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The National Rifle Association’s radio show compared participants in a sit-in in the U.S. House of Representatives being led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to “criminals and terrorists” reasoning that like terrorists, the sit-in participants were not following the rules.
While the House was in session on June 22, Lewis and other Democratic members of Congress sat on the floor of the House, refusing to return to regular order until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call a vote on legislation to prevent gun violence.
CNN.com described the move as “a dramatic protest inside the House of Representatives” that was “rich with historic symbolism.” Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organized numerous sit-ins to protest racial discrimination during the 1960s, has been described as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.”
During the June 22 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, as the sit-in proceeded, host Cam Edwards claimed, “So in order to push legislation that the sponsors say would not have prevented the attacks in Orlando, Florida, they’re also going to flout the House rules. Kind of like, you know, criminals and terrorists flout the rules that we have in place right now and will continue to do so?”:
After presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump said clubgoers at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where a gunman killed 49 people June 12, should have been carrying guns, many media outlets noted that Trump had staked out a position on guns in bars that was even more extreme than the National Rifle Association’s.
Several media outlets, however, also incorrectly reported that the NRA opposes guns in bars generally.
In fact, for years the NRA has made state-level efforts to allow concealed guns to be carried in bars so long as the person with the gun does not consume alcohol. The alcohol prohibition would largely operate on an honor system, as most concealed carry laws require that the gun remain concealed at all times unless being used for lawful self-defense or some other legal purpose.
On June 17, Trump said while discussing the Orlando mass shooting, “If some of those wonderful people had guns strapped right here -- right to their waist or right to their ankle -- and … one of the people in that room happened to have it and goes 'boom, boom,' you know what? That would have been a beautiful, beautiful sight." (Trump later dishonestly claimed he was referring only to the arming of employees or security guards.)
Two NRA officials were asked about Trump’s remark during Sunday show appearances on June 19. NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox said people drinking in clubs should not carry guns while NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, “I don’t think you should have firearms where people are drinking.” The NRA later clarified that LaPierre was expressing opposition only to people drinking while carrying guns in bars.
So while Trump’s position is further out there compared to the NRA’s position, the NRA’s position itself is out of the mainstream.
Several outlets misreported the NRA’s extreme position in guns in bars, amid confusion over both Trump and LaPierre attempting to “clarify” remarks made about guns in bars:
USA Today: “But NRA officials said Sunday that having armed patrons in bars with alcohol was not such a good idea.”
NBC’s Peter Alexander on the June 20 broadcast of Today: “Trump’s argued that if more people at that Orlando nightclub were armed with guns strapped to their waist, and that they fired back at the shooter, the carnage would have been much less. But even the NRA pushed back against that, insisting it does not believe people should carry guns in drinking establishments.”
Associated Press: “Donald Trump is backtracking from his contention that victims of the Orlando massacre should have been allowed to carry arms into the nightclub where they were attacked -- a stance even the NRA says is untenable.”
The two National Rifle Association officials who appeared on Sunday political talk shows to respond to the June 12 massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, both made anti-LGBT remarks as recent as a month ago.
One week after a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 49 people and wounded 53 others during a terror attack at Pulse nightclub, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation and NRA Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) executive director Chris Cox appeared on ABC’s This Week to advocate against passing stronger gun laws in response to the mass shooting.
As in the NRA’s official response to the shooting, which was authored by Cox, both Cox and LaPierre failed to mention that the shooting targeted a gay nightclub.
Both LaPierre and Cox made anti-gay statements during a May 20 event at the NRA’s annual meeting. During the annual NRA-ILA Leadership Forum, Cox and LaPierre both delivered speeches that led into the NRA’s endorsement of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Cox spoke first, and attacked societal acceptance of transgender people as “perverted” and “twisted” just seconds into his remarks. Cox lamented that “the America we know is becoming unrecognizable. Everything we believe in, everything we’ve always known to be good, and right, and true has been twisted, perverted, and repackaged to our kids as wrong, backwards, and abnormal.”
Citing examples of America’s supposed downfall, Cox went on to say, “Who are our kids supposed to respect and admire? The media tells them Bruce Jenner is a national hero for transforming his body, while our wounded warriors, whose bodies were transformed by IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades, can’t even get basic healthcare from the VA.”
During his speech, LaPierre said the Obama administration was “in the toilet” because of efforts by the administration to prevent schools from discriminating against transgender students.
While ostensibly an organization focused on issues relating to guns, members of the NRA’s leadership have attacked LGBT people for years, including blaming a mass shooting on same-sex marriage, claiming gay people “created” the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and labeling or supporting the depiction of gay people as “despicable,” “perverts,” and “degenerates.”
While the NRA is ostensibly an organization focused on gun rights, members of its leadership have attacked LGBT people for years, including blaming a mass shooting on gay marriage, calling societal acceptance of transgender people “perverted,” claiming gay people “created” the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and labeling gay people “despicable,” “perverts,” and “degenerates.”
Many AR-15 Manufacturers Are NRA Corporate Donors Including Company That Manufactured Gun Used In Orlando Attack
Days after a gunman used an assault weapon in a terror attack that killed 49 people and wounded 53 others, the National Rifle Association released a video urging Americans to buy assault weapons to protect against terrorists and other threats.
According to the NRA video, Americans should buy assault weapons to “protect their life, liberty, and happiness.”
During the early morning hours of June 12, a gunman launched a terror attack at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing and wounding dozens before he was killed by law enforcement. According to law enforcement, the gunman used a Sig Sauer MCX assault weapon.
On June 15 the NRA directly responded to the Orlando attack with the release of an NRA News commentary video called “The AR-15: Americans’ Best Defense Against Terror and Crime.” Sig Sauer is a sponsor of NRA News program “Defending Our America.” Numerous NRA corporate donors, including Sig Sauer, sell AR platform assault weapons.
In the video, NRA News commentator Dom Raso criticizes President Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for their advocacy of an assault weapons ban in the wake of the Orlando attack.
The NRA video then made a number of arguments praising the abilities of the AR-15 -- which also serve to explain how the gunman was able to kill and wound so many people in a short period of time.
Speaking to his experience as a firearms trainer, Raso claimed, “For the vast majority of people I work with there is no better firearm to defend their homes against realistic threats than an AR-15 semi-automatic. It’s easy to learn, and easy to use. It’s accurate, it’s reliable.”
Raso went on to claim the Founding Fathers would have supported the AR -15. From the June 15 NRA commentary video:
DOM RASO: I guarantee if the Founding Fathers had known this gun would have been invented, they wouldn’t have rewritten the Second Amendment, they would have fortified it in stone. Because they knew the only way for us to stay free was by having whatever guns the bad guys have. This firearm gives people the advantage they so desperately need and deserve to protect their life, liberty, and happiness.
After the publication of this post, The Washington Post added and reorganized language so its article now states that the NRA expressed “general support” for Republican proposals rather than "general support" for a bipartisan solution. The primary Republican proposal was authored by Sen. Cornyn and is not a meaningful step toward blocking gun sales to suspected terrorists. The Post gave no indication that it had made revisions to its article.
The Washington Post erroneously reported that the NRA expressed “general support” for proposals to block gun sales to suspected terrorists. In fact, the NRA has supported, and continues to support, a proposal that has been described as having “an unworkable standard for blocking dangerous sales” to individuals suspected of having ties to terrorism.
Under present federal law, there is no prohibition on individuals on either a terror watchlist or the no-fly list purchasing firearms from gun dealers. On June 15, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump wrote on Twitter, “I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no fly list, to buy guns.”
The NRA responded, also on Twitter, claiming, “Our position is no guns for terrorists -- period. Due process & right to self-defense for law-abiding Americans.”
A June 15 Washington Post article cited the NRA’s tweet as evidence that the gun group was “expressing general support” for proposals such as a nascent bipartisan effort being developed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and “a gun-control group led by former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg”:
Trump’s announcement, made via Twitter, came as Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), locked in a closely watched reelection battle, told Ohio reporters that he is ready to back a federal ban on weapons sales to anyone on a terrorist watch list if a compromise can be reached. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who has worked on bipartisan gun-control legislation in the past and is also facing a tough reelection, is in talks with a gun-control group led by former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to come up with such a measure, the group said.
The NRA responded to Trump by expressing general support for such proposals: “Our position is no guns for terrorists -- period. Due process & right to self-defense for law-abiding Americans,” the group tweeted.
But in a June 15 statement, the NRA indicated that its “position on this issue has not changed.” The statement went on to express continued support for a proposal authored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
Cornyn’s proposal would not be a meaningful step toward blocking sales to suspected terrorists. As Everytown for Gun Safety explains, the Cornyn proposal, which was drafted in response to bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), “would fail to address the terror gap, continuing to make it nearly impossible for the government to stop suspected terrorists from buying guns.” This is because the Cornyn proposal “has an unworkable standard for blocking dangerous sales -- requiring officials to show in court not only that someone is suspected of being involved in terrorism, but that he or she will actually commit an act of terror.”
Additionally, “the counter-proposal would give the government only 72 hours to bring the suspected terrorist into court and meet this incredible standard -- or else the dangerous gun sale will proceed.”
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Gun Group Instead Reacts With Political Attack -- In Keeping With Its Past Hypocrisy In Mass Shooting Responses
The National Rifle Association responded to the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history with an editorial written by its top lobbyist that barely acknowledges the victims, fails to mention that the target of the attack was a gay nightclub, and fails to mention the number of victims.
During the early morning hours of June 12, a gunman launched a terror attack at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others before he was killed by law enforcement.
While NRA social media accounts went silent in the immediate wake of the attack, as they do after nearly all high-profile mass shootings, by the evening of June 13 the NRA had issued a response at USA Today written by the organization's top lobbyist, NRA Institute for Legislative Action executive director Chris Cox.
The NRA’s response barely acknowledges the victims, offering no condolences to the survivors or their families, and instead attacks President Obama as weak on terrorism. The response does not mention the LGBT community and does not list the number of victims of the attack. The closest the NRA comes to acknowledging the nature of the attack is a single line that argues, “It’s time for us to admit that radical Islam is a hate crime waiting to happen.” The NRA chose to have Cox byline the response even though just weeks ago he made a number of anti-LGBT attacks during a speech at the NRA’s annual meeting, claiming that societal acceptance of transgender people is “twisted” and “perverted.”
While the NRA routinely argues that people who call for stronger gun laws following mass shootings are “exploiting” tragedy for political gain, the group itself offered a number of political arguments against the Obama administration relating to terrorism following the Orlando attack.
According to the NRA, “the Obama administration’s political correctness” bears blame for the shooting, and “Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws”:
The terrorist in Orlando had been investigated multiple times by the FBI. He had a government-approved security guard license with a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security. Yet his former co-workers reported violent and racist comments. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s political correctness prevented anything from being done about it.
Radical Islamic terrorists are not deterred by gun control laws.
While the NRA blamed supposed actions by the Obama administration for the attack, Obama and his administration have advocated for policies that could have prevented the attack or lessened its severity.
Just two weeks ago, Obama lamented that individuals on terror watchlists are not prohibited from legally purchasing firearms, noting, “I just came from a meeting today in the situation room, in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens. And we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.”
Indeed, the Senate GOP, at the behest of the NRA, has blocked both attempts to regulate assault weapons and proposals that would prohibit gun sales to certain individuals suspected of having terrorism ties.
The NRA’s editorial concluded, “The only way to defeat them is to destroy them -- not destroy the right of law-abiding Americans to defend ourselves.” But the NRA’s quick attempt to use the Orlando massacre to argue that permissive gun ownership is needed to ward off domestic terror attacks is indicative of the organization’s hypocrisy on mass shootings.
When NRA leaders see a facet of a high-profile shooting that they think they can exploit, they comment almost immediately. However, when they think that is not the case, the organization goes silent, aside from attacking anyone making policy arguments surrounding the shooting as disrespectful to the victims.
The hypocrisy is made clear by the NRA’s response to the June 17, 2015, racially motivated mass shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, SC.
While the NRA offered a response the day after the Orlando shooting, slamming Obama and others, days passed following the Charleston shooting without an NRA response. Only on June 20, three days after the attack, did the NRA release a statement, which claimed that “out of "respect" for the victims, "we do not feel that this is [an] appropriate time for a political debate," adding, "We will have no further comment until all the facts are known."
The assault weapon used in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history was manufactured by Sig Sauer, according to law enforcement. Sig Sauer is an NRA corporate donor and sponsors the NRA News series “Defending Our America.”
During the early morning hours of June 12, a gunman attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others before he was killed by law enforcement. According to law enforcement, the gunman purchased a Sig Sauer MCX assault weapon on June 4 that he used in the attack.
Sig Sauer is a “James Madison” level donor to the NRA, meaning it has contributed between $25,000 and $49,999 to the gun organization. Sig Sauer is also the sponsor of the NRA News series “Defending Our America.”
On its website, Sig Sauer markets the MCX as: “Built from the ground up to be silenced, light and short”:
The gun is also described by Sig Sauer as “battle-proven”:
A Sig Sauer video demonstrating the weapon’s rapid-fire capabilities notes, “The Sig MCX eclipses everything that’s come before it. It’s the start of a new era”:
The weapon is sold in a semi-automatic version to civilians and also marketed to special forces with a selective-fire version. According to a review of the MCX on the website The Truth About Guns, “When it comes to getting shots on multiple targets quickly -- especially when shooting with a silencer attached -- an MCX-wielding rifleman will have a distinct advantage.”
While the National Rifle Association has offered no official statement on the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, an NRA social media account just promoted buying NRA brand items as Father’s Day gifts.
During the early morning hours of June 12, a gunman attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others before being killed by law enforcement. The number of casualties makes the terror attack the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
As news broke of the shooting, the NRA went silent, as it usually does following high-profile mass shootings, and halted activity on many social media accounts.
Many NRA Twitter accounts, including the official NRA account, have not tweeted since the morning of June 12 or earlier. The website for the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, a place where the NRA has released official statements, has not posted anything new since June 11.
However, American Rifleman, a magazine published by the NRA, promoted buying NRA products for Father’s Day in a retweet shortly before 10 AM EST on June 13:
Last night an NRA News commentator claimed that “Even children aren't short sighted enough to think gun control is a rational response to terrorism.”
Colion Noir, the face of the National Rifle Association's media efforts, reacted to the worst mass shooting in United States history by claiming, "Even children aren't short sighted enough to think gun control is a rational response to terrorism."
During the morning of June 12, a gunman wielding an assault weapon killed 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando. 53 other people were hospitalized following the attack. The death toll in the shooting has surpassed other infamous mass shootings in the United States, including the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school where 20 children and six educators were killed.
Noir, who is an NRA News commentator and host of the NRA's millennial-geared web series Noir, wrote on Twitter, "Even children aren't short sighted enough to think gun control is a rational response to terrorism. They say make the monster go away."
Even children aren't short sighted enough to think gun control is a rational response to terrorism. They say make the monster go away.
— Colion Noir (@MrColionNoir) June 13, 2016
Following the high-profile murder of two Virginia journalists who were shot to death during a live television broadcast in August 2015, Noir warned the victims' parents not to "become so emotional" in response to the shooting that they would advocate for stronger gun laws.
The NRA Just Debunked Its Favorite Talking Point
The NRA’s magazine acknowledged that President Obama “really hasn’t had the opportunity to” confiscate firearms, undercutting years of fearmongering about the supposed existence of a “massive Obama conspiracy” to dismantle the Second Amendment and take guns away.
The NRA’s admission that a president can’t confiscate guns because “Congress writes the laws, not the president” also demonstrates the implausibility of repeated recent claims from the NRA that link Hillary Clinton to gun confiscation.
The admission was included in a June 9 article for NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom which took issue with how Obama “rudely” responded to a question from a gun store owner at a recent town hall event.
The article quoted Obama as telling the questioner, “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it is just not true.”
Responding to Obama’s statement, the article acknowledged, “Now, [the gun store owner] could have interrupted the president to mention that Obama really hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. Congress writes the laws, not the president”:
Rhude didn’t sit down after asking his question. Rather, he stood silently as President Obama didn’t even try to answer his question, but instead went off on a defensive tirade: “First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true. And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it.”
Obama then said, “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it is just not true.”
Now, Rhude could have interrupted the president to mention that Obama really hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. Congress writes the laws, not the president. He could then have listed the many attacks on the right to bear arms -- from Operation Fast and Furious to Operation Choke Point to Obama’s attempted ban on common ammunition for AR-15-type rifles to his using a “pen and phone” to push anti-gun executive actions. But Rhude respectfully stayed silent.
Claims about gun confiscation and Obama have been the NRA’s bread and butter for the past eight years. More recently, the NRA has suggested that the election of Clinton could lead to gun confiscation for law-abiding Americans.
The NRA’s fearmongering about gun confiscation is even implausible under the unlikely hypothetical scenario where a president and Congress both acted to take guns from Americans; under current Supreme Court precedent, blanket gun bans are unconstitutional.
The NRA complained that media outlets are ignoring their false attacks on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in an article that offered more falsehoods.
In a May 24 article at the NRA’s online magazine America's 1st Freedom, Chris Cox, the NRA’s top lobbyist who also runs the group’s political efforts, lashed out at the New York Times editorial board for dismissing the NRA’s false claims about Garland’s record. Cox’s article, titled “Media Ignore Facts In Dismissing NRA’s Concerns About Supreme Court Nominee,” criticized the Times for concluding that there is “no fact-based reason” for the NRA to claim Garland is hostile to the Second Amendment.
In complaining about “the most extreme case of media bias in recent memory,” Cox accused the Times of “spouting assumptions without checking facts” and “journalistic malfeasance to insist that the NRA has no basis for opposing him.”
To make the case that Garland’s record does indicate an anti-gun bias, Cox went on to cite Garland’s role in the 2007 decision Parker v. District of Columbia which came before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit where Garland is now chief judge.
But Garland’s role in this decision was minimal, and countless legal experts have repeatedly refuted claims that it indicates any particular views on the Second Amendment.
Here are the facts about the Parker case.
In a 2-1 panel decision -- in which then-circuit judge Garland did not participate -- the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower court's decision upholding D.C.’s handgun ban, finding that the law violated the Second Amendment.
Following the ruling, Garland was one of four judges -- including George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Raymond Randolph -- who voted whether to have the entire D.C. Circuit rehear the case in a procedural move known as an en banc rehearing. 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.
In the NRA article, Cox falsely alleged that Garland’s vote to rehear the case means that he would have reversed the decision striking down D.C.’s handgun ban, writing, “the fact is, judges do not vote to rehear decisions with which they agree. If a judge thinks a panel’s opinion was wrong, he or she votes to have the full court rehear it. If a judge thinks a panel’s opinion was correct, he or she lets it stand. Plain and simple.”
According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, Cox is wrong to claim that a vote to rehear a case indicates that a judge agrees or disagrees with the court’s initial ruling.
As Rule 35 explains, en banc rehearings “ordinarily will not be ordered unless” there is disagreement among courts about the correct outcome of the case or if “the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance”:
(a) When Hearing or Rehearing En Banc May Be Ordered. A majority of the circuit judges who are in regular active service and who are not disqualified may order that an appeal or other proceeding be heard or reheard by the court of appeals en banc. An en banc hearing or rehearing is not favored and ordinarily will not be ordered unless:
(1) en banc consideration is necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of the court's decisions; or
(2) the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.
According to PolitiFact, both conditions of the en banc rule were satisfied by the Parker case. Indeed, the case came at a time when there was disagreement among the courts about whether the Second Amendment conferred a “collective” or “individual” right.
The case was also exceptionally important -- the Supreme Court at the time had not made a significant ruling on the meaning of the Second Amendment since 1939 in United States v. Miller. In fact, the question of whether handgun bans were permissible under the Second Amendment was so important that the NRA spent years crafting a case to challenge the D.C.’s handgun ban. (The NRA’s case, Seegars v. Gonzalez was poorly crafted, and the NRA later joined the Parker efforts.)
Legal experts have refuted the type of claim being made by the NRA about Garland's vote to rehear Parker. As Andrew Bradt, assistant professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law explained, “A vote to rehear a case can be based only on the importance of the issue and the need to have the full court address it or it can be because the issue is a complicated and confusing one that demands the clarity provided by a discussion of the full court of appeals. It doesn't at all indicate a pre-judgement that the panel's decision was wrong.”
The claim that Garland’s en banc vote in Parker means that he is anti-gun is a smear was first developed by the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a discredited right-wing group that is spending millions to oppose Garland's nomination, and now is repeated by the NRA. Numerous legal experts, however, have already debunked the claim that an en banc vote is representative of how a judge would rule on the merits if the case were reheard. Plain and simple.