Dana Loesch | Media Matters for America

Dana Loesch

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  • NRATV hosted members of the MSD commission to push for arming teachers in the year following the Parkland shooting

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    In the year after the mass shooting at a Parkland, FL, high school, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet NRATV developed a relationship with members of the state commission set up to analyze the response to the shooting and suggest security improvements, which included arming classroom teachers.  

    The 16-member panel was put together to “investigate system failures” and recommend policies for active shooter situations as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a “sweeping school-safety law” signed by Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott a month after the Parkland school shooting left 17 dead. NRATV host Grant Stinchfield praised the legislation on the one-year anniversary of the shooting, calling the law “amazing” and reminding viewers that “the NRA worked hard to get [it] passed.” Among its recommendations, which were released in December, the commission called for arming teachers who undergo background checks and training.

    Commission members were chosen by state Republicans -- Scott, then-Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and then-Senate President Joe Negron. They initially included three Parkland parents in the commission, though Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, later resigned. The panel held its first meeting on April 24.

    On August 16, Pinellas County Sheriff and commission Chairman Bob Gualtieri appeared with NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch on her NRATV show Relentless and echoed a common NRA talking point that “police officers cannot be everywhere.” He claimed, “The unfortunate reality is is cops can’t be everywhere all the time, and if there had been a good guy with a gun on that campus or in that building, there’s no doubt in my mind that they would have been able to minimize the carnage.”

    Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, a commission member, has made at least five appearances on NRATV’s Stinchfield and Cam & Co. since his appointment to repeat NRA talking points and push for more guns in schools. On November 28, Judd appeared on NRATV with host Grant Stinchfield to take credit for guiding his “dear friend” Chairman Gualtieri toward supporting armed teachers after he initially expressed discomfort with the idea:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Here we have another recommendation that teachers should be armed. Not surprising to you, but what do you think about this recommendation? Was it surprising to others in Florida?

    GRADY JUDD: Well, do you know, I don’t think it was a surprise to others in Florida because Senate Bill 7026, which we pushed through, mandates armed guardians or school resource officers on every campus. Sheriff Gualtieri is a dear friend of mine and chairs the commission -- I’m on that commission with him. I established that position early on as, you know, through my sentinel program. Bob originally -- Bob Gualtieri, the chair -- was not really comfortable with that. And as I worked with him -- and he and I are dear friends and are on several committees together. And the research we developed through this shooting, it was abundantly evident had teachers -- not all teachers; those that wanted to and were capable of and completed thorough training -- could have and would have saved lives that day. We know one teacher that was shot by our suspect, had actually pulled himself over into a corner, and then the suspect came back and shot him again, fatally killing him, obviously. But we know he would have shot and killed the active shooter had he had a firearm. Had he had that firearm, not only would his life have been saved but so would have a lot of other children in school that day. As I’ve said over and over, Grant, this is not something we want to do. When I was a kid in school, we didn’t have to have armed security on campuses. But this is a new normal and a new day. And we have to have someone there so if we can’t discover this active murderer, shooter, ahead of time, that when they arrive on campus, somebody is there to stop them before they can hurt our students and our teachers.

    STINCHFIELD: You know, sheriff, to me this is all common sense. I mean, I don’t really even think you need research to understand the very basic premise that [NRA executive vice president and CEO] Wayne LaPierre coined the phrase “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I know that research has been done, it backs up your case, but to me it comes down to just simple common sense. You’ve got to meet a threat with equal or greater force. That’s the only way to stop a threat. This does that, doesn't it?

    JUDD: It absolutely does.     

    Two weeks later, on December 12, the commission released a draft report that listed “a series of failures by Broward County agencies and recommendations for avoiding a similar tragedy in the future,” the Sun-Sentinel reported. Among its other recommendations, the commission voted 14-1 to allow classroom teachers to carry guns provided they undergo background checks and training.  

    Less than a week after the draft report was released, Loesch revealed that Gualtieri told her information about the shooting that was released to the commission but not to the public. On her December 18 radio show, she said CCTV footage from inside the school showed that the gunman took seven to 10 seconds to reload, a longer time compared to “an adequately trained person” who “can reload in a second.” The commission submitted its final report to the governor and state legislature on January 2.

    The NRA has long advocated for putting armed personnel in schools, and even though NRATV ramped up its advocacy following the Parkland mass shooting, there is little to no evidence putting guns in schools will stop mass shootings. An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 found that only four incidents were stopped by “armed individuals who were not law enforcement personnel” (three security guards and one licensed and armed citizen) -- compared to 21 incidents stopped by unarmed citizens. A working paper released in March 2018 by Johns Hopkins University education professor Sheldon Greenberg that relies in part on analyses of police officers’ confrontations with armed suspects also concluded that arming teachers would do more harm than good.  

  • Multiple polls show vast support for background checks. NRA's Dana Loesch says none of them count.

    Loesch discounted data as House prepares to consider an expanded background checks bill

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch said that she has “not seen any cross-tab data” showing almost unanimous support for requiring background checks on all gun sales despite years of polling showing just that.

    During the January 7 edition of her NRATV show Relentless, Loesch previewed the forthcoming introduction of a bipartisan U.S. House bill to expand background checks on gun sales and read House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that “it is an honor” to introduce a bill “which 97 percent of the American people support.” Loesch took issue with the statistic, claiming she has “not seen any cross-tab data that at all supports that assertion whatsoever” and that she is “awaiting all of that.” In an interview with Loesch, NRA Institute for Legislative Action spokesperson Lars Dalseide claimed Pelosi is either “unaware of the facts” or is “spreading yet another false rumor”:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): House Democrats are set to introduce their first salvo of gun control bills tomorrow. California Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Mike Thompson have chosen tomorrow’s date, January 8, for the unveiling -- the eighth anniversary of the Tucson shooting, which left six dead and 15 wounded including former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who will join Pelosi and Thompson in the Capitol. Says Pelosi, “It is an honor to join Congressman Mike Thompson and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords to answer their call by taking the first step to pass commonsense background checks, which 97 percent of the American people support.” Now Congresswoman Pelosi must be unaware that we have a background checks system, a system that is made possible thanks to the NRA. I’ve seen that 97 percent thrown around for quite some time, but yet have not seen any cross-tab data that at all supports that assertion whatsoever. And still am awaiting all of that. Joining me now to discuss is Lars Dalseide, spokesman for NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.      

    In fact, a February 20, 2018, Quinnipiac poll -- conducted nearly one week after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL -- showed both 97 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of gun owners supported requiring all gun buyers to undergo a background check. The background check issue has been polled repeatedly over the last several years by different polling firms, and the results always show near-universal support for requiring checks.

    Dalseide echoed Loesch’s falsehood. And he made a dishonest comparison between polling on the background check issue and the outcomes of two 2016 state background check ballot initiatives -- i.e. not polls -- to falsely accuse Pelosi of spreading incorrect information:

    LARS DALSEIDE: As for Speaker Pelosi and her “97 percent,” if that were true then you have to wonder about why that’s not reflected when it comes to the polls. There were two huge universal background check ballot initiatives that came up in 2016, for example. And neither -- well, one of them broke 50 percent and the other one hit 50 or 48 percent. So to say that 97 percent of the public supports these universal background checks, either she’s unaware of the facts or just spreading yet another false rumor when it comes to gun control.      

    Notably, the NRA ran false attack ads against the Maine and Nevada background check ballot initiatives suggesting that the laws could easily land law-abiding gun owners in jail. When the public is plainly asked about support for requiring background checks for all gun sales, the answer is consistently near-universal support.            

  • The head of Florida’s school safety commission is reportedly feeding the NRA nonpublic information about the Parkland mass shooting

    The commission recently recommended arming teachers, a policy favored by the NRA

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch purported to share nonpublic information about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to bolster her argument that teachers should be armed. Loesch, who made the claim on her non-NRA affiliated radio show, said that she was given the information by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who chairs a Republican-appointed school safety commission created after the February 14 mass shooting in Parkland, FL.

    The commission recently released a draft report that recommends arming teachers who receive training and undergo a background check. This finding is contrary to analyses by experts that conclude arming teachers would actually increase danger to teachers and students. A final report from the commission will be sent to Florida’s governor and state legislature by January 1.  

    While discussing the commission’s recommendation to arm teachers during the December 18 broadcast of her radio show, Loesch purported to share information about the shooting she received from Gualtieri that “was released to the commission, but wasn’t released publicly.” According to Loesch, CCTV footage from inside the school showed that the gunman took seven to 10 seconds to reload, a longer time compared to “an adequately trained person” who “can reload in a second.” Loesch continued:

    It took him seven to 10 seconds, enough for apparently a half a classroom to walk across the hallway while he was trying to reload and get to safety. Imagine if the teacher that was walking out with them was armed. Even adequately trained was better than [the gunman’s] lack of training. Would have taken him out.

    It’s true that the time period when a mass shooter has to reload is an opportunity to stop the attack. A common argument in favor of banning high-capacity ammunition magazines is that these pauses in shooting are more frequent when the gunman is forced to reload more often, creating more opportunities for intervention.

    But there is no evidence that guns carried by civilians are the best way to intervene. For example, the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, AZ, where then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) was shot was stopped by unarmed bystanders who tackled the gunman as he attempted to reload. In fact, a man carrying a concealed handgun during the Tucson shooting drew his weapon and was about to fire, only to realize that he was about to shoot a person who had wrestled the gunman’s firearm away from him. An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000-2013 found that just four incidents were stopped by armed security guards and only one was stopped by a licensed and armed citizen -- compared to 21 incidents stopped by unarmed citizens.

    Gualtieri and another member of the commission, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, have worked in concert with the NRA’s media operation NRATV to push the idea of arming teachers. Gualtieri appeared on Loesch’s NRATV show in August to push for more guns in schools, and Judd has appeared on NRATV at least six times to push for arming teachers -- including one appearance where he discussed that Gualtieri was initially skeptical of the idea, but was convinced to adopt the view.

  • The NRA connection behind the Parkland school safety commission's recommendation of arming teachers

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s far-right news outlet NRATV repeatedly hosted members of a Florida school safety commission to advocate for arming teachers as a solution to school shootings. The commission, formed after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, recently released a draft report that recommended arming teachers -- a notion that has been consistently rejected by experts, who point out that adding firearms into schools would actually increase the danger to teachers and students.

    The 16-member panel was put together as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, a “sweeping school-safety law” signed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) in March, a month after the Parkland school shooting left 17 dead. The panel held its initial meeting on April 24 to “investigate system failures” by reviewing Florida’s policies for active shooter situations, the use of school resource officers on campuses, and other recommendations. Members were chosen by Scott, then-Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) and then-Senate President Joe Negron (R) and included three Parkland parents -- though Andrew Pollack, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, later resigned.

    On December 12, the commission released a draft report that listed “a series of failures by Broward County agencies and recommendations for avoiding a similar tragedy in the future” the Sun Sentinel reported. Among its other recommendations, the commission voted 14-1 to allow arming classroom teachers provided they go through background checks and training. A final report will be sent to the governor and state legislature by January 1.  

    The recommendation echoes comments made by members of the commission during appearances on NRATV. On the August 16 edition of NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch’s show Relentless, commission chairman and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said: “The unfortunate reality is that cops can’t be everywhere all the time, and if there had been a good guy with a gun on that campus or in that building, there’s no doubt in my mind that they would have been able to minimize the carnage.”

    Two weeks before the draft report was released, commission member and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd also appeared on NRATV to praise Gualtieri’s support for arming teachers -- and to pat himself on the back for helping guide his “dear friend” toward that view after Gualtieri initially expressed discomfort with the idea. From the November 28 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): Here we have another recommendation that teachers should be armed. Not surprising to you, but what do you think about this recommendation? Was it surprising to others in Florida?

    GRADY JUDD: Well you know, I don’t think it was a surprise to others in Florida because Senate Bill 7026, which we pushed through, mandates armed guardians or school resource officers on every campus. Sheriff Gualtieri is a dear friend of mine and chairs the commission, I’m on that commission with him. I established that position early on as you know, through my “Sentinel program.” Bob originally -- Bob Gualtieri the chair -- was not really comfortable with that. And as I worked with him -- and he and I are dear friends and are on several committees together. And the research we developed through this shooting, it was abundantly evident had teachers, not all teachers, those that wanted to and were capable of and completed thorough training, could have and would have saved lives that day. We know one teacher that was shot by our suspect, had actually pulled himself over into a corner, and then the suspect came back and shot him again, fatally killing him, obviously. But we know he would have shot and killed the active shooter had he had a firearm. Had he had that firearm, not only would his life have been saved but so would have a lot of other children in school that day. As I’ve said over and over, Grant, this is not something we want to do. When I was a kid in school, we didn’t have to have armed security on campuses. But this is a new normal and a new day. And we have to have someone there so if we can’t discover this active murderer, shooter ahead of time, that when they arrive on campus, somebody is there to stop them before they can hurt our students and our teachers.

    STINCHFIELD: You know sheriff, to me this is all common sense. I mean I don’t really even think you really need research to understand the very basic premise that [NRA executive vice president and CEO] Wayne LaPierre coined the phrase, “The best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” I know that research has been done, it backs up your case, but to me it comes down to just simple common sense. You’ve got to meet a threat with equal or greater force. That’s the only way to stop a threat. This does that, doesn't it?

    JUDD: It absolutely does.     

    This is not the first time that Judd has gone on NRATV to promote arming teachers; he appeared on NRATV in 2016 to discuss Polk County’s “Sentinel program” that allows Southeastern University to arm “select faculty and staff.” After his naming to the commision, Judd appeared on the network at least five other times to push for more guns in schools.

    Despite NRATV hosts promoting Judd’s program and praising Gualtieri’s recommendation, there is little evidence that arming teachers or other civilians will stop mass shootings. An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013 found that only four incidents were stopped by armed security guards and one was stopped by a licensed and armed citizen -- compared to 21 incidents stopped by unarmed citizens. A working paper released in March by Johns Hopkins University education professor Sheldon Greenberg that relies on analysis of police officers’ confrontations with armed suspects also concluded that arming teachers would do more harm than good. CityLab explained:

    In two roundtable discussions Greenberg held with law enforcement in January 2013 (in the aftermath of Sandy Hook), police officers voiced a range of other concerns about arming teachers, including the erroneous assumption that a teacher would be in proximity to the shooter, the likelihood that an armed teacher and plainclothes police officer (who would be the first to arrive on the scene) would mistake each other for an active shooter, and the fact that teachers’ firearms training would be a one-off event.

    “Basically, it’s highly unlikely that there will be an incident in the first place,” said Greenberg. “And the risks outweigh the potential benefit.”     

  • Major neo-Nazi website sees NRA’s recent hard-line messaging as its best hope to kill all Jewish people

    The Daily Stormer: “It’s time to put your money where your mouth is and join up with the country’s single effective pro-white organization intent on fully SMASHING THE JEW”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The Daily Stormer -- a major online hub for racists and anti-Semites that has followers who have committed mass murder -- has been telling its readers to join the National Rifle Association, as the neo-Nazis who run the website see a successful NRA as their best possible hope to see Jewish people subjected to another Holocaust.

    The Daily Stormer has been very pleased with the NRA’s hard-line messaging in the Trump era: As the neo-Nazi website itself notes, the NRA frequently singles out Jews as its political enemies and refuses to condemn anti-Semitic actions taken by members of its leadership. A February 2017 Daily Stormer article explained, “There is basically zero chance that [NRA leader Wayne] LaPierre and others in the top ranks of the NRA aren’t aware of the Jewish issue, especially as it relates to the second amendment. They’ve remained silent on this topic until now, scared of the media power that the Jews possess. But things are changing.”

    The Daily Stormer has frequently promoted NRA membership drives, including repeatedly linking to an NRA recruitment website and claiming,“The number 1 source of new recruits for the NRA has always been the Daily Stormer.”

    In articles posted on the website, Daily Stormer writers implore readers to join the NRA:

    According to The Daily Stormer, “The NRA is the country’s premiere pro-white and anti-Semitic organization. In fact, it is the only right-wing group of any kind in this country to have any success at all in the last 50 years.”

    The Daily Stormer clearly sees the NRA as a tool it can use to instigate wide-scale attacks against Jewish people. Here are a few pro-NRA threatening messages the site has posted:

    The Daily Stormer also posted a meme featuring NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch to threaten, “Our patience has its limits,” writing, “And guess what kikes? Your outrage machine is broken.”

    Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, The Daily Stormer backed the NRA’s calls for arming teachers, writing:

    The Daily Stormer is endorsing a plan to take it a step further, and arm the students as well.

    Say you’re in class, the teacher is writing something on the board, and a Jew pulls out a gun. The teacher has his back to the class and doesn’t see the Jew make his move – but you’re sitting behind him, and you’ve got a clean shot – why shouldn’t you be allowed to take it?

    The Daily Stormer is particularly enamored of five high-profile NRA employees: Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, President Oliver North, national spokesperson Dana Loesch, NRATV host Chuck Holton, and NRA board member Ted Nugent.

    The Daily Stormer has labeled LaPierre “/ourlad/” and “Reichsmarschall,” the highest military rank in Nazi Germany, and favorably called the NRA leader an “anti-Semitic white nationalist.” In particular, the site likes LaPierre because of a speech he gave after the Parkland school shooting in which he called opponents of the NRA “European-style socialists,” which, as The Daily Stormer explained, “everyone acknowledges, means ‘Jews’” or “the gun-grabbing kikes.” The Daily Stormer has favorably mentioned that LaPierre “gave a speech calling out the Jews as gun grabbers,” noted that LaPierre “purposefully pushed for an open war with the Jews,” and written that “he literally put out a Jew list, showing that everyone who disagrees with gun rights is a Jew. And he has to know, too. There is no way you list off a dozen Jews – and not a single goy – without noticing that pattern.” Indeed, LaPierre has frequently targeted Jews during his public remarks.

    In May, The Daily Stormer heaped praise on North after he became president of the NRA. An article on the neo-Nazi website argued, “The NRA just made a great pick for their new head. Great, great pick.” The website described North’s involvement in the Iran-Contra arms trafficking scandal as a positive, writing, “This is one guy who definitely does not give a single fuck about having a license to buy and sell weapons. For those who don’t know – the Iran-Contra ‘scandal’ was a program of selling weapons to Iran and using the money from that to fund communist-killing death squads in Latin America.” The article speculated that as president of the NRA, North could help arm Iran with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that the country could then use against Israel.

    The Daily Stormer also has a lot of praise for NRA national spokesperson Loesch, whom it calls “Princess Dana.” The site praised the gun group for not firing Loesch for her recently resurfaced 2010 tweet that said, “I bet Rick Sanchez was fired by a Jew.” (Sanchez was fired from CNN after he made anti-Semitic remarks about comedian Jon Stewart.) Loesch said that her tweet was meant to be an appeal to poetic justice. The Daily Stormer wrote that instead of firing her, the NRA “doubled-down by giving her a show about how she is going to destroy the Jews,” referencing promotional material for her NRATV show Relentless in which Loesch has threatened members of the media that their “time is running out.”

    The Daily Stormer has also praised Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the NRA’s media operation NRATV. During a July 2017 appearance on NRATV, Holton suggested that Black people were poised to commit mass rape and murder against white people while referencing “what’s happening in South Africa.” In response, The Daily Stormer wrote, “Holy shit! The NRA cited the White Genocide in South Africa as a warning to America!” Holton has a lengthy history of promoting white nationalism and making racist comments, and he has repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that Jewish philanthropist George Soros is behind the migrant caravan traveling through Central America and Mexico -- a remarkably similar theory to the one that inspired a gunman to carry out an anti-Semitic massacre at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue in October. The site is aware of NRATV and has disturbingly noted, “A NRA tv channel calling out ‘socialist corruption’ 24/7 would be the best thing ever, especially considering that all of these ‘European-style socialists’ are actually Jews.” (Three months after that Daily Stormer article was published and a day after an ISIS terror attack in Manchester, U.K., Holton argued on NRATV that “this wave of violence that we’re seeing across Europe is a symptom of the broader problem of multiculturalism and socialism.”)

    The Daily Stormer also lauded NRA board member Ted Nugent for sharing an anti-Semitic meme on Facebook without repercussions from the NRA, writing, “I’ve gotta give it to Ted. I expected an apology within hours. Instead he is just straight trolling these Jews. It’s fantastic.” In February, a Daily Stormer article defending the NRA as a friendly home for anti-Semites brought up the incident: “Remember another NRA spokesperson, Ted Nugent, posted that one meme a couple years ago… So, the NRA knows and the Jews know the NRA knows, and both sides want to escalate that.”

    The NRA’s recent adoption of more extreme messaging tactics is not lost on The Daily Stormer. As the neo-Nazis who run the website cheered in a March article, “The NRA is done with euphemisms.”

  • NRA spokesperson calls pediatricians “irresponsible” for pointing out link between firearms and adolescent suicide

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch used her NRATV show to take on a doctor who recommended “a better strategy” to prevent teen suicide “is simply not to have a gun in the house.” Instead, Loesch argued to focus on homes where “the parenting is absent or subpar.”

    Loesch highlighted a November 30 article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that “the safest home for a kid is one without guns.” The article highlighted that “adolescents, in particular, are at a higher risk for suicide when there is a gun in the home” and mentioned the recent example of a local teenage girl, Ivey Mustaki, who died from suicide using her grandmother’s firearm.

    The NRATV host took particular issue with the article’s quotes from Dr. Daniel Blumenthal, a retired pediatrician and former president of the American College of Preventive Medicine. Blumenthal speculated that if the teenager’s family had “only known that there are far more gun-related suicides than homicides. If they’d only known that is it next to impossible to hide a gun from a teen, … perhaps Ivey would be alive today.” Blumenthal reiterated that “there are things individuals can do, and one of them is not have a gun in the house.”

    Loesch rejected the doctor’s recommendations, saying that maybe “a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar” is a problem, but it is “irresponsible” to “pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier.” Loesch suggested focusing on “the correct precautions” and called Blumenthal’s recommendations an attempt “to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America.” From the December 3 edition of NRATV’s Relentless:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): It seems a little bit like it’s trying to incite fear into the hearts of every family across America. And what’s lost in all of this is, what about making sure that Ivey had the mental help that she had needed, identifying maybe perhaps that she was going through depression and doing everything possible to make sure that she got the attention and the help that she needed in order to remedy the situation. I mean maybe perhaps taking just the correct precautions that millions of families across the country take every single day in determining how they would like to store their firearms -- how it works best for their own personal needs and their family’s needs -- maybe that would have been helpful in this situation. I mean there are definitely some instances when a firearm in a house -- a firearm in a house where the parenting is absent or subpar, where storage and responsibility and respect for privacy and/or life isn’t paramount. Then yeah, maybe we definitely need to have a conversation with those individuals about where their priorities are and how they’re storing things. But to pretend that this is a universal rule and not an outlier -- that this is somehow indicative of every gun-owning family across the country as opposed to an exception -- that in itself is irresponsible. Because if that were the case, then we would have far more of these awful instances than we do.  

    Contrary to Loesch’s claims, firearm suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all gun deaths in the U.S. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “over half of suicide deaths are with firearms,” and 80 percent of child firearm suicides “involved a gun belonging to a family member.” While studies have found that nine out of 10 people who fail in their first attempt do not go on to die from suicide later, Everytown notes that firearm suicide attempts “are by far the most lethal, with a fatality rate of approximately 85 percent.”  

    While Loesch insisted that there is no connection between firearms in the home and suicide, an analysis of research conducted by the the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that “preponderance of current evidence indicates that gun availability is a risk factor for youth suicide in the United States.”

    The NRA was recently raked over the coals by medical professionals for suggesting that doctors should “stay in their lane” after the American College of Physicians released a position paper recommending several gun safety regulations from a medical perspective.        

  • NRATV tells people to run at active shooters

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton irresponsibly advised people who find themselves in an active shooter situation to charge the gunman and “take him out” as the first course of action. This potentially deadly advice is contrary to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) guidelines, which advise people in an active shooter situation to first attempt to escape, then hide and make barricades if escape is not possible, and finally “as a last resort, and only when your life is in imminent danger, attempt to disrupt and/or incapacitate” the gunman.   

    During the November 27 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, host and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch highlighted a Northwestern University training video based on the DHS guidelines that urges students and faculty to first run if they hear gunshots, to hide if running isn’t feasible, and to fight “as a last resort.” Loesch specifically focused on the “fight” portion of the video, criticizing the suggestions of using “anything you can use as a weapon,” such as a fire extinguisher, during a “last resort” situation.

    Holton took particular issue with the “linear thinking” of run, hide, fight and called it “run, hide, and die,” arguing that victims will be waiting for their “turn to get a bullet to the head.” (Holton, in fact, misrepresented the guidelines, which do call for physically confronting the gunman as a last resort when other better options are exhausted and do not advocate waiting around to die.) He claimed, “It says a lot about our culture that we’re not training our sons that you need to be the hero” and instead suggested, “You find the guy that is hurting other people, you go after him, and you take him out.” Holton also added that if “you are a capable male in the American population, then your mindset should not be run, hide, and then fight. It should be find, fix, and finish,” apparently excusing women from his erroneous advice.

    CHUCK HOLTON (NRATV CORRESPONDENT): Look, I sit on the board of a company that does security training around the country and around the world. And I can tell you that people do want the ability to be able to protect themselves. But today’s culture kind of trains that out of them. And it says, “No, no, no, no, you can’t do that. Only people who are qualified and trained can do anything.” One of the things that they’re even seeing problems with in the U.S. military today is that guys are coming into the military that have literally never enforced their physical will on another being in their life. And so they don't have any idea how to do that. They’ve been taught in a zero-tolerance school for violence at all. And that’s not necessarily bad except for the fact that this is what you end up with.

    Now, look, instead of run, hide, and die, which is essentially what they’re training them to do -- I mean, if you think about it, if you are training them -- we didn’t get to show the rest of that video that Northwestern put out -- but the first two-thirds of that video is all about how to run away and how to hide. Look, if you’re in a wheelchair or you’re not capable, well, OK, fine. But if that is the linear thinking that we’re going to engage in, run and hide, then people are going to literally be waiting to die in a situation like that. They’re going to be coming in and just basically, go, hide, and wait your turn to get a bullet to the head. Every second in a situation like that, that you wait, somebody else is dying. And I think it says a lot about our culture that we’re not training our sons that you need to be the hero in this situation.

    Look, being a hero is chosen for you very often. You didn’t wake up that day, just like Col. [Oliver] North says, and think, “I’m going to be a hero today.” You’ve gotta be trained and prepared to be a hero every day. And one of the things I trained my sons is that wherever you go, people should be safer because you are there. And that means that if you find yourself in a situation like this and you are a capable male in the American population, then your mindset should not be run, hide, and then fight. It should be find, fix, and finish. That is, you find the guy that is hurting other people, you go after him, and you take him out. You do whatever you have to do. And if somebody’s got to die, you stand up and you go, “I am the one that’s willing to die today rather than Dana Loesch or that lady over there or that little kid. I am the one that’s willing to -- I am that man that’s is going to go in and take that guy out.” And I think we need to train our boys more in that line of thinking.  

    In reality, Holton’s irresponsible advice goes against DHS guidelines in its “Active Shooter: How To Respond” guide, which specifically tells people not to seek out the gunman as a first measure.

  • The fatal police shooting of Jemel Roberson disproves the NRA’s favorite myth

    NRATV struggled to not admit the obvious

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The fatal police shooting of an armed and trained security guard outside a bar, after he stopped a gunman from opening fire, provides further proof that the “good guy with a gun” myth peddled by NRATV is just that: a myth.

    On November 11, 26-year-old security guard Jemel Roberson “apprehended an alleged gunman” outside an Illinois bar, holding him on the ground at gunpoint until police arrived. According to witnesses, bar patrons were yelling to officers that Roberson was security, while officers demanded he drop his firearm before fatally shooting him. An investigation is underway.

    The National Rifle Association and its media outlet have long peddled the narrative that the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun and they have frequently suggested that the victims of mass shootings could have saved themselves had they been armed. During the November 13 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, NRA spokesperson and host Dana Loesch referred to Roberson as “a good guy with a gun, one of those individuals that anti-gun advocates love to pretend do not exist.”

    Loesch admitted the incident made her “worry a little bit” as a concealed carrier, and she questioned what good guys should do when they’re “that close” to the gunman “and law enforcement shows up.” NRA-certified instructor and frequent NRATV guest Guy Relford responded that there is “no perfect choice” between exposing “yourself to the risk of the known bad guy who is underneath you that you’re holding, or exposing yourself to the risk of being shot by police officers”:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): I worry about this as, you know, a concealed carrier, I worry about this as someone who -- you know, I’ve done a lot of training, and I always make sure that I have my skills up to speed if heaven forbid, you know, I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it in that situation. But I’ll be frank with you, stories like this make me worry a little bit. And not just for -- you know, for all Americans, Black Americans, white Americans, men and women, because this is one of the -- I think, one of the concerns that concealed carry holders have. So, how should concealed carriers look at this particular story and -- because, again, it makes me worried and if I’m feeling a little nervous about this, I would imagine other people are too.

    GUY RELFORD: If you can possibly avoid it, you do not want to have a gun in your hand when responding police officers show up, even if you’re the good guy. Now, here, he’s holding someone, you know, against their will. Did he have the ability to put that gun away or not have that gun in his hand or get that gun back in the holster before police officers arrived? And again, I don’t want to second-guess anyone without having more facts, but if there was any opportunity to get that gun out of his hand, not in the sight of police officers when they show up, we always want to try to do that because unfortunately this isn’t the first time that someone survived a potentially deadly attack and was completely lawful in what they did, but lost their life because of confusion by responding police officers.

    LOESCH: I am so glad that you brought that up, Guy, because in all of these -- and I’m sure that you can talk a little bit about this, last question for you, in some of the cases that you’ve handled, because normally in everything that I’ve read, whenever there’s been a defensive gun usage and someone is holding someone, there’s some distance there. You know, there’s at least five to three feet between the individuals. This -- I mean Roberson was on this guy, he had his knee on his back, and that makes it a little bit harder for him if this -- and who knows if this guy still -- we don’t even know if this guy still -- the criminal still had his gun in his hand. We don’t know that either. And then police show up -- you don’t really have a lot of time to make sure you’re in a safe position. If that criminal can access that firearm immediately, you kind of -- so, I don’t want to speculate, but at the same time, it’s such a rare instance, it’s a very difficult spot for anybody to be in when they’re doing the right thing. I mean, he was a security guard, he wanted to be on the police force, he had some training, so he knew what he was doing up until a certain extent. That gets into a real kind of gray area, what do you do when you’re that close and law enforcement shows up and maybe the perp still has his hand on the gun?

    RELFORD: Yes, and sometimes there may just be no good decision. I mean, there is no perfect choice between choosing whether you’re going to expose yourself to the risk of the known bad guy who is underneath you that you’re holding, or exposing yourself to the risk of being shot by police officers.

    Even though NRATV continually pushes the “good guy” narrative, statistics and anecdotal commentary from law enforcement repeatedly prove armed citizens rarely stop mass shootings or violent crime incidents. In 2016, the Dallas police chief anecdotally stated that this type of civilian action creates more confusion for responding officers. And a 2000-2013 FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents -- in which “individuals [were] actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in populated areas” -- found that only four incidents were stopped by armed security guards and one was stopped by a licensed and armed citizen, whereas 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed citizens. A 2015 analysis by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that the likelihood of people sustaining an injury during a robbery didn’t change based on whether or not they were armed.

  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch: The Thousand Oaks mass shooting was “horrific,” but “so are CA gun laws”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Several hours after a mass shooting at a bar in California, National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch compared the “evil” incident to the state’s gun laws.

    On November 7, at least 12 people were killed when a gunman with a .45-caliber handgun opened fire at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, during a “country-music night” for college students. Just hours after the shooting, Loesch tweeted out a list of California gun safety measures, saying the latest shooting was “horrific” and “evil,” but that “so are CA gun laws”:

    It’s true that California does have some of the strongest gun safety laws in the country, including universal background checks, a ban on most assault weapons, regulations on gun show purchases, and 10-day waiting periods. The state also has one of the lowest gun death rates in the country; it dropped by 56.6 percent between 1993 and 2013, which was “29.9 percentage points more than the decline in the rest of the nation.”

    Stronger gun safety laws have had positive impacts elsewhere too: Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, pointed out that permit-to-purchase gun safety laws in Connecticut caused a 40 percent decrease in firearm homicides and a 15 percent decrease in firearm suicides. Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center also found that in study after study, “where there are more guns there is more homicide.”     

    But in the wake of another horrific mass shooting, the NRA’s spokesperson once again shifted the blame to fearmonger about “evil” gun safety laws. 

  • Conservative media baselessly tie Stacey Abrams to the fringe New Black Panther Party

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is being attacked by conservative media and her opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, because a group of people affiliated with the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) marched in support of Abrams while openly carrying rifles. The conservative figures promoting the story have shown no tie between the New Black Panther Party and Abrams -- the story is just yet another conservative media smear that falsely connects the fringe hate group to mainstream Democratic figures.

    Timeline

    Photos of NBPP members with campaign signs supporting Abrams were first posted to Facebook on the evening of November 3, by two pages seemingly affiliated with the fringe organization. A few hours later, users began sharing these posts to right-wing Facebook groups, including one group dedicated to Kemp’s gubernatorial bid that says it’s not affiliated with the campaign. While the NBPP photos were being spread, a video posted by a Kemp supporter on Facebook showing the NBPP members was also making rounds on right-wing groups.

    The next morning, Kemp shared one of the photos posted by the NBPP on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In all three posts, Kemp called Abrams “radical” and “TOO EXTREME” for Georgia. Other right-wing Facebook pages shared Kemp’s post while the far-right news site The Western Journal ran an ad promoting a write-up of the story. Conservative media figures Erick Erickson and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch also shared the images. 

    Prominent conservative media run with NBPP story

    Since Kemp posted the photo, far-right and fake news sites have attacked Abrams while falsely claiming her campaign was affiliated with these NBPP members.

    Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said that if Abrams is elected, “she’ll be the most radical governor in the country.”

    From the November 5 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:

    GINGRICH: You just had Black Panthers in Atlanta, for example, carrying what looked like semi-automatic weapons, for Stacey Abrams. You want a really radical America? You can get one, and she'd be -- if she wins, she'll be the most radical governor in the country, with the possible exception of [San Francisco’s] Gavin Newsom.

    Breitbart News posted an article whose headline states that “armed Black Panthers lobby for” Abrams. The article earned just over 71,000 engagements on social media and was posted by a pro-gun Georgia Facebook page.  

    The Daily Caller criticized Abrams for attacking Kemp instead of addressing the NBPP march. In a Daily Calles write-up of the NBPP’s march, Jason Hopkins wrote that an Abrams campaign statement he received in response to questions “did not specifically address the Panthers’ march, but instead attacked Kemp.” The article amplified Kemp’s calls on Abrams to denounce the NBPP and earned over 38,000 engagements on social media. Reprints of the article by The Western Journal, BizPac Review, and The Tennessee Star earned an additional 41,000 interactions.

    On the far-right news site Big League Politics, Laura Loomer falsely stated that “armed Black Panthers” were “campaigning with Stacey Abrams.” Loomer also claimed that the NBPP’s march for Stacey Abrams was “an act of racially motivated anti-white voter intimidation.”

    Conservative media often use NBPP to smear mainstream Democratic candidates

    NBPP, which was founded in 1989, is an “anti-white and antisemitic” group, according to a report on the group’s activities published by Southern Poverty Law Center. The original Black Panther Party has condemned NBPP as a “black racist hate group,” and it has also been denounced by the NAACP.

    The group rose to national prominence in 2008 after a video went viral that showed two NBPP members at a polling site in Philadelphia, PA, one of whom was carrying a nightstick. The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the incident that ended with a default civil judgement against the armed NBPP member after the Bush administration decided to pursue civil, rather than criminal, charges against the men. Conservative media endlessly scandalized the outcome of the DOJ investigation, although a 2011 report issued by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility found “that politics played no role in the handling of the New Black Panther Party case, which sparked a racially charged political fight,” according to The Washington Post.

    Right-wing media still often cite the 2008 incident before Election Day. In 2016, conservative media supporters of then-candidate Donald Trump raised concerns about the NBPP to defend Trump from criticism after he suggested the 2016 election would be “rigged” by voter fraud. Conservative media frequently used extraordinarily tenuous or entirely nonexistent evidence in attempts to tie NBPP to President Barack Obama -- a similar tactic to what right-wing media figures are now trying to accomplish in the Georgia gubernatorial race.

  • “Guns Down at the Polls” to provide resource to report firearm-related intimidation at polling sites on Election Day

    Voters can text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990 to report instances of voter intimidation

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A group called Guns Down America is providing a voter resource that will allow people to report voter intimidation, including intimidation carried out with firearms, occurring at polling sites on Election Day.

    The project comes after a wave of attempted bombings of prominent liberals, including former President Barack Obama, and a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue in the weeks before the 2018 midterm elections. The project’s partners include Media Matters, the Center for American Progress, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, among others. It was first launched in 2016 following reports that several far-right and white supremacist groups were encouraging their followers to bring guns to polling locations.

    Voters who observe intimidation at polling sites are encouraged to text “GUNSDOWN” to 91990. The reports will then be forwarded to the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, which can take further action.

    As the project’s website explains, “It’s critical that we make sure all voters can access the polling places without the threat of intimidation. Voter intimidation is any concerted effort to coerce the voting behavior of a group of voters and it’s a federal crime. Intimidating someone with a firearm at a polling place is a federal crime.”

    Although it may come as a surprise, there is no federal law prohibiting the presence of firearms at polling sites. Instead, regulation is left to the states, and many do allow guns to be carried.

    There has already been a firearm-related intimidation incident at a polling site in Georgia this election season. WBTV reported that a man was arrested in Charlotte after he threatened a GOP campaign worker at an early voting location:

    Officials say when officers arrived on the scene, a black man said he was working at the voting location when he saw the armed man in the parking lot with a camera taking pictures or recording the polling location.

    Police say the armed man approached the campaign worker - a retired detective - and began hurling racial slurs, according to a report from CMPD.

    The report stated the campaign worker said the armed man threatened to assault him before lifting his shirt and displaying a handgun which was in a holster on his belt.

    Police reportedly found a BB gun when the suspect was arrested. An image taken during the incident shows that the assailant was wearing a “Punisher” T-shirt, referring to a comic book series that has been co-opted by the alt right:

    Disturbingly, National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch recently suggested that NRA supporters may need to bring guns to polling locations in order to fend off attacks from “anti-gun progressives.” During the October 23 broadcast of her NRATV show Relentless, Loesch attacked the Guns Down at the Polls project and falsely claimed that its goal is “intimidating law-abiding gun owners legally carrying their firearms by potentially sending the police after people who are doing nothing more than exercising their constitutionally protected rights.” Loesch then called the project “a moderate, soft form of swatting,” a reference to an intimidation tactic involving false 911 calls.

    Loesch went on to say, “If God forbid some unhinged maniac with an illegally possessed firearm were to show up at a polling location, something tells me a lot of people would be grateful that one of those law-abiding gun owners was there.”

    Leading up to the election, a major conservative messaging effort has argued -- without evidence -- that mobs of Democrats are planning to kill conservatives. The NRA has also been involved in this effort, with its media operation NRATV misrepresenting peaceful protests against the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court as violent.

    Permissive laws that allow firearms -- often including assault weapons -- to be openly carried in public have emboldened the far right to bring firearms to events where people are exercising their First Amendment rights. There were multiple instances of counterprotesters bringing firearms to the nationwide March for Our Lives gun safety rallies early in 2018. After a May school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas, an armed man showed up outside the school to protest gun rights. And in October, the Portland Police Bureau acknowledged that, as The Portland Mercury reported, “Members of Patriot Prayer, a group of right-wing provocateurs from Vancouver, brought a cache of loaded firearms to the top of a parking garage in downtown Portland prior to the group's August 4th protest.”

    Guns Down at the Polls aims to counter people who think they can intimidate others and stop them from exercising their voting rights.

  • NRATV ignored the Kroger shooting in Kentucky after backing the store’s open-carry policy

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    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.