National Rifle Association News host Cam Edwards has taken on a media critic role to allege that news reports linking firearms to public safety concerns are inaccurate. The series of rebuttals offered by Edwards on his show Cam & Company, however, are rife with outright falsehoods and are debunked by peer reviewed research.
In five recent "Media Misinformation" segments, Edwards...
- ...cited the long-debunked research of criminologist Gary Kleck to claim that up to 2.5 million defensive gun uses occur each year while also pushing the false claim that loosening concealed gun carry laws reduces crime.
- ...falsely claimed that the United States ranks 28th among industrialized nations in terms of gun homicide rate when the U.S. actually ranks first in a more comparable study among high-income nations.
- ...used discredited research to attack an accurate claim by Mother Jones that guns in the home are more often used in criminal acts, accidents or suicides than for self-defense.
- ...made a flawed and anecdotal comparison to deny that increased gun availability is associated with increased firearm homicide.
- ...denied that a link exists between firearm access and suicide while suggesting that making firearms less accessible to a suicidal individual was not a plausible way to prevent a suicide attempt.
The latest cover story from the National Rifle Association magazine America's 1st Freedom pushes a baseless conspiracy that a proposed United Nations treaty to prevent the diversion of weapons to human rights abusers will be used by "the minions of tyrannical and thieving governments" to achieve "total disarmament of freedom-loving people all over the world."
In reality, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) seeks to address the fact that as many as 500,000 people are killed in armed violence each year worldwide by implementing -- on an international scale -- arms trade standards that are already used in the United States.
The piece, titled "Siege," was authored by gun advocate David Kopel and shares pages in the February 2013 edition of America's 1st Freedom with an unhinged article by NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre that calls upon Americans to buy firearms to ensure their "survival."
Despite Kopel's claim that U.N. officials will deviously interpret the ATT to disarm civilian populations and ultimately "destroy much of what remains of lawful gun ownership," the treaty explicitly disallows such interference by the U.N. in the sovereign affairs of nations. The latest draft of the ATT expressly prohibits the imposition of domestic firearms regulations upon parties to the treaty by "[r]eaffirming the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems."
National Rifle Association president David Keene made a February 16 appearance on conspiracy theorist Gary Franchi's television show as part of his media tour to oppose strengthening gun laws. Franchi is involved in the 9/11 Truth movement and believes the government is secretly building FEMA concentration camps that will be used to round up American citizens.
Franchi interviewed Keene about his belief that President Obama may use the Newtown school massacre to aid in the passage of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
Franchi is a well-known and avid conspiracy theorist. During the 2012 election cycle, Franchi was the head of Revolution PAC, a pro-Ron Paul group. He made headlines when NBC News reported on his extensive history of promoting outlandish conspiracy theories.
As explained by NBC, Franchi was the founder of the Lone Lantern Society, a group that supports "'the birth of freedom and the death of the New World Order,' a secretive elite that is supposedly trying to set up a world government." The Lone Lantern held numerous demonstrations calling for a new investigation of 9-11.
In a 2008 interview with former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, Franchi asked if Ridge endorsed the idea of a "new investigation for 9-11" based on the idea that there may have been a "controlled demolition of the World Trade Center." (During the conversation, Franchi also asks Ridge about the "North American Union," the conspiracy that the governments of America, Canada, and Mexico are secretly planning to merge; a hypothetical North American currency union; and whether he is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Bohemian Grove.)
Franchi has also repeatedly endorsed the paranoid conspiracy that the government has been building FEMA concentration camps to imprison political opponents. He produced two separate documentaries on the subject, titled Camp FEMA: American Lockdown and Enemy of the State: Camp FEMA Part 2.
According to a 2010 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Franchi was a "regular speaker at Patriot conferences, offering a familiar diet of fears of globalist plotters," warning against a cabal of bankers and elite organizations that secretly control governments.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent relied on a false and outdated report frequently promoted by conspiracy theorists to claim that no assault weapons were used in the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In fact, Connecticut authorities have stated that all of the Newtown victims were shot with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon, with some victims receiving up to 11 gunshot wounds.
In a February 13 column for birther website WND, Nugent wrote, "No so-called assault weapon was used in the grisly murders of the children and teachers in Newton," and instead suggested that four handguns were used to kill 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. CNN recently promoted Nugent as having a "very firm grasp of the facts" about gun violence.
From Nugent's column:
Newsflash for he the sheeple Redcoat Piers: No so-called assault weapon was used in the grisly murders of the children and teachers in Newton, Conn. NBC has reported the butcher used four handguns, and though we can all agree that anything reported by the networks and so much of the media should be disbelieved out of hand, even if the Bushmaster modern sporting rifle were used in the demonic slaughter of innocents, semi-automatics are not "assault weapons." Period.
On December 15, one day after the Newtown shooting, NBC incorrectly reported that only handguns had been recovered from Sandy Hook Elementary. By that evening NBC Nightly News noted that "most of the shots fired inside the school came from an assault-style rifle" and on the December 16 edition of Today Show, NBC correspondent Pete Williams reported that "The medical examiner in Newtown says the children were each shot several times, all with an assault-style rifle." All other major news outlets have likewise reported that the shooter used a Bushmaster assault weapon.
From the February 14 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
Loading the player reg...
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre wrote that Americans need to buy firearms in order to ensure their "survival" and urged gun owners to join the NRA and buy more weapons in an unhinged February 13 Daily Caller op-ed.
Media Matters has long documented the feedback loop by which the NRA fearmongers about stronger gun laws in order to drive up membership and promote increased firearm sales; gun manufacturers in turn pour millions of dollars into the NRA's coffers.
In his latest op-ed LaPierre took this argument to new levels, arguing that Americans who don't buy firearms risk death from a number of sources:
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face--not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival. It's responsible behavior, and it's time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.
Since the election, millions of Americans have been lining up in front of gun stores, Cabela's and Bass Pro Shops exercising their freedom while they still have it. They are demonstrating they have a mass determination to buy, own and use firearms. Millions of Americans are using market forces like never before to demonstrate their ardent support for our firearm freedoms. That's one of the very best ways we can Stand And Fight.
LaPierre writes that this "Stand and Fight" effort involves a "four-year communications and resistance movement." As part of this effort, LaPierre writes that a stronger NRA is necessary "to resist the coming siege" and states:
Every gun owner should be an active member of the NRA. Every gun owner should be sure that every member of his or her family is an active member. [...]
This begins with remembering to keep your own membership active, or reactivate it if it has lapsed. It means reminding yourself, "I have a son and daughter who aren't members and should be." It means reaching out to your hunting and shooting friends and personally telling them why it's so important that they join the NRA now, during this time of peril.
Renewing an NRA membership for one year costs $35; lifetime memberships cost $1,000.
Ted Nugent, a National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist with a long record of virulent, inflammatory commentary, attended the February 12 State of the Union speech as a guest of Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX).
Nugent's attendance received widespread media attention, largely due to his April 2012 statement that if President Obama were to be re-elected, he would "either be dead or in jail by this time next year."
Here are five moments from Nugent's State of the Union media tour:
Congressman Paralyzed By Gunfire Has "S**t For Brains." Nugent's attendance drew criticism from Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), who was paralyzed in a gun accident as a teenager and had urged other members of Congress to invite those touched by gun violence to attend the State of the Union. At a press conference prior to the speech, Nugent reportedly responded:
"He probably has s**t for brains," he said of Langevin.
"I couldn't be more proud of myself, what I stand for, and for this pompous ass to claim that he cares more about a family that lost a child than I do is a perfect example of the brain dead critics of Ted Nugent," he said."
Those Attending The Speech Whose Lives Were Touched By Gun Violence Are "Pawns." In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Nugent explained that he wanted to attend the speech to counter the influence of the survivors of gun violence and family members of victims who had been invited by other members of Congress:
"The State of the Union would be stacked with pawns, friends of [President Barack] Obama, a lot of props, to further the president's anti-gun agenda," Nugent, who owns a ranch in Texas, said in an interview. "I'm a gun guy. I've never been without a gun."
National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent reportedly said that a Democratic congressman who criticized Nugent's invitation to the State of the Union and was paralyzed in a firearms accident has "s**t for brains."
Nugent's comments are hardly surprising given his long record of offensive invective.
Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) has urged more than two dozen lawmakers to invite survivors of gun violence as their guests to the State of the Union.
Langevin has personal experience with gun safety. As ABC News reported:
As a 16-year-old, Langevin was critically injured while working with the Warwick Police Department in the Boy Scout Explorer program. A veteran officer handling a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, not realizing a round rested in the chamber, pulled the trigger, bouncing a bullet off a metal locker and striking the teenager in the neck, severing his spinal cord.
After a Republican congressman responded by inviting Nugent to attend as his own guest, Langevin reportedly criticized the invitation, citing Nugent's history of violent rhetoric. At a February 12 press conference, Nugent reportedly responded as follows:
"He probably has s**t for brains," he said of Langevin.
"I couldn't be more proud of myself, what I stand for, and for this pompous ass to claim that he cares more about a family that lost a child than I do is a perfect example of the brain dead critics of Ted Nugent," he said."
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent will reportedly attend the State of the Union Address. Nugent has a lengthy history of inflammatory rhetoric, often targeting President Obama, racial minorities, women and LGBT individuals with invective.
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent published a column on birther website WND alleging that if a Republican president had the same drone policy as the Obama administration, "Jesse Jackson and Al Not-So-Sharpton would be lisping their ebonic mumbo-jumbo that the policy and the president are racist and bigoted."
Nugent recently became "an exclusive WND columnist," and told Media Matters that he was attracted to the website's audience of "bold, straight truth-logic celebrants with whom I share honest American common sense."
Among other predictions made by Nugent in his column:
The "99-percenter" crowd of intentionally unemployed Americans would move into Lafayette Park across the street from the White House, where they would pitch their tents and refrigerator boxes, ingest massive amounts of mind-altering chemicals and then try to storm the gates of the White House.
The residents of East St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago and other cities would burn their own neighborhoods in protest.
Representatives from NARAL, the pro-abortion group, would say had they known the Republican president was going to issue such an order, they would have wished their parents had aborted them.
In previewing a segment on Nugent's views on firearms on February 1, CNN reporter Deb Feyerick claimed that he had "a very deep connection with the facts and the facts that he needs to make his argument." During the Feburary 4 segment on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront, Feyerick and host Erin Burnett gave serious treatment to Nugent's conspiracy theory that Obama wishes to confiscate firearms, even discussing what would happen if the government attempted to "take all the guns away tomorrow." Nugent's opposition to gun violence prevention proposals was also praised by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who stated on the February 5 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, "Now that kind of straight talk is what the Republican Party needs."
During a January 9 interview with WND, Nugent suggested, "there will come a time when the gun owners of America, the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus, case closed." Civil rights leaders condemned Nugent for his comparison between gun owners and civil rights activist Rosa Parks. Later that month, Nugent told WND that having Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder head a gun safety task force is "like hiring [serial killer and cannibal] Jeffrey Dahmer to tell us how to take care of our children."
Conservatives in media have adopted the false National Rifle Association claim that the term "assault weapon" was invented by proponents of assault weapons bans in order to arbitrarily single out certain firearms for further regulation. However, before the gun industry trade association attempted to rebrand assault weapons as "modern sporting rifles" in 2009 -- a change in terminology also adopted by the NRA -- the gun industry and firearm publications routinely used the term assault weapon to describe the very military-style semi-automatic rifles that would be covered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein's assault weapons ban.
As Sen. Feinstein prepares another hearing on gun violence for later this month, members of right-wing media are now dishonestly attempting to hide the history and special capabilities of assault weapons.
In a February 4 appearance on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, Ted Nugent, a NRA board member who uses his Washington Times column to argue against strengthening gun laws, covered up how assault weapons have been marketed when he claimed that President Obama's proposal to reduce gun violence "still calls personal defense weapons assault weapons, which is a nomenclature created by the anti-gun agenda."
As Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, who writes about gun policy for the conservative Townhall website, put it, "the term 'assault weapon' is a made up political term." Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller has also attempted to rewrite history, recently claiming, "President Obama and his allies, such as Mrs. [Dianne] Feinstein, deliberately misuse the term 'assault weapon' to confuse the public. Assault weapons are machine guns, automatic rifles that continue to fire until the trigger is released."
On the January 19 edition of Fox News program Fox & Friends Saturday, Miller claimed that the term assault weapon was invented during the 1980s by gun violence prevention organizations for "fearmongering" purposes:
Pundits like Miller and Pavlich are merely adopting the NRA screed on this subject. Miller's claim about the origin of the term assault weapon mirrored a January 14 press release from the NRA's lobbying wing, the Institute for Legislative Action, that claims gun violence prevention advocates coined the term during the 1980s.
During January, NRA News host Cam Edwards frequently spoke about the definition of an assault weapon on his Cam & Company show. According to Edwards, the term assault weapon is "a made up phrase" and assault weapons can be defined as "gun I'm trying to ban" or alternately "gun I want to ban."
CNN host Erin Burnett and reporter Deb Feyerick gave serious treatment to National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent's baseless claim that President Obama will attempt to confiscate firearms, even discussing what would happen if the government tried to "take all the guns away tomorrow." Significantly, none of the proposals to reduce gun violence supported by the Obama administration in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre involve firearm confiscation.
Even though Nugent, who in part blamed the Newtown massacre on an "embarrassing, politically correct culture," is not a credible figure in the gun policy debate, Feyerick repeated his wild-eyed conspiracy theories on Erin Burnett OutFront:
BURNETT: President Obama has said he doesn't have any intention of confiscating guns, that that is not his goal, he's not trying to attack the Second Amendment. Nugent, though, doesn't believe him, why?
FEYERICK: No, he doesn't believe him at all. Because the way he sees it, he says, look, the majority of guns, 310 million guns, are in the hands of law-abiding citizens. The minority are in the hands of criminals, they're the ones who are committing the crimes. And that's why he says, look, why is the government coming after us saying we are going to ban these guns when we are not the ones who are doing anything. And so he focuses on criminality, on people who have mental illness, on making sure people stay in prisons long enough. But he says it's not the gun. And that's really the point that the NRA is trying to convey as part of this debate that is going on in the country right now.
BURNETT: So what would you do if there were a gun ban, just ignore it?
FEYERICH: Well, in many cases, yes. Because how do you enforce a gun ban? What do you do? If you take all the guns away tomorrow, people are out there who are going to find and get their hands on guns --
BURNETT: And as you said there are hundreds of millions already out there.
FEYERICH: Absolutely. What do you do? Do you give them -- do you hand in your guns? And that's the slippery slope that [Nugent] sees. That in fact once you start in that direction you're going to be giving up these things, or law enforcement is going to be coming, and trying to register them. So there is a whole series of reasons why they simply do not trust any sort of gun restriction in that way.
While much of Obama's plan to reduce gun violence involves strengthening the background check system for gun transactions, improving mental health services and making schools safer, the proposals that directly regulate firearms don't involve confiscation.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday this week, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre was pressed about the controversial ad the group created in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre that referenced the armed protection President Obama's daughters receive. Even as host Chris Wallace belittled as "ridiculous" the ad's premise that all children deserve the same kind of protection that the president's children have, LaPierre defend the ad and said, "Tell that to the people of Newtown."
"So they should have Secret Service"? Wallace asked.
In response, LaPierre propagated a favorite falsehood of the pro-gun media lobby [emphasis added]:
LAPIERRE: No, but what they should have is police officers or certified armed security in those schools to keep people safe. If something happens, the police time-- despite all their good intentions, is 15 to 20 minutes. It's too long. It's not going to help those kids.
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, LaPierre bemoaned the fact kids aren't safe at school, in part because it takes police 15 to 20 minutes to respond to a deadly shooting like the one in Connecticut.
But that's not true and it's time the news media start calling out anti-gun control extremists like LaPierre and Larry Pratt, , the executive director of Gun Owners of America, among others, who keep peddling the obvious falsehood in the press.
Fact: The Newtown police station is located approximately two miles from the Sandy Hook Elementary School. There's no way it would have taken law enforcement 20 minutes to respond to the first 911 calls reporting gunfire at the school. (Local cops could have run from the station and been at the school in less than 20 minutes.)
Fast-acting Newtown officers "made it in under three minutes, arriving in the parking lot while gunfire could still be heard," according to New York Times interviews with the first responders that day.
But if you listen to LaPierre as well as other anti-gun control advocates who are making the media rounds, you're led to believe gunman Adam Lanza roamed the hallways of Sandy Hook for nearly half an hour killing people at will before law enforcement finally arrived; that terrified teachers and students were "waiting 20 minutes for the cops to show up," as one pro-gun blogger claimed.
It's not true. The claim is pure gun lobby propaganda.
Journalists who have been included on what is being called an "enemies list" of the National Rifle Association are speaking out about the designation, either welcoming the attention as a badge of honor for their work or criticizing the NRA for trying to intimidate them.
The list of 506 organizations, public officials, celebrities, and others was first posted on the NRA web site in September. After being highlighted online last week it has been widely covered and described as an "enemies list" by critics.
The NRA web site lists 37 columnists, cartoonists, and editors along with other organizations and public officials it sees as opponents of its efforts under the headline "National Organizations With Anti-Gun Policies."
The list claims that the journalists in question "actively editorialize in favor of gun control laws."
Several of those news people on the list criticized the NRA for the move in comments to Media Matters.
"I am proud to be on the NRA 'enemies' list," said Frank Rich, a former New York Times columnist currently writing for New York magazine. "But it says a lot that I didn't even know I was on it until [Media Matters] told me today. It just goes to show that NRA in the 21st-century is becoming something of a paper tiger and shouldn't intimidate anyone, including members of Congress. An 'enemies list,' after all, is a lame retread from the Richard Nixon playbook of Watergate."
E.J. Dionne, syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, welcomed being on the list, but offered concern such an effort might intimidate some non-journalists.
"Since I have long favored gun control and written rather passionately about the issue, I guess I would have been disappointed if I had not been on the NRA's list," he wrote in an email. "I don't think it is intimidating to opinion writers to be on such a list, but I wonder if it might intimidate people in other lines of work. I certainly hope not."
Fox News' Chris Wallace challenged National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's false claims about strengthening gun laws, even going so far as to describe one of his talking points as "ridiculous." Wallace's treatment of LaPierre is a departure from his Fox colleagues who have allowed LaPierre to push his agenda without challenge.
On Fox News Sunday, Wallace challenged LaPierre's attempt to mislead on criminal background checks for gun sales and debunked the NRA claim that the Obama administration wants to create a national registry of gun owners. Wallace also dismissed LaPierre's defense of an NRA advertisement that charged President Obama with hypocrisy for protecting his children with armed guards, responding to the NRA leader's comparison between threats faced by the president's children and school children nationwide by saying "that's ridiculous and you know it, sir."
The refusal of Wallace to acquiesce to all of LaPierre's claims during Fox News Sunday was markedly different from Fox's typical treatment of the gun issue, which has included giving the NRA a platform to spread falsehoods.
During the interview, Wallace dismissed LaPierre's attempt to obfuscate the fact that over a million people have been stopped from obtaining a firearm since 1999 after failing a criminal background check by stating, "It worked enough that 1.7 million people were denied."
LAPIERRE: I don't think you can say that those 1.7 million people have been stopped from getting a gun at all because the government didn't prosecute virtually any of them. They let them walk in, they were denied, they let them walk out. And who really thinks if they really wanted to commit a crime they didn't go on and get a gun.
WALLACE: I don't know. It seems to me if 1.7 million people were denied. I understand the hardened criminal. But the disturbed person. The Adam Lanza in Newtown. The James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado. Those aren't hardened criminals, and if they are stopped from getting a gun by a universal background check won't that make a difference?
LAPIERRE: You know the instant check was actually the NRA's proposal. We offered it as an amendment to the Brady Bill to put it on dealers. And I've been in this fight for 20 years, we supported it, we put it on the books. But I have finally become convinced after fighting to get the mental records computerized for 20 years and watching the mental health lobby, the HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] laws, and the AMA [American Medical Association] oppose it, I don't think it's going to happen. I mean the fact is the check now, these people are not --
WALLACE: It worked enough that 1.7 million people were denied. I mean I completely agree with you, I mean as Captain Kelly pointed out [Tucson shooter] Jared Loughner was able to pass the test. So there are holes in it, but that doesn't mean, you know, because it's not perfect doesn't mean that it doesn't work.
As Wallace pointed out, there is a logical fallacy in LaPierre's argument that because background checks will not stop all criminals there is no value in attempts to improve the background check system.
LaPierre's attack on the effectiveness of the background check system also exposes the hypocrisy of the NRA's opposition to requiring criminal background checks on every gun sale. LaPierre speculated that individuals denied a firearm by a background check were still able to "go on and get a gun." A loophole in federal law allows a significant proportion of firearms to be obtained through private sales where no background check is required, with one 2004 study indicating that criminals are even more likely to use private transactions to obtain firearms.