Pro-gun media figures seize on protests to push for more gun ownership

After nearly a week of protests over the police killing of Minnesota resident George Floyd, pro-gun media outlets and figures began exploiting the unrest to argue this is why Americans need guns. 

On May 25, Minneapolis police killed 46-year-old George Floyd, sparking nationwide protests of the killing as well as that of Breonna Taylor. The civil uprisings were met with police brutality against both peaceful protesters and journalists, and states deployed the National Guard and mayors across the country instituted citywide curfews.

Pro-gun outlets wasted no time seizing on the small amount of looting that occured along with the protesting to scare people into buying more guns, because, as the NRA put it, “when seconds count, police are minutes away.” 

Here’s how pro-gun media outlets are encouraging gun ownership following the nationwide protests:

  • In a June 2 tweet, pro-gun radio host Mark Walters shared an article about a liquor store owner defending his property with a gun and wrote, “Tell me once more why I don’t need my AR?”
  • In a June 1 blog post, AmmoLand writer Dean Weingarten predicted the U.S. will see an increase in gun purchases because residents of cities are now “wishing they had purchased a pistol, rifle, shotgun, and/or ammunition” before the protests. He went on to claim the reason cities saw more riots than suburbs is because suburbs have more gun owners.  
  • In a June 1 Breitbart article, pro-gun writer AWR Hawkins wrote that because of the protesters, “the maxim, ‘When seconds count, police are minutes away,’ has never been truer.” Hawkins rhetorically asked his readers what they plan to do when “rioters have you pinned to ground” before concluding that “our lives may rest on whether we are or are not armed to defend us.”
  • In a June 1 blog post in The Truth About Guns, pro-gun writer John Boch wrote, “It’s time for law enforcement to step up. Or gun owners will.” Boch claimed that “good guy gun owners did what police couldn’t do in Ferguson” during the 2014 protests there and that people will have to “wait and see” if America’s gun owners will defend businesses from “feral bands of looters” this time.   
  • Bearing Arms contributor Tom Knighton wrote a June 1 post about a man who was allegedly injured while defending his store in Dallas with a machete. Knighton claimed if this store owner was armed with an AR-15 and 30 rounds, he wouldn’t have been targeted. 
  • In a May 31 article, Boch also wrote about the Dallas store owner and claimed if he had been armed with an AR-15, he wouldn't have been “at the mercy of a feral mob.” 
  • On May 31, the NRA tweeted, “When seconds count, police are minutes away.”
  • In a May 31 tweet, NRA Board member Willes Lee wrote, “Don’t ever ask us why anyone would need an AR-15 ever again.”

The National Rifle Association has a history of exploiting racial and other tensions to claim society could break down at any moment and one must be armed in order to be prepared. 

In a 2013 Daily Caller column, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre painted an apocalyptic view of New York after Hurricane Sandy, alleging: “Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.” LaPierre concluded it’s not “paranoia” to get a gun but “survival” -- even though overall crime in the area he mentioned actually went down right after the hurricane. 

In 2006, a leaked NRA graphic novel titled “Freedom In Peril: Guarding The Second Amendment In The 21st Century” warned of the imminent “disarmament of law-abiding Americans” and catalogued a long list of supposed threats, including “Illegal Alien Gangs.” In text accompanying a picture of several minority men flashing gang signs, the NRA warned, “America's unfolding Latino gang crime wave will make the record-setting violent crime rates of the 1980s and '90s look like a schoolyard scuffle.”