Steven Crowder

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  • Conservative Media And The NRA Tout Deceptive Undercover Video That Says "Gun Show Loophole" Is "Nonexistent"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A video released by conservative commentator Steven Crowder that dishonestly suggested that it is not possible to buy a firearm at a gun show without a background check was touted by the National Rifle Association and conservative media despite its false conclusion.

    In 32 states, laws regarding background checks for gun sales have not been expanded beyond federal law, meaning that it is possible to engage in a "private sale" to buy a firearm at a gun show -- or other venues including over the internet and through newspaper classified ads -- without a background check.

    Under current federal law, individuals who are "engaged in the business" of selling firearms must obtain a Federal Firearms License (FFL) and run background checks on customers, while so-called "private sellers" who say they only engage in "occasional sales" do not have to run a background check. This discrepancy is what is known as the "gun show loophole" or "private sales loophole." Recent executive actions announced by President Obama seek to limit the scope of this loophole by clarifying that high-volume commercial gun sellers do need to obtain a license.

    On January 28, Glenn Beck's The Blaze released a video of Crowder's "undercover stunt" purporting to determine whether the "gun show loophole" exists. At the end of the video, Crowder concluded that the "gun show loophole" is "nonexistent."

    The video, which was broken into two parts, featured Crowder approaching various firearm vendors at gun shows where he tries and then fails to purchase a firearm without a background check.

    In the first section, Crowder unsuccessfully attempted to buy fully automatic machine guns without a background check. But rules surrounding the sale of automatic weapons have nothing to do with the "gun show loophole." Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), people who wish to own fully automatic weapons must obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that includes undergoing a background check. (People were, however, exploiting a loophole in the NFA that allowed the background check requirement to be avoided by purchasing weapons through a trust. The ATF is currently finalizing a rule to close that loophole.)

    The real issue covered by the "gun show loophole" is the purchase of semi-automatic and other firearms from private sellers at gun shows without a background check, an occurrence Crowder purported to debunk in the second part of his video.

    In his video, Crowder is seen approaching gun vendors at a gun show in Crown Point, Indiana. Debunking Crowder's premise is reporting that indicates "private sales" without a background check have been allowed at that gun show.

    Crowder is seen engaging in bizarre interactions with vendors that result in him not being able to purchase a firearm without a background check. In one interaction, Crowder tells a vendor that he has DUI conviction because he ran over a pregnant woman with his car and that he previously shot someone.

    One of two things is occurring when Crowder fails to buy a gun from the vendors he approaches. Either his overtly strange behavior is raising red flags with vendors, or he is simply approaching licensed dealers (not "private sellers") who are required to perform background checks on customers.

    Some of the scenes were not even filmed at a gun show. In at least two scenes, Crowder is seen attempting to buy a gun without a background check from a brick and mortar gun store, and then expressing exasperation when they refuse to complete the sale. At one of the stores, Crowder is seen filling out the paperwork for a background check, but fails to complete it after he draws a penis on the form.

    According to actual undercover investigations of gun shows, many private sellers are willing to sell a gun to someone who discloses in a more subtle manner that they probably cannot pass a background check.

    Despite the absurdity of Crowder's video, it was widely cited throughout conservative media in order to attack the notion of the "gun show loophole." The video was also promoted by the National Rifle Association:

    Crowder's stunt is not original. In May 2014, Media Research Center released a video attempting to make the same claim. Unlike Crowder's video, MRC's video was not released in an undercover format, but it used the same tactic of approaching licensed dealers to create the misleading impression it is not possible to buy a gun without a background check at a gun show.

  • Raining On Fox's Tax Parade

    The "Rain Tax" That Never Was

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Source: The State of Maryland

    Fox News is attacking a new Maryland anti-pollution measure as a "rain tax," adopting the misleading frame of local politicians. But the program doesn't tax rain -- it taxes surfaces that lead to more pollution in the Chesapeake Bay, a vital ecosystem that generates major revenue for surrounding states.

    The program was signed into law in 2012 to meet an Environmental Protection Agency-issued pollution diet for the states surrounding the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The diet was required under the national Clean Water Act and instituted in response to "continued poor water quality" in the Bay. In order to pay for pollution management and habitat restoration, Maryland is instituting fees based on paved surfaces, which funnel a huge amount of pollution-laden stormwater runoff into gutters, eventually contributing to algal blooms and "dead zones" that kill fish and shellfish. 

    But following the lead of some local politicians, Fox News is misleadingly labelling it as a "rain tax," attacking the program on nine different Fox News or Fox Business programs between April 11 and 14. For instance, Neil Cavuto criticized the program on his Fox Business show, incorrectly characterizing it as a fee levied because some homes "disproportionately benefit from mother nature":

    But Maryland's plan does not tax households that receive more rainfall -- it taxes surfaces that ferry more pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. As the EPA explains, the great size of the Chesapeake Bay watershed in comparison to the Bay itself -- "a ratio much higher than any other comparable watershed in the world" -- makes it "highly susceptible to actions taken on the land, including those associated with agriculture, development, transportation and wastewater treatment." A significant amount of the nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that reaches the Bay from stormwater runoff comes from Maryland. Plain soil acts as something of a filter and buffer for this pollution, and impervious surfaces take that benefit away. 

  • Fox News Contributor: "A High Percentage" Of Muslims "Hate Christians And Jews"; "The Real Problem Is The Quran"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Fox News contributor Steven Crowder continued Fox News' pattern of inciting intolerance against Islam, accusing a "high percentage" of Muslims of "hat[ing] Christians and Jews" and saying that "the real problem is the Quran."

    Crowder made his comments on Sean Hannity's Fox News show. Hannity aired a clip from a French news program in which an Egyptian official affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood declined to answer questions from Israeli journalists. Crowder reacted to the clip by saying, "Well, I mean, what it really comes down to is, a Muslim here, not too fond of the Jewish people. I'm not shocked. Then again, I've actually read the Quran. ... I'm not saying all Muslims hate Christians and Jews. But there's a high percentage, and it's because of the Quran, if you've read it."

    When fellow Fox News contributor Pat Caddell responded, "Let's stay with the real problem," Crowder replied, "That is the real problem. The real problem is the Quran."

    Later Hannity tried to clarify, saying, "This is important for Steve. Because people are going to hear you say the problem is the Quran. Do you make a distinction between Islam and radical Islam? Those that believe that in sharia, jihad, holy war, infidels."

    Crowder replied, "Here's the thing. I make distinctions between Muslims who may be peace-loving Muslims. There are Muslims out there who are that way. But when you read the Bible versus the Quran, they're two very different books. And here, here. Don't take my opinion. Open up the Quran, read a few chapters in any direction."

    In 2010 on Hannity's Fox show, Crowder said that the "truth is that Muslims tend to be more violent than Christians."