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Cydney Hargis

Author ››› Cydney Hargis
  • Here’s who the National Rifle Association is choosing to represent it at a CNN gun violence town hall


    On February 21, CNN will host a town hall on gun violence set to include a wide spectrum of people affected by the Parkland, FL, school shooting. The National Rifle Association was invited to participate and chose to send its national spokesperson, Dana Loesch, to join "students, parents and community members" at the event, breaking with its decision to not participate in a similar 2016 CNN town hall. The NRA’s decision to send Loesch, who is also a far-right conservative commentator with a long history of inflammatory rhetoric, to represent the organization in a town hall discussion about gun safety and legislation that includes survivors of a mass school shooting, clearly demonstrates the extremist, fringe views the NRA has embraced to advance its cause.

  • NRA board member Ted Nugent pushes conspiracy theory that Parkland school shooting survivors are actors

    Nugent “liked” Facebook comment calling student David Hogg a “crisis actor”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent promoted the right-wing conspiracy theory that the Parkland school shooting survivors who are currently calling for gun regulation are “coached” actors.

    In a February 20 Facebook post, less than a week after the shooting, Nugent shared a February 19 Natural News article claiming “these kids were coached to repeat scripted lines, just like actors reading lines for a movie production.” The article claims that “It’s all scripted, in other words, to push a gun control narrative rooted in emotional reaction rather than constructive solutions" and includes the tags “false-flag” and “hoax.” The bulk of the article is a reprint of Lucian Wintrich’s post at The Gateway Pundit, which first started spreading the conspiracy theory.

    Nugent then “liked” a comment left below his article claiming that one of the students, David Hogg, “is a paid crisis actor” who “has been at multiple shootings as a 'survivor'.”

    Nugent promoted similar conspiracy theories after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, CT, claiming that no assault weapons were used in the elementary school shooting despite the fact that authorities confirmed the shooting was carried out with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault weapon.

    Following the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nugent appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show and backed his baseless theory that the massacre was “scripted by deep state Democrats.”

    As recently as February 2016, there were calls for Nugent to resign from the NRA board after he shared a Facebook image claiming prominent Jewish figures were the ones “really behind gun control.”


    The post no longer appears on Nugent’s Facebook page.

  • After Florida school massacre, right-wing media call for more guns in schools (the school had armed security)

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    In the wake of a Florida school shooting that left at least 17 dead, right-wing media figures immediately blamed “gun-free zones” and argued that future shootings would be prevented if there were armed guards at schools, ignoring that the school did have “an armed police officer” on campus “in addition to security.”

  • Here are the right-wing media figures using the Nunes memo to attack Rosenstein and Mueller

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted on January 31 to release a memo, written by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), which they claim shows partisan abuse of power on the part of the FBI to obtain a FISA warrant. The full four page text of the memo was released on February 2 and, led primarily by Fox News host Sean Hannity, right-wing media figures have used its contents to slam, discredit, and call for the firing of both special counsel Robert Mueller and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

    Fox host Sean Hannity claimed that Mueller “never should have been appointed based on what we know tonight” and that “he needs to go, yesterday.” He also called the investigation “a witch-hunt from the very beginning” and called for charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn “to be dropped.” Hannity also declared the investigation an attempted “coup” and “an attempt to unseat an elected president” based on the memo.

    Right-wing author Ann Coulter tweeted, “Rosenstein should be fired for opposing the release of the memo.”

    Conservative radio host and frequent Fox guest Dan Bongino tweeted that Rosenstein “STILL” has a government job despite being one of the “central figures in the most significant political spying scandal in US history.”

    Tea Party Patriots tweeted, "It's time for DAG Rod Rosenstein to do his job or resign!"

    Former Trump aide and Fox News national security strategist Sebastian Gorka tweeted, "Rosenstein should be suspended from his position immeidately." 

    Frequent Fox News guest Ben Stein said Rosenstein should be "fired without question."

    Tom Fitton, frequent Fox guest and president of Judicial Watch, said Rosenstein “has some explaining to do” and that “it’s fair to ask whether he’d be fired.” Fitton also told Fox host Harris Faulkner that the probe is subject to “being called off now by the Justice Department.”

    Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett tweeted that a “source” told him Rosenstein in a meeting with Nunes “threatened to subpoena the texts and emails of Congress,” and called for Rosenstein to “resign or be fired” if true.

    Fox News host Todd Pirro asked former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski if "it's time for Rod Rosenstein to go." Lewandowski responded that Rosenstein's involvement with the FISA application "should give people in the Justice Department grave concern ... and Rod needs to answer for those questions." 

    Conservative radio host, Townhall columnist, and birther Jeff Crouere wrote, the memo showed Mueller is “investigating the wrong administration” and claimed Mueller was “compromised from the very beginning of his probe.” Crouere went on to call for an end to this “witch hunt” after the release of the “bombshell memo.”

    Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh alleged that the memo means Mueller is investigating the wrong people “on purpose,” and called the FBI's activities a “Democrat-run operation.” 

    Conservative radio host Mark Simone tweeted that Rosenstein is on the same "team" as former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

    Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit claimed Rosenstein "threatened" Nunes and House Intelligence Committee members. 

  • NRATV host carried a gun in public, despite admitting he "could not hit water if I fell out of a boat"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, the host of a news program for the National Rifle Association’s media operation NRATV, made on-air comments that he was “embarrassed” by how poor a shot he was until he recently participated in an NRA training and insurance program. Previously, Stinchfield had repeatedly talked about carrying a gun in public wherever it was legal to do so while encouraging others to do the same. Stinchfield’s admissions undermine the NRA claim that permissive concealed carry laws are a benefit to public safety and highlight how these laws often allow poorly trained people to carry guns in public.

    During the January 2 edition of NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Stinchfield said his News Year’s resolution is to “always be carrying because I got lackadaisical at times last year about carrying my gun with me. If you don’t have it with you, it’s not going to do you any good.” Over the next weekend, Stinchfield took part in the NRA Carry Guard gun training program. Launched in 2017, NRA Carry Guard sells gun trainings and insurance policies packages. Policyholders are able to recover costs associated with shooting someone under some circumstances, including legal and “clean-up” expenses.

    After he completed his training, Stinchfield told NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch he was “embarrassed” that he had “a real hard time hitting the target” and may have been affected by “the stress of it all” during his first day of training. From the January 12 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield

    DANA LOESCH: So Grant, what did you think of Carry Guard training?

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So you had to told me to be prepared that they were going to yell at me, and they were going to make me -- and guess what?

    LOESCH: No no no, hold up, hold up. You are being so dramatic about this. I just said that during some of the drills they’re going to yell, that’s all.

    GRANT STINCHFIELD: All right, well they did yell during the drills. So, but meanwhile, so me, because I am very dramatic about things, I’m waiting to just get attacked with a verbal barrage and so the whole time I’m thinking that this is going to be what happens, and it never happened. [...] And the first day, I’m embarrassed to say, I had a real hard time hitting the target, I was low and right on everything, from gripping down on my right hand and maybe just the stress of it all. By the third day, I finished tied for second in my shooting test.

    The NRATV host also interviewed his Carry Guard instructors and admitted to them that during the first day of training, “I could not hit water if I fell out of a boat.” When he asked the trainers whether they were “worried about me even coming close to passing this course,” one of them replied, “I honestly thought you would shoot a little bit better when we first started,” before saying that Stinchfield improved throughout the training.

    Despite having difficulty hitting his targets during the training earlier this month, Stinchfield previously said during a November NRATV broadcast that said he carries his firearm “everywhere I am legally allowed to”, and has repeatedly maintained that concealed carry holders “make everyone around them so much safer,” even in states that have repealed requirements to obtain a permit before carrying a gun in public.

    It is very worrisome that the NRATV host, who claims to carry wherever he is legally allowed to, was admittedly such a bad shot before taking a voluntary three-day training program. The state of Texas, where Stinchfield is based, only mandates between four and six hours of in-person or online instruction to obtain concealed carry. The range component of the training only requires the applicant to shoot a total of 50 rounds at three different distances.

    Research into the impact of allowing people to carry guns in public has demonstrated that these policies are actually associated with increases in crime, particularly aggravated assault. While NRA markets its Carry Guard program by promoting the notion that graduates will be able to take out mass shooters, there is no evidence that concealed carry is an effective deterrent to public mass shootings. 

  • NRA’s news outlet says it's “fake news” to say there are over 30,000 U.S. gun deaths each year because the figure includes gun suicides

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “It is a number thrown around like confetti”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, the host of the National Rifle Association’s news show, included what he called the “overused 30,000 gun deaths a year” statistic in his top three “fake gun news” stories of 2017, claiming that gun suicides -- which account for around two-thirds of the figure -- don’t count.

    There were 36,252 deaths in the United States in 2015, according to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Of those, 22,018 were gun suicides.

    Stinchfield, who hosts a news show for the NRA’s outlet NRATV, cruelly claimed that including suicides within the term “gun deaths” was “fake news,” calling the statistic “deceptive” and used by the media to “wage war on gun ownership”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So 2018 is shaping up to be a busy year for us here at NRATV, exposing and correcting fake news has, yes, become a full time job for us. The devious and deceitful media are not letting up. So while President Trump released his top three fake news stories, I want to officially release mine. All related to fake gun news, of course.


    STINCHFIELD: The final fake news of the year comes in the form of a statistic, the overused 30,000 gun deaths a year. The left never mentions that two-thirds of those include suicides. Yet it is a number thrown around like confetti. And it’s deceptive to say the least. From The Washington Post to The New York Times, they all use it to wage war on gun ownership. It’s all fake news.

    Stinchfield’s claim that “gun suicides” don’t count in gun death totals ignores a vast body of research proving that firearm availability has a direct impact on successful suicide attempts.

    According to Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a review of 90 long-term studies found that “even when narrowing the field to studies of serious attempters,” the vast majority of people who survived a first suicide attempt “did not go on to die by suicide.” Yet those who attempt suicide by firearm rarely get the chance to continue their lives, as they are successful in their attempts 82.5 percent of the time.

    A July 2016 study in the American Journal of Public Health also found that states with the highest gun ownership levels also typically have the highest suicide rates. In 2011, the National Institute for Health found that the mere presence of a gun in the home can increase the likelihood of a successful youth suicide.

    Alternatively, removing firearms from the immediate access of a suicidal person has resulted in a 68 percent drop in the number of gun suicides. Harvard University’s Means Matter campaign has focused on limiting firearm access for suicidal individuals in crisis.

    Not counting gun suicides as “gun deaths” has been pushed as a right-wing talking point before, but it has no basis in logic. As psychiatrist and Georgetown University professor Liza Gold explained to The Trace, “Firearm violence is firearm violence. Let’s say you work in a hospital and you have 100 people with lung cancer, and 50 percent of them have it because they were smokers. Are you going to say to the smokers, ‘Your cancer is not as important because you were smoking and you should have known better?’ I don’t think so. You treat them exactly the same. So, firearm violence is firearm violence, whether it’s committed against oneself or committed against others. It’s all bad.”

  • On the Sandy Hook anniversary, Morning Joe highlights Congress’ refusal to pass the gun safety laws Americans support

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    On the five year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT, MSNBC’s Morning Joe pointed out that despite strong public support for regulating firearms on the federal level, Congress has been slow to move on any type of gun safety legislation since the tragedy.

    Co-host Joe Scarborough mentioned the number of Americans killed by gun violence since Sandy Hook and highlighted that Americans on both sides of the political divide overwhelming support gun safety measures, including banning assault weapons, expanding background checks and bump stocks, like those that were used in the October Las Vegas mass shooting. Scarborough noted that despite the support, members of Congress opposing reforms are “playing to a small hard core interest group in Washington D.C., and not even listening to the majority of” Americans. From the December 14 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe

    JOE SCARBOROUGH (CO-HOST): It's -- we talked about this. Mika, I don't know that there's been anything as jarring, other than September 11th, certainly in my lifetime of following news and reporting on the news, than what happened in Newtown five years ago today. It just still -- it's something obviously that the families will never get past. It's something that the town will never get past. And so many of these families are still fighting every day to make sense of it, but to also try to turn this tragedy into something good. You look at the numbers, the Daily News, October 3rd, wrote that there have been -- there's been nearly one mass shooting every day for the 1,754 days since the shocking slaughter of those 20 Connecticut angels. And Mike Barnicle, there are times -- the American people, I mean, this shook the American people to the core. Ninety percent of Americans still support enhanced background checks. The number of Americans that support a ban on assault-style weapons continues to go up. Americans support gun safety at higher numbers than ever before and so much of it came out of that, and yet, how does Congress answer this just a week ago?


    SCARBOROUGH: And you look at the number of Americans that have been killed by guns since Sandy Hook. It's unfathomable that Congress still has refused to do anything despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans want them to. They are playing to a small hard core interest group in Washington D.C., and not even listening to the majority of NRA members who want -- I’ll say that again. The majority of NRA members, the majority of Republicans, the majority of conservatives, want expanded background checks, and they want legislation passed, gun safety legislation passed.

    SUSAN DEL PERCIO: And they can start even working backwards from some of the most dangerous weapons that are out there. You can start at whether it's the block gizmo on the gun or other types of weapons. I mean, we do have certain standards in our country. You can't have land mines on your yard, for example. Those are deemed too dangerous. We have to start working back and force this country into sensible, responsible gun ownership because you're right, Joe. Most NRA members are for proper background checks. They have no problem with waiting. If I need a gun in 24 hours, there's probably a bad reason that I would want a gun in 24 hours. The government, they need to start moving this, and this is one of those issues that we can start saying, I'm for the Second Amendment, but we need to be responsible. This is something Republicans can be moderate on and still hold onto their base.

    SCARBOROUGH: And the bump stock issue, Willie, that after Las Vegas, after that horrific slaughter in Las Vegas, we heard that they might even move on bump stocks. They can't even do that.

    Despite Congress’ inaction, Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, noted in a HuffPost piece that the last five years have been “among the most productive” throughout his 30 years working on the gun violence issue. He highlighted that individuals states have passed “laws creating universal background check systems, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and protecting victims of domestic violence from armed abusers” and that there has been a “marked political shift regarding gun violence prevention” with fewer politicians “ducking the issue.”

  • Reported child molester Roy Moore gets an A grade from the NRA

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After staying quiet for most of the Alabama Senate special election campaign, the National Rifle Association has officially awarded Republican candidate Roy Moore an “AQ” rating.

    According to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund webpage for Alabama, Moore has an “AQ” rating, which the NRA reserves for “a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate's responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.” The NRA awarded Democratic candidate Doug Jones a “?” rating, which the group defines as “Refused to answer the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.”

    Based on a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the rating was posted some time after December 8, and comes just after the NRA quietly spent more than $54,000 against Jones while at the time not mentioning the race on its Political Victory Fund website. The organization’s “AQ” grade also comes around the same time as the Republican National Committee restarted funding Moore after previously cutting the campaign off, and after Trump announced his official endorsement.

    On December 1, the Moore campaign claimed that the NRA is “on board with us now” after supporting his opponent, Luther Strange, in the primaries.

    Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple teenage girls, one as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

    Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion. 

  • NRA quietly moves to help Roy Moore win the Alabama Senate election

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters 

    The National Rifle Association has discreetly spent almost $55,000 against Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate special election, effectively supporting reported child molester and Republican candidate Roy Moore.

    Public Integrity’s Ashley Balcerzak reported that the NRA spent a total of $54,772.03 in December 2017 on postcards opposing Jones, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But there’s no mention of the NRA being involved in the race on its Political Victory Fund and Institute for Legislative Action websites, the two groups the NRA uses for election spending. According to the Political Victory Fund, the NRA is currently endorsing two candidates: a Republican in an Oklahoma State Legislature special election, and a Republican in the Tennessee General Assembly special election.

    The website claims there are “no current elections” the NRA is involved with in Alabama.

    Searching for both “Doug Jones” or “Roy Moore” on the Political Victory Fund’s media center page yields “no results.” The only recent mention of “Alabama” was in September 2017, plugging for NRA-endorsed Luther Strange in the special primary election. Running the same search terms on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website similarly yielded no results pertaining to the Alabama Senate election.

    Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple underaged girls, as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

    Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion. 

  • Study: Lessons for the media following the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history


    The nation's most prominent news programs found little time to discuss gun policy and solutions to gun violence while covering the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, and what little discussion they did have disproportionately featured Republicans with ties to the gun industry.

    Media Matters analyzed evening news shows and Sunday political talk shows on CBS, NBC, and ABC between October 2 and October 22 that included discussion of the October 1 Las Vegas, NV, massacre and found that conversations about how to solve gun violence -- via policy or other means -- were few in number and quickly tapered off in the days following the shooting. During the limited gun policy discussions, the shows hosted and quoted Republican officials who have received much more money from the gun lobby than their pro-gun-safety Democratic counterparts.

    Conservative media and their gun lobby allies often respond to mass shootings by saying that the immediate aftermath of the event is not the time to talk about solutions to gun violence. Overall coverage of the Las Vegas massacre appears to follow that advice, as the vast majority focused on breaking news and updates, with only 19 percent even mentioning gun policy and solutions. The entirety of the coverage -- including breaking news and updates on the incident, gun policy and solutions-oriented discussions, and non-gun-policy discussions related to the shooting -- was largely contained to the immediate aftermath of the shooting, with 83 percent taking place in the first week of the study period. As the drastic drop in coverage during our analysis indicates, there is no period “appropriately” removed from a high-profile incident of gun violence when a gun debate actually takes place. None of the segments analyzed from October 8 through the end of the study period on October 22 included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion.

    As the country grapples with yet another horrific mass shooting following the November 5 church massacre in Sutherland Springs, TX, here are several key takeaways from our analysis of broadcast news coverage of the Las Vegas shooting:

    • Coverage of the shooting dramatically dropped following a week of heavy reporting.
    • The vast majority of segments on the shooting were devoted to breaking news and updates and not solutions-oriented gun policy discussion -- even during the period immediately following the shooting, which would have been the best opportunity to have a policy debate at a time when coverage dominated the news.
    • Much of the discussion around gun policy occurred on a single day.
    • CBS led other broadcast networks in airing segments about gun policy.
    • Shows hosted or quoted Republican members of Congress -- who have received large sums of money from the gun lobby -- more often than Democrats during gun policy discussions.

    CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s World News Tonight, and the networks' Sunday political talk shows -- CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and ABC’s This Week -- ran a total of 140 segments on the shooting between October 2 and October 22. Forty-six segments were broadcast on the day after the shooting, October 2, when broadcasts networks extended their normal show hours to run additional segments. The shooting received heavy, but declining, coverage in subsequent days, and then briefly spiked on October 8 when segments on Sunday political talk shows helped to bring the total number for that day to 18.

    After October 8, coverage fell off. Political talk shows on October 15 and October 22 included no segments on the shooting, and coverage on evening news programs tapered off.

    Broken down by week, 83 percent of segments occurred during the initial week following the shooting (October 2-8), 12 percent came the following week (October 9-15), and 4 percent of segments occurred in the final week of the study (October 16-22).

    Our analysis also sought to determine the substance of segments run on the shooting. While broadcast news programs’ stature gives them the authority to set an agenda for what topics will be covered long term, they do have limited time and must move forward with reporting on new topics. Given those constraints, we wanted to analyze how the programs used the time they had; to do so, we coded three common occurrences in segments: breaking news and updates on the Las Vegas shooting, gun policy discussions, and non-gun policy discussions.

    The first category included reports on the facts of the shooting -- the who, what, when, where, and why -- and often included updates about the perpetrator, the victims, the timeline, and the weaponry that was used. Gun policy and solutions-oriented discussions typically included segments about the prospect of legislative action to address the massacre, but non-policy discussion of solutions to gun violence were also included. Finally, non-gun policy discussions included segments that discussed policy changes in the wake of the shooting that were unrelated to the regulation of firearms -- for example, segments that covered mental health policies or non-gun-related security screening measures to prevent mass shootings.

    During the period when the shooting was receiving the most coverage, gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion was largely drowned out by other types of coverage. In the first five days of coverage following the shooting -- Monday, October 2, through Friday, October 6 -- segments were far more likely to focus on breaking news and updates than gun policy or solutions-oriented discussion. Given the later overall drop in coverage of all types on the shooting, this would have been the time to have a rigorous debate over policy and solutions. But that didn’t happen. During this week, 15 segments included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion, while 85 contained breaking news or updates.

    Of the 140 segments in the entire study period, 115 (82 percent) included breaking news or updates, 27 (19 percent) included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion, and 16 (11 percent) included non-gun policy discussion. Some segments fell into more than one category, i.e. a segment that provided updates on the timeline of the shooting that also included discussion of legislative proposals to prevent further massacres.

    Gun policy and solutions-oriented discussions spiked on the Sunday following the shooting, when all three Sunday shows included in the study ran multiple segments that met our criteria. That day featured 12 segments on gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion, representing 44 percent of total segments meeting that criteria.

    But then the discussion of what should change following the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history was over: Between October 9 and October 22, zero segments included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion, a time period when the programming missed an opportunity to continue the conversation.

    Of the 27 segments that included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion, nearly half occurred on CBS. NBC and ABC accounted for the other 14 segments.

    Media Matters also analyzed the people news programs hosted and quoted in discussing the shooting. Among gun policy and solutions-oriented discussions featuring members of Congress, 63 percent of individuals quoted or hosted were Republicans:

    These segments typically focused on questions about banning or otherwise regulating bump fire stocks -- a firearm device the Las Vegas gunman used to rapidly accelerate his gunfire. Based on a review of transcripts, it is likely that the overrepresentation of Republican lawmakers was due to reports that Republicans were open to regulating the devices, a concession rarely seen from Republicans on gun policy.

    But since those initial reports on Republicans’ supposed willingness to take action, the waters have become significantly muddied. Republicans have the numbers in Congress to quickly move legislation banning the devices, but they have chosen not to do so. (A hearing that will include testimony on bump fire stocks will take place this week, but that is no guarantee legislation will pass or even be advanced.) House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) made statements on October 11 that further cast doubt on the idea that Republicans are serious about passing bump fire legislation. During a press conference that day, Ryan advanced the position of the National Rifle Association, which is that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) should regulate bump fire stocks. (Ryan received $171,977 from the gun lobby during the 2016 election cycle, more than double any other U.S. representative.) The ATF, however, does not have the authority to regulate the devices because it hasn’t been granted the agency by Congress. Ryan and the NRA’s position is really just a gambit that allows them to appear conciliatory in the face of public outcry while actually preserving the status quo.

    Ryan’s claims were just a portion of several developments that could have warranted further segments on gun policy, but as previously noted, segments that included gun policy and solutions-oriented discussion were nonexistent after October 8.

    Beyond Ryan, every Republican who came up in the study had received money from the gun lobby for the 2016 and/or 2018 election cycles, with the exception of Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who has backed some gun safety laws. Those members were: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) ($24,550), Sen. John Thune (SD) ($32,460), Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) ($4,500), Sen. Bill Cassidy (LA) ($4,700), Sen. Tom Cotton (AR) ($8,085), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL) ($7,900), and Rep. Scott Taylor (VA) ($2,000). In total, Republicans who appeared, or were quoted, on shows in the study received nearly $300,000 from the gun lobby over the last two election cycles. Among Democrats who appeared on the shows monitored in the study, just one, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), received money ($18,165) from gun safety groups in 2016 or 2018

    Beyond not adequately discussing gun policy, the shows also failed to invite guests with expertise on the issue during the period of our analysis. The shows examined hosted just one gun violence researcher -- Dr. Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research -- during the study period.


    Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for CBS Evening News, Face the Nation, NBC Nightly News, Meet the Press, World News Tonight, This Week between the dates of October 2 and October 22 for the terms “gun” or “firearm” or “shooting” or “domestic violence” or “suicide” or the word “accident” within five words of the word “gun” or “hate crime” or “officer involved” or “police shooting” or “shot” or “massacre” or “Las Vegas.” We counted segments that fit our criteria, omitting teasers and headlines.

    We downloaded transcripts for these search results and analyzed them. To determine what the substance of segments on gun violence was, we split segments into three categories. The first category is segments that reported on the facts of the shooting -- the who, what, when, where details, including but not limited to reports on victims, perpetrators, how the shooting was carried out, the location of the shooting, and what firearms were used in the shooting. Second, we coded for segments that included policy or solutions-based discussion. The final substance category we coded for was non-gun-related policy discussions during segments that we coded as coverage of the Las Vegas shooting, such as when mental health policy was discussed.

    For segments that included policy or solutions-based discussion, we coded members of Congress by their party affiliation when they were hosted as guests or quoted on the topic. Segments that quoted members of Congress discussing only news updates about the shooting were not included in this count. We also coded for guests' professional affiliations during policy segments.