Issues ››› Guns
  • Baltimore Sun's Conservative Blog Uses Columbia Mall Shooting To Hype Gun Myths


    In the wake of the January 25 shooting at the Columbia Mall in Columbia, Maryland, that claimed the lives of two victims, the Baltimore Sun's recently acquired conservative political blog made a series of inaccurate statements on firearms and firearms laws to attack supporters of stronger gun laws, including recently enacted measures strengthening firearms laws in Maryland. 

    In a blog post on the Baltimore Sun's Red Maryland blog, Mark Newgent criticized a statement by Vinny DeMarco, the president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence and a supporter of a measure strengthening firearms laws in Maryland, who explained that without Maryland's new firearms law -- which banned assault weapons and limited the purchase of high-capacity ammunition magazines -- the shooting could have been worse. However, in his criticism of the release, Newgent got several points wrong:

    • Newgent claimed "shotguns don't use magazines to hold ammunition" and explained that making that error was akin to "saying football is played with a hockey puck." In fact, there are several shotguns that accept magazines, including this one from Kel-Tec or this one from Saiga which has a "30 round drum magazine."
    • Newgent wrote that DeMarco's use of the words "AK-47" and "assault weapon" were designed to put the image of a fully automatic machine gun in the mind of the reader." However, "assault weapon" was the exact term the gun industry used up until 2009 when describing military-style semi-automatic rifles such as the AK-47. In 2009, the industry attempted to rebrand the term assault weapon to "modern sporting rifle" due to concerns that President Obama's election would prompt legislation regulating these types of weapons. 
    • Newgent incorrectly claimed that the 1934 National Firearms Act bans fully automatic weapons, which are commonly called machine guns. In fact, as popular gun retailer Cheaper Than Dirt highlighted in a post on owning automatic weapons, they are legal to own but must be approved by local authorities. After submitting a signed form by the local authorities to the ATF along with a $200 tax stamp, applicants undergo a series of background checks and their fingerprints are run through various databases. Once the application is approved and filed, the owner of the weapon will legally possess the weapon. Maryland allows ownership of automatic weapons as long as it is legally registered.
  • NRA News Honors "Armed Citizen" Who Is Facing Charges For Allegedly Raping A Juvenile

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A man who is facing charges he raped a minor was recently honored during a daily NRA News feature that highlights instances of self-defense with a gun. The segments promote the false claim that guns are more likely to be used in self-defense than to commit a crime.

    The January 17 edition of NRA News show Cam & Company on The Sportsman Channel celebrated the actions of Marlo Ellis during "The Armed Citizen Files," a daily segment sponsored by firearms retailer Ellis broke up the armed robbery of an Orrville, Alabama Dollar General by fatally shooting the alleged robber with his concealed handgun.

    During the segment Cam Edwards described Ellis' actions in detail and asked, "I wonder how many other media outlets will be reporting on this story?" Curiously Edwards never said Ellis' name, although he mentioned the name of the alleged robber and several witnesses. A web search for Ellis' name reveals he was arrested in 2013 for allegedly raping a victim "between the age of 12 and 16." Dallas County's district attorney reportedly confirmed that Ellis is facing charges related to the 2013 investigation. A local news outlet covering the Dollar General shooting updated its account to include this fact, which was also appeared in an account on

  • Fox's Ablow Dimisses Role Of Guns In Columbia Mall Shooting

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL

    Fox News "Medical A-Team" member Dr. Keith Ablow baselessly speculated about the mental health of the Columbia Mall shooter, ignoring proof that access to firearms, not mental health conditions, is the most significant factor in most gun violence. 

    On January 25, Darion Marcus Aguilar shot and killed two people before committing suicide at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. Two days later, Dr. Keith Ablow appeared Fox's America's News HQ to discuss the shooter's possible motive. Ablow dismissed the ready availability of guns, instead surmising that the shooter showed signs of "serious mental health care problems":

    ABLOW: The anti-gun people are going to say, 'oh, it's the gun, it's the gun, it's the gun.' It isn't the gun. We have a crisis in terms of mental health care where I promise you that there were signs that this individual too was experiencing serious mental health care problems.

  • How A Cherry-Picking Media Pretends Mayors Lose When They Stand Against Gun Violence

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review coverage of the electoral defeat of two Pennsylvania mayors who were members of gun violence prevention group Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) demonstrates how media cherry-pick data to falsely suggest mayors risk losing their jobs by joining the group. 

    MAIG, a coalition of more than 1,000 mayors, is best known for its Demand Action campaign in support of expanded background checks on gun sales and recent partnership with the 130,000 member grassroots organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. 

    In recent months the Tribune-Review has suggested that Chambersburg Mayor Pete Lagiovane and Butler Mayor Maggie Stock lost their re-election campaigns because of their MAIG memberships. The paper hasn't mentioned the MAIG memberships of any of the mayors who won reelection in 2013; 95 percent of Pennsylvania MAIG members were reelected.

  • Fox Guest's Answer To School Shootings Is To Abolish Gun-Free School Zones

    Blog ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Discussing a recent school shooting at Purdue University, frequent Fox News guest Lars Larson blamed gun-free school zones for the incident, stoking fears that gun-free zones attract violence.

    During the January 21 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum moderated a discussion with Larson, a radio host, and Fox contributor Julie Roginsky about preventing violence in schools following the tragic shooting death of teaching assistant Andrew Boldt at Purdue University. Larson dismissed the notion that private gun sales should be subject to background checks, claiming that not "one single incident" has occurred from a private-party sale without a background check. Instead, he blamed gun-free zones, asserting, "[t]he fact is, almost all these incidences happen in gun free zones, virtually all of them," adding that "having more guns in society -- it does make society safer."

    In fact, statistics show that gun-free school zones are safer for youth than areas that permit them. The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that gun-free zones like primary and secondary schools are typically safer for young people, as gun deaths in gun-free zones never exceeded 2 percent of total youth homicides:

  • Outdoor Channel's Ted Nugent Says "Subhuman Mongrel" President Obama Should Be Convicted Of Treason

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and Outdoor Channel spokesman Ted Nugent called President Obama a "subhuman mongrel" and argued that he and other liberal politicians should be punished for treason. 

    Merriam-Webster dictionary defines mongrel as "a dog with parents of different breeds."

    Nugent made the comment during a January 17 interview with at the 2014 Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show), an annual gun industry trade show that draws 60,000 firearms industry professionals. Nugent was representing the Outdoor Channel, which airs his hunting show Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild. Nugent and Outdoor Channel recently announced a multi-year endorsement deal where Nugent will make "talent appearances on the network's behalf at top consumer and industry trade events." In announcing the deal, Outdoor Channel's CEO said that Nugent "symbolizes everything that is right in our industry."

  • What Gun Advocates Get Wrong About Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association pushed a false history of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s views on firearms in order to promote gun ownership in a video commentary released on the national holiday commemorating the slain civil rights hero's birthday.

    Gun rights activists frequently distort history by citing a 1956 attempt by King to acquire a gun permit as evidence that King favored gun ownership. This ignores that King later repudiated his earlier action, concluding, "How could I serve as one of the leaders of a nonviolent movement and at the same time use weapons of violence for my personal protection?"

    In a January 20 video, Colion Noir -- one of several commentators hired by the NRA to produce videos for -- claimed that King would have "happily struggled with envy" over Noir's concealed handgun permit. Noir then related King's attempt to acquire a gun permit and falsely claimed that after failing in that endeavor, King filled his house with people carrying guns:

    NOIR: Dr. King was a nonviolent man, but even he understood the realities of self-defense and protecting his home and his family in the face of life-threatening violence. This is why he tried to apply for that gun permit when the house where his wife and daughter lived was firebombed. When Dr. King was denied, he did the next best thing and surrounded himself with people with guns. Which was evidenced by one of Dr. King's advisors describing his home as an "arsenal."

  • Fox Reporter Compares New York Gov. Cuomo To Segregationist Bull Connor

    Blog ››› ››› LUKE BRINKER

    Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes equated New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo with arch-segregationist Bull Connor, distorting recent remarks by Cuomo to falsely suggest that the Democratic governor wants to "politically segregate the state."

    Speaking with a reporter on January 17, Cuomo decried right-wing politicians who have opposed his policies in support of LGBT equality, abortion rights, and gun safety. Characterizing the Republican Party as riven by a schism between moderates and conservatives, Cuomo said that dynamic was playing out in New York:

    The Republican Party candidates are running against the SAFE Act -- it was voted for by moderate Republicans who run the Senate! Their problem is not me and the Democrats; their problem is themselves. Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that's who they are and they're the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that's not who New Yorkers are. 

    While Cuomo explicitly referred to "Republican Party candidates" and said in the same interview that it's "fine" for people to disagree with him, right-wing commentators instantly mischaracterized the governor's comments to claim that he wished to rid the state of all conservatives. Starnes, in a January 20 column titled "Governor Andrew 'Bull Connor' Cuomo," reacted with characteristic hyperbole and misinformation:

    Get out of New York!

    That's the message Empire State Governor Andrew Cuomo is sending to pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional marriage conservatives.


    Take that in for just a moment. New York's Democratic governor believes people who are pro-life are extremists. Extremists.

    Donald Trump? Not welcome. Cardinal Dolan -- you're outta here, pal. Cuomo just can't have those kind of people living on the streets of New York City.

    When did Governor Cuomo become Bull Connor -- trying to politically segregate the state?

    What's he going to do next, unleash the dogs and turn the hoses on conservative boys and girls?

    Even yours truly, could be forced find a new place to live. I live among the intolerant liberal people of Brooklyn. I'm also a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association and an evangelical Christian.

    It's only a matter of time before the governor's foot soldiers knock on my door and give this gun-toting, Bible-clinging, son-of-a-Baptist the heave ho.

    Starnes' column is merely the latest example of his willingness to make baseless claims of anti-Christian persecution in order to justify his own bigoted views. As Fox's in-house mouthpiece for anti-gay hate groups, Starnes views every gain for LGBT equality as an assault on religious liberty. He has claimed that "Christians are trading places with homosexuals" since the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He has defended anti-LGBT business discrimination, writing that non-discrimination protections are efforts to replace "God's law" with "man's law." When the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Starnes tweeted, "Supreme Court overrules God" and predicted that it "[w]on't be long before they outlaw the Bible as hate speech."

    Starnes' anti-Cuomo diatribe might be typical of his previous work, but equating the governor with Connor, the Birmingham Commissioner of Public Safety who sanctioned brutal attacks against civil rights activists and presided over "the most segregated city in America," marks a deplorable low for a reporter whose history of race-baiting exposes his own ugly bigotry.

  • Right Wing Media's New "Fast And Furious" Authority Is A Guy Who Was In Jail During "Fast And Furious"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Right-wing media are citing the claims of a high-level Mexican drug cartel figure, who faces life in prison for narcotrafficking, to advance its latest conspiracy theory about a failed federal law enforcement operation to stop the flow of guns into Mexico.

    According to Vicente Zambada-Niebla, a high-level Sinaloa Cartel figure known as "El Vicentillo" who will soon face trial in Chicago, the purpose of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' (ATF) Operation Fast and Furious was to arm the Sinaloa Cartel so that it would have the firepower to destroy rival drug cartels. Zambada-Niebla's testimony is not credible for a number of reasons, the most glaring being that he was arrested in March 2009, more than six months before the ATF even conceived of Fast and Furious.

    Despite this red flag, Zambada-Niebla's claims have been repeatedly promoted on the National Rifle Association's radio and television shows, by Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, and throughout the fringe conservative blogosphere.

  • NRA's Ted Nugent Compares Harvey Weinstein To Nazi Propagandist Goebbels

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent compared film executive Harvey Weinstein, who is Jewish, to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels over Weinstein's plan to make an anti-NRA film.

    Weinstein recently appeared on Howard Stern's radio show and announced he was planning to take the NRA "head on" with a new film project involving Meryl Streep.

    Appearing on the National Rifle Association's news show Cam & Company on January 16, Nugent said viewers of Weinstein's film "will see that Joseph Goebbels and Saul Alinsky is alive in the form a fat punk named Harvey Weinstein and as he tries to destroy the NRA it will backfire on him."

    Nugent also called Weinstein a "subhuman punk," a "brain-dead idiot," "a descendant of the ultimate putz," and added, "I don't know if Harvey Weinstein has had a lifetime of drug and substance abuse, but he certainly sounds like it. You have to be brain-dead to believe that the gun-free zones of Chicago and Nuremberg [Germany] in 1938 are a desirable condition." He concluded, "Harvey Weinstein is on the side of criminals. The NRA is on the side of innocent victims protecting themselves from criminals."

  • Fox Attacks Harvey Weinstein's NRA Film With Barrage Of Falsehoods

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News' defense of the gun lobby passed into the realm of fiction when host Martha MacCallum told viewers that what usually thwarts school shootings is "when there's a gun introduced into the situation." She followed up this myth with the long-debunked claim that the Holocaust could have been prevented if Hitler hadn't confiscated citizens' firearms.

    On the January 16 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, MacCallum moderated a discussion between radio host Mike Slater and Fox contributor Jehmu Greene about a new anti-NRA film being produced by Harvey Weinstein.

    During the segment, MacCallum broke into the debate to declare that "in most cases" the harm from mass shootings has been mitigated by adding more guns into the fray, saying the shootings generally end "when there's a gun introduced into the situation that stops [the shooters] from what they're doing."

    MacCallum -- echoing a Washington Times column by senior opinion editor and pro-NRA activist Emily Miller -- later intimated that the Holocaust could have been prevented if the citizenry were armed, but "their guns were all confiscated under German law at the time."

    Though MacCallum's statistic is clad as a statement of fact, it is anything but -- a study completed by Mother Jones found that "not one of 62 mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years has been stopped" by an armed civilian.

  • Guess What NRA's Ted Nugent Has To Say About Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent claimed that African-Americans must "admit to the self-inflicted destructo-derby they are waging" in order to honestly celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

    Nugent, who recently became Outdoor Channel's spokesman, made this claim in his regular column for birther website WND. In a column titled, "What Would Dr. King Say About Black Culture?" Nugent sought to tie a viral video of a 2-year-old Omaha, Nebraska toddler being cursed at by adults to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is on January 20:

    A truly disturbing and disgusting profanity-laced video of a 2-year-old little boy made national headlines recently after the Omaha Police Union posted the video on its website.

    The street thugs who made the video and the little boy are black. This is important to note as the nation gets ready to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20.

    Nugent cited this single example of bad parenting as "the tip of the black gangster iceberg" and suggested that "[s]hould the boy ever be reunited with his family of gangsters, he will either end up in prison like his grandparents or dead like his dad."

  • Listen To This New York Post Columnist Call Newtown Tragedy "A Little Convenient Massacre"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    New York Post state columnist Fred Dicker described the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six educators as "a little convenient massacre" on his radio show Live from the State Capitol.

    On the January 13 edition of his radio show, broadcast on Talk AM 1300 in the Albany, New York, area, Dicker claimed that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had "promised" not to support stronger gun laws "but then he had a little convenient massacre that went on in Newtown, Connecticut, and all of a sudden there was an opportunity for him." In January 2013, New York enacted a comprehensive gun safety package that Cuomo described as "the toughest gun laws in the nation."

    News of Dicker's comment was first reported by New York Daily News, but did not include the audio of the remark which can be heard here: