NRATV's Grant Stinchfield on the Thousand Oaks mass shooting: Californians are "sheep" because guns are prohibited in bars
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NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet, completely ignored news of an apparently racially motivated shooting at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky that debunked the already discredited “good guy with a gun” myth and left two dead.
On October 24, 51-year-old Gregory Bush attempted to enter a predominantly Black church in Jeffersontown, KY, before heading to a Kroger grocery store where he shot two Black victims, the first in the store and the second in the parking lot. An armed bystander fired at Bush after he shot his second victim but missed him. Another witness said Bush told him he spared the witness’s life because “Whites don’t shoot whites.” The incident is currently being investigated as a hate crime.
The attempted action by an armed bystander further discredits the “good guy with a gun” myth,” a favorite of the NRA’s that has been debunked by both researchers and law enforcement. The “good guy” almost never stops an active shooter situation and actually can create further confusion for police officers arriving on scene.
On October 25 and 26, none of NRATV’s supposed news shows covered the shooting or developments in the days that followed, instead choosing to spread conspiracy theories about the migrant caravan making its way toward the United States, cast doubt on the legitimacy of the recent pipe bomb spree, and promote athletic clothes with a holster in them.
The shooting followed a 2014 campaign by the gun safety group Moms Demand Action, encouraging Kroger to “prohibit the open carry of guns in its stores.” NRATV aired multiple segments pushing back against the effort and claiming the campaign was “not about actually reducing violence; it’s about winning that press release victory.”
UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, host and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch mentioned the shooting during the October 29 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, noting it “raised a lot of questions as to whether or not this killer’s motivations were racial.” A chyron on Loesch’s show also falsely hailed it as an example of a shooting “stopped by good guy with a gun.” While the gunman did exchange fire in the Kroger parking lot with a person with a concealed carry permit, no one was hit in the exchange. According to another witness, who was also armed, the gunman “nonchalantly” left the scene after reportedly telling the witness, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites,” a fact Loesch herself noted during the segment.
Immediately after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, NRATV, the media arm of the National Rifle Association, cheered a dissent he wrote that argued bans on assault weapons are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. That view is far outside of mainstream legal thought.
On July 9, President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, as his nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy and praised his “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and ... proven commitment to equal justice under the law.” Trump picked his nominee from a shortlist of four right-wing federal appeals court judges, and a mounting number of Democratic senators have announced that they will oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislation Action -- the NRA’s lobbying arm -- put out a press release on July 9 applauding Kavanaugh as an “outstanding choice” and highlighting his “impressive record that demonstrates his strong support for the Second Amendment.”
In a 2011 challenge to D.C.’s assault weapons ban, known as Heller II, Kavanaugh split from the rest of the D.C. Circuit Court and wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He went as far as to claim that “a ban on a class of arms …. is equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.”
Based on this position, Kavanaugh would consider bans on the type of firearms most typically used during mass shootings -- including those used in recent massacres in Parkland, FL, Sutherland Springs, TX, and Las Vegas, NV -- unconstitutional. This view is entirely at odds with how federal courts have ruled on the issue. According to The Washington Post, “no federal appeals court has ever held that assault weapons are protected” by the Second Amendment.
NRATV host Cam Edwards immediately celebrated Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, tweeting that it was “a better reasoned argument than the majority opinion.” During the July 10 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield suggested gun owners and NRA members “take this appointment as a reward for our hard work” and hailed Kavanaugh as a “strong dissenting voice in the court’s decision to unfortunately uphold the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons.” NRATV host and spokesperson Dana Loesch said she was “very pleased” with Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion during her show Relentless later that same day.
Edwards joined Stinchfield during the July 11 edition of Stinchfield to continue to praise Kavanaugh’s Heller II dissent:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So, Cam, you’ve been in and around this for a long time. Most of us are looking at the [District of Columbia v.] Heller go-around number two. Dianne Feinstein mentioned it, this was when Kavanaugh dissented in the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons. Have you looked through that ruling? What does it tell you about Kavanaugh?
CAM EDWARDS: I have looked through the ruling, Grant, and it’s a great decision. I mean, it’s a great opinion by Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that his opinion had carried the day because he actually looked at what the Supreme Court said in Heller and McDonald [v. Chicago]. And he said, look, it doesn’t matter if I like these gun control laws or I don’t like these gun control laws. What matters is that, under the precedent set by Heller and ratified by McDonald, so we know that these Second Amendment protections don’t just apply to infringement by the federal government, D.C.’s blanket ban on the most commonly sold rifle in America today doesn’t pass constitutional muster. And he made a very commonsense argument. He said, look, in the Supreme Court said in the first Heller case that you can’t ban semi-automatic handguns because those are in common use by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. Well, what’s the difference between a semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic long gun? They’re both in common use, both owned by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. If you can’t ban one, you can’t ban the other.
Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion is a radical interpretation of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s handgun ban in a 5-4 decision. The 2008 ruling, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, explained that the Second Amendment right is “not unlimited” and that there is no “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Specifically, the Heller opinion said that “dangerous and unusual” weapons can be banned under the Second Amendment, which is the rationale federal courts have relied upon in upholding bans. In April, a federal district court judge (who was appointed by Ronald Reagan) rejected a Second Amendment challenge to Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban by positively citing Scalia’s language from Heller that explained cases where gun ownership can be limited.
Kavanaugh, however, has signaled he would advance the NRA’s interpretation of the constitutionality of assault weapons bans, which defies mainstream legal thought.
Launched in late 2016, NRATV serves as the news outlet for the National Rifle Association, regularly defending President Donald Trump, slamming mainstream media outlets as “dishonest rags,” and viciously criticizing any politician or activist who speaks out against the president and his policies. While some of the outlet’s coverage focuses on gun policy, the newest developments in firearms technology, and tactical shooting, the programming has largely become a platform for far-right conservative talking points that are often unrelated to gun policy. As NRATV strayed away from gun coverage, it sparked a number of controversies and drew widespread criticism during its inaugural year. After the February 2018 school shooting in Parkland, FL, there were numerous calls for companies to end their business relationship with NRATV.
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The National Rifle Association’s news outlet NRATV used Saturday night’s terror attack in London to push a variety of conservative and pro-Second Amendment talking points, including calling for surveilling mosques and arming British citizens.
Seven people were killed in London on June 3, after three assailants used a vehicle to run into pedestrians on the London Bridge and then got out of the van to attack other victims with knives in nearby Borough Market. About 50 people were injured before police shot and killed all three suspects. Saturday’s attack came 12 days after a suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert which left 22 dead, and a little over two months after a March attack in London that left four dead.
While NRATV program Stinchfield, which provides live news updates at the top of the hour from 9 a.m. EST to 1 p.m. EST, offered significant coverage of the London attack on June 5, the show ignored a mass shooting that took place that morning in Orlando, FL. (The Orlando incident was briefly mentioned on the NRA’s talk radio program, which airs later in the day.)
Covering the Orlando attack would have brought the nonsensical nature of the NRA’s arguments surrounding guns and terrorism into clear focus: The United States has much more permissive gun laws and availability compared to the U.K. and as a consequence experiences much higher rates of gun homicide and homicide generally.
While first reporting on the latest London attack during the June 5 9 a.m. edition of Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield said that just one armed police officer could have stopped the “carnage” and asked, “When is London going to wake up?” Stinchfield went on to fearmonger that it is “only a matter of time before these things start happening here on a regular basis” and blamed the attack on “politically correct politicians” before suggesting British citizens should carry guns to stop attacks. From the June 5 update:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): It took just eight minutes for three Islamic jihadists to kill seven people and wound nearly 50 more. Eight minutes. They didn’t use guns, but a truck and some knives. The reality of this attack is one police officer could have stopped this early on. What few people are talking about is that the attackers came upon the first officer just after exiting their van on the London Bridge, after running over so many unsuspecting Londoners. We have to assume the officer, like so many in England, was unarmed. The attacker stabbed him and then moved on to attack others. When is London going to wake up?
STINCHFIELD: It is only a matter of time before these things start happening here on a regular basis. We already see them happening in the United States. Now, since March, in London there have been three attacks and 34 people dead. In Europe the terrorists are winning. Submissive policies by submissive, politically correct politicians are getting people killed. How many times does America need to be warned? Does the world need to be warned these evil jihadists are for real? And they are brutal killers? As I watched Londoners flee in panic, I thought in that crowd of thousands, not one citizen had a chance. Not one citizen had a gun because the government bars them from having one. It took eight minutes for armed officers to arrive and save the day with a simple tool called a firearm. Eight minutes of carnage that could have been stopped if only that first officer was armed in the early seconds of that attack. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 6/5/17]
During the 11 a.m. update, Stinchfield again turned his attention to the citizens of England, who, he said, could not defend themselves “because the government disarmed them all.” He referred to this as “delusional” before slamming a British man as an “idiot” who was photographed “running away from the terror with a beer in his hand.” Stinchfield went on to claim that the British government has “made him this way” and “tricked” him into thinking he is safe, before rhetorically asking, “How sad is that?”
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): For too long, left-wing leaders failed to realize that radical jihad is a real threat. Now in Europe, attacks are nearly a daily occurrence. With Saturday night’s attack in London, terrorists have killed 34 people in England since mid-March, and wounded countless more. All of this should serve as a global wake-up call. For Americans, these daily attacks are soon to come here. Are you ready? England was not. Look at the people fleeing. Not one could stop the attacker or defend themselves because the government disarmed them all. Now in the height of English delusion, England is hailing a probable drunk as its national hero. Look at the man running from the terror with a beer in his hand. The people of England thinks the terrorist won’t deter him. To me, anyone under attack who hangs on to a beer is simply an idiot, not a hero. But his government made him this way. They tricked him into thinking he is safe. So safe, the attack he is fleeing couldn’t really be real to him or a danger. My guess is, he looks at all of this as it’s simply some kind of office fire drill. How sad is that? How sad is that’s their hero, not the first police officer to come face-to-face with a terrorist just seconds into the attack. That police officer couldn’t be a hero, because he never stood a chance. He was unarmed. The jihadist stabbed him and moved on to attack so many others. For eight minutes they had their way until what? An armed unit showed up and killed them. [NRATV, Stinchfield, 6/5/17]
NRATV also took issue with London police’s suggested response to the attack. Police sent out a tweet on Saturday night advising people to “run,” “hide,” and “call” authorities in case of an attack. The strategy has previously been promoted by England’s National Police Chiefs Council, which said that during an attack, “people should first run to a place of safety,” or hide if they can’t, and call the police when it is safe to do so. (In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that in an active shooting situation, people first try to evacuate, then hide, and then confront the attacker as a last resort.)
During the June 5 1 p.m. update, NRATV commentator Bill Whittle called this strategy a “passive, weak kind of reaction” that only encourages the terrorists. During the June 5 10 a.m. update, Stinchfield said that “one armed citizen could have stopped the carnage early on” and that a better strategy for the people of England would be to “hide, fight, and fight,” before claiming, “Cowards always lose, sheep always get slaughtered. With the ever increasing threat we face, ... I refuse to become a coward or a sheep.”
Stinchfield doubled down on his stance in a June 5 tweet, saying his message to England is to “be a fighter!”:
— Grant Stinchfield (@stinchfield1776) June 5, 2017
Beyond pushing more permissive guns laws, during the 9 a.m. update, Stinchfield said that the government in the United States should “surveil” mosques.
During all of NRATV’s June 5 Stinchfield updates, neither Stinchfield nor his guests brought up Monday’s attack in Orlando, which left five people including the gunman dead. NRATV host Cam Edwards mentioned the attack briefly during his three-hour show, but used it to push for more gun ownership.
Despite Stinchfield’s repeated claim that the U.K. was unprepared for the attack because the government has “disarmed” its people, the country actually has drastically lower rates of gun homicide and homicide generally compared to the U.S. The U.K. also has much more restrictive gun laws.
Firearms are used in more than two-thirds of homicides in the United States. High gun availability has been linked to increased gun homicide rates, with one review of academic research finding that “case-control studies, ecological time-series and cross-sectional studies indicate that in homes, cities, states and regions in the U.S., where there are more guns, both men and women are at a higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.” (The same trend is seen in comparisons between high-income countries.)
Academic research has also found that guns are used in the U.S. far more often to commit crimes than to stop crimes. A 2000 study by Harvard Injury Research Control Center found that as a ratio, "guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense. Most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society."
In fact, the odds of people needing a gun to protect themselves are so low that it’s difficult to accurately measure the total number of defensive gun uses each year. Meanwhile, gun violence is so frequent in the United States that more than 100,000 gunshot injuries are recorded every year (a figure that does not include crimes committed with guns where no one is shot).
In contrast to a lack of evidence that civilians can effectively use guns to stop mass shootings -- a frequent claim that the NRA makes -- terror attacks involving firearms in the United States, which often involve AR-15-style assault weapons, have been incredibly deadly over the years. A December 2015 terror attack in San Bernardino, CA, involved a gunman shooting and killing 14 and wounding 22 with an assault rifle at an office holiday party. The perpetrator of a June 2016 terror attack in a nightclub in Orlando, FL, also used an assault weapon to kill 49 people and wound at least 53.
The National Rifle Association is holding its four-day annual meeting April 27-30 in Atlanta, GA.
In promotional materials for the meeting, the NRA wrote: “Georgia was a pivotal location in the civil rights movement. So, it is fitting that the NRA, the oldest civil rights organization in the country, is holding its 146th Annual Meeting of Members in Atlanta.”
The NRA has repeatedly hyped itself as both the oldest and the largest civil rights organization in the country. But in fact when the organization was founded in 1871, its primary goal was to “‘promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis.’” It did not actively begin lobbying for gun rights until nearly six decades later in 1934, when its Legislative Affairs Division was formed “‘in response to repeated attacks on the Second Amendment Rights,’” according to an analysis by the National Association for the Deaf (NAD). Both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) founded in 1909 and NAD founded in 1880 are older civil rights organizations than the NRA.
Although the NRA praised Atlanta as the location for this year’s meeting because of its history with the civil rights movement, the NRA has previously lobbed multiple attacks against Atlanta-based congressman and civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). On June 22, 2016, following a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, Lewis led a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to protest gun violence and push for gun safety legislation. During the sit-in, NRATV host Cam Edwards compared Lewis and other participants to “criminals and terrorists," because like terrorists, the sit-in participants were not following the rules. During a subsequent broadcast, Edwards lectured his audience on “what sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement” in an attempt to separate Lewis’ actions from the civil rights movement.
In January 2017, Lewis took a stand against President Donald Trump, calling him illegitimate and said he planned on skipping the inauguration ceremony. During the January 16 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield claimed, “Dr. King would be ashamed of John Lewis” and said that Lewis has “forgotten what Dr. King stood for.” During an interview with NRA commentator and spokesperson Dana Loesch, Stinchfield called Lewis' refusal to attend the inauguration “anti-American,” “unpatriotic,” and “sad.” Loesch agreed with him and called Lewis’ comments “unfortunate” and “a threat to democracy.”
Despite targeting a civil rights hero, the NRA has routinely attempted to co-opt the civil rights movement by, among other things, calling gun regulations “equally as unconstitutional” as Jim Crow laws and bemoaning that “too many Americans don’t think of the Second Amendment as a civil rights issue.” In August 2015, NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action media liaison Lars Dalseide compared a Seattle ordinance that would fund gun violence research by imposing a tax on the sale of guns and ammunition to Jim Crow-era poll taxes.
In March 2014, NRA board member Ted Nugent wrote in a column for conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that gun owners “must learn from Rosa Parks and definitely refuse to give up our guns,” in response to a law that banned assault weapons following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Nugent went on to call Rosa Parks his “hero” and has previously called himself “Rosa Parks with a Gibson.”
NRATV attacked anti-gun-violence activists in anticipation of them attempting to “politicize” the recent deadly shooting in Fresno, CA. But an NRA host later used the shooting to compare an anti-gun-violence leader to the Fresno shooter and suggested people need to arm themselves when “a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm.”
On April 18, Kori Muhammad opened fire on four men in Fresno, CA, killing three. The shooting occurred two hours after Fresno police identified him as the suspect in the killing of an unarmed security guard. Despite earlier speculation, the police confirmed that the suspect isn’t connected to terrorism, and called the shootings “solely based on race.”
During the April 18 edition of NRATV’s Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards briefly mentioned the shooting in the show’s 4 p.m. hour, and highlighted that the gunman said “Allahu akbar” when he was being arrested. Edwards went on to bemoan that gun violence prevention groups “will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime … if they have not done so already”:
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): We are watching some breaking news out of Fresno, California. Kori Ali Muhammad, who apparently was wanted in a murder last week in Fresno, taken into custody after shooting and killing at least three people in Fresno earlier today. We will bring you more details on that story, apparently shouted Allahu akbar when police arrested him. [The police] chief said he expressed a hatred of whites, taken into custody again in Fresno, California. I am assuming that, if they have not already done so, gun control groups will be jumping on this and trying to politicize this crime in California before long, if they have not done so already.
But just one day after Edwards complained that anti-gun-violence groups would “politicize” the shooting, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield did just that. During the April 19 edition of NRATV’s Live Updates, Stinchfield said it was “delusional and … deceitful” not to consider the shooting an act of terrorism and warned that “you better be ready, because the reality is, there will be no one there to defend you”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Kori Ali Muhammad calls white people the devil. He killed three of them yesterday while yelling in Arabic, “God is great” -- Allahu akbar. We’ve heard it too many times before. I call it a rampage, the media wants to call it a hate crime. What no one is calling it is a terrorist attack. The man yelled Allahu akbar. Call this heinous act what it is, terrorism on the streets of Fresno. Look at this article written by The Associated Press: Not once does it even mention the possibility of terrorism. It’s delusional and more likely deceitful. The media wants you to believe there is no such thing as radical Islam or the terrorists who practice it. Here is what Fresno police have to say:
STINCHFIELD: Come on, clearly radical Islam is alive and well. That is one example of it. And these holy warriors lurk on our streets; it is up to you to defend yourself from an attack like this. In the very moment a deranged lunatic praising Allah pulls his firearm, you better be ready. Because the reality is, there will be no one else there to defend you.
Stinchfield began his 10-minute noon update by calling Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts “extreme” for promising to protest the NRA annual meeting at the end of the month and comparing her to to the Fresno gunman, who is “also extreme.” Stinchfield repeated that “Allahu akbar” is the “rallying cry of every Islamic holy warrior,” and therefore proof this attack is terror-related. NRA spokesperson and commentator Dana Loesch also slammed the police for calling this “a hate crime based on race,” and went on to state, “The guy is a terrorist, plain and simple.”
The National Rifle Association has a well-established track record of hypocrisy when it comes to whether to politicize mass shootings and tragedies. The organization slammed gun violence prevention groups when they called to expand the national background checks system after the mass shooting in a Charleston church in June 2015. Edwards went as far as to say it is “completely inappropriate” to discuss gun policies the day after an incident. The NRA, however, quickly responded to a shooting at a naval facility in Chattanooga, TN, a month later and argued that it proved firearm regulations on military bases should be loosened. It seems that in the NRA's hypocritical worldview, calls for stronger gun laws are disrespectful, exploitative, and shameless -- while calls for less restrictions are sensible, timely, and relevant. Even worse, the gun group's post-shooting strategy operates from behind a façade of "respect" for the victims.
NRATV host Cam Edwards has repeatedly highlighted the country’s raging opioid epidemic while arguing that gun violence gets too much media attention by comparison. While both crises require major media attention and public health resources, Edwards’ commentary on the issue serves the the NRA’s interest in downplaying the toll of gun violence.
During his three-hour weekday NRATV show Cam & Company, Edwards regularly discusses the opioid epidemic that “is hitting Americans all across the country” and points out the increase in deaths from opioid overdose from 2014 to 2016 in states including Ohio, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and West Virginia. At the end of his monologues, however, Edwards often uses the drug overdose epidemic to downplay pervasive gun violence in the United States.
During the March 15 edition of Cam & Company, Edwards alleged that gun violence prevention activists, organizations, and the media are “much more interested in researching reasons why we should go after the Second Amendment rights of Americans” than in fighting the opioid epidemic.
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): The media, the anti-gun activists out there, deep-pocketed billionaires like Michael Bloomberg -- Bloomberg has his own school of public health at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. And they seem sadly much more interested in researching reasons why we should go after the Second Amendment rights of Americans than they do in fighting this epidemic.
During another broadcast the next week, Edwards read a list of opioid overdose rates compared to homicide rates in several states. He then claimed that the “mainstream media tries to tell us that we need to be more concerned about things like The Hearing Protection Act or national right to carry reciprocity,” both NRA legislative priorities that would weaken gun laws nationally. Edwards went on to emphasize the opioid overdose epidemic, saying that is “what we need to be concerned about. … Not bills that are out there respecting and restoring and strengthening our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
During another March broadcast of his show, Edwards complained that the national media is “not talking much about … the staggering spike in overdose deaths” and that the gun violence epidemic “gets more attention.”
In addition to these examples, Media Matters' regular monitoring of Edwards’ programming and writing has identified commentary that uses the opioid epidemic to downplay gun violence as an emerging talking point for the NRA.
For example, in a March 15 article titled “The Real Epidemic” on the online edition of NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom, Edwards compared West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate to Chicago’s homicide rate and claimed that the media is too busy pushing stronger gun laws to “pay more than scattered attention to the unfolding devastation caused by opioid overdoses.”
He also claimed that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “has his own Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, but they seem to be much more interested in doing research on why we supposedly need more gun control laws than in finding solutions to the soaring overdose death rates.”
Contrary to Edwards’ claims, Bloomberg has taken significant steps to battle the opioid epidemic. While serving as mayor, Bloomberg created the Mayor’s Task Force on Prescription Painkiller Abuse to address a six-fold increase in overdoses in New York City between 2004 and 2010. In September 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg “is donating $300 million to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore to finance an ambitious effort to target opioid addiction, gun violence and other issues that are shortening lives and disrupting communities across the U.S.”
The opioid epidemic is undoubtedly a growing problem that is devastating communities nationwide. But it is unfair for the NRA to use one epidemic to downplay another.
In February 2013, the National Physicians Alliance declared gun violence to be “a public health issue that has reached epidemic proportions.” In a December 2015 opinion piece for U.S. News & World Report, the chief medical officer of the New York State Office of Mental Health Dr. Lloyd Sederer called gun violence “a deadly infectious disease” which “know[s] few boundaries.”
On average, roughly 100,000 people are shot annually in the United States, and this figure does not include incidents that don’t result in physical injury, such as using a gun to threaten or intimidate someone. In 2016, according to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 385 mass shootings, and 672 children ages 11 or under were killed or injured by guns.
NRATV has effectively served as a propaganda arm for President Donald Trump since he was elected. In a January video, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre declared that his group was “Donald Trump’s strongest, most unflinching, ally.”
As a consequence, the NRA threw in its lot with Trump as he led congressional Republicans in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, despite evidence that doing so would actually make the opioid epidemic much worse. According to Vox, the ACA expanded health care coverage to about “2.8 million Americans with drug use disorders,” and repealing the legislation could leave millions of addicts “stranded without potentially lifesaving care. If the Republicans’ attempt to replace the ACA had been successful, it would have “flatly reduce[d] coverage” and “water[ed] down coverage requirements for addiction treatment.” But that is something you aren’t likely to hear about on NRATV.
After Republicans led a vote in the House of Representatives to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive action preventing some severely mentally ill Social Security recipients from purchasing a firearm members of conservative media, particularly those with ties to the National Rifle Association, falsely labeled the regulation a “gun grab.” They claimed the Obama administration had deemed any recipient receiving financial aid “mentally deficient” and stripped them of “due process,” even though the regulation covers only 75,000 severely mentally ill individuals and has a due process component allowing for an appeal.
NRA News Host: LGBT Students Shouldn't Be Afraid "Unless They Have Been Living In A Cave Somewhere"
The National Rifle Association’s radio show dismissed personal safety concerns raised by LGBT students at the University of Houston following Texas’ August 1 adoption of a law allowing concealed guns to be carried on many parts of public college campuses.
Cam Edwards, the host of NRA News’ Cam & Company, cited a Buzzfeed article where a University of Houston student, who self-identifies as transgender and intersex, expressed fear of being shot if someone was angered by their use of gender-neutral pronouns.
On the August 30 edition of Cam & Company, Edwards dismissed the student’s worries, as well as those of other LGBT students mentioned in the article, saying he feels “horrible” for those students because “they don't have to feel that way and yet they’re being told by anti-gun professors, they are being told by anti-gun media, they are being told by anti-gun activists that oh yes, absolutely, they should feel this way, they should be scared of concealed carry holders.”
“Unless they have been living in a cave somewhere in Texas and they only emerged to go to college, they've been hanging around concealed carry holders virtually their entire life if they grew up in Texas,” Edwards continued. (While discussing the article, Edwards mistakenly cited it as appearing in The Houston Chronicle rather than Buzzfeed.)
Edwards never read from sections of the Buzzfeed article, where multiple LGBT students talked about how they “regularly experienced intimidation on campus before the law was implemented,” especially from extremists who hold hateful protests on campus, and expressed concern that guns can be carried at the school’s LGBT center:
Some of the students thought about protesting, but they didn’t think it would be safe. “We would also out ourselves in the process, which isn’t safe for many of the LGBT students on campus,” [student Robyn] Foley added. “Especially now.”
Many of the LGBTQ students told BuzzFeed News they regularly experienced intimidation on campus before the law was implemented — both from fellow students and from non-student religious protest groups on campus, which the students refer to as “Hell Yellers.”
Many non-student religious groups, including one called Bulldog Ministries, show up on UH’s campus during midterms and finals and yell at students, the students at the LGBT center told BuzzFeed News.
On Bulldog’s website, men can be seen in various locations in Houston holding signs reading, “WARNING: drunks, homosexuals, abortionists, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, witches, idolaters, HELL AWAITS YOU.”
Foley said they have had slurs yelled at them and been “intimidated” on campus before. Other LGBT students said they have had similar experiences.
According to news reports analyzed by the Violence Policy Center, since May 2007, 885 people have been killed by concealed carry permittees, including 48 people in Texas. The gunman who committed the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history on June 12 by targeting an Orlando LGBT nightclub was licensed to carry a gun in public.
NRA News Is “Your First Source For Second Amendment News” -- Except, Apparently, For Information About The Trump Outrage
The National Rifle Association’s news program for “the Second Amendment and other freedom-related issues” barely mentioned GOP nominee Donald Trump’s claim that “Second Amendment people” could do something about Hillary Clinton’s judicial nominations.
The August 10 broadcast of Cam & Company offered no substantive discussion of Trump’s comment, only turning to the remark near the end of the broadcast to immediately dismiss it as a “manufactured controversy” and then using it to pivot to attack Clinton.
During a August 9 rally in North Carolina, Trump said, “Hillary wants to abolish, essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.”
The comment was widely interpreted -- including by members of conservative media -- as a reference to a violent overthrow of a potential Clinton administration or as a threat of violence against Clinton or her judicial nominees.
In the face of these condemnations, the NRA -- which largely invented, and often promotes, the idea that the Second Amendment’s purpose is to allow the violent overthrow of a "tyrannical" government -- defended Trump by twisting what he had said to make it seem less extreme. (The NRA endorsed Trump in May during the group’s annual meeting.)
The next day, August 10, Trump’s “Second Amendment people” comment continued to dominate the news cycle, making it one of the most widely discussed Second Amendment stories in 2016.
The most notable news show devoted to Second Amendment issues, the NRA’s Cam & Company, failed to offer significant coverage or discussion of Trump's "Second Amendment people" claim.
Cam & Company addressed the firestorm surrounding Trump only toward the end of its three-hour Wednesday broadcast. Returning from commercial break, host Cam Edwards said, “Your first source for Second Amendment news and information, it is NRA News Cam & Company.”
After introducing his guest Stephen Kruiser of PJ Media, Edwards said, “So listen, I got to tell you, I have not spent a lot of time talking about the manufactured controversy du jour today,” and then, adopting a mock-incredulous tone, he continued, “But did you hear what Donald Trump said yesterday? What does it mean?”
Edwards never shared what Trump actually said, quickly pivoting to attacking the media for allegedly devoting insufficient coverage to supposed controversies surrounding the Clinton campaign before turning to general complaints about media coverage of the 2016 election. Then Edwards changed the subject, joking with Kruiser at length about a news report concerning the escape of a service monkey.
Cam & Company could have taken the time to discuss the Trump's “Second Amendment people” comment if Edwards had wanted to: The August 10 broadcast also devoted nearly seven minutes to criticizing the new Ghostbusters reboot.
NRA News Host Cam Edwards On Kardashian West: “Maybe She Should Get Rid Of Her Armed Security”
The National Rifle Association’s media arm is attacking Kim Kardashian West for calling for stronger gun laws, nonsensically claiming that she is a hypocrite because she employs armed security.
Kardashian West in the past week has expressed her support for gun safety laws at several events, attending a lunch organized by gun safety groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and speaking about the need for stronger gun laws at an annual conference for women bloggers. Kardashian West wrote on social media that at the lunch she met with “families of loved ones who were killed by gun violence” and “I learned a lot from listening to their stories. Life is so precious! What will it take for this to stop?”
Having lunch with the families of loved ones who were killed by gun violence. I learned a lot from listening to their stories. Life is so precious! What will it take for this to stop? #NotOneMore #Everytown #MomsDemand
A photo posted by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on
The NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, criticized Kardashian West’s advocacy, trotting out a well-worn and deeply flawed NRA talking point that anyone who employs armed security is a hypocrite if they advocate for gun safety laws.
During the August 8 broadcast of Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards asked Jenn Jacques of the gun blog Bearing Arms if she felt Kardashian West was employing a “double standard” and was in effect saying, “‘I can protect my family, but Jenn [Jacques] can’t protect hers.’” Jacques responded,“I think it’s disgusting that at the same time [Kardashian West is] calling for strengthening gun laws in America she’s utilizing her celebrity status to have armored tanks and armored vehicles carry her family around with teams of armed body guards. It’s just flat-out hypocrisy.”
Edwards, who “found it a little hypocritical” himself, hoped his discussion with Jacques would “prompt some thinking and some soul searching on the part of Kim Kardashian West and if she is really that opposed to guns and if she really is that paranoid and freaked out, then maybe she should get rid of her armed security.”
However, this poorly reasoned “hypocrisy” theory does not make sense. It would be logical only if Kardashian West were calling for laws that would prevent law-abiding people from buying guns to protect themselves. That isn't what she's advocating.
The organization she met with, Everytown for Gun Safety lists on its website expanding background checks, preventing domestic abusers from accessing guns, promoting the safe storage of firearms, and preventing illegal gun trafficking as its policy objects.
A recent NRA ad used the same false attack against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, asserting that Clinton is a hypocrite for calling for stronger gun laws while receiving protection from the Secret Service. Like Kardashian West, Clinton has expressed support for further regulations of firearms, such as requiring background checks for gun sales, but not for a ban on gun ownership that would allow only hired security guards to have guns.
As civil rights hero and noted sit-in organizer Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) led a sit-in on the U.S. House of Representatives floor to demand votes on gun violence prevention measures, the host of the National Rifle Association’s radio show gave a lecture on “what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement.”
Shortly before noon on June 22, Lewis and other Democratic members of Congress sat on the House floor, refusing to return to regular order until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call a vote on background check legislation and legislation to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. The sit-in lasted through the night and has continued today through posting time.
During the June 22 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show, Cam & Company, host Cam Edwards said of the sit-in, “I don’t know what to call it” and proceeded to give a lecture on what a sit-in is, referencing famous lunch counter protests during the civil rights movement, before concluding “That’s what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement.”
Lewis served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and famously organized numerous sit-ins, including lunch counter protests, to protest racial discrimination during the 1960s.
Edwards went on to attack the Lewis-led sit-in, characterizing it as “House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit,” a reference to the claim that Democratic legislation to prohibit gun sales to suspected terrorists violates the due process clause of the Constitution.
In fact, any gun sale denials are already subject to a due process procedure. If someone, for example, is erroneously flagged as a felon and denied the purchase of a gun, they have the ability to have the denial adjudicated by filing an appeal. Democrats have also expressed willingness to ensure that legislation to prevent sales to suspected terrorist affords due process to individuals who have sales denied.
Edwards closed out his lecture about sit-ins with a bizarre analogy that compared efforts to destroy ISIS to what he claimed Democrats are doing to the Bill of Rights, claiming, “These are House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit, to view the Bill of Rights as an impediment to lawmakers, to treat it as such and to try to degrade. Kind of like what they say with ISIS right? Degrade and destroy. We’re kind of witnessing the degradation and the destruction of the Bill of Rights right now.”
From the June 22 broadcast of Cam & Company:
CAM EDWARDS (HOST): Again, the pro-- I don’t know what to call it, a sit-in, again, generally speaking we saw the sit-ins in the civil rights movement that were advocating for individuals being able to enjoy the same rights that other Americans enjoyed, right? That’s what the protests were, that’s what -- we’re sitting at this lunch counter and we’re not leaving until we get served. Not we’re sitting at this lunch counter and we’re not leaving until you remove this item from the menu. We’re going to sit right here and we’re not leaving until you recognize us as human beings, as Americans who have the same rights that that guy has over there and that she has over there. That’s what the sit-ins were about in the civil rights movement. This, on the other hand, this isn’t Congress demanding more rights for Americans, this isn’t Congress demanding rights for themselves, this is Congress demanding power. These are House Democrats demanding the authority and the power to ignore the Fifth Amendment when they see fit, to view the Bill of Rights as an impediment to lawmakers, to treat it as such and to try to degrade. Kind of like what they say with ISIS right? Degrade and destroy. We’re kind of witnessing the degradation and the destruction of the Bill of Rights right now. Where again you’ve got self-professed thought leaders who say it’s time to repeal the Second Amendment, the Constitution itself is outdated, and then you've got lawmakers who just want to ignore the Bill of Rights.
The National Rifle Association’s radio show compared participants in a sit-in in the U.S. House of Representatives being led by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) to “criminals and terrorists” reasoning that like terrorists, the sit-in participants were not following the rules.
While the House was in session on June 22, Lewis and other Democratic members of Congress sat on the floor of the House, refusing to return to regular order until Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed to call a vote on legislation to prevent gun violence.
CNN.com described the move as “a dramatic protest inside the House of Representatives” that was “rich with historic symbolism.” Lewis, who as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organized numerous sit-ins to protest racial discrimination during the 1960s, has been described as “one of the most courageous persons the Civil Rights Movement ever produced.”
During the June 22 broadcast of the NRA’s radio show Cam & Company, as the sit-in proceeded, host Cam Edwards claimed, “So in order to push legislation that the sponsors say would not have prevented the attacks in Orlando, Florida, they’re also going to flout the House rules. Kind of like, you know, criminals and terrorists flout the rules that we have in place right now and will continue to do so?”: