation Rescue has never endorsed violence yet in his book Their Blood Cries Out, Newman wrote that U.S. government had “abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty,” which would involve “executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes.” Similarly, when Paul Jennings Hill was executed for the murder of an abortion provider and a clinic escort, Newman argued that Hill should have been able to mount the defense that it was “necessary” to kill the providers in order to save "the lives of pre-born babies."

    Beyond his work with Operation Rescue, Newman also has a personal history of harassing providers -- a reputation that caused Australia to deport him out of concern that his “presence would be ‘a threat to good order’” and that he would “compromise the safety and wellbeing” of abortion providers and those seeking care.

    Harassment, violence, and threats against abortion providers and clinics have all been increasing. According to the National Abortion Federation, in 2015 there was a “dramatic increase in hate speech and internet harassment, death threats, attempted murder, and murder” against abortion providers. In September 2015, the FBI released an intelligence assessment that warned of an uptick in violence against abortion providers and clinics. This prediction was borne out tragically in November 2015 when Robert Dear killed three people and injured several more at a Colorado Planned Parenthood health care center.

    Given this alarming trend of anti-choice violence, PBS’ decision to invite Newman’s participation while also failing to disclose his long history of harassment is as puzzling as it is troubling.