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 CheaperThanDirt.com. 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 Guns.com.
NRA News uses “The Armed Citizen Files” and a similar segment on its SiriusXM radio show, “Hero of the Day,” to promote anecdotal accounts of self-defense to buttress a claim by the NRA and conservative media that firearms are used in self-defense millions of times each year. In fact the research that claim is based on has been discredited because it suffers from insurmountable methodological flaws. Research from the Harvard Injury Control Research Center and the Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey has demonstrated guns are used to commit crimes far more often than they are used for self-defense. Indeed, an NRA News segment honoring victims of gun violence would have to feature close to 300 incidents a day considering that over 100,000 people are shot each year in the United States.
That NRA News would honor Ellis, who police say has previously faced allegations “similar to what he was charged with in this case,” demonstrates how the show must scrape the bottom of the barrel to find actual cases of self-defense with a gun for its audience. This month, NRA News also honored triggermen involved in less-than-clear-cut cases of self-defense, including a shooter who police want charged with a felony and the case of a man whose murder conviction for shooting his tenant under disputed circumstances was recently overturned.
It is also dubious that NRA News honored Ellis when it would currently be illegal to sell him a gun because of the criminal charges he is facing. Federal law prohibits knowingly selling firearms to individuals under indictment for a crime punishable by more than a year in prison. Ellis has been charged with second degree rape and enticement of a child, both felonies punishable by at least a year of imprisonment.
UPDATE: Citing Media Matters research, Edwards acknowledged Ellis' rape charge on the January 28 edition of Cam & Company and said that he “was unaware of this at the time” NRA News featured Ellis in “The Armed Citizen Files.” Edwards added that if “the folks at Media Matters find additional information that we need to share with you, we certainly will, unlike Media Matters which, you know, won't share every 'Hero of the Day' story with you because they don't really want you to know about every case of armed self-defense. But I do appreciate the folks at Media Matters keeping an eye on the story, and when we learn new information as well about these stories, we'll bring it to you.”