The National Rifle Association is claiming that CNN's recent "Guns in America" town hall event was "staged" by President Obama as it attempts to explain why NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declined to participate in the event, but then days later challenged Obama to a TV debate.
The NRA leveled several accusations against the Obama administration and CNN in a January 15 article, including that Obama was able to see questions in advance, that Obama "personally selected" the anchor of the event, and that the White House "personally selected" questioners for the event.
On January 7, CNN hosted an hour-long primetime program on gun violence. During the broadcast Obama answered questions about guns posed by CNN host Anderson Cooper and eight audience members who were split along ideological lines. CNN conceived the event and invited President Obama and the NRA to participate in the event. Obama accepted CNN's offer and the NRA declined. In declining to participate, the NRA claimed the event was "orchestrated by the White House," a false claim that was corrected by CNN in a January 6 article.
Then on January 13, days after skipping his chance to go face-to-face with Obama on national television before millions of viewers, LaPierre released a video challenging Obama to "a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it."
In order to deflect from questions about why the NRA did not participate in the CNN event, the gun group has become increasingly brazen in promoting a conspiracy theory that the event was not CNN's doing, but rather was organized by the Obama administration.
A January 15 article in the NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom leveled several allegations against the White House and CNN:
From the January 14 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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After skipping his chance to go face-to-face with President Obama during CNN's January 7 "Guns in America" town hall, National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre has released a video challenging Obama to a nationally televised one hour debate.
While it might make an interesting spectacle to watch LaPierre confront Obama with his signature paranoid gun confiscation fantasies, what would be truly remarkable is a debate between 2016 Wayne LaPierre and adamant background check supporter 1999 Wayne LaPierre.
The NRA has gone apoplectic since Obama's January 5 announcement of executive actions on gun violence, a key component of which expands background checks on gun sales.
Having already positioned itself as a virulent opponent of expanding background checks following legislative battles in the wake of the Sandy Hook mass shooting, the NRA turned its rhetoric up even higher leading up to Obama's announcement, labeling the president "our biggest threat to national security" in a January 4 video posted to its NRA News website.
In a follow-up released on January 6, LaPierre strongly attacked the notion of expanded background checks, claiming in a video called "The Truth About Background Checks" that "the only thing the average American has heard about background checks is the absolute fallacy that what we need is more."
Now LaPierre has issued a challenge to Obama, stating in a January 13 video, "I'll tell you what. I'll meet you for a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it. No pre-screened questions and no gas-bag answers."
Before LaPierre debates Obama, he may want to reconcile his organization's January 2016 position with what the NRA advocated for in 1999. During a May 28, 1999, appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Crime, LaPierre represented the NRA and said, "Let's talk about what's reasonable and what's not. We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale, at every gun show no loopholes anywhere for anyone."
So are more background checks "reasonable" or are calls for more checks an "absolute fallacy"?
Also significant to LaPierre's debate challenge is that he already had the opportunity last week to confront Obama live, before millions of viewers. In trying to create cover for this telling fact, LaPierre and the NRA have repeatedly lied about the nature of CNN's town hall event on gun violence.
First, in declining to participate in the event, the NRA claimed the town hall was "orchestrated by the White House." That wasn't true; the event was conceived by CNN, which invited both Obama and the NRA. Only Obama accepted.
Then the NRA repeatedly advanced the notion that questions during the town hall were screened by the White House.
During a Fox News appearance that immediately preceded the end of the town hall, top NRA lobbyist Chris Cox attempted to explain the NRA's refusal to participate by telling Fox News host Megyn Kelly, "I know that you don't send your questions over to the White House so I would rather have a conversation with you that's intellectually honest than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question." At the time, Cox scoffed at the notion of the NRA meeting with the president to have a serious conversation about gun violence, saying, "So what are we going to talk about, basketball?"
The notion that the CNN event was stacked against the NRA also surfaced in LaPierre's January 13 video, where he claimed the NRA "won't get suckered into any of Obama's fixed fights" where "pre-screened questions that lead to [Obama's] long-winded answers are anything but an honest dialogue."
But for the NRA, the notion that CNN's event was "fixed" was debunked by a guest on their own NRA News program Cam & Company. The day after the event, NRA News hosted Kimberly Corban, a pro-gun sexual assault survivor, who unlike the NRA, did have the courage to challenge Obama with a question during CNN's town hall.
As Corban explained, the questions were screened by CNN (not the White House) and because the event was live she could have said whatever she wanted to the president. Host Cam Edwards asked Corban, "[CNN] said, 'Come up with a couple questions and we'll tell you which one we want you to use?" She replied: "Yup. Which isn't - to a point I was able to at least craft those questions on my own, those are my own words, and I could have gone as much off script as I wanted to as the event was live, but they knew basically what I was going to ask."
A video from National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre offered a false history of the passage of the 1993 Brady background check bill in order to attack President Obama's recently released executive actions on gun violence.
In the video, the NRA attempts to position itself as the heroic creator of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), when in reality the gun group fiercely fought the passage of the Brady bill and then later attempted to have the Supreme Court invalidate the entire law.
On January 5, Obama announced during a speech from the White House that his administration is taking executive action to address gun violence in light of Congress' inaction following several high-profile mass shootings.
A large share of media coverage on 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.
In a January 6 response video, the NRA attempted to cast itself as the actual authority on background checks. In purporting to tell a history of the Brady bill, the legislation that was responsible for the creation of the national background check system for gun purchases, LaPierre falsely claimed, "The best-kept secret is that the National Instant Check System wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the NRA":
LAPIERRE: The best-kept secret is that the National Instant Check System wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the NRA. It's true. Back in the '90s, President Clinton forced passage of a mandatory waiting period on every handgun purchase in America. Not a background check. A wait.
But NRA said as soon as the technology was available, their wait had to be replaced by an instant background check, done by the dealer, at the point of sale. NRA supported it, NRA got the votes and NRA got it passed.
The NRA's claim is false for several reasons, many of which can be found in a legislative history of the bill's passage in UCLA law professor Adam Winkler's 2013 book Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America.
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.
A new video from the National Rifle Association's (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre claims that President Obama "has all the laws he needs to stop the bloodshed" of gun violence in big cities but chooses not to because he supposedly refuses to enforce federal gun laws.
In fact, the NRA has engaged in a decades-long campaign to hinder the efforts of the federal law enforcement agency charged with enforcing federal gun laws, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
In an October 27 video released by NRA News, LaPierre claimed, "Under the existing federal gun laws, [Obama] could take every felon with a gun, drug dealer with a gun and criminal gangbanger with a gun off the streets tomorrow and lock them up for five years or more. But he won't do it, his Justice Department won't do it, and the media never asks why."
The video also featured LaPierre's continued apparent use of racially coded language by contrasting "thugs like De'Eris Brown," "criminal gangbangers with illegal guns in Chicago," and "violent thugs" with "the good, honest Americans living out in farm towns in Nebraska or Oklahoma or working two jobs in inner-city Chicago or Baltimore." The video was introduced by LaPierre claiming "[n]othing illustrates America's breakdown like the way the president's hometown celebrates its holidays," before describing Chicago shootings as a "kind of third-world carnage."
LaPierre concluded with a false claim: "No organization has been louder, clearer or more consistent on the urgent need to enforce the federal gun laws than the NRA."
The NRA's lie is brazen given widespread reporting explaining how the gun group interferes with ATF operations. As USA Today reported in 2013, "lobbying records and interviews show the [NRA] has worked steadily to weaken existing gun laws and the federal agency charged with enforcing them."
According to The Washington Post, "the gun lobby has consistently outmaneuvered and hemmed in ATF, using political muscle to intimidate lawmakers and erect barriers to tougher gun laws. Over nearly four decades, the NRA has wielded remarkable influence over Congress, persuading lawmakers to curb ATF's budget and mission and to call agency officials to account at oversight hearings."
The NRA's opposition to the ATF has been extreme. The gun group has threatened to attempt to abolish the agency all together and LaPierre infamously called federal law enforcement agents "jack-booted government thugs" who wear "Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms."
Here are four things the NRA does that are detrimental to the enforcement of federal gun laws:
The NRA routinely cajoles its allies in Congress to limit the ATF's budget (even as other federal law enforcement agency budgets grow) and pass riders to appropriations legislation that further limit the agency's ability to enforce federal gun laws. As a 2013 report from Center for American Progress explained, one set of riders, often called the Tiahrt Amendments, "have limited how ATF can collect and share information to detect illegal gun trafficking, how it can regulate firearms sellers, and how it partners with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies." The NRA has also backed legislation to hamper the ability of the ATF to go after criminal gun dealers, in one instance backing a bill that the Washington Post editorial board explained, "would make it all but impossible for the ATF to press forward with any case."
In 2006, an NRA-backed amendment to the re-authorization of The Patriot Act created the requirement that the Senate confirm permanent ATF directors who are nominated by the president. The NRA subsequently opposed nominees for a permanent director, in one case comparing Obama's 2010 nominee Andrew Traver to an arsonist. After seven years of not having a permanent director, B. Todd Jones was confirmed by the Senate in 2013, but resigned after just two years. Unsurprisingly, law enforcement officials have told The New York Times that having a permanent director vacancy "has inevitably depleted morale and kept the agency from developing a coherent agenda."
While LaPierre repeatedly referenced felons with guns in his video, his organization attempts to make the ATF use its budget to rearm felons. For more than two decades, standard appropriations language prohibited the ATF from using budget money on a program that allowed people who had lost their legal right to buy or own a gun because of a felony conviction to apply for restoration of that right. Without having to operate the program, the ATF has had more funding to enforce federal gun laws. In June, an NRA ally in Congress offered a successful amendment to reverse the longstanding language. While the amendment was under consideration the NRA repeatedly promoted it with the blatant falsehood that the program would only be available to nonviolent felons.
Under current federal law, gun dealers are allowed to proceed with a gun sale if the federal background check is not returned as a "proceed" or "denied" after three business days. Known as a "default proceed" sale, this feature of federal law is also called the "Charleston loophole" after the gunman who perpetrated the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME church, who received his gun without a completed background check (he would have been disqualified because of a drug charge). The "Charleston loophole" allows a significant number of prohibited persons to obtain firearms and diverts the resources of the ATF and other law enforcement agencies who must attempt to recover guns that would not have been sold without a completed background check. The loophole was created by an NRA-backed amendment to the 1993 Brady background check bill and following the Charleston massacre, the NRA vigorously defended the loophole as "a critical safety valve" to shield prospective gun purchasers from undergoing delays in the completion of background checks -- even though more than 90 percent of background checks are completed instantly.
Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson's controversial comment -- that the number of people killed in the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed" -- echoes an old conservative media talking point that has long been condemned as "historically inaccurate."
The results of an 18-month survey of advertisements in the National Rifle Association's (NRA) magazine, America's 1st Freedom, squared neatly with the gun group's own tendency to use to fear as a marketing tool.
Media Matters reviewed advertisements that appeared in the NRA magazine from January 2014 through June 2015 and discovered that they appealed to a wide range of fears, including the threat of starvation due to food shortages, the dread of losing the ability to live independently because of declining health, the prospect of a terrorist attack, and the need to carry a collapsible assault weapon in a briefcase for self-protection.
NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre often uses fear to motivate people to support the NRA or purchase firearms.
In a February 2013 column for the magazine, LaPierre argued that Americans needed to buy guns to ensure their "survival" while warning of calamities including, "Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. [and] Lone criminals." Prior to the 2014 elections, in a special election edition of America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre urged supporters to back the NRA's preferred candidates while raising the specter of several different terrorist attack scenarios, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would kill 9 out of 10 Americans. LaPierre has also warned conservative audiences about the threat of "home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout gamers, and rapers, and haters, and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all."
Advertisers in the NRA's magazine often played on the same fears, urging readers to buy their products to protect against one calamity or another. Similar to other conservative media websites, some of the products advertised in America's 1st Freedom were of extremely dubious value, including an "anti-aging" supplement that had not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and expensive jewelry made from low-cost materials. Some products in the magazine were simply bizarre or retrograde, including an accent lamp that celebrates the Confederacy and a watch that allows users to "Tell Time Like a Man."
"The Light Of The South," an accent lamp featuring the likeness of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and several pieces of Confederacy iconography, was advertised in the NRA magazine for $135 under the tagline, "Southern Pride Shines On." The lamp featured several variations of the Confederate flag as well as two CSA (Confederate States of America) emblems and the dates commemorating the beginning and end of the Confederacy.
Right on cue, the National Rifle Association has unveiled its 2016 presidential election conspiracy theory with the baseless claim that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is harboring a secret plan to confiscate Americans' firearms. But Clinton has never endorsed such a plan and in fact has defended private citizens' right to own guns.
In a May 11 article published in the NRA's magazine and on its lobbying website, the gun group wrote, "Whether or not she understands the Second Amendment, Hillary Clinton disdains and distrusts that freedom," and claimed Clinton "wants control over every aspect of your right to keep and bear arms -- so she can deny it at will."
Clinton's own recent statements about "the right of people to own guns" meant the NRA was forced to juxtapose a series of old Clinton quotes -- some dating back to the late 1990s -- and hope that its readers would make implausible leaps of logic to buy into the conspiracy theory that a President Hillary Clinton would confiscate firearms. The NRA ran a similar fearmongering campaign about President Obama during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections that also had zero basis in fact.
In the article, the NRA purports to describe a secret plan by Clinton to confiscate firearms. The alleged starting point for the plan, however, is based on a distortion of the truth.
National Rifle Association (NRA) Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre relied on numerous falsehoods to claim that President Obama will move to ban sales of all firearm ammunition before he leaves office, thus making "the very real nightmare of every single gun owner in this country" a reality.
In the May issue of the NRA's magazine, America's 1st Freedom, LaPierre wrote, "President Barack Obama is setting the table to ban your ammunition -- all of it," and claimed that "the remaining two years of Obama's term pose the greatest threat ever to the Second Amendment and our freedom."
LaPierre imagined a ludicrous scheme where "two fatal turns of events" would lead the EPA to ban all lead ammunition and, subsequently, the Obama administration to ban all non-lead ammunition. According to LaPierre, "The president's bureaucrats at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are partnering with private enviro-radicals to ban lead projectiles -- including all hunting bullets -- as hazardous."
Despite the fact that the EPA has given no indication that it is preparing regulations on lead ammunition, LaPierre insisted that the agency is still seeking a ban.
The facts prove him wrong. In December 2014, FoxNews.com reported that "[i]n a decision favorable to gun enthusiasts," a federal court ruled against environmentalists who argued that the EPA has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. According to FoxNews.com, "The National Rifle Association and much of the pro-gun lobby intervened on the EPA's side in urging the federal appeals court to uphold the dismissal of a lawsuit by 101 environmentalist organizations." (The EPA does not believe it has authority to regulate lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act.)
From the April 15 edition of CNN's New Day:
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From the April 13 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show:
From the National Rifle Association's annual meeting of members on April 11:
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From the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action April 10 leadership forum:
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The NRA is choosing to host the pinnacle event of its annual meeting at a venue that does not allow members of the public to carry firearms, a decision that stands in sharp contrast to claims from NRA leadership that "gun-free zones" are not safe and should be avoided.
The NRA will hold its annual meeting April 10 through 12 in Nashville, Tennessee, with events primarily occurring at the Music City Center, which is an exhibition hall, and the Bridgestone Arena.
Some attendees are upset that they will not be allowed to carry guns at the Bridgestone Arena during the event, due to the venue's policy prohibiting firearms, according to Nashville Public Radio.
The NRA frequently tells supporters that gun-free zones imperil their lives, enable mass shootings, and invite terrorists.
For example, during the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre told the crowd that the Islamic State is "carving a bloody trail that leads to our doorstep" and suggested it is not a matter of "if" but "when" a terrorist attack will occur at "the supposedly gun-free zone of the Mall of America."