The National Rifle Association's media arm is defending a Maryland sheriff who warned that the enforcement of gun laws could lead to a civil war between his county and the federal government.
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis made national headlines in September after telling a local news station, "As long as I'm the sheriff in this county, I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my citizens of their right to bear arms. I can tell you this, if they attempt to do that, it would be an all-out civil war, no question about it."
According to USA Today, Lewis made similar comments to a Delaware NBC affiliate, warning of a civil war with the federal government over the enforcement of a hypothetical ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.
In response to Lewis' comments, gun safety group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) launched a petition calling for the revocation of Lewis' Maryland Police Training Commission certification. According to CSGV, "It is difficult to see how a law enforcement officer who is threatening to wage war with the United States government meets any recognized standards of public service. In the wake of his threatening comments, Sheriff Lewis should not be given the responsibility of training law enforcement officers in Maryland."
The NRA's media arm, NRA News, responded to CSGV's petition, terming it "pathetic" and downplaying the inflammatory nature of Lewis' comments.
NRA News host Cam Edwards claimed that CSGV was trying to "silence" Lewis "because of the sheriff speaking up the way he has." Edwards also offered a two-fold defense of Lewis' civil war comments that sought to downplay their nature.
National Rifle Association board member and conservative commentator Ted Nugent suggested that President Obama is not a Christian and touted Republicans as "the only chance we have" to kill "the wolf at the door" during the 2014 midterm elections.
In an October 8 column for conspiracy website WND, Nugent, claiming to speak on behalf of "we the people," also conspiratorially questioned how unaccompanied children are arriving at the U.S. - Mexico border and wrote that the "vast majority" of those in poverty have "every imaginable luxury known to man":
Now more than ever, we the people are painfully aware that those subject to the separation of powers have become nothing more than a conspiratorial gang against us.
We refuse to believe that all those children showing up at our southern border just happen to make that near impossible journey all on their own.
We don't believe that our president is a Christian.
We can't believe our government squawks about so many living in so-called poverty when the vast majority of such poor people have cellphones and every imaginable luxury known to man.
After originally excluding mention of opinion editor David Keene's ongoing relationship with the National Rifle Association in his most recent piece for the paper, the Washington Times quietly added the disclosure after being contacted by Media Matters.
In a September 29 commentary, Keene wrote about the fight over gun legislation in Colorado, echoing the NRA's own messaging in the state. Keene, a former NRA president and current board member, is, according to the Times' own standards, "free to write about the NRA in his personal weekly column as long as he discloses to the reader in that column his continuing role with the organization." But his ongoing relationship with the gun group was originally missing from the column.
At the bottom of the original commentary, which appeared online and was the top-billed opinion piece in the print edition of the conservative paper, the following note was appended: "David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times."
Media Matters contacted Times editor John Solomon to ask about the omission, only hearing back after the column had been updated to read: "David A. Keene is opinion editor of The Washington Times. He is a former president and current board member of the National Rifle Association." (Solomon responded that the version he was viewing "has his role as current board member.")
After Keene described participating in the crafting of the NRA's 2014 midterm election strategy in a February 2014 interview with The Washington Examiner, Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp asked Solomon whether Keene's continuing role with the NRA created a conflict of interest on the Times' opinion page.
While acknowledging Keene's ongoing NRA role, Solomon said, "Our ethics rules allow an employee in special circumstances to hold an outside position, if it is pre-approved and the appropriate ethical steps are followed. That's the case with David Keene and his membership on the board of the NRA. We knew when we asked David to be our opinion editor that he would continue on the NRA board. We also knew that his role with the NRA was publicly and extensively known."
Among the "set of rules" that Keene is supposed to follow, Solomon said, "He is free to write about the NRA in his personal weekly column as long as he discloses to the reader in that column his continuing role with the organization."
Forbes contributor Frank Miniter published a lengthy column arguing that the gun safety initiatives of Everytown for Gun Safety and the group's founder Michael Bloomberg are "backfiring" without disclosing that he writes for Everytown's primary political opponent, the National Rifle Association.
Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, has said he will spend at least $50 million supporting gun safety initiatives this year, including spending on the 2014 midterm elections.*
Miniter's September 25 column offered myriad attacks on Bloomberg and Everytown. Many of the criticisms are in the form of quotations from thoroughly discredited gun researcher John Lott. ("I can't find a single study from Bloomberg's groups that aren't loaded with errors. They have an anti-gun agenda and will lie to achieve it.")
Miniter also wrote, "On the pro-gun side most of the money is coming from the grassroots," and concluded, "Though there are wealthy individuals on the gun-rights side, it's not a stretch to say a few wealthy, out-of-touch billionaires are trying to disarm the people." (The NRA receives millions of dollars from gun manufacturers and other corporations and according to its latest tax documents operated on more than $250 million in revenue in 2012.)
National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesperson Ted Nugent analogized President Obama to a "crack whore" in his latest column for conspiracy website WND.
In a September 24 column, Nugent criticized "politically correct freakzoids" who support animal rights, and suggested that those people were responsible for the election of Obama. Nugent wrote that Obama, "the Chicago community organizer," has been allowed to "increase the national debt like a crack whore in an opium mall":
Unfortunately, in this world of politically correct freakzoids, the inexplicable self-inflicted curse of denial has festered the big lie of so-called animal rights, and these dishonest zealots remain maniacal in their clamor to ban hunting, fishing and trapping.
These are basically the same lying scammers that allowed the Chicago community organizer to weasel his way to the presidency, nearly neuter America's defense system, increase the national debt like a crack whore in an opium mall, abandon security 101 in Benghazi and elsewhere, ignore a gunrunning attorney general, allow an IRS to operate like a third-world gang, unleash U.S. Fish & Wildlife agents to raid Gibson guitars and get away with it, cause America to lose all respect around the world with a foreign policy straight out of the Ann Arbor Hash Bash and cause myriad embarrassments by a government completely out of control.
Setting aside its own lengthy history of paranoid rhetoric, the National Rifle Association has released a new video attacking Americans who oppose the carrying of guns in public as "paranoid" because they are afraid of an "inanimate object."
But research shows that laws allowing concealed guns to be carried in public increase aggravated assaults. The permissive laws also worsen deficiencies in some states' permitting systems, meaning felons and other dangerous individuals are allowed to obtain concealed carry licenses.
In a September 24 NRA News commentary video, NRA News commentator Billy Johnson said, "If you are someone who legally carries a gun concealed, you are probably getting tired of being portrayed as paranoid. I know I am."
After touting the supposed virtues of concealed carry, Johnson argued that people who oppose carrying guns in public are "paranoid" because they are afraid of "people who are legally exercising their right to bear arms" and "an inanimate object."
The National Rifle Association is commenting on NFL player Ray Rice's violent attack on his then-fiancée, speciously claiming that gun safety advocates are "providing an example to young men that it's okay to beat women as long as you can throw a football." This wild attack comes as the NRA is actively opposing legislation in the U.S. Senate to take guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.
The NRA weighed in on controversy surrounding Rice in a September 17 video commentary narrated by NRA News commentator Colion Noir.
Noir sought to contrast how the New Jersey judicial system has treated Rice -- who was allowed to enter a pre-trial intervention program despite video evidence showing him knocking his then-fiancée unconscious -- and the case of Pennsylvania resident Shaneen Allen.
In 2013, Allen was arrested after being found in possession of a handgun during a traffic stop in New Jersey. Allen's weapon was legally registered in Pennsylvania, where she lived, but she was apparently unaware that New Jersey does not recognize Pennsylvania concealed carry permits.
Due to mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines that could put Allen in prison for years, critics on the right and left have brought attention to the case as an example of overzealous prosecution. In a recent development, prosecutors are reviewing the charge against Allen to determine if she can avoid jail time and enter a pre-trial intervention program; a seemingly equitable outcome for this inadvertent violation of the law.
While criticizing the manner in which Allen's case has been handled, Noir made a bizarre leap of logic to claim that "all anti-gunners around the world" are "providing an example to young men that it's okay to beat women as long as you can throw a football of course," because of the Ray Rice case. Noir also claimed that "anti-gun utopia" is a world where "a mother of two kids, is faced with three years in jail for trying to protect herself, but isn't afforded the same second chance that some knuckle-dragging hothead who 'Tiger Uppercuts' his fiancée into a momentary coma is given."
The gun industry's trade group is claiming Democratic Massachusetts attorney general candidate Warren Tolman's September 9 primary defeat occurred because of his support for smart gun technology. But the candidate who won the primary also backs smart guns and attacked Tolman during the race for not supporting the technology enough.
In a September 16 column for the "Guns and Gear" section of conservative website The Daily Caller headlined "Leaders Of Smart Gun Mandate Movement Lose Primaries," National Shooting Sports Foundation senior vice president Larry Keane claimed that Tolman and Massachusetts Democratic congressional candidate John Tierney both lost recent primary races after supporting smart gun technology.
Keane wrote, "Besides their recent primary losses, what other striking similarity exists between these two outliers? Both candidates were staunch supporters of a mandate for so-called 'smart gun' technology. "
One problem: during the campaign Tolman was attacked by opponent Maura Healey after backing away from mandating smart gun technology. According to a July 27 Healey campaign press release, "Democratic candidate for Attorney General Maura Healey today expressed disappointment that her primary opponent is weakening his position on mandating smart gun technology."
Amidst the National Rifle Association's ongoing outreach effort recruiting women, the gun group's radio show ran a segment that dismissed "so many" campus sexual assault cases as "two people being drunk at a party hooking up and then somebody, usually the girl, regretting it the next morning."
Since the re-launch of the NRA Women's Network in 2013, the NRA has greatly increased its outreach to women, a demographic that is far less likely to own guns than men and more likely to support firearm regulations the NRA opposes. Women are also disproportionately targeted by men with gun violence, often in the domestic violence context.
The September 5 edition of the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company, featured a discussion of campus sexual assault that misled on campus sexual assault statistics and suggested women bore some responsibility for being assaulted if they were drinking.
NRA News host Cam Edwards hosted the Washington Examiner's Ashe Schow to discuss a National Public Radio story about men accused of sexual assault on campus who say they did not receive adequate due process during disciplinary proceedings.
While the National Rifle Association has been conspicuously silent on a gun accident at an Arizona shooting range that left an instructor dead, the NRA's media arm -- NRA News -- criticized the "great deal of exploitative coverage" and dismissed those who believe a "larger lesson" can be drawn from the tragedy.
On August 25 a 9-year-old girl firing a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun at an Arizona gun range lost control of the weapon, leading to the fatal shooting of a range instructor. The accident quickly became national news and touched off debate over the appropriateness of letting children handle automatic weapons. The latest developments indicate that the child complained about the Uzi's recoil and indicated the weapon was "too much" for her moments after the fatal accident.
On the August 29 edition of the NRA News show Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards acknowledged that "as a media person" he understands why the accident has garnered so much attention, but also claimed "anti-gun advocates in the media" were using the story to try to prevent children from learning about firearms.
The NRA does not like it when high-profile incidents of gun violence make national headlines. The group recently warned supporters of the media "trick" of using the word "shooting" to describe mass shooting incidents, following a mass killing in Isla Vista, California. After a 2013 incident where a 2-year-old girl was accidentally killed by her 5-year-old brother with a child-sized rifle made national headlines, Edwards criticized the "mass media," claiming they were covering the story as part of a "campaign of shame" and "wanted to make a point that this is what happens in Bumpkinville."
Cam Edwards, host of the National Rifle Association's news show, claimed that after Hurricane Katrina residents of the New Orleans neighborhood Algiers "were looking out for each other by walking the streets armed with firearms." But according to a federal hate crimes indictment and numerous media reports, after Katrina white gun-toting vigilantes in Algiers targeted African-Americans with racially motivated violence.
Edwards made the comments about Algiers during "The Armed Citizen Files," a daily segment on his news show Cam & Company that uses anecdotal accounts of self-defense with a gun to create the false impression that guns are used more often to prevent rather than commit crimes. The Katrina comparison came during a discussion of a recent self-defense shooting in Algiers. Edwards praised locals' "attitude of being able to protect yourself and the ones you love," and claimed that individuals used firearms after Katrina to make sure "there was no looting, no robbing, no burglaries."
According to an expose published in The Nation, after Katrina some residents of the largely undamaged Algiers Point -- an affluent "white enclave" in the "predominately black" Algiers neighborhood in New Orleans -- shot African-Americans who passed through the neighborhood while fleeing the historic storm's destruction:
Media outlets are uncritically reporting the false claim in a new attack ad from the National Rifle Association that gun safety advocate Michael Bloomberg wants to "ban ... your guns." In fact, Bloomberg supports the right to own a gun.
The NRA is launching an ad campaign against Bloomberg due to the former New York City mayor's position as a chairman of gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety and his pledge to spend $50 million this election cycle in support of gun safety measures.
Although he is not a candidate for office in 2014, the NRA plans to run an ad in Senate battleground states attacking Bloomberg over his support for gun safety proposals.
In the ad a narrator states, "Bloomberg tries to ban your snack food, your sodas and most of all, your guns." But neither Bloomberg nor Everytown for Gun Safety are proponents of general gun bans, a fact that some media outlets covering the NRA ad are leaving out of their reports.
Rapid City Journal columnist Frank Carroll, a member of the National Rifle Association, is calling for NRA board member Ted Nugent and "anyone else who either backs him or avoids their responsibility to confront him" to be removed from the NRA's leadership.
Nugent caused widespread controversy this year over his characterization of President Obama as a "subhuman mongrel." Citing that comment and Nugent's lengthy history of racially inflammatory commentary, several concert organizers have canceled Nugent appearances while other concerts have been protested.
In an August 12 column, Carroll called the NRA "an organization I belong to and agree with on many issues," while bemoaning that Nugent is a representative of the gun group. He added, "No wonder conservatives are struggling to lead in this country. At the very time we need authentic, humane, passionate conservatives and patriots the most, the best we can come up with are people like Nugent? Get real, NRA. Nugent has to go."
After the Toledo Blade received months of criticism for reluctantly hosting National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent at their food and music festival, the conservative commentator repaid the Ohio paper by declaring that "So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
Nugent has been a source of virulently racist, sexist, and homophobic commentary for years, but his January declaration that President Obama is a "subhuman mongrel" has triggered a wave of cancellations and protests of his concerts.
On August 8, Nugent performed at the 31st Annual Northwest Ohio Rib-off, a three-day festival featuring concerts and barbeque sponsored by the Blade. Nugent's appearance had been a source of controversy since it was announced in April, with the event's director telling Media Matters that he had received numerous calls from readers objecting to the performance. And after violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence created a petition urging the paper to cancel the concert, the chairman of The Blade's parent company apologized for the invitation and wrote that while the concert would go on, he would "not support inviting him again."
According to an August 9 Blade article, Nugent "and about a dozen people protesting his appearance overshadowed" the festival, with the sign-toting protestors receiving "support from numerous honking motorists who drove by and a few who flashed a thumbs-up sign." During the festival, Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence founder Toby Hoover delivered more than 6,200 petition signatures collected by CSGV to the Blade's sales director, according to the group.
Nugent responded by lashing out at the protestors, President Obama, and the Blade from stage:
From the stage, Nugent blasted the protesters, calling them the "Barack Obama fan club."
"How much crazier can you get than having a President of the United States who hates the United States?" he asked.
Neither Nugent nor the protesters were happy with the newspaper.
"The Toledo Blade hates you," Nugent told the crowd. "They hate your guts ...; They hate me. They hate freedom. So as long as you know the Toledo Blade hates you, you're a good American."
At least four Nugent concerts have been cancelled this year in response to Nugent's commentary, and several more have been subject to demonstrations. American Indian groups in particular have been protesting Nugent over his past racial comments, with tribes cancelling planned casino concerts and the president of the American Indian Movement Grassroots reportedly stating that the group "will always" protest the concerts.
Music industry experts say that Nugent's rhetoric has hurt his image to the point where he could seriously damage his music career.
Mike Mori, director of sales for The Blade and a coordinator of the event, reportedly confronted Nugent over his comments attacking the paper:
Mr. Mori, who is director of sales for The Blade, said he told Nugent, whose right-wing views prompted an outpouring of opposition before the Friday night show, that he was disappointed in his statements to the crowd, and told him The Blade sponsored the event and paid his fee.
"We were served a petition by an anti-gun coalition to not have him play shortly before he went on, and then they put the picture of them giving it to me on the Internet," Mr. Mori said. "His wife saw it, he thought that The Blade instigated the petition.
"I met with him after the show. I had a spirited conversation with him. I was very disappointed in him. I think he was a little bit embarrassed. He said he would like the chance to write a letter to explain his side of it," Mr. Mori said.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent hyped his August 8 appearance at The Toledo Blade's food and music festival by attacking the "stinkyass unclean dipshit protestors" that attended a rally organized by an American Indian group at his August 6 concert.
Nugent's summer tour schedule has been filled with controversy, protests, and cancellations. At least four concerts have been cancelled because of Nugent's history of racially inflammatory commentary, while activists -- representing both American Indian and progressive groups -- have staged protests at other concerts. American Indian groups became involved in protesting Nugent after two American Indian tribes cancelled Nugent concerts scheduled at their casinos after learning of Nugent's past comments and appropriation of American Indian headdresses during concerts.
In April, The Toledo Blade announced that Nugent would perform at the paper's four-day "Rib-Off" food and music festival in August. At the time, employees of The Blade told Media Matters investigative reporter Joe Strupp that the paper was receiving "quite a few" calls from angry readers and that the paper would "think long and hard about inviting him next year." Controversy over The Blade's invitation to Nugent spurred gun violence prevention group Coalition to Stop Gun Violence to launch a petition calling for the concert's cancellation. On July 27, The Blade's owner sent a letter to the editor where he declined to cancel Nugent's appearance but apologized for the invitation and wrote he would "not support inviting him again."
On August 7, Nugent took to his Facebook page to hype his "Rib-Off" appearance, but also to argue that American Indians upset about land being taken from them by white settlers need to learn about the American Dream.