National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent attacked President Obama and gun safety advocates for calling attention to the deaths of children from guns, calling such efforts “The Big Lie” -- a phrase associated with Nazi propaganda.
Gun accidents and homicides involving children happen far more frequently in the United States than in other affluent nations.
In a May 13 column posted on conspiracy website WND (World Net Daily), Nugent wrote, “The Big Lie about guns is that innocent kids are being gunned down or are accidentally shooting each other.”
Arguing that “very few kids under the age of 10 die or are injured as a result of gun-related accidents,” Nugent wrote, “The vast majority of teenagers who die as a result of guns are involved in gangs. They are punks, thugs and street rats who have dropped out of school and let out of their cages over and over again by a so-called 'justice system' gone bad.”
Hitler first wrote about “the big lie” in Mein Kampf. The Nazi leader accused Jews of telling “the big lie” to corrupt “the broad masses,” who he claimed “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie.” The phrase is also associated with tactics used by chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.
It's hard to argue that accidental gun deaths involving children are not worth calling attention to, let alone that covering such tragedies is comparable to Nazi-style propaganda. And it is no surprise that accidental shootings involving children receive widespread media coverage, given how shocking and senseless they are.
According to a project of Everytown for Gun Safety, there have been at least 88 incidents just this year “in which a child 17 or under fired a gun unintentionally and someone was harmed as a result.” In 2013, the group documented at least 100 accidental shooting deaths of children aged 14 or younger. A Mother Jones report that examined the same time period found 84 fatal gun accidents involving children aged 12 and under, 64 of which involved a child pulling the trigger, killing themselves or someone else, which debunks Nugent's claim that children are not “accidentally shooting each other.”
Indeed, one such shooting captured national headlines when a 5-year-old boy accidentally killed his 2-year-old sister in rural Kentucky with a rifle designed for children.
Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently looked at data from 2009 and found that 662 children aged 14 or under were hospitalized after being accidentally shot that year.
Official records also underreport the number of children killed in gun accidents, according to an investigation by The New York Times that found “a review of hundreds of child firearm deaths found that accidental shootings occurred roughly twice as often as the records indicate, because of idiosyncrasies in how such deaths are classified by the authorities.”
National media has also covered two high-profile instances where a child accidentally fatally shot an adult. One incident occurred in August 2014 when a 9-year-old girl lost control of a fully automatic Uzi submachine gun, accidently killing her shooting instructor at a gun range. In December 2014, a 2-year-old child fatally shot his mother in an Idaho Walmart after reaching into her purse and finding her handgun.
The NRA frequently criticizes the media for covering gun accidents involving children. Following national reporting on the Kentucky accident, NRA News host Cam Edwards claimed that coverage of the incident was a “campaign of shame” where the “mass media” sought to “hold themselves up as our betters” and “wanted to make a point that this is what happens in Bumpkinville.”
After the Uzi incident received widespread coverage, Edwards called the media attention “exploitative” and warned against drawing a “larger lesson” from the tragedy.
NRA News also attacked an ABC News 20/20 special that showed how children will often play with unsecured firearms even after being shown the NRA's “Eddie Eagle” safety program -- which teaches children who come upon a firearm to “stop, don't touch, leave the area and tell an adult” -- and has advocated against holding parents criminally responsible when an unsecured gun leads to a child being shot.