Issues ››› Guns
  • NRA's R. Lee Ermey Attacks Public Assistance Recipients: "Lazy Is Our New Cripple"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member R. Lee Ermey, best known for his drill sergeant role in the film Full Metal Jacket, claimed that "nowadays lazy is our new cripple" to attack recipients of public assistance during an NRA News special celebrating Veterans Day.

    The November 11 holiday honored individuals who served in the United States Armed Forces. As Think Progress notes, "there are roughly 5.5 million disabled American vets and over 3 million receiving disability compensation."

    Ermey used the word "cripple" -- a derogatory term for a person with a disability -- several times while describing how his new book Gunny's Rules: How to Get Squared Away Like a Marine "tells you how to take command of your life, get off welfare, unemployment, food stamps and regain a little bit of your self-respect":

    ERMEY: I've got a new book that just came out, it's out right now, you can get it on the Internet or you can pick it up at just about any bookshop. It's called Gunny's Rules and basically it tells you how to take command of your life, get off welfare, unemployment, food stamps, and regain a little bit of your self-respect.

    You know, those things are like quicksand. Once you get in there, it's real difficult to get back off of it. Welfare back in my time, back when I was a kid, I remember my parents voting for welfare and it was sold to us -- like cripples, we got to look after our crippled people in this country. Crippled, those that can't work, and I guess nowadays lazy is our new cripple.

  • National Review Online Defends Intimidation By Heavily Armed "Open Carry Texas" Group

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Review Online writer Charles C.W. Cooke defended approximately 40 individuals who brought guns -- including assault weapons -- outside of a Dallas, Texas area restaurant to protest a meeting of four members of gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action (MDA). While Cooke acknowledged that protestors "got close to 'intimidation'" in one of the three articles he authored on the incident, he also excused Open Carry Texas' (OCT) conduct in other articles by suggesting that MDA may have been "lying" about feeling intimidated.

    The controversy occurred on November 9 when four members of a Texas chapter of MDA conducted a meeting at Blue Mesa Grill in Arlington, Texas. As the MDA members met, members of OCT began gathering in the parking lot to protest the meeting. In Texas, it is legal to openly carry a rifle so long as it is not displayed in a menacing way. The OCT protesters were largely comprised of men with military-style assault weapons.

    MDA founder Shannon Watts told USA Today that the MDA members and other patrons of the restaurant were "terrified," and, "They felt like in an armed ambush and had no idea why it was taking place." According to a Forbes interview with a representative of Blue Mesa Grill, a manager called police who sent a squad car but also advised that OCT members were within their rights to openly display rifles in public. According to the representative, by the time police arrived, members of OCT began to move away from the restaurant, which may explain why an MDA member was unsuccessful in filing a police complaint against OCT on November 11.

    While disagreeing with their tactics, Cooke defended the right of OCT to wait outside of a gun violence prevention meeting with assault weapons largely by quibbling in three articles over whether pictures of the event supported claims of intimidation and by promoting the largely self-serving account of OCT that claimed MDA interactions with their group proved that MDA was not intimidated.

    But this hairsplitting over the exact details of the confrontation ignores the larger point, that it is de facto intimidation when approximately 40 members of an extreme and insurrectionist group known for vitriolic confrontations with law enforcement mill around in a parking lot outside of a meeting of their political opponents while openly displaying guns.

  • Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Denies He Works Closely With NRA's Ted Nugent

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A spokesperson for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker denied National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent's claim that he collaborated with Walker during a 2011 showdown between the Republican governor and unions. Walker's denial was prompted by Nugent's recent declaration on a Detroit radio station that he "worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies and got rid of the debt and got some freedom back in Wisconsin."

    During an October 30 Google hangout hosted by 94.7 WCSX, Nugent also said he worked closely with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

    On November 9 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that spokespersons from both Walker's campaign and state office denied working with Nugent. Campaign spokesperson Jonathan Wetzel stated, "We have not had any interaction with Ted Nugent," and Tom Evenson, a spokesperson for Walker's office, said there had been "no involvement" between Nugent and Walker since the 2006 NRA annual meeting in Milwaukee:

    "I worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies and got rid of the debt and got some freedom back in Wisconsin," Nugent said.

    Pretty impressive.

    But Walker staffers said this week that Nugent's statement simply isn't true.

    The Motor City Madman doesn't know what he's talking about.

    "The governor met Ted Nugent during an NRA convention in Milwaukee years ago when he was Milwaukee county executive," said Tom Evenson, spokesman for Walker's state office. "Other than that, our office has not had involvement with him."

    The NRA held its national convention here in 2006, and Nugent -- best known for such hits at "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Dog Eat Dog" -- performed the national anthem on his guitar, as Walker recalled in this interview.

    Nugent did campaign last year in Sturtevant for former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson during his failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat.

    But officials say he has never worked with the Walker campaign.

    "We have not had any interaction with Ted Nugent," said campaign spokesman Jonathan Wetzel. [emphasis in original]

    Evenson also issued a denial to the Wisconsin State Journal.

  • How The Gun Rights Community Quashes Any Public Dissent On Gun Policy

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The firing of Guns & Ammo contributing editor Dick Metcalf for making the noncontroversial assertion that the ownership of firearms is subject to some regulation is indicative of how the gun rights community will railroad anyone who offers a modicum of dissent to the absolutist view of the Second Amendment.

    On November 6, Guns & Ammo editor Jim Bequette announced that Metcalf would no longer write for the firearm publication. Metcalf's offense was a column in December's magazine that stated, "[W]ay too many gun owners still seem to believe that any regulation of the right to keep and bear arms is an infringement. The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be." In defense of laws requiring training before carrying a gun in public he wrote, "I firmly believe that all U.S. citizens have a right to keep and bear arms, but I do not believe that they have a right to use them irresponsibly."

    Bequette's groveling column, also appearing in the December issue of Guns & Ammo, offered "each and every reader a personal apology," and stated, "Dick Metcalf has had a long and distinguished career as a gunwriter, but his association with 'Guns & Ammo' has officially ended." Clarifying that the Guns & Ammo position is that the Second Amendment has "[n]o strings attached," Bequette wrote, "I made a mistake by publishing the column. I thought it would generate a healthy exchange of ideas on gun rights. I miscalculated, pure and simple. I was wrong, and I ask your forgiveness."

    Members of the gun rights community face attack for debating any regulation on firearms or expressing support for background checks on firearm sales, a position extremely popular with the American public.

  • NRA's Ted Nugent: FBI Trying To Create Racial Strife By Investigating Tragic Police Shooting Of 13 Year Old

    Nugent: "Slave Masters" In Democratic Party "Enslave Minorities"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent claimed that an FBI investigation into the fatal police shooting of a teenager with a pellet gun was "another hollow attempt" by President Obama "to stir up racial controversy and divide America further in order to keep Americans from focusing on the gross ineptitude of Obamacare and the never-ending scourge of lies and scams spun by his administration."

    On October 22, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot seven times by a sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa, California. The deputy, identified by media as a "gun expert", apparently believed that the pellet gun Lopez was spotted carrying was an AK-47 assault weapon. Indeed, the toy gun had a striking resemblance to a real AK-47. Controversy stemming from the shooting has spurred numerous protests and vigils in Santa Rosa.

    In addition to internal investigations by two local law enforcement agencies, the FBI has begun an independent investigation. An FBI spokesperson told local newspaper The Press Democrat that "It's a civil rights-type of case." Local law enforcement have welcomed the FBI investigation, with Sheriff Steve Freitas stating, "They notified us what they were going to do and we said 'Great we'll welcome that.'"

    The premise of Nugent's column -- that the investigation is meant to create racial strife -- is suspect. Civil rights investigations are not always about racial discrimination. In fact, according to the FBI, the most common civil rights complaint "involves allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel."

  • Ted Nugent Says He Works Closely With Ted Cruz And Other Prominent Republicans

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent claimed on a Detroit radio station that he works closely with a number of prominent Republican officeholders, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Michigan Gov. John Engler, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

    During an October 30 Google hangout hosted by 94.7 WCSX, Nugent was asked about his new role as co-chair of Republican Sid Miller's campaign for Texas Agriculture Commissioner. While answering the question, Nugent referenced his close relationship with other conservative politicians, and suggested he played a role in the 2011 showdown between Walker and labor unions. According to Nugent, he "worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies."

    NUGENT: I'm contacted all the time, I work close with Ted Cruz who is a great patriot, a great statesman. I worked close with Scott Walker's team in Wisconsin when he took it away from the hippies and got rid of the [unintelligible] and got some freedom back in Wisconsin. I've worked with Governor Engler in the past. I've worked with different sheriffs and different attorney generals. I work closely with Greg Abbot and Governor Perry in Texas.

    Despite his history of racially inflammatory rhetoric -- for example he recently endorsed racial profiling -- Nugent has served as a surrogate and done other work for Republican political campaigns. (He is also known for making offensive remarks about women, Muslims, immigrants, and LGBT individuals.)

  • So Anti-Government Gun Rampages Aren't Big News?

    Days Later, LAX's "Pissed-Off Patriot" Draws Little Press Interest

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The chilling details have already faded from view, but the terror that unfolded at the Los Angeles International Airport last week is worth recalling. That's when unemployed motorcycle mechanic Paul Ciancia marched into Terminal 3, pulled out an assault weapon and opened fire. Targeting Transportation Security Administration employees, Ciancia repeatedly shot Geraldo Hernandez at point-blank range, and quickly shot two other agents and a nearby passenger.

    With police in pursuit and panicked passengers fleeing the scene or taking cover in stores and restaurants, Ciancia moved towards the airport gates, still firing his gun, where he was shot four times, subdued and arrested.

    Hernandez died at the scene.

    Sadly, the details of the LAX shooting rampage can easily be swapped out for equally chilling accounts of other recent gun rampages all across the country. The public eruptions of gun violence where gunmen target strangers have become an unwanted hallmark of the most heavily armed country in the world.

    What made Ciancia's deadly shooting anything but random was the fact that according to news reports Ciancia, perhaps thinking he'd die at the scene of his crime, brought with him a one-page, handwritten manifesto in which he described himself as a "pissed-off patriot" and affirmed he had "made a conscious decision to kill" multiple TSA employees.

    He wrote that he wanted to "kill TSA and pigs" in order to "instill fear in your terrorist minds." The note included references to the Federal Reserve and "fiat currency," issues popular with anti-government conspiracists. Ciancia signed the declaration with the letters "NWO," in an apparent reference to New World Order, another conspiracy that fears a totalitarian one-world government.

    Also, Ciancia's note reportedly referred to former Homeland Secretary chief Janet Napolitano as a "bull dyke" and contained the phrase "FU Janet Napolitano."

    So a "pissed-off patriot" brought a .223-caliber assault rifle and a duffel bag filled with hundreds of rounds ammunition to an airport to kill federal government workers (TSA employees) and perhaps local law enforcement officers ("pigs"), and the story's met with something akin to a newsroom collective shrug and days later is virtually ignored?

    Yes, the awful event was big news while it was breaking and while the news helicopters were circling near LAX. These types of deadly shootings are often widely hyped while they're producing compelling television images and the fear of the unknown permeates. But as has become the media tradition, once the latest shooting stops and the gunman is apprehended or killed, and if the victims number one or two, and especially if there is no Islamic terrorism angle, the story immediately recedes with little additional coverage or consideration for what prompted it.  

  • Terry McAuliffe Win Disproves Media Myth Of NRA's Electoral Dominance

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Despite heavy spending from the National Rifle Association, Terry McAuliffe was elected Virginia governor on a platform that included strengthening gun laws, in direct contradiction to the media myth that the NRA can determine election outcomes at will.

    Conventional media wisdom outsizes the NRA's scope of influence by suggesting that the gun rights group has the ability to punish any politician who opposes its absolutist Second Amendment agenda. Following the September recall of two Colorado state senators who had supported stronger gun laws, media hyped this narrative -- ignoring low voter turnout and other factors -- to suggest that the outcome should serve as a warning to politicians who would advocate for stronger gun laws.

    According to the Associated Press, these elections represented "for some, a warning to lawmakers in swing states who might contemplate gun restrictions in the future." MSNBC host Chuck Todd said the lesson of the recall elections was that "every Democrat south of the Mason-Dixon Line" should stay away from the gun issue. At The Atlantic, Molly Ball wrote that the recall meant "The Death of Gun Control."

    The recall elections in Colorado did not shift the balance of power in the Colorado state senate. McAuliffe's election, however, means that for the first time since 1973, Virginians elected a governor who shares the same political affiliation as the sitting president. Here are three ways in which gun policy played an important role in the governor's race.

  • Gun Culture's Burning Man

    Letter From The Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot


    It's an odd feeling to get the upsell on instruction manuals related to domestic terrorism. The nice lady from the Illinois hamlet of Smithton would never describe her wares that way, but that's what they are. The booklets were stacked in neat rows that wrapped around her four tables in the exhibitor's hall at October's Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot, a biannual event just south of Louisville that looks and sounds a lot like a reenactment of the first days of the Siege of Stalingrad. Since 1979, the Shoot has drawn growing numbers of full-auto aficionados to the wooded hills of West Point, Ky. for holidays of high explosives, artillery and machine gun fire. Each April and October, bombs shake the earth and blacken the sky. Streams of bullets smack steel and rubber targets until they burst aflame. The rumble from the range is audible even at the far end of the event's 900-table vendors hall, where I found myself one fine autumn morning perusing technical guides to building kitchen-table bombs and retro-engineering semi-automatic rifles into military-style machine guns.

    Most of the many thousands of blueprints for sale at the Shoot -- old Army manuals for M16 maintenance, recipes for homemade bullets of every conceivable caliber -- can be described as ideologically neutral. The same cannot be said for those sold by the lady from Smithton (who refused to give her name, but let's call her Blanche). Her stapled pamphlets each contained cryptic forewords about government mind-control and the need to "advance our culture." For sale among them were spiral-bound copies of white-power manifestos and neo-fascist fantasy fiction, including a samizdat edition of The Turner Diaries, an influential skinhead classic by the neo-Nazi leader William Pierce. I was reading a page from the Diaries when Blanche returned with the change on my purchase of "Plastique Explosives: Composition C and Cyclonite Base With Various Plasticizing Agents." With all the nonchalance of a barista mentioning a new latte, she delivered her pitch on fertilizer bombs.

    "You know," she said, "if you're interested in plastics, you might like the one my son's just putting out now." I followed her nod toward a gangly teenager in braces arranging the display of a tract titled, "Kitchen Improvised Fertilizer Explosives."

    In certain extremist circles, there is a romance to this breed of bomb. The hero-martyr of The Turner Diaries, which I continued to hold in my hands, begins his "race war" by detonating truck bombs made from heating oil and ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Expository sections in The Turner Diaries explain the bomb-making process and may have inspired America's most murderous fertilizer bomber, Timothy McVeigh. Sections of the Diaries were found in McVeigh's getaway car after his 1995 attack on the Oklahoma City federal center. Three years after McVeigh's truck bomb, the Texas Klansman who dragged James Byrd Jr. to death from the back of his pick-up truck reportedly got behind the wheel with the words, "We're starting The Turner Diaries early."

    The boy cheerfully handed me a copy of "Fertilizer Explosives" and I put the Diaries down. He and his mother watched me as I flipped through the instructions for mixing acetone with powdered nitroglycerin, the itemized lists of detonation velocities and pressures, the grades given to various mixtures for their applicability in the three categories of Blasting, Demolitions, and Munitions. For smaller jobs, there was a two-page recipe for a smokeless powder that can be spooned into P.V.C. pipes for a "dynamite alternative with good shattering characteristics." There were a few empty pages in the back for notes.

    "Yeah, this is great," I said. "But I've been spending a lot of money out there." I extended a thumb in the direction of the range, where men, women, and children were lining up to pay $1.50 per bullet to unload ammo clips and belts at explosives-laden junkyard sedans and burned-out appliances.

    "We'll be here all weekend if you change your mind," said Blanche. "Better to have these in paper. They're watching you now on the Internet."

    Blanche placed my book on plastiques in a discreet brown paper bag and I strolled toward an exit under a weather-beaten Confederate battle flag. On the way out I passed the table of an Indiana-based online retailer of skinhead fashion. The business card on the table advertised "WWII German Memorabilia," but there was little for the collector at Knob Creek. Its presentation mostly featured items that looked like they had just come from the factory: crisp swastika patches, reflective SS stickers, Wehrmacht Eagle t-shirts, hoodies with Panzerdivison and Afrikakorps insignia. Across the aisle from both the neo-Nazi gear and the Tim McVeigh bookstore, two women in pink t-shirts offered $10 off annual memberships to the NRA.

  • Gun Advocate John Lott: Travyon Martin's Mother Used As A Prop To Make Stand Your Ground Seem Racist

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Lott, pictured left of Jordan Davis' mother, Lucia McBath.

    Discredited gun researcher John Lott attacked the presence of the mothers of deceased African-American teenagers Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis at a congressional hearing on Stand Your Ground, describing them as "props" used to make "the case that there was racial bias" in the controversial self-defense law.

    On the October 30 edition of the National Rifle Association's news show Cam & Company, Lott said the two mothers "were there to go and try serve as props essentially for the case that there was racial bias in Stand Your Ground laws," before falsely claiming that the self-defense law had no relevance to either of their son's shooting deaths:

    LOTT: Well I thought [the hearing] was somewhat surreal. Look, we had two very sympathetic witnesses that were there. Trayvon Martin's mom and another mother who had lost her son in a shooting, both of them were black, and they were there to go and try serve as props essentially for the case that there was racial bias in Stand Your Ground laws. As I say, it's very hard to say anything when you're having to deal with a mother who has lost her son, under any circumstances. I have five kids; I can't imagine what it would be like to deal with that situation.

    The problem was, the reason why I was saying it was somewhat surreal is that neither of their cases really had anything to do with the debate over Stand Your Ground laws.

    On October 29, Lott, along with Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton and Davis' mother Lucia McBath, testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee on Stand Your Ground that was held to examine a number of issues surrounding the law, including whether the law made it more likely for homicides of minorities to be ruled "justifiable."

  • NRA's Ted Nugent: "I'm Rosa Parks With A Gibson"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association board member and conservative columnist Ted Nugent compared himself to civil rights icon Rosa Parks in a column for conspiracy website WND where he celebrated the right to free speech. The NRA and its representatives frequently compare their movement to the civil rights struggle, claiming that restrictions on guns are similar to the conditions of segregation or racial discrimination

    In an October 30 column, Nugent called Parks his "hero" for exercising her First Amendment rights and referenced his celebrity as a guitar player to write, "I'm Rosa Parks with a Gibson": 

    Heavily armed with whatever media bully pulpit I can muster, I exercise my First Amendment rights like my hero Rosa Parks who refused to sit at the back of the bus when that numb-nut law existed. I'm Rosa Parks with a Gibson.

    Parks, who died in 2005, was a civil rights activist best known for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white passenger. She was honored by Congress in 1999 as the "first lady of civil rights" and the "mother of the freedom movement" and was a 1996 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Nugent previously claimed in a January interview with WND that "the law-abiding gun owners of America, will be the Rosa Parks and we will sit down on the front seat of the bus." Civil rights leaders called those comments a "very disingenuous comparison," "offensive" and a "far-fetched fantasy."

  • NRA Blocked Law That Could Have Prevented Police From Fatally Shooting 13-Year-Old

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Following a tragic incident in Northern California where police fatally shot a teenager whose pellet gun was mistaken for an assault weapon, questions are being raised over the National Rifle Association's role in blocking a 2011 state legislative proposal to require BB and pellet guns to be brightly colored in order to avoid confusion.

    On October 22, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot seven times by a sheriff's deputy in Santa Rosa, California. The deputy, identified by media as a "gun expert", apparently believed that the pellet gun Lopez carried was an AK-47 assault weapon. Indeed, an image from a law enforcement press conference taken by The Press Democrat demonstrates the similarity between the pellet gun and an assault weapon. The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department also released a photo of the pellet gun Lopez was carrying:

    Photo Credit: Sonoma County Sheriff's Department

    The tragic shooting, now under investigation by the FBI, could have been avoided if the NRA did not block a 2011 legislative proposal in California that would have required pellet and BB guns to be brightly colored to avoid confusion with real firearms. The NRA used its lobbying wing, the Institute for Legislative Action, to fearmonger about the proposal, while NRA News repeatedly hosted an NRA lobbyist to attack the bill.

  • Here's The Origin Of Sen. Cruz's Claim That Stand Your Ground Benefits Blacks

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is facing criticism for explaining to a congressional hearing panel that featured Trayvon Martin's mother that Stand Your Ground self-defense laws benefit African-Americans, a dubious theory invented by right-wing media.

    Seeking to rebut statements that Stand Your Ground laws are racially discriminatory during the October 29 hearing before a Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee, Cruz defended the laws by citing "press reports" that detailed how in Florida African-American defendants were successful 55 percent of the time asserting a Stand Your Ground defense compared to a 53 percent success rate for white defendants:

    CRUZ: In Florida the data show that African-American defendants have availed themselves of the Stand Your Ground defense more frequently than have Anglo defendants. According to press reports, 55 percent of African-American defendants have successfully invoked the Stand Your Ground defense in prosecutions compared to a 53 percent rate in the Anglo population. This is not about politicking, this is not about inflaming racial tensions, although some might try to use it to do that, this is about the right of everyone to protect themselves and protect their family.

    The press report Cruz referred to is likely a July 16 article from conservative website The Daily Caller that used Florida Stand Your Ground data to assert that "African Americans benefit from Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state's population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing 'Stand Your Ground' would help African Americans," while reporting the same figures cited by Cruz.