Since 2008, the gun lobby and right-wing media have been pushing various theories suggesting Barack Obama was secretly plotting against the Second Amendment. The National Rifle Association set up www.gunbanobama.com as Glenn Beck warned Obama was working to "take away your gun." Three years after Obama's election the purported plans to enact sweeping gun bans and confiscation haven't materialized, but according to gun lobby chief Larry Keane, Rupert Murdoch's media empire is now engaging in "corporate gun control."
Last week online reports indicated that FOX Sports Media Group had told the Ultimate Fighting Championship's parent company that gun-related sponsorships would no longer be permitted for their events. Fox and the Ultimate Fighting Championship recently signed a 7-year broadcast agreement. On Wednesday the gun lobby trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation announced they had confirmed the sponsorship ban.
FOX's decision to ban advertisements for lawful products owned by more than 80 million Americans is nothing more than corporate gun control. We expect better from FOX. So should you.
The Gun Store and ammotogo.com are among the UFC sponsors who would be affected by this ban. If no sponsorships in a single sport doesn't sound like a big deal to you, then you probably aren't working to contrive controversies in a gun lobby press shop.
Eric Bolling's gun antics at Fox Sports' corporate cousins apparently won't stop the gun lobby, which apparently wants fighters sporting monikers like "Natural Born Killer" and "American Psycho" to be allowed to be sponsored by gun retailers. What part of the Second Amendment doesn't Fox understand?
Is there any national tragedy the National Rifle Association won't exploit to make a buck?
Last year the NRA marked the tenth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks by sending its members two separate fundraising emails referencing the terrorist strikes. Over the weekend the NRA continued the trend, marking the anniversary of the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster by encouraging their members to buy NRA-brand products from the NRAstore.com. Quoting President John F. Kennedy's words over a photo spread of the assassinated president and the shuttle, the NRA told their members, "The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it."
Then the email proceeds try to unload some the NRA's "Pursue Freedom" products in the hope that Americans are willing to pay for them as well. Now you too can "Pursue Freedom of Buckle Choices" with a selection of official "NRA Western Tooled Belts."
Much like the NRA store's 9-11 fundraising effort the recent email shows real-life images of fiery explosions seen by millions of Americans above advertisements for NRA branded mugs, clothing and other various trinkets.
During a recent interview with National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre, Glenn Beck wondered if the NRA would be able to raise the money to effectively launch political attacks against President Obama in 2012. Not surprisingly, LaPierre was confident the NRA would be able to fund a 2012 campaign blitz. Depicting unions as a political counter weight to the gun lobby, Beck asked LaPierre how the NRA could hope to match campaign spending by unions:
BECK: You have to go out and drum up the money, the unions just take it. They just have it. They just take it out of everybody's paycheck.
LAPIERRE: We raise it all through 5, 10, 15, 20 dollar contributions that Americans are willing to preserve freedom. And they're willing to support it. But, you know, that's what NRA is about. I mean, I always say we're about our membership and we're about giving voice to our membership.
There's no doubt that as in previous election cycles, the NRA will be able to funnel tens of millions of dollars towards their favored candidates, but LaPierre's claim that the NRA's fundraising is based exclusively on small dollar donations is false. The reality is that under LaPierre's leadership, the NRA has built extensive financial ties to the gun industry and other corporations. These arrangements have netted the NRA tens of millions dollars according to a recent Bloomberg News account and the gun companies funneling cash into the NRA's coffers have greatly benefited from the NRA's lobbying efforts. One former president of the NRA credited NRA-backed legislation that limited the legal liability of gun makers with saving "the American gun industry from bankruptcy."
The NRA pitches itself as a low-dollar, grassroots organization -- an annual membership currently costs $35 -- and maintains it is "not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition." However, the NRA has formally established many lucrative arrangements with "corporate partners."
Last April, the Violence Policy Center issued a report, titled Blood Money: How the Gun Industry Bank Rolls the NRA, which details these intimate ties between the gun industry and the NRA. From Blood Money:
Since 2005, corporations--gun related and other--have contributed between $19.8 million and $52.6 million to the NRA as detailed in its Ring of Freedom corporate giving program. In a promotional brochure for the program, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre promises that the "National Rifle Association's newly expanded Corporate Partners Program is an opportunity for corporations to partner with the NRA....This program is geared toward your company's corporate interests."
In his January 9 Washington Times column titled, "Diversity perversity: Behind multicultural push is effort to degrade American culture," National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent wrote: "The left's definition of diversity does not make America stronger. It is weakening and destroying America... The left's version of diversity is repugnant." Nugent went on to add that "[t]he left's version of diversity is social, cultural, economic and ethnic rot. Believe it." From the Times:
Diversity is America's greatest strength, according to the left and its socialist, Marxist, commie cohorts and co-conspirators running rampant across the country.
If you listen carefully to these America-hating, social-engineering liberals, virtually all behavior, conduct, morals and beliefs make America stronger.
This, of course, is toxic, brain-dead logic that leaves ordinary Americans shaking and scratching their heads in confusion and disgust. We recognize bull dung when we hear, see and smell it, and we have no desire whatsoever to embrace it.
The left's definition of diversity does not make America stronger. It is weakening and destroying America. Let's be bold and honest: The left's version of diversity is repugnant.
It will be a cold day in hell before I embrace voodoolike religions and unclean stone-age cultures that retard progress instead of advancing it.
The real issue is that by forcing diversity and multicultural nonsense in our workplaces, schools and government agencies on people who still cherish common sense and traditional American values, we're ripping the nation apart.
Real diversity, real change, real progress is accomplished by promoting and embracing Western culture, values and traditions, which is what made America great and created the greatest quality of life ever. Weakening this proven methodology under the artful guise of diversity, multiculturalism and political correctness is every bit as insidious a threat to America as are voodoo-inspired terrorist punks.
The left's version of diversity is social, cultural, economic and ethnic rot. Believe it.
Back in September, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre drew ridicule after claiming the existence of a "massive Obama conspiracy" to take no action on gun control in his first term, get reelected, and then "erase the Second Amendment from the Bill of Rights."
What the "Obama not coming after your guns is really evidence of his desire to come after your guns" thesis lacks in accuracy or logic it makes up for in convenience. The NRA's "massive Obama conspiracy" justifies the need to help them raise contributions and encourage people to buy more guns.
It's no surprise the NRA's election year message is starting to spread to their faithful allies at Fox.
During a segment last night on Fox Business' Follow the Money, guests Bo Dietl and Lars Larson agreed that the reason gun sales have supposedly seen a "dramatic increase" is because of this fear that if Obama is re-elected "they're going to go after your guns." Of course, since gun manufacturers heavily contribute to the NRA, this fear helps the organization as well.
Former National Rifle Association (NRA) chief Ray Arnet once said, "You keep any special interest group alive by nurturing the crisis atmosphere." The organization has long taken this sentiment to heart. For years, the NRA has warned that nationwide gun bans and confiscation were right around the corner. These threats made up in hysterical rhetoric for what they lacked in credibility.
Arnet's comments demonstrate why the organization has adopted such a dishonest strategy. To sustain its $200-million-plus annual budget, the organization relies upon donations from both its members and the gun industry; constant fearmongering boosts donations from both. By working their members into a frenzy, they can better convince them to financially support the NRA and thus stave off that dark future.
The effort also encourages existing gun owners to purchase more firearms in case such laws are actually passed; new sales to current gun owners are essential to the gun industry given that the number of households owning a gun is in long term decline. Terrifying gun owners bolsters gun sales, which in turn keeps the gun industry profitable enough to direct more funds back to the NRA.
But sometimes, your run-of-the-mill fearmongering just isn't enough. In 2011 the NRA repeatedly turned to one of their favorite weapons to keep alive this crisis atmosphere justifying their extremist political agenda and their own existence: conspiracy theories. Below, Media Matters documents a few of our favorites of the year.
It seems that this year's effort to wage war against Christmas will be better armed than usual.
The National Rifle Association's website is currently featuring a "Happy Holidays" message from NRA radio hosts Cam Edwards and Ginny Simone and "the entire NRA News team."
This follows an email fundraising missive from NRA chief lobbyist Chris Cox, who offered his "best wishes to you and your family for the holiday season" before asking for donations to stop "four more years of President Barack Obama imposing his anti-freedom values on the American people."
In his December 16 Washington Times column, Ted Nugent wrote that "[b]eing poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly decision," and that "we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better." From the Times:
Being poor is largely a choice, a daily, if not hourly, decision. If you decide to drop out of school, fail to learn a skill, have no work ethic or get divorced, a life of poverty is often the consequence. The children of parents who choose a life of poverty quite often pay a horrible price, and so does all of America.
Poverty rates among college graduates, those who learn a trade or skill and parents who stay married are much lower than the rates among those who choose opposite paths. As author William J. Bennett pointed out a number of years ago in his book "The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators," children of single parents are much more likely to be involved in crime and premarital sex, to drop out of school and to get involved with drugs. Ugly and uncomfortable as that may be, it's the truth.
The question is: What to do about lowering the poverty rate?
First, we need a government that respects the free market and private sector instead of spitting on them. The more our government embraces the private sector, the more opportunity there is available for people who choose it. That will be good for kids.
Second, we need to punish poor decisions instead of rewarding them. We cannot continue to offer a safety blanket to those Americans who make poor choices. The fewer social welfare programs, the better. This, too, may be ugly and uncomfortable, but we must make hard choices that force people into making smart, responsible decisions.
When National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre isn't pontificating about the purported "massive Obama conspiracy," there's a decent chance he's hurling personal insults and employing other types of overheated rhetoric in pursuit of his political agenda. Some of LaPierre's greatest hits:
LaPierre is free to say whatever he wants, but do the media really have to cover his comments? According to the Media Research Center (MRC), the answer yes, even when the NRA doesn't bother to the return its calls.
This morning, the MRC blog NewsBusters posted a critique of Reuters' coverage of a recent investigation of online guns sales by New York City that showed that many private sellers were willing to sell guns to people who identified themselves as unable to pass a background check.
MRC complained there was insufficient gun lobby criticism of Bloomberg in the article:
The next big misstep in this article is its one-sentence dismissal of Bloomberg critics. "The National Rifle Association, the powerful U.S. gun lobby, was not immediately available for comment on the study."
MRC's message to the media: Print overheated NRA talking points whether or not the NRA gets around to giving you a comment before your deadline.
What should Reuters have done according MRC? Dig through the NRA's website and find the most recently available blog posts written about Bloomberg's efforts with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The blog posts the MRC identifies as appropriate representations of the NRA's views were written before the online gun sale investigation was announced, so naturally, they weren't responsive to the topic of the article.
The first of the two blog posts MRC suggests could have been represented in the Reuters report includes LaPierre's suggestion that Bloomberg could aptly be viewed as a "petty tyrant." The MRC:
In the first post, which deals with an earlier anti-gun address Bloomberg gave to students at MIT, the NRA's Wayne LaPierre made the observation that "Bloomberg should also remember that a 'ruler' (which is what he seems to think he is) that denies the people of their Right to Keep and Bear Arms while maintaining a large 'army' (the NYPD) is apt to be viewed as a petty tyrant, not a benevolent and wise leader."
The second post highlighted by the MRC suggested that by opposing the NRA's favored legislation, Mayors Against Illegal Guns was engaging in a "shameful attack on the individual liberties of law-abiding Americans".
LaPierre's history of demonizing those who disagree with him might well deserve more media attention than it gets, but it's hardly essential context for a news report documenting the ease with which criminals can get guns online.
In his December 14 Washington Times column titled, "Occupy stooges on parade: It's fun watching Democrats getting hauled off to jail," Ted Nugent wrote about the "hearty laugh[s]" he had after "watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles." Nugent, and NRA board member, went on to say that this was "good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor." From the Times:
While I don't condone violence, watching the cops pounce on and pepper-spray a few Occupy stooges and then drag the dirtballs off to jail in shackles is good for my conservative soul and gold for my sense of humor. Everyone needs at least one hearty laugh every day.
You have to admit that watching a stinky, dirty hippie being dragged off to jail is as funny watching James Brown drive across railroad tracks on the rims of his pickup truck, listening to Joe Biden stick his foot in his mouth, or watching Moe hit Larry and Curly with a pipe wrench. This is funny stuff, funny stuff. Lighten up.
This morning, the right-wing Daily Caller announced the launch of a new website section called Guns and Gear. According to their press release, "The section will include everything from the latest news about armed citizens defending themselves and their property, to coverage of Second Amendment policies and politics, to reviews of the latest guns and gear."
Publisher Neil Patel is quoted in the release saying that "The millions of Americans who own and are interested in guns are currently without the sort of daily news coverage that is allotted to most other American interests." But if the section's current content is any guide, the Caller has decided that the best way to provide this "daily news coverage" is to republish articles and press releases directly from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Take a look:
The top of the web page currently features one op-ed from top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox; links to three previous Cox columns; a reposted November NRA press release highlighting "Twelve Big Wins for Gun Owners"; and a gun review from the NRA publication Shooting Illustrated. Oh, and two ads for the NRA; apparently purported news outlets can make money republishing content from interest groups.
Further down the section, readers find additional republished NRA press releases, more Cox op-eds, more NRA web ads, and reposted articles from NRA publications American Rifleman, Shooting Illustrated, and American Rifleman. There are currently only seven pieces of content on the section's front page labeled as coming from The Daily Caller. Of those, three are articles that were originally published at Human Events and three are sets of links to gun manufacturers, state gun clubs, and gun owner manuals. The last is an article headlined "The War on Christmas."
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the Caller has apparently decided to rely on the gun lobby for its "daily news coverage" of gun issues. The press release lists Mike Piccione as the section's editor, with editor in chief Tucker Carlson stating, "Mike Piccione knows more about firearms and self-defense than anyone in journalism. We're grateful to have him editing this new section." According to his Human Events bio, where he worked as editor of the newsletter Guns & Patriots, Piccione is "a NRA Marketing Manager."
For most publications, this kind of ethical cesspool would lead to apologies, internal debates about standards, and some soul-searching. At the Caller, it's just another Wednesday.
Daily Caller "reporter" Matthew Boyle's emerging second career as a gun lobby lackey is clearly on the fast track, judging from his recent coverage of Attorney General Eric Holder's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Having used his platform to amplify seemingly every Republican line of questioning asked to Holder about the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious, Boyle found time on NRA Radio to attack Rep. Hank Johnson's (D-GA) questioning at the hearing.
Not surprisingly given his embarrassing disregard for the facts, Boyle completely ignored the well-established factual basis of Rep. Johnson's questioning and even went so far as to smear Rep. Johnson with the false suggestion that he "played the race card".
Before asking about the gun lobby's role in blocking a permanent director of the ATF, Rep. Johnson asked Holder about the 'gun show loophole' and how many guns from gun shows had fallen into the hands of dangerous people (from Nexis):
JOHNSON: It's about 2,000 [guns trafficked through Fast and Furious]? Now, how many firearms are sold to Al Qaida terrorists, to other convicted felons, to domestic violence perpetrators, to convicted felons, to white supremacists?
Do you think the NRA and other Second Amendment rights radicals have -- have confidence that the U.S. will not have a competent ATF head if the Senate continues to deny a leader for that organization, thus rendering it rudderless? Is that -- is politics causing that, do you think?
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) later seized on the Johnson's use of the term "radicals" to suggest he was attacking the NRA's entire membership. Boyle dutifully wrote up an article uncritically echoing Issa's complaints. Speaking during the latest of what appear to be daily appearances with NRA News, Boyle bizarrely threw out the suggestion that Johnson's comments represented playing the "race card":
Rarely has the National Rifle Association's paranoia been more clearly on display than during yesterday's NRA News segment featuring Cato Institute fellow Daniel Mitchell. Mitchell was pretty straight forward: you need guns as a bulwark against the increasingly likely possibility of the world plunging into a "Mad Max dystopia."
Mitchell's recent Forbes article explaining his fears is surely destined for greatness on par with "Boston on Surviving Y2K," and his reportage appears so far to have been ignored by Alex Jones, so it's understandable why NRA News felt the need to amplify his message.
Mitchell's argument is largely based on talking to rich Europeans at a recent economic conference. The European elite, Mitchell reports, are gassing up their private jets in preparation to flee Europe in the event of societal collapse. Mitchell proposes people without the financial ability to leave Europe would be much better off in countries with high levels of gun ownership like Switzerland than they would in countries with more restrictive gun policies such as the United Kingdom. Mitchell on NRA News:
Based on my travels in Europe I started thinking, well, the Swiss are probably in good shape. I've been in lots of Swiss homes and people show me their guns, but if you're in the U.K. or a place like that where there's really no individual rights for firearms ownership.
I mean, imagine if society breaks down and the welfare state collapses into some sort of Mad Max dystopia, which we all hope of course never happens, but if it does where would I rather be Switzerland or England?
Examining Mitchell's core example of successful gun interventions you quickly see the hollow nature of his argument. Along with NRA News host Ginny Simone, Mitchell touts Korean shop owners defending their shops during the Los Angeles riots and contrasts that with shop owners during the London riots that were unarmed. Did more guns make the Los Angeles riots safer for citizens?
The numbers suggest the opposite. During the British riots 6 deaths were associated with civilian criminal activity. Of the two victims killed by gunfire one is believed to have been a looter himself. By contrast during the Los Angeles riots 53 people were killed, 35 by gunfire (10 of those by law enforcement or the National Guard).
Yet in the alternate reality presented by NRA News the Los Angeles riots are cited as a success story and the British riots as a travesty.
The plain subtext of Mitchell's argument is that economic collapse will be caused by politicians not following his preferred economic policies. Mitchell in Forbes:
If politicians destroy the economic system with too much debt and too much dependency, firearms will be the first and last line of defense against those who would plunder and pillage.
So to review: invest in guns, cut social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
"Enforce the laws on the books already before passing more" is the plea of the National Rifle Association (NRA) when proposals are made to strengthen guns laws. In April NRA executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "We support all kinds of behavioral requirements, restrictions ... there are dozens of laws on the books that we support. The problem is they're not being enforced."
So what happens when a state starts enforcing gun laws at gun shows? Long-winded jeremiads complaining of "entrapment" by the "anti-gun cabal." Maybe it's time to change the slogan to "enforce the laws on the books, but make sure it's not a law we don't like you jack-booted thugs."
On Wednesday New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrest of ten people for selling guns at a gun show without performing a background check on the buyers as is required by state law. Mirroring previous undercover gun show investigations, Schneiderman reports that the sales happened even after indications were made that the buyer couldn't pass a background check, saying at a press conference: "I'm very sorry to report that every gun show they visited, undercover investigators who explicitly stated that they could not pass background checks were able to obtain firearms."
Only hours after the announcement NRA News was hosting a gripe session with Tom King of the New York Rifle and Pistol Association in a segment they titled "Bloomberg's Bogus Gun Show Sting". King told NRA Radio host Ginny Simone that the sting was "entrapment," it's purpose to "foster a political agenda" by a "anti-gun cabal." King's depiction of "entrapment" included such tricky methods as asking if the guns were for sale and saying they were looking to buy those types of guns.
King also told Gannett Pressconnects, "I guarantee you there's not a gun owner in New York state who was aware of that law before today." Contradicting King's depiction of the law was Budd Schroeder of the Shooters Committee on Political Education, who told a reporter for The Buffalo News that he's seen security guards at every gun show he'd attended check to see if gun buyers had proof that they'd undergone a background check. Hopefully moving forward the New York gun lobby will get it together and decide if the law is highly obscure or rigorously enforced.
Additionally transcripts of the purchases showed the seller suggested an illegal straw purchase saying, "I can sell it to you, and you can give it to him" after being informed that one of the undercover investigators couldn't pass a background check because of a domestic abuse incident.
Failing to perform a background check at a gun show is currently a misdemeanor offense in New York state.
Apparently there are those who find National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre's exhortation that there is a "massive Obama conspiracy" in which President Obama is planning to follow up his re-election by somehow eliminating the Second Amendment just a touch too subtle.
In an ad emailed out to the list of WorldNetDaily this afternoon, the good people at USAAmmo explain that President Obama is "secretly conspiring to strip American Citizens of the right to bear arms"... just like Hitler. The sane response to this dastardly conspiracy is, of course, to stock up on military-grade assault weapons and ammunition, which the patriots at USAAmmo have helpful put on sale, presumably in honor of Cyber Monday or the impending dictatorship.
While warning that gun control is "One Election Away!" USAAmmo manages to compare Obama to any number of dictators (see update):
Clicking on the ad redirects readers to a web video posted by the company. The first half features haunting music and images of the various dictators who allegedly "established gun control" and the victims who, "unable to defend themselves, were imprisoned, enslaved, and annihilated." In case, you missed the point, the music swiftly shifts to heavy metal as on-screen text warns viewers that "Governments render their citizens defenseless with GUN CONTROL!" because "The defensless [sic] are subject to enslavement, imprisonment and annihilation."
Declaring that "An unarmed American is a subject... an armed American is a citizen," the website urges viewers to "Get armed at USAAmmo.com," then shows images of the AR- and AK- variants and ammo on sale at the website. The video closes with the cheery/chilling statement, "Get them something they'll love! BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!"
It's not unusual for gun manufacturers, sellers, or advocates to promote firearms sales by fearmongering about impending gun control measures. But this is a little blunt even for them.