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.
From the February 25 edition of KFTK's The Dana Show:
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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.
While Ted Nugent's reference to President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" has received strong criticism from all corners of the media and political landscape, two major organizations with key ties to Nugent -- the National Rifle Association (NRA) and The Outdoor Channel -- have yet to weigh in on the controversy.
Nugent is an NRA board member and perhaps the group's most-well known public advocate. He serves as a spokesman for the Outdoor Channel, where he also hosts a hunting show. Last month, Nugent told Guns.com that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" and argued that he and other liberal politicians should be punished for treason.
The offensive remark drew new attention this past week after Nugent was scheduled to appear at a campaign event with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott.
Since then, Nugent and Abbott have received harsh reactions from numerous Republican leaders, including Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Rick Perry. Other media critics, including Howard Kurtz of Fox News and CNN's Wolf Blitzer, have also condemned the language.
Nugent offered a disingenuous, half-hearted apology for his comments during an appearance today on conservative Ben Ferguson's radio show.
Despite their close ties to Nugent, neither the NRA nor The Outdoor Channel have weighed in on the matter. Media Matters has contacted The Outdoor Channel twice in the past week about the situation with no response, while the NRA did not respond to a request for comment today.
The NRA has consistently supported Nugent and chosen not to criticize him in the past for other offensive and racist comments. The Outdoor Channel has also been approached by Media Matters about other offensive Nugent comments and made clear it has no interest in criticizing the rocker.
The lack of action from the two organizations raises the question of whether they approve of Nugent's offensive commentary.
At the very least, their lack of action indicates an apparent lack of understanding about why Nugent's words are sparking objections, and at worst a lack of concern about how his views hurt their public image.
Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott will reportedly no longer campaign with inflammatory National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent, whose presence on the campaign trail caused a firestorm of controversy due to Nugent's recent description of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel."
Nugent, however, is also involved in the campaigns of other Republican office seekers in Texas, Colorado, and Georgia. Last year, Nugent also claimed a close working relationship with prominent members of the GOP, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. At the time, Walker said he did not work with Nugent, and Cruz appeared on CNN's New Day on February 20 to deny he "hang[s] out" with Nugent.
Here are three instances of Nugent campaigning for Republicans and two instances where Nugent's claims about close relationships with prominent GOP figures have been called into question:
In a December 2013 e-mail addressed to "real Americans," Nugent fundraised for Colorado gubernatorial hopeful Tom Tancredo, a former U.S. Representative best known for his hardline immigration stance. In the fundraising pitch, Nugent wrote that, "like you, I'm terrified by where Barack Obama and his radical America hating leftist goons are leading this great country." Nugent praised "hero for liberty" Tancredo's opposition to "amnesty for illegal immigrants," and warned that the Obama administration and democratic governors "are determined to shred our constitution and take away our guns." "The way I see it is anybody that wants to disarm me can drop dead," added Nugent.
While much of the controversy surrounding Abbott's decision to campaign with Nugent has related to the rocker's "subhuman mongrel" comment and offensive remarks about women, Texas media has also raised Nugent's inflammatory commentary on immigration. The San Antonio Express noted that Nugent has called for undocumented immigrants to be treated like "indentured servants." Indeed, Nugent did make that claim in May 2013 when he debuted the "Nuge Immigration Plan," which would require undocumented male immigrants to build a fence on the United States-Mexico border. The Houston Chronicle reported on a 2008 appearance on Fox News where Nugent said of undocumented immigrants attempting to cross the border, "I'd like to shoot them dead."
National Rifle Association President Jim Porter wrote that "the big gorilla in the room is Obama's lawless approach to governing" in a Daily Caller op-ed. Porter also claimed that a "corruption of power" by President Obama could mean "the wondrous stability of our nation could end."
Claiming that "gun owners have become victims of Obama's abuse of power," Porter wrote in his February 19 op-ed that "[i]n contravention of absolute congressional spending bans, Obama has ordered the Centers for Disease Control, in effect, to create a massive gun-ban propaganda and lobbying agenda to treat gun ownership as a public health menace."
But the Obama administration has not ordered the CDC "to create a massive gun-ban propaganda and lobbying agenda." In reality, the Obama administration's January 2013 presidential memorandum asked the CDC to "[c]onduct or sponsor research on the causes and prevention of gun violence and the ways to prevent it." The Obama administration has noted that the CDC cannot, under federal law, "advocate or promote gun control," but that "research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need."
The Obama administration action was a reaction to lobbying by the NRA that seeks to prevent the CDC from conducting research on gun violence. The Obama administration subsequently issued an executive action that asked Congress to appropriate $10 million to fund further CDC research into gun violence. As the Obama administration suggested, gun violence is a major public health concern that is described by the American Medical Association as an "epidemic."
From the February 19 edition of CNN's Wolf:
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National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent lashed out at media who covered controversy surrounding his campaign appearances with Texas Republican governor candidate Greg Abbott by comparing members of the media to Joseph Goebbels, who served as Hitler's Minister of Propaganda.
Controversy has been swirling in the Texas governor's race following Abbott's decision to include Nugent at campaign events, in spite of Nugent's recent characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel" and his lengthy history of vile attacks on women.
Nugent has responded by calling videos of his offensive commentary "lies" and "inaccurate" and also sent a series of tweets on February 19 comparing CNN and other unnamed members of the media to Goebbels:
Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is facing criticism over his decision to campaign with National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent because of the rocker's inflammatory attacks on women and racially charged commentary about President Obama.
After reports emerged that Nugent would be making two February 18 campaign appearances with Abbott, the move was condemned by the Texas Democratic Party, women's group Annie's List, and the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Wendy Davis.
Citing Nugent's recent characterization of Obama as a "mongrel" -- a term that describes a dog of indeterminate breed -- the Texas Democratic Party issued a press release calling on Abbott to cancel the planned appearances:
Austin, TX -- This Tuesday, Attorney General Greg Abbott is set to have joint appearances with right-wing radical Ted Nugent. According to the Texas Eagle Forum, the Attorney General will join Nugent for events in Denton and Wichita Falls.
According to the Dallas Morning News, "Just last month, [Nugent] told Guns.com at the Las Vegas hunting and outdoor trade show that, '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.'" [Dallas Morning News, 2/13/2014]
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released the following statement:
"Just last month, Ted Nugent called President Barack Obama a 'subhuman mongrel' and 'gangster.' He spews hate against our first African-American President and in return, Attorney General Greg Abbott welcomes him to the campaign trail. Is this how Abbott celebrates Black History Month? Texans deserve better than a statewide office holder and candidate running for governor who welcomes Ted Nugent and his repugnant comments. I can't help but recall the old saying, tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."
Inflammatory conservative columnist Ted Nugent will be making two campaign appearances with Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Abbott is predicted to run against Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who has been the target of sexist attacks from the conservative media. Nugent himself has a lengthy history of vile misogynist commentary.
National Rifle Association board member R. Lee Ermey, best known for his drill sergeant role in the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket, criticized "neutered" boys who commit suicide because of bullying for not standing up to their tormenters.
Ermey made the comment during a February 7 appearance on an NRA News show to preview his upcoming show on The Sportsman Channel Saving Private K-9. Claiming that "we've neutered all the young boys in this country," Ermey said, "We've got little kids committing suicide because somebody bullied them in the school yard. Well, you know what, I was bullied when I was a kid, but I tried diplomatically to get out of the situation. If that didn't work, then I would resort to force, I would pop the guy in the snot locker, drop him down on the deck, and he would think twice before he came and bullied me again."
While representing the Outdoor Channel at a gun show, National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent cited President Obama's expression of sympathy to deceased Florida teenager Trayvon Martin's parents as evidence the president is "an avowed racist."
During an interview with PennLive.com, Nugent said "the best Americans are so heartbroken right now" in part because we have "a president who's an avowed racist who claimed because Trayvon Martin was black, even though he was a gangster and an attacker and a doper, that he could have been his son."
In March 2012 -- less than a month after an unarmed Martin was shot by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman -- Obama expressed sympathy towards Martin's parents by stating, "[M]y main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. And I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves, and that we're going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."