From the January 7 edition of Fox News' The Kelly File:
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An article previewing CNN's town hall event on gun violence falsely suggested that it is not possible to simultaneously support the Second Amendment and support regulating firearms.
On January 7, CNN will air an hour-long "Guns in America" town hall following this week's announcement by President Obama of executive actions to reduce gun violence. CNN invited Obama to participate in the event, and he accepted. The network also invited the National Rifle Association to participate, but the group declined the invitation and made the false claim that the event was "orchestrated by the White House" -- it was actually organized by CNN.
A CNN spokesperson's characterization of the event makes it appear that the town hall is premised upon the false choice between supporting the Second Amendment and regulating firearms. According to the spokesperson, "the audience would be evenly divided between organizations that support the Second Amendment including NRA members as well as groups that back gun regulation."
This language implies that it is not possible to support both gun regulations and the Second Amendment, and is reflective of flawed polling questions on the issue of gun violence. For example, an October 2015 Washington Post-ABC News poll asked respondents, "Which do you think should be a higher priority right now - (enacting new laws to try to reduce gun violence), or (protecting the right to own guns)?"
Although it now acknowledges the question is flawed, Pew Research Center for years has asked respondents to pick between whether it is more important to "control gun ownership" or to "protect the right of Americans to own guns."
This type of premise ignores that it is entirely possible to regulate firearms while also supporting the Second Amendment. As Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research director Daniel Webster said of the Pew question, "The question's implicit and incorrect assumption is that regulations of gun sales infringe on gun owners' rights and control their ability to own guns. The reality is that the vast majority of gun laws restrict the ability of criminals and other dangerous people to get guns and place minimal burdens on potential gun purchasers such as undergoing a background check. Such policies enjoy overwhelming public support."
More thoughtful polling has indicated that gun owners see firearm regulation as consistent with the Second Amendment. A November 2015 Public Policy Polling survey asked gun owners whether "supporting Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and abusers." The vast majority -- 82 percent of respondents -- agreed that it does.
The notion that it is possible to regulate guns in a manner consistent with the Second Amendment is also evident in the Supreme Court's 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision. In striking down Washington, D.C.'s total ban on handguns, conservative justice Antonin Scalia also indicated that a wide range of gun restrictions are "presumptively lawful." The vast majority of restrictions on firearms do not run afoul of the Second Amendment. Out of 900 Second Amendment challenges to gun laws since Heller, more than 96 percent failed. There is also no serious legal question about whether expanded background checks are currently constitutional -- they are.
CNN also may present viewers with a distorted view of the popularity of gun regulations by evenly splitting the audience, given the significant popularity among the general public of the proposals Obama has advocated.
A major component of Obama's newly announced executive actions is a clarification about what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms. People who are "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must obtain a license and perform background checks on customers, while people who claim that they are not "engaged in the business" do not need a license or to run checks. This discrepancy is what is known as the "private sale loophole" or "gun show loophole."
Obama's "engaged in the business" executive action clarifies the law on what it means to be a gun dealer and requires people who are engaged in high-volume sales or engaging in commercial enterprises to obtain a Federal Firearms License and run background checks on customers, even if their sales are done online or at gun shows.
According to newly released polling, the general public is clearly in favor of Obama taking executive action to clarify what it means to be "engaged in the business." According to polling released on January 4 by Americans for Responsible Solutions, "a supermajority of voters -- 73 percent -- support 'an executive action by President Obama that would require anyone who sells a large number of guns per year to become a licensed gun dealer and require background checks on all of their gun sales, including those sold online or at gun shows'."
And in a more general sense, the proposition that background checks should be expanded to all gun sales -- something that would require action by Congress -- is overwhelmingly popular with the public, with numerous polls pegging support at around 90 percent. (Background checks are also widely supported among NRA members and gun owners.)
While CNN should be commended for devoting an evening to addressing the important issue of gun violence, the network should be careful to frame its event in a way that is fair to the realities of gun regulation and popular opinion in the United States.
From the January 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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The National Rifle Association has offered contradictory criticisms of President Obama's plan to release a series of executive actions to address gun violence. While the NRA has dismissed the actions as "not really doing anything" when talking to the media, the group has warned its members that Obama's plan represents a serious national security threat.
On January 5, Obama announced several ways his administration will attempt to reduce gun violence in response to a series of mass shootings and subsequent inaction by Congress. A large share of media coverage of Obama's move focused on the president's plan to expand background checks by clarifying what it means to be "engaged in the business" of selling firearms, although the plan also includes provisions addressing effective enforcement of existing gun laws, funding for mental health treatment, and developing gun safety technology.
The day before the plan was released, the NRA offered contradictory criticisms, one to the press and the other to its members.
On January 4, an NRA spokeswoman commented to the New York Times, saying of the plan, "This is it, really?"
A spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association said on Monday that the organization's lawyers would look at the president's proposals more closely to determine if there was anything they might go to court to challenge. But she said that at first glance the plan seemed surprisingly thin.
"This is it, really?" asked Jennifer Baker, an official with the N.R.A.'s Washington lobbying arm. "This is what they've been hyping for how long now? This is the proposal they've spent seven years putting together? They're not really doing anything."
The same day, the NRA released a video on its NRA News network. Far from downplaying the plan as "not really doing anything," the NRA claimed that Obama's plan to take executive action meant that he is now "our biggest threat to national security":
According to a Media Matters review of internal video archives, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN all reported on the NRA's statement to the Times downplaying the significance of Obama's executive action, while none of these networks mentioned the NRA's unhinged messaging to its member base.
The National Rifle Association is promoting the claim that President Obama is "our biggest threat to national security" in response to reports that Obama will soon take several executive actions to address gun violence.
Obama reportedly plans to announce the executive actions some time during the "next several days." While details of Obama's proposals have not been released, several news reports indicate that Obama will shrink the "gun show loophole" by using regulatory authority to require unlicensed sellers who are engaging in high-volume gun sales to become licensed and perform background checks on customers.
The NRA responded to Obama's forthcoming proposals in a January 4 video, with the gun rights organization labeling the president "our biggest threat to national security":
In the video, the charge that "the biggest threat to national security is sitting in the Oval Office" is made by former Bush administration official John Bolton, a Fox News contributor. Bolton has served in an NRA leadership position and frequently appears in NRA News videos to advance the gun organization's views.
The NRA previously supported, in the words of NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, "mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show," although the gun group has since abandoned this position and now claims expanded background checks would be the precursor to the confiscation of privately owned firearms.
Following another series of horrific mass shootings in 2015 that captured the public's attention, gun safety has emerged as a major campaign issue for the 2016 elections. It's already clear how the National Rifle Association (NRA) will use the issue to try to swing the elections and hamstring any attempts at new legislation - after all, they've been using the same playbook for years.
As U.S. gun deaths continue to tick upwards -- now on par with automobile deaths -- public interest in gun issues in 2015 rose to its highest level since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. This year, Americans watched news reports of public shootings targeting parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina, service members in Chattanooga, Tennessee, moviegoers in Lafayette, Louisiana, students and educators in Roseburg, Oregon, people visiting a Planned Parenthood health clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and attendees of a Christmas party in San Bernardino, California.
Presidential candidates in favor of reform on gun laws released policy proposals, addressed the issue during debates, and argued for stronger background checks on gun sales and other proposals during campaign events.
Meanwhile, candidates who oppose stronger gun laws remained largely in line with the National Rifle Association, with the majority of the GOP field speaking at the NRA's 2015 annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Republican members of Congress also fell in line with the NRA -- Politico summarized the state of affairs with the headline, "GOP unmoved on gun control as massacres pile up."
As The Washington Post noted, the attention paid to the issue by Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton indicates "a shift in presidential politics." Business Insider identified gun violence prevention as an issue that "suddenly looms large over the first Democratic presidential debate," and Politico called gun safety "one of the most volatile issues of 2016."
As the NRA gears up to poison the well on another national debate over gun violence, four main themes are likely to emerge:
With all indications pointing to the NRA utilizing its fearmongering playbook against the eventual Democratic nominee, it is worth examining the rhetoric used by the NRA to attack President Obama before the 2012 elections and what impact the NRA actually had on those elections.
The NRA began its 2012 campaign work in earnest with a September 2011 speech by NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre at the Conservative Political Action Conference. During the annual gathering of conservative powerbrokers, LaPierre announced the existence of "a massive Obama conspiracy" to destroy the Second Amendment during a second term. Claiming that during his first term Obama sought to "play us for fools," LaPierre said, "We see the president's strategy crystal clear: get re-elected, and with no other re-elections to worry about, get busy dismantling and destroying our firearms freedom. Erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights and exorcise it from the U.S. Constitution."
As Election Day approached, the NRA's rhetoric against Obama went even further off the rails, including when LaPierre analogized the prospect of Obama's reelection to the 2004 tsunami in South Asia in an article in the NRA's magazine that announced an "All In" campaign against Obama.
Describing the tsunami as "faster than a 747" and "carrying more energy than 1,500 Hiroshima bombs," LaPierre noted the disaster's 250,000 person death toll before writing, "Today in the United States, just as in Indonesia, too many Americans don't see -- or don't recognize -- the tidal wave that's bearing down on our nation and our freedoms. If we don't warn our fellow Americans in time, disaster could be upon us on Election Day -- just nine short months from now." According to LaPierre it was up to NRA supporters to "mobilize the American people to defeat Barack Obama before he dismantles our Second Amendment freedom -- and all of our freedoms as Americans -- completely and forever."
The NRA, however, failed on Election Day 2012. In an election year that was bad for conservatives generally, the gun group fared particularly poorly. The NRA Political Victory Fund (PVF) and the NRA Institute for Legislative Action spent over $12 million in the NRA's ill-fated quest to defeat the president.
More than 95 percent of the more than $18 million the NRA spent on federal elections went to races where the NRA-backed candidate lost on Election Day. The PVF in particular was one of the most ineffective outside spenders during the 2012 elections, achieving a "return of investment" on campaign spending of less than one percent.
The NRA also failed to garner Congressional victories. In six of seven Senate races where the NRA spent over $100,000 during the general election, the candidate supported by the NRA lost. Of 26 House incumbents who lost their seats -- including Democrats and Republicans -- 18 were endorsed by the NRA.
In addition to ineffective spending, the NRA's message, which largely cast the group as the singular force that could save the Second Amendment and America from destruction by Obama, was also ineffective. In three key swing states - Virginia, Colorado, and North Carolina - voters said they trusted Obama more than his opponent, former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), to oversee gun laws.
The NRA is already busy launching attacks against pro-gun safety candidates ahead of the 2016 election. The majority of the attacks have focused on Hillary Clinton - who the gun-group has a long-held disdain for, dating back to the Bill Clinton administration - but the NRA has also included former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley in its unhinged attacks.
In fact, the first cover of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, to focus on the 2016 elections, published in September, was for a story that amounted to a lengthy smear of O'Malley.
The NRA's feature falsely attacked O'Malley on two fronts, claiming that he poses a threat to Second Amendment rights and accusing him of taking the side of criminals in Maryland -- even though courts have sided with O'Malley on the constitutionality of Maryland's gun laws and violent crime fell significantly during his tenure as governor. Echoing language seen during the NRA's 2012 attacks on Obama, the NRA's top lobbyist Chris Cox predicted that an O'Malley presidency could trigger "a fight for the survival of Second Amendment freedom as we know it."
The NRA's attacks on Clinton -- "the most anti-gun first lady in the most anti-Second Amendment administration in American history," according to them -- are perhaps more unhinged.
During a video montage shown at the NRA's 2008 annual meeting, the NRA linked Clinton to a plan to exploit a terrorist attack on U.S. soil. While showing an image of Clinton on screen, followed by archival footage of the aftermaths of major terror attacks, a narrator said, "If an anti-gun president occupies the White House, then the perfect storm is upon us. Its arrival would be hastened by a terrorist attack; an event that experts say is inevitable. Then the final disarmament of law abiding Americans will take place beneath the shroud of anti-terrorism legislation."
In 2007, the NRA was silent as one of its most prominent members of leadership, longtime board member Ted "I Am The NRA" Nugent, called Clinton a "worthless bitch" who should "ride" on his machine gun during an on-stage rant he delivered while wielding assault weapon props. Nugent, who has referred to Clinton as a "whore" and a "cunt," has also called for the former secretary of state's arrest. (The NRA has remained in the gutter on Clinton; during the 2014 debut of its web series targeted towards millennials the host said, "it's pretty blatant that Hillary is no longer sleeping with Bill Clinton, because if she were, he would inform her that this whole gun issue thing and trying to walk this elusive line of gun control but still for the Second Amendment rights is probably not the smartest thing to do because we're not idiots and we're not falling for it.")
The NRA began its 2016 attacks on Clinton with LaPierre's 2014 CPAC speech where he predicted that anti-gun forces were "laying the groundwork to put another Clinton back in the White House" with the ultimate goal being "to finish the job, to fulfill their commitment, their dream, of fundamentally transforming America."
LaPierre ramped up his attacks on Clinton during the NRA's 2015 annual meeting in April. During a speech before the NRA's leadership forum, LaPierre predicted that Clinton's potential election "will bring a permanent darkness of deceit and despair" to America while vowing that "in 2016, by God, we will elect our next great president of the United States of America and it will not be Hillary Rodham Clinton."
In widely criticized remarks before members during a later speech, LaPierre turned up the volume even more, launching a gender-based attack on Clinton while taking a racial dig at Obama. On the 2016 elections, LaPierre said Obama "intends to go out with a coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton. I have to tell you, eight years of one demographically symbolic president is enough."
The NRA has also been busy crafting its massive Clinton conspiracy, which is copied from its Obama playbook. In 2008, the NRA distorted and strung together past statements on the gun issue by Obama to push the claim that as president, he would ban the use of guns for self-defense among other extreme positions. This claim garnered a "false" rating from PolitiFact and led FactCheck.org to conclude the NRA "falsely claims in mailers and TV ads that Obama plans to ban handguns, hunting ammo and use of a gun for home defense."
In a May article appearing in America's 1st Freedom, the NRA took the same approach, purporting to offer a history of Clinton's views on firearms in order to push the unsubstantiated theory that a Clinton presidency would bring about gun confiscation.
The NRA frequently argues that the only thing to stop the cataclysmic destruction of the Second Amendment and possibly America as we know it is the election of NRA-favored candidates for office. Despite these repeated predictions from the NRA not coming true, 2016 is proving to be no different.
2016: Just days after writing that "the future of our Second Amendment rights comes down to one day -- Election Day" 2014, and calling those elections "the most important of our lifetime," NRA leadership labeled the 2016 elections "the fight of our lives for American freedom." In the December edition of America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre predicted that the 2016 elections could spell "the final defeat for the Second Amendment and every freedom we cherish" before announcing an NRA membership due increase.
The NRA's apocalyptical predictions about 2016 echo rhetoric from previous elections, even if the Second Amendment - or America - never ends up getting destroyed.
2012: On the 2012 elections, LaPierre wrote, "This isn't just the most important election of our lifetimes -- it's the most important election for our children's, grandchildren's and great-grandchildren's lifetimes." He also wrote (emphasis original), "It might seem like a stretch to compare an election to one of the deadliest disasters in modern history [the 2004 South Asian tsunami]. This year's election could prove the most disastrous in the history of this country. Why? Because this election will decide whether Americans remain free."
The 2016 election promises to revive longstanding -- but evidence-free -- conventional wisdom seen throughout media coverage of the role of the gun issue in electoral politics, which is the claim that the NRA has the ability to determine election outcomes at will and punish politicians who vote against its agenda. While this myth is oft-repeated in media, actual data analyses of federal election cycles have proven that the value of NRA election spending and endorsements is vastly overrated.
Supposedly objective media outlets who push this narrative become unwitting allies of the NRA, which seeks to use overstated claims about its own electoral power to wield outsized influence in Congress.
Following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, major media outlets were quick to suggest that politicians who supported gun safety reforms would be defeated by the NRA during their next reelection run.
That never happened. While 2014 was a bad election cycle for progressive politicians generally, the gun issue fared significantly better, including the passage of a "historic" background check ballot initiative in Washington state and the successful reelection of governors who signed into law the most significant gun safety reforms in response to Sandy Hook. At the same time, Democrats in the Senate who sided with the NRA on a background check bill compromise that was blocked in April 2013 lost their reelections, with the NRA failing to aid them or in other cases actively spending against them in favor of the Republican candidate. As one leading gun safety advocate put it, "with friends like the NRA, who needs enemies?"
The myth of NRA electoral dominance is actively being pushed by major outlets leading up to the 2016 elections. A January documentary about the NRA released by PBS and a July Washington Post article setting the stage for the role of guns in 2016 electoral politics pushed the claim that the NRA cost Al Gore the 2000 election. The Post article also posited that the 1994 assault weapons ban was responsible for Democrats losing the House during elections held that year.
While these claims have become electoral apocrypha, there is no statistical support for their validity according to political science experts who conducted data-driven analyses of the two election cycles. The NRA, however, will be counting on media to share these stories as it puffs itself up before Election Day.
On the December 18 edition of CNN's New Day, host Alisyn Camerota used the term "so-called assault rifles," adpoting the framing of gun activists. Camerota said "I say so-called [assault rifles] because gun rights enthusiasts say what makes something an assault rife? That's a political term." In fact, the term "assault weapon" was coined by gun manufacturers and enthusiasts, to describe military-style semi-automatic rifles, but the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun trade industry attempted to rebrand assault weapons as "modern sporting rifles" in 2009, pretending that the term "assault weapon" was invented by proponents of assault weapons bans in order to arbitrarily single out certain firearms for further regulation.
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A commentary video from the National Rifle Association labeled those who called for more than thoughts and prayers following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California the "Godless Left" and claimed that they "march hand-in-hand" with terrorists "toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all."
In a video released on December 14 -- the three year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre -- conservative radio host and NRA News commentator Dana Loesch criticized reactions to the December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino that claimed 14 lives. Loesch singled out a New York Daily News cover that contended "God Isn't Fixing This" as well as commentators who called for stronger gun laws, arguing that merely sending "thoughts and prayers" to the victims was not a sufficient response to the shooting.
Claiming that those who made this argument "mocked the entire concept of religion" and carried out a "coordinated assault" on "our right to believe," Loesch said that "the Godless Left ... share the same fanatical fervor to tear apart the foundations of America as the terrorists who threaten our very survival. And together, they march hand-in-hand toward the possible, purposeful destruction of us all."
Media outlets roundly urged Congressional leaders to pass gun safety legislation in the wake of the deadly San Bernardino mass shooting -- including stronger gun violence prevention laws on military-style weapons, background checks, and rolling back concealed-carry laws -- and chastised politicians for their complicity in the "crisis in American society" where "gun carnage ... has come to define America."
Colion Noir, a commentator and web series host for the National Rifle Association's media arm NRA News, suggested that Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley are "gun control" hoes for calling for action to prevent gun violence following reports of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
On Twitter, Noir referred to Clinton and O'Malley as "two gun control THOTS." THOT is an acronym for "that ho over there."
Noir is the face of the NRA's efforts to attract a younger, more diverse demographic.
As reports emerged of fatalities and up to 20 people shot in San Bernardino, Clinton wrote on Twitter, "I refuse to accept this as normal. We must take action to stop gun violence now." O'Malley tweeted, "Horrifying news out of #SanBernardino. Enough is enough: it's time to stand up to the @NRA and enact meaningful gun safety laws."
From the December 2 edition of Genesis Communication Network's The Alex Jones Show:
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Conservative media and the National Rifle Association's increasing insistence that victims of mass shootings should have been armed is beginning to sound a lot like blaming the victim.
The familiar right-wing talking point has emerged again, as America grapples with yet another instance of mass public violence. This time a man opened fire at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center with an AK-47-style assault weapon, killing three people -- including a police officer -- while leaving nine others wounded.
The pronouncements from gun advocates in the media were all too familiar. On Fox News, a network contributor asked, "What if more people had guns there, guys? What if people could've defended themselves?"
Similar commentary was heard from the NRA's media arm, NRA News, where a guest said during the first broadcast following the Planned Parenthood shooting, "I would have loved it if somebody who worked at Planned Parenthood, or one of the patients, or somebody who was waiting had a concealed carry permit and was able to stop this guy before he killed three people and injured nine or ten others," garnering agreement from NRA News host Cam Edwards.
These claims wrongly imply that it is the responsibility of mass shooting victims to stop their would-be killers as opposed to society's responsibility to stop would-be killers from accessing weapons that make mass murder possible.
The argument that victims of gun violence should have been armed entered the spotlight in December 2012 with NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's commentary on the murder of Kasandra Perkins by her boyfriend, NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher. According to LaPierre, "The one thing missing in that equation is that woman owning a gun so she could have saved her life from that murderer." (Perkins did actually own guns.)
Just weeks later, members of conservative media raised eyebrows by insisting armed teachers could have stopped the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. As high-profile mass shootings have continued unabated since then, the argument has become increasingly loud, and in some cases increasingly ugly.
After a mass shooting claimed the lives of nine worshipers at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June, a member of the NRA's board of directors and the head of the extremist Gun Owners of America group both criticized the victims for being unarmed, citing slain pastor Clementa Pinckney's advocacy for stronger gun laws.
And after a man killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, in October, NRA board member Ted Nugent claimed that unarmed victims of mass shootings are "losers," while presidential candidate Ben Carson remarked of the gunman, "I would not just stand there and let him shoot me."
The notion that victims bear the responsibility of preventing crimes committed against them has long lurked in the conservative media and NRA consciousness, and claims surrounding the victims of the Planned Parenthood attack indicate that this argument is not about to go away.
But even if this type of claim from conservative media and the NRA didn't wrongly shift the onus toward victims to stop their own murders, the argument is not based in reality.
According to an analysis of 62 public mass shootings over a 30 year period, not a single one was stopped by a civilian with a firearm. Simulations of mass shootings also offer little hope that more concealed guns will prevent these attacks.
The United States has so many mass shootings and also so many guns and so many concealed carry permits, but the notion that victims of mass shootings will use guns to take out their attackers has not borne itself out as a reliable real-world solution to the problem of mass violence -- and the insistence that victims should have armed themselves wrongly shifts the burden toward those who are killed as opposed to the killers and the policies that arm them.
Just days after mass gun violence again captured Americans' attention, the National Rifle Association's online magazine declared that the "real epidemic" in the United States is "extreme anti-gun groups."
In a December 1 article at America's 1st Freedom, the NRA attacked a petition created by the National Gun Victims Action Council that calls for President Obama to declare gun violence an "epidemic" under The National Emergencies Act. (As the NRA article concedes, presidents invoking this act must still operate within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution, and according to USA Today the act is invoked so often to give the executive branch increased flexibility that there are around 30 current "national emergencies.")
The term epidemic is often used to describe the level of gun violence in the United States, especially by medical organizations, given that there are more than 30,000 gun deaths each year, with an approximate 70,000 additional Americans wounded by gunfire annually.
The NRA's characterization of the country's "real epidemic" comes just days after a heavily-armed gunman opened fire with an AK-47 style assault weapon at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado, killing three people -- including a police officer -- and wounding nine others. The suspect in that incident, who has a long history of criminal charges and other troubling behavior, was arrested with a duffel bag filled with handguns and rifles.
From the December 1 edition of America's 1st Freedom:
A commentary video released by the National Rifle Association two days before the November 27 mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado claimed that the "left" uses the term "crazy white gun owner" in order to "segregate society."
The claim was made in a November 25 video from the NRA News series Defending Our America. The episode, titled "Why Is My Gun Offensive To You?," claimed "the anti-gun left consistently misrepresents gun owners in America, labeling them as crazy or militant to fit their narrative. [Co-host] Tim [Clemente] believes that this is done intentionally to create a societal rift and alienate supporters of the Second Amendment."
In the video, Clemente argued, "It's unfortunately how the left labels the NRA, it's how they label, well crazy white gun owner, because it's an easy to way to, again, segregate society, make us this little box of crazy people over here, instead of showing how it's literally every, every aspect of society involves guns."
Clemente also pushed the argument that guns don't actually hurt people, stating that a firearm "doesn't hurt anybody without intent, malice forethought [sic], and the fact that somebody is pulling a trigger on that gun and pointing it at somebody they shouldn't. That's when people get hurt with guns, and it's actually not the guns they get hurt with, it's the bullets."
Two days later, on November 27, a white gunman allegedly opened fire with an assault weapon at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood health center, killing a police officer and two civilians and wounding 9 other people.
From the November 25 edition of NRA News' Defending Our America:
Fox & Friends presented emerging smart gun technology as "fascinating," reliable, and not vulnerable to hacking in a segment that highlighted a shotgun that can only be fired by an authorized user who wears a special ring.
The National Rifle Association claims that it does not oppose the development of smart gun technology, but in practice it often raises unfounded concerns that the technology is unreliable or could be disabled by hackers. The NRA has also promoted the conspiracy theory that the government could use the technology to take control of private firearms to implement a de facto ban on gun ownership.
A November 24 segment on Fox & Friends featured an interview with Jonathan Mossberg, the inventor of a "Magnetic Tag-enabled shotgun," that debunked these myths.
According to Mossberg's website, authorized users for the firearm wear a ring and "when the ring comes in close range to the normal ring-finger placement on the firearm's stock, the iGun compares a unique code from the ring to the gun to see if there is a match. If the code matches, the trigger unlocks" and the gun can be fired.
Proponents of smart guns promote the technology as a way to prevent unauthorized users -- such as children or someone trying to access a law enforcement officer's gun -- from accessing a weapon.
A segment on the November 24 broadcast of Fox & Friends opened by comparing smart gun technology with something that might be seen in a James Bond movie. Fox News "CyberGuy" Kurt Knutsson participated in a demonstration of the technology with Mossberg and concluded, "I tested it out, I can tell you right now that guns are about to become a lot like an iPhone where you could just simply use your fingerprint to open a gun, or even in this case you use a ring."
During the demonstration Knutsson attempted to fire Mossberg's shotgun, but was unable to do so. He then passed the firearm to Mossberg, who was able to fire the gun instantly because he was wearing a ring for an authorized user.
After the demonstration, Mossberg explained that people who oppose the technology are "people that jump to conclusions, that don't do homework, and don't do research are against it. You may not want to buy one. That's fine. But don't be against it."
Mossberg's explanation of the unfounded reasons people oppose smart gun technology sounds like a summation of the attacks on the technology from the NRA's media arm, NRA News. (Interestingly, Mossberg's family operates O.F. Mossberg & Sons, a sponsor of the NRA News web series Noir.)
In contrast to the successful demonstration of the technology on Fox News, the NRA's radio show, Cam & Company has spread false information about the failure rate of the technology, featured content suggesting smart guns are a "dumb idea" and that "gun owners won't trust an electronic firearm to save the day," and hosted guests to claim the technology doesn't work. The NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom has endlessly criticized smart gun technology, recently describing it as "floundering."
These attacks are baseless -- market-ready smart guns have a similar mechanical failure rate compared to firearms that do not have the technology.
The Fox & Friends segment also addressed claims that the technology could be hacked by criminals or by the government for nefarious purposes. Knutsson explained, "The fact is, this particular technology right here, 15 million combinations to that ring is what it would take to hack through it."
"The people who hate technology, smart guns, they think that big bad government can shut my guns down. Mine does not work on WiFi, mine does not work on any signal other than this far apart," added Mossberg, demonstrating the distance between his thumb and index finger.
NRA News has promoted the type of conspiratorial claims described by Mossberg. In April 2014, conservative media distorted comments made by then-Attorney General Eric Holder about smart gun technology similar to Mossberg's -- it would use a bracelet rather than a ring -- to claim that the government wanted to track gun owners using the technology. Conservative media falsely claimed Holder promoted "tracking" bracelets, when instead the purpose of the bracelet Holder discussed was to send a signal to the firearm authorizing its use.
Despite being a complete distortion of what Holder said, NRA News hosted multiple guests to push the conspiracy theory, with one guest claiming, "For some reason they feel like they need to keep an eye on where your gun is and where my gun is, and Eric Holder can do pretty much whatever he wants with government funds."
The NRA's publication American Rifleman also promoted the conspiracy theory that "a criminal, a hacker or even a government agency could turn your gun on or off anytime they wanted" if smart gun technology was adopted. The author of the article appeared on NRA News to claim the technology could be hijacked by "politicians, let's be frank, who would just as soon ban all handguns."
During the Fox & Friends segment, Mossberg and Kilmeade both expressed opposition to legislation that would mandate the adoption of the technology, which is in line with the NRA's position, but nonetheless Kilmeade concluded the segment by describing Mossberg's invention as "fascinating."
Fox & Friends' treatment of smart gun technology stands in sharp contrast to previous coverage of the technology on Fox & Friends; the show was one of many conservative media outlets to push the conspiracy theory about Holder and "gun tracking bracelets."