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  • NRA “Work Of Fiction” Predicts Syrian Refugees Will Establish “Islamic State In The United States” During Clinton’s First Term

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    A conspiratorial screed from the National Rifle Association imagines a future where the presidency of Hillary Clinton causes the rise of a new chapter of ISIS -- ISUS, the “Islamic State in The United States” -- culminating in a nuclear attack on U.S. soil.

    In a November 7 article in its online magazine America’s 1st Freedom, the NRA published “a work of fiction” about what America will look like in 2020 after four years of President Clinton, noting in a disclaimer at the top, “It isn’t true ... yet. But 2020 is only four years away”:

    In the NRA’s imagining, Clinton’s presidency will be filled with “tragedy and turmoil” including Syrian refugees causing the rise of ISIS within the United States and the “9/12 terrorist attacks” involving “cesium-137 bombings”:

    Indeed, much of the criticism leveled against Clinton throughout the campaign has centered on the tragedy and turmoil of the past four years, including the flood of refugees from Syria that some have blamed for the emergence of the Islamic State in the United States (ISUS); skyrocketing violent crime over the past two years that critics say is a direct result of Clinton’s policy of “ending the prison-industrial complex in America”; and, of course, last year’s 9/12 terrorist attacks at the Department of Energy’s Pantex Plant and Hanford facilities, and the cesium-137 bombings that followed.  

    Cesium-137 is a radioactive isotope that has been associated with the prospect of a “dirty bomb” attack that spreads radioactive material.  

    The NRA article then approvingly quotes “University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabatico,” an apparent reference to real-life political scientist Larry Sabato, who calls Clinton’s first term “the most harrowing and nationally tragic presidential term since Lincoln’s first.”

    The NRA article imagines an NRA-led march of gun owners on the National Mall to warn that a second Clinton term “could spell the end of the Second Amendment-protected rights that have kept us free and safe since our nation’s birth.”

    Interestingly, in 2008, the NRA predicted that President Obama would destroy the Second Amendment during his first term. When that didn’t happen, the NRA predicted Obama would destroy the Second Amendment during his second term. When that didn’t happen, the NRA pivoted to Clinton and is now predicting that she will destroy the Second Amendment in her first term. For the NRA, baseless fearmongering about Democrats’ threat to the Second Amendment appears to be standard campaign rhetoric, even in their works of fiction.

    The NRA article also casts frequent NRA boogeymen in elevated roles during a Clinton first term, with President Obama serving as chief justice of the Supreme Court, former Attorney General Eric Holder serving as head of the FBI, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg serving as U.N. ambassador, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) serving on the Federal Elections Commission.  

  • NRA Risks Complete Disaster Following Unprecedented Spending On Trump

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA has gone out on a limb for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, but the candidate is in the process of sawing it off as his campaign flails amid a rapidly increasing number of new sexual assault allegations.

    While other outside groups that traditionally spend a lot on elections have taken a more measured approach in backing Trump, the NRA has already spent nearly twice as much on independent expenditures in this presidential race as it did in 2012, when it attempted to elect Mitt Romney.

    The NRA’s outsized promotion of Trump began during its May 2016 annual meeting. Previewing the group’s endorsement of Trump, NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre told a roaring crowd, “The revolution to take America back starts here, it starts on this day, and by God we will elect our next president, we will save our freedom, and America truly will be great again.” Moments later Trump joined the stage to receive the NRA’s official endorsement from NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox.

    Such an early endorsement of a presidential candidate was “virtually unprecedented” for the NRA, which did not endorse John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 until October.

    The NRA has backed its enthusiasm for Trump with massive spending -- even as other conservative groups have backed off. In August, The New York Times reported that “Donald J. Trump’s candidacy has driven away throngs of Republican elected officials, donors and policy experts. But not the National Rifle Association.” Calling the NRA “the institution on the right most aggressively committed to his candidacy, except for the Republican National Committee itself,” the Times reported, “The association has spent millions of dollars on television commercials for Mr. Trump, even as other Republican groups have kept their checkbooks closed and Mr. Trump’s campaign has not run any ads of its own.”

    Indeed, according to FEC filings viewed on October 13, the NRA has spent the second most of any organization on independent expenditures opposing Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and supporting Trump, behind only pro-Trump super PACs:

    Because the NRA spends with two committees -- the NRA Institute for Legislative Action and the NRA Political Victory Fund -- the figures above do not even represent total NRA spending on the 2016 presidential race. According to NBC News, the committees have spent a combined $21 million so far attempting to elect Trump. In contrast, the NRA spent  $12 million trying to elect Romney in 2012 in a spending campaign the gun group termed “all in.”  

    The largest pro-Trump NRA ad buy to date -- reportedly worth $6.5 million -- could not have come at a worse time. On October 5, the NRA released an ad that falsely claimed Hillary Clinton opposed the notion that “every woman has a right to defend herself with a gun if she chooses.” The ad featured a woman who defended herself with a gun against a violent attacker.

    On October 6, the NRA predicted the ad would give Trump a “big boost” in an article in its online magazine, touting “the largest advertising push to date for the National Rifle Association’s support of the Trump campaign":

    The next day, The Washington Post released a video of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women, sending his campaign into a free fall. Following the release of that tape, numerous women have come forward accusing Trump of more sexual assaults.

    Following these revelations, it is unclear what the NRA will do, having already invested so much money into the race and already touted themselves as "the key" to delivering the election for Trump. According to the NRA’s upcoming election edition of its magazine America’s 1st Freedom, the gun group shows no sign of backing down, with the group’s leadership setting Trump up as necessary to “save our freedom”:

  • NRA Continues To Victim-Shame And Ridicule Kim Kardashian West: “Maybe [She] Should Butt Out Of Our Lives”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association continues to ridicule and attack Kim Kardashian West for being the victim of a robbery at gunpoint.

    Over the weekend, several men broke into the apartment Kardashian West was renting in Paris, France, making off with millions of dollars worth of jewelry. The men bound her with duct tape and placed her in a bathtub during the robbery, and she reportedly thought they were there to rape her.

    On October 3, the NRA mocked Kardashian West -- who has previously called for Congress to take action on gun violence -- on social media, drawing widespread condemnation for attacking the victim of a crime.

    The NRA and members of the group’s leadership frequently blame victims of crimes, including victims of mass shootings, for supposedly failing to protect themselves from violent attacks.

    In an October 4 article, the NRA’s magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, doubled down on the NRA’s attacks on Kardashian West, calling her an “anti-gun zealot,” and offered a false attack on her past comments about gun violence. The NRA article claimed that Kardashian West is a “gun-banner” and said, “If an out-of-touch millionaire elitist like Kim Kardashian isn’t safe from crime, despite being able to afford 24/7 security -- even in a place like Paris, whose gun bans she would presumably like to see imposed on all of us -- can any of us mere mortals feel safe?”

    “Maybe Kardashian should butt out of our lives and worry about her own security,” the article concluded.

    Along with continuing to lob an offensive attack on the victim of a crime, the NRA is making a false representation of what Kardashian West has said about the gun issue.

    Following the massacre of 49 people at gay night club Pulse in Orlando, FL, Kardashian took to Twitter to call for stronger gun laws:

    In August, Kardashian West expressed her support for gun safety laws at several events, attending a lunch organized by the 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 “learned a lot from listening to their stories. Life is so precious! What will it take for this to stop?”

    In no instance did she call for the type of gun ban that the NRA is claiming she supports. And this isn’t the first time the NRA has misinterpreted her advocacy: After Kardashian West wrote about attending the lunch, the NRA’s radio show attacked her as a hypocrite for supporting gun safety laws while employing a bodyguard,  and suggested that she “get rid of her armed security.”

  • NRA Compares Hillary Clinton To “Deranged” Fictional Murderer: “Put The Bat Down, Hillary”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association’s online magazine compared Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to ax-wielding murderer Jack Torrance, the character in The Shining portrayed by Jack Nicholson.

    The NRA has frequently pushed the lie that Clinton opposes all gun ownership and would ban and confiscate privately owned guns as president. The organization recently spent $3 million on an ad that claimed Clinton “doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.” That claim was rated false by independent fact-checkers.

    During an August 16 rally in Philadelphia, Clinton explained her position on gun regulation, saying, “I am going to take on the gun lobby to try to save lives here in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. And as I said here in Philadelphia in my speech, that doesn’t mean I want to abolish the Second Amendment. That doesn’t mean that I want to round up people’s guns. What that means is I want to keep you from being shot by somebody who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.”

    In an August 18 article in America’s 1st Freedom, the NRA responded to Clinton’s comments at the rally, writing, “In other words, Clinton is like a deranged Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’: ‘I said, I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.’ Reasonable people are not persuaded by such verbal antics.”

    The NRA confusingly concluded its analogy between Clinton and Jack Torrance by writing, “Put the bat down, Hillary.” In the scene the NRA is referring to in The Shining, a raving Jack Torrance says that line to his wife Wendy as she attempts to fend him off with a baseball bat.

  • NRA Magazine: Gunned-Down Dallas Police Officers “Gave Their Lives” For Gun Rights

    NRA: Fatal Shootings Of Police “Have Come To Define The Political Left In America Today”

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The latest cover story in the NRA’s magazine, America’s 1st Freedom, purports to honor Dallas police officers killed in a July ambush attack, but instead uses the officers’ deaths to claim “the greatest dishonor to their memory” would be to allow “the Democratic establishment” to pass stronger gun safety laws.

    The magazine cover also includes a fold-out ad promoting an NRA “banned guns raffle” where entrants have a chance to win an AK-style assault weapon similar to the one used in the Dallas attack.

    On July 7, a gunman wielding an AK-74 assault weapon targeted police officers working at a peaceful protest in downtown Dallas following recent police killings of two African-American men, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, which were captured on video. Five police officers were killed, and seven officers and civilians were wounded, before the gunman was killed by police.

    The September cover story in America’s 1st Freedom, titled “Ambushing America’s Cops,” blames attacks against law enforcement on progressives, claiming that the Dallas ambush was “just the latest, and most vicious, in a long line of attacks on law enforcement -- attacks that have come to define the political left in America today.”

    The article then attempts to directly connect President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder to attacks on law enforcement officers, baselessly suggesting that the shooters were inspired to act by things they said:

    Even before the facts were clear, Obama used those cases [the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile] to assert that such incidents are “symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

    “When incidents like this occur,” Obama went on, “there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin, they are not being treated the same. And that hurts.”

    Just hours after Obama spoke, a madman murdered five police in Dallas, and another killer shot a policeman in Bristol, Tenn.


    Even though the U.S. Justice Department ultimately cleared Police Officer Darren Wilson of any wrongdoing in the death of [Michael] Brown -- Brown, after all, had attacked Wilson and tried to steal his service weapon -- Obama’s attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, said, “It is not difficult to imagine how a single, tragic incident set off the city of Ferguson like a powder keg.”

    It’s also not difficult to imagine how Holder’s words might have added tinder to an already explosive situation: Just days after Holder’s remarks, two Ferguson policemen were shot.

    (According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a search warrant related to the Ferguson incident indicates that the suspect in that case was attempting to shoot at an individual he was having a dispute with and was not aiming at the police officers who were hit by gunfire.)

    The NRA article concludes by using the Dallas police shooting to dismiss calls for stronger gun safety laws by “the Democratic establishment” in the wake of incidents of mass public violence. The article claims that it would be “disrespectful” and “the greatest dishonor” to the memory of the officers killed to advocate for more gun safety laws and suggests that the slain officers “gave their lives” to protect the NRA’s vision for gun laws in America (emphasis added):

    Whether it’s terrorists who attack a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif., gangsters who murder each other every day in Chicago, an ISIS-inspired jihadist who opens fire in a nightclub, or a madman enraged by racist rhetoric to ambush Dallas police, the answer, we’re told by the Democratic establishment, is to surrender yet more of our God-given freedom to protect ourselves.

    In light of the supreme sacrifice those Dallas police officers made in July, the most disrespectful thing we could do -- the greatest dishonor to their memory we could make -- would be to surrender the freedoms they gave their lives to defend.


    Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who is shown mourning on the magazine’s cover, has actually voiced concerns to legislators over Texas laws that allow assault weapons to be openly carried in public. (Open carry of assault weapons, a practice that the NRA defends, has become increasingly common in Texas and some other states in recent years.)

    During the July ambush, efforts to take down the gunman were complicated by the fact that the attack took place at a protest where about 20 people were openly carrying rifles.

    Brown discussed the issue during a press conference, noting that he had expressed “concerns” to legislators about Texas’ open carry law and explaining that “it's increasingly challenging when people have AR-15s slung over and shootings occur in a crowd and they begin running, and we don't know … if they're the shooter or not, or they begin, it's been the presumption that a good guy with a gun is the best way to resolve some of these things. Well, we don't know who the good guy is versus who the bad guy is if everybody starts shooting, and we've expressed that concern as well.”

    Brown’s image on the cover of America’s 1st Freedom is partially obscured by an advertisement for a giveaway of a gun similar to the one used in the Dallas attack.

    The cover proclaims “NRA is GIVING AWAY guns that Hillary Clinton wants to BAN!”:

    When the fold-out is opened, a number of guns that have military-style features -- and therefore could be included in an assault weapons ban -- are listed.

    The give-away guns include several military-style assault weapons, including one that is particularly similar to the rifle used in the Dallas attack: The CMMG Mk 47 AKM2 Mutant.

    Like the Saiga AK-74 used to ambush police officers in Dallas, the CMMG firearm has features from the AK platform first popularized by the invention of the AK-47. (The CMMG weapon also has features from the AR assault weapon platform, giving it its “Mutant” moniker.) Here is the gun used in the attack:

    Here is a picture of the CMMG Mk 47 from another NRA magazine’s review of the assault weapon:

    The CMMG assault weapon uses 7.62x39mm ammunition while the AK-74 takes a slightly smaller 5.45x39mm cartridge.

  • NRA: “We Highly Recommend” Racist Newsletter That Frequently Defended Slavery

    NRA Magazine: Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries Were “Insightful,” “Laugh-Out-Loud Funny,” And “Remain Astute And Timely” In Light Of 2016 Election

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA’s magazine America’s 1st Freedom celebrated racist former NRA board member and NRA Executive Council member Jeff Cooper and recommended that people read the late Cooper’s newsletter -- which was peppered with racial slurs and defenses of slavery -- before the 2016 election.

    In an August 3 article, America’s 1st Freedom feted the upcoming 40th anniversary of Gunsite, a shooting academy founded by Cooper. The article lavishes praise on Cooper’s “well-known erudition,” calling him “a formidable historian and philosopher of broad, eclectic taste.”

    The article concludes with a note suggesting, “For further reading, we highly recommend Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries” before linking to where the newsletter can be read online. Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries were a monthly to bi-weekly publication that ran from 1993 until Cooper’s death in 2006.

    According to the NRA, the commentaries “are insightful, wide-ranging and quite frequently laugh-out-loud funny” and “Even 10 or more years later, many of his observations remain astute and timely, particularly in advance of the 2016 presidential election.”

    Cooper often used racial slurs in his newsletter, including calling people of Middle Eastern descent “ragheads,” black children “pickaninnies” and “goblins,” Japanese people “nips,” Vietnamese people “gooks,” American Indians “pesky redskins” and “Injuns,” and black South Africans “kaffirs” -- a term equivalent to the slur “nigger” in the United States.

    After the Transvaal Province in South Africa was renamed to the Gauteng Province during the 1994 post-Apartheid elections which were open to all races, Cooper suggested that the province's inhabitants should be referred to as “Oranggautengs.”

    In response to a 1999 speech by Nelson Mandela, Cooper put forward the racist idea that “Equality is biologically impossible, and liberty is only obtainable in homogeneous populations very thinly spread.” Years later, he also wrote, “Sorry, Mr. [Thomas] Jefferson, but all men are not created equal. ('All ya gotta do is look.')”

    A recurring theme in Cooper’s newsletter was defending the institution of slavery. In one instance, Cooper claimed that “slavery has been the normal condition of mankind for most of history. What do you do with the losers? You either kill them outright or put them to work”:

    We reflect, in this period of racist agitation, that slavery has been the normal condition of mankind for most of history. What do you do with the losers? You either kill them outright or put them to work. If you pen them up you have to feed them, and you have enough trouble feeding yourself. Despite this a large number of semi−literate types in the States seem to think of slavery as a unique invention of the southern states of the US over a period of a few generations.

    Cooper mused that abolishing slavery in the United States was “a mistake” in another commentary, suggesting the institution of slavery is as inevitable as “gravity,” and argued that “Without the institution of slavery, civilization would never have been achieved, for no one could ever have done anything intellectual if he had to spend all his time hewing and digging and fighting.” According to Cooper (emphasis original), “Colonial Africa was a far better place for both black and white before the colonists gave up.”

    Cooper was an anti-gay bigot who praised Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe for calling LGBT people “perverts who do not deserve civil rights.” He also wrote that “lesbians make lousy shots” compared to “normal girls.”

    The NRA article praising Cooper’s commentaries was published the day before an NRA representative appeared on Fox News to discuss NRA efforts to appeal to a more diverse audience:


  • NRA Admits It: “Obama Really Hasn’t Had The Opportunity To” Confiscate Guns

    The NRA Just Debunked Its Favorite Talking Point

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The NRA’s magazine acknowledged that President Obama “really hasn’t had the opportunity to” confiscate firearms, undercutting years of fearmongering about the supposed existence of a “massive Obama conspiracy” to dismantle the Second Amendment and take guns away.

    The NRA’s admission that a president can’t confiscate guns because “Congress writes the laws, not the president” also demonstrates the implausibility of repeated recent claims from the NRA that link Hillary Clinton to gun confiscation.

    The admission was included in a June 9 article for NRA magazine America’s 1st Freedom which took issue with how Obama “rudely” responded to a question from a gun store owner at a recent town hall event.

    The article quoted Obama as telling the questioner, “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it is just not true.”

    Responding to Obama’s statement, the article acknowledged, “Now, [the gun store owner] could have interrupted the president to mention that Obama really hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. Congress writes the laws, not the president”:

    Rhude didn’t sit down after asking his question. Rather, he stood silently as President Obama didn’t even try to answer his question, but instead went off on a defensive tirade: “First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true. And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it.”

    Obama then said, “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it is just not true.”

    Now, Rhude could have interrupted the president to mention that Obama really hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. Congress writes the laws, not the president. He could then have listed the many attacks on the right to bear arms -- from Operation Fast and Furious to Operation Choke Point to Obama’s attempted ban on common ammunition for AR-15-type rifles to his using a “pen and phone” to push anti-gun executive actions. But Rhude respectfully stayed silent.

    Claims about gun confiscation and Obama have been the NRA’s bread and butter for the past eight years. More recently, the NRA has suggested that the election of Clinton could lead to gun confiscation for law-abiding Americans.

    According to, neither Obama nor Clinton have advocated confiscating privately held firearms. Both have instead expressed support for regulating gun ownership, not banning it.

    The NRA’s fearmongering about gun confiscation is even implausible under the unlikely hypothetical scenario where a president and Congress both acted to take guns from Americans; under current Supreme Court precedent, blanket gun bans are unconstitutional.

  • Trump Parrots Right-Wing Media’s Bogus Claims About Clinton’s Gun Policies

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump echoed conservative media and the National Rifle Association by baselessly claiming that Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton wants to “abolish the Second Amendment” and “take your guns away.” In fact, Clinton says that Second Amendment rights can be "protected" while the government also implements "common-sense" measures like universal background checks to keep guns from dangerous people.

  • NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Says Ruth Bader Ginsburg “Disavowed The U.S. Constitution” In 2012

    LaPierre Cites Interview In Which Ginsburg Actually Praised The “Wonderful Words” Of The “Genius” U.S. Constitution

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre distorted past comments by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a column warning that “our guns and our culture would be a favored target for eradication” if Hillary Clinton and other Democrats are successful in the 2016 elections.

    In order to attack the possibility of Clinton being elected president and filling multiple vacancies on the Supreme Court with nominees like Justice Ginsburg, LaPierre smeared Justice Ginsburg by distorting her past comments about what new democracies should consider when adopting a constitution.

    In 2012, Ginsburg traveled to Egypt to offer advice to the country as it began the process of adopting a constitution. In an interview, Ginsburg said she advised Egypt to look at “all the constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II” and that she “would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” Ginsburg then singled out the South African constitution, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the European Convention on Human Rights as modern examples for drafting constitutions.

    During the interview, Ginsburg also praised the U.S. Constitution, saying, “The United States in comparison to Egypt is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written Constitution still enforced in the world. And it's a Constitution that starts out with three wonderful words: It's we the people.” Ginsburg praised the U.S. Constitution several other times during the interview, calling the document “an instrument that endured” and referencing “the genius of the Constitution.”

    But in his monthly “Standing Guard” column in the May 2016 edition of America’s 1st Freedom, LaPierre smeared Ginsburg as part of his rallying cry that the NRA "must defeat Hillary Clinton."

    LaPierre wrote of Ginsburg, “In an Egyptian television interview in January 2011 [sic], she disavowed the U.S. Constitution.” Distorting Ginsburg’s remarks, LaPierre added, “You might ask, why would a U.S. Supreme Court justice prefer another constitution to that which was forged in Philadelphia more than 200 years ago? What makes the South African Constitution so superior?”

    LaPierre went on to claim that the South African Constitution encourages “civil disarmament,” writing, “It’s senseless, but here we have a U.S. Supreme Court justice who might find herself in the majority embracing the very essence of undefined and unknown ‘social justice.’”

    LaPierre’s smear of Ginsburg is recycled from claims the NRA made about the 2012 elections and the prospect of President Obama’s reelection. The NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, released an article that distorted the Egypt comments to argue “most troubling of all is the possibility that if elected to a second term, President Obama could appoint even more justices who share Justice Ginsburg's views.”

    During the 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference, LaPierre also attacked Ginsburg in a speech, calling her a “giddy school girl” for hugging Obama at the State of the Union and again distorting her Egypt comments.

  • NRA Cheers Justice Clarence Thomas' "Tough Questioning" Of Gun Ownership Ban For Domestic Abusers

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom praised conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for questioning whether the Second Amendment comports with laws that ban gun ownership for convicted domestic abusers.

    Justice Thomas made headlines on February 29 by asking his first question from the bench in nearly 10 years during oral arguments for the case Voisine v. United States. The Voisine case is about statutory construction: whether convictions under certain state domestic violence laws trigger the federal prohibition on gun ownership for individuals convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence."

    Although the case will be decided on statutory rather than Second Amendment grounds, toward the end of oral arguments Thomas raised a constitutional question of banning gun ownership for convicted domestic abusers, asking, "This is a misdemeanor violation. It suspends a constitutional right. Can you give me another area where a misdemeanor violation suspends a constitutional right?"

    The NRA -- which claims it supports prohibitions on gun ownership by domestic abusers while often undermining attempts to actually take guns out of abusers' hands -- praised Justice Thomas, claiming he had "cornered the government's lawyer over and again."

    The NRA article added that Thomas' "tough questioning gives many hope that he might pick up where the late Justice Antonin Scalia left off, as the Court's most vocal, ardent and effective defender of your Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," and concluded with the suggestion that Justice Scalia "would have approved."

    Despite the NRA's enthusiasm for questioning the prohibition of gun ownership bans for convicted domestic abusers, Second Amendment challenges to domestic violence gun prohibition laws have been routinely rejected by courts throughout the United States in recent years.

    According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV), the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision "opened the floodgates to Second Amendment litigation." The majority opinion in that case, which was authored by Justice Scalia, found that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense.

    Indeed, close to one thousand Second Amendment challenges have been filed since Heller, but the vast majority have been rejected. This is because the Heller decision also found that most gun regulations are presumptively lawful, explaining, "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

    In a 2015 analysis, LCPGV found that since Heller "criminal defendants now routinely claim that criminal statutes violate the Second Amendment," but that "those claims have been met with nearly uniform rejection by the courts." According to LCPGV, "Courts have nearly uniformly upheld laws banning the possession of firearms by felons and persons convicted of certain misdemeanors, such as crimes of domestic violence."

  • NRA Suggests Gun Ownership For Women Who Wear Spandex At Night

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    An article in the National Rifle Association's magazine suggested that several factors -- including being a woman who chooses to wear Spandex at night, having PTSD, or being dependent on drugs or alcohol -- increases a person's "Vulnerability Index," before suggesting that people can significantly reduce their vulnerability by buying a gun.

    Contrary to the NRA's claim about gun ownership reducing risk, research has indicated time and time again that gun ownership does not increase a household's safety; rather it increases the risk of death due to homicide, suicide, or accident.

    A February 18 article in the NRA's magazine America's 1st Freedom discussed the concept of a "Vulnerability Index" -- a way for people to examine how vulnerable they are to a violent attack so they can consider "doing something about it."

    The article included a litany of ways that people supposedly make themselves more vulnerable, before assigning point values to things that they can do to reduce their vulnerability. The article posited that gun ownership reduces vulnerability far more than any other listed factor.

    Some of the premises for gun ownership offered by the NRA article, however, were bizarre.

    Discussing risks "wrought by the daily choices we make" the NRA article imagined, "You're a woman carrying groceries to your car. In both hands. At night. Returning from the gym. In Spandex":

    While events ratchet risk levels up or down, those changes are dwarfed by those wrought by the daily choices we make. For example:


    • You're a woman carrying groceries to your car. In both hands. At night. Returning from the gym. In Spandex. You're on the phone. Hello? Hello?

    The article also lists having PTSD or "nagging chemical dependencies such as nicotine, alcohol and drugs" as other factors that increase vulnerability. (Under federal law, people who are addicted to controlled substances are legally prohibited from buying guns.)

    Unsurprisingly, the article places gun ownership at the top of the list during an exercise in reducing one's "Vulnerability Index," assigning firearm ownership -100 points, while being a daily exerciser earns -10 points, owning a dog -5 points, and living in a gated community -25 points.

  • The NRA's Implausible Conspiracy Theory About CNN's "Guns In America" Town Hall

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association is claiming that CNN's recent "Guns in America" town hall event was "staged" by President Obama as it attempts to explain why NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre declined to participate in the event, but then days later challenged Obama to a TV debate.

    The NRA leveled several accusations against the Obama administration and CNN in a January 15 article, including that Obama was able to see questions in advance, that Obama "personally selected" the anchor of the event, and that the White House "personally selected" questioners for the event.

    On January 7, CNN hosted an hour-long primetime program on gun violence. During the broadcast Obama answered questions about guns posed by CNN host Anderson Cooper and eight audience members who were split along ideological lines. CNN conceived the event and invited President Obama and the NRA to participate in the event. Obama accepted CNN's offer and the NRA declined. In declining to participate, the NRA claimed the event was "orchestrated by the White House," a false claim that was corrected by CNN in a January 6 article.

    Then on January 13, days after skipping his chance to go face-to-face with Obama on national television before millions of viewers, LaPierre released a video challenging Obama to "a one-on-one, one-hour debate -- with a mutually agreed-upon moderator -- on any network that will take it."

    LaPierre's challenge was ridiculed by some in the media who pointed out that the gun group leader had his chance to confront Obama but declined to take it.

    In order to deflect from questions about why the NRA did not participate in the CNN event, the gun group has become increasingly brazen in promoting a conspiracy theory that the event was not CNN's doing, but rather was organized by the Obama administration.

    A January 15 article in the NRA's online magazine America's 1st Freedom leveled several allegations against the White House and CNN:

    • The NRA claimed CNN's town hall was "staged and choreographed by the White House publicity machine." According to a CNN spokesperson, the event was conceived of by CNN.
    • The NRA claimed "Obama and his handlers" were allowed to see questions in advance. It is obvious to anyone who watched CNN's town hall that this was not the case and the NRA's claim requires the belief that Obama was putting on an elaborate act as he reacted to questioners.
    • The NRA claimed that Obama "personally selected" Anderson Cooper to host the event and that Cooper's "career depends on having access to, and friendly relations with, the president and politicians in his party." CNN invited Obama, not the other way around. And again, anyone who watched the event would be puzzled by this claim given Cooper's challenging and sometimes adversarial questions to Obama.
    • The NRA claimed the people selected to ask questions during CNN's town hall were "personally selected by the White House" so that Obama could rehearse responses to their questions. This claim is debunked by an interview on the NRA's own radio show, Cam & Company. The day after the town hall, Cam & Company hosted one of the pro-gun questioners, who explained that she was selected by CNN. The guest also noted that CNN screened her question, but explained that as the event was live television, she could have said whatever she wanted to the president.
  • NRA: The "Real Epidemic" Is "Anti-Gun Groups," Not Gun Violence

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Just days after mass gun violence again captured Americans' attention, the National Rifle Association's online magazine declared that the "real epidemic" in the United States is "extreme anti-gun groups."

    In a December 1 article at America's 1st Freedom, the NRA attacked a petition created by the National Gun Victims Action Council that calls for President Obama to declare gun violence an "epidemic" under The National Emergencies Act. (As the NRA article concedes, presidents invoking this act must still operate within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution, and according to USA Today the act is invoked so often to give the executive branch increased flexibility that there are around 30 current "national emergencies.")

    The term epidemic is often used to describe the level of gun violence in the United States, especially by medical organizations, given that there are more than 30,000 gun deaths each year, with an approximate 70,000 additional Americans wounded by gunfire annually.

    The NRA's characterization of the country's "real epidemic" comes just days after a heavily-armed gunman opened fire with an AK-47 style assault weapon at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado, killing three people -- including a police officer -- and wounding nine others. The suspect in that incident, who has a long history of criminal charges and other troubling behavior, was arrested with a duffel bag filled with handguns and rifles.

    From the December 1 edition of America's 1st Freedom

  • NRA Smears Martin O'Malley As A Friend To Criminals With First 2016 Campaign Magazine Cover

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association's magazine America's 1st Freedom attacks Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley on its first cover focused on the 2016 presidential race. The issue's feature article outlandishly accuses the former Maryland governor of offering "hope and change to convicted killers and criminals," but the organization's overheated rhetoric is based on unfounded attacks on O'Malley's record.

    The September edition of the magazine features a cover characterizing O'Malley, who served as governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015, as a "menace" to the Second Amendment who has "made a mockery of Maryland's gun rights":

    The NRA's feature attacks O'Malley on two fronts, claiming that he poses a threat to Second Amendment rights and accusing him of taking the side of criminals in Maryland -- even though courts have sided with O'Malley on gun laws and violent crime fell significantly during his tenure as governor.

    Angered by O'Malley's strong support for a package of gun safety laws enacted in Maryland in 2013 following the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the NRA claims O'Malley "imposed the most draconian new gun bans anywhere in the country" before offering attacks from the top two members of NRA leadership.

    NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre is quoted in the article claiming O'Malley "has presided over some of the most spectacular, bloody and brutal failures of 'gun control' in our nation's history," while NRA top lobbyist Chris Cox suggests O'Malley becoming president could trigger "a fight for the survival of Second Amendment freedom as we know it."

    The NRA also objects to O'Malley's response to the massacre of nine parishioners in a historically African-American Charleston, South Carolina, church in June, sneering that the former Maryland governor acted "decidedly un-presidential" when he wrote an email to supporters declaring he was "pissed" about inaction on gun violence while calling for bans on assault weapons and stronger background checks on gun sales.

    Despite the gun group's suggestion O'Malley is jeopardizing the Second Amendment, as the article itself notes, the package of Maryland gun safety laws was upheld by a federal court.

    Indeed, according to the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, gun safety laws signed by O'Malley are "constitutional" because they "substantially serve[] the government's interest in protecting public safety ... without significantly burdening" Second Amendment rights. Furthermore gun safety laws like those signed by O'Malley, including handgun licensing and bans on assault weapons, are routinely upheld as consistent with the Second Amendment by courts.

    The second prong of the NRA's attack characterizes O'Malley as weak on crime, arguing, "As governor of Maryland, O'Malley doubled down on some of the same failed crime policies that he had instituted in Baltimore."

    Violent crime actually fell 27.3 percent in Maryland while O'Malley was governor. Crime in Baltimore also fell significantly while O'Malley was mayor between 1999 and 2007.

    Given this fact, the NRA stretches believability in its crime-related attacks on O'Malley. In one section the NRA nonsensically links O'Malley to a judicial decision that overturned convictions for several murderers (emphasis original): "Moreover, in 2013, a ruling by the Maryland Supreme Court resulted in convicted murderers being released from one end of 'The Free State' to the other, including more than a dozen killers in Baltimore alone. Nonetheless, Gov. O'Malley boasted in a State of the State Address that the Maryland prison population had fallen to the lowest point in decades under his leadership."

    As the head of Maryland's executive branch, O'Malley of course had no control over Maryland's highest court, which is actually called the Court of Appeals, not the Maryland Supreme Court. In any case, the overturned convictions dealt with cases pre-dating 1980 -- when O'Malley would have been 17-years-old -- where judges had instructed juries in a manner that violated the defendant's right to a fair trial.

    The NRA concludes its attack on O'Malley's record on crime by claiming that as governor he "was quick to offer hope and change to convicted killers and criminals" and that "he also did his best to take away the last, best hope of innocent, law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from those criminals."

    In one final unhinged attack that ties together claims about O'Malley on gun policy and crime, the NRA riffs on O'Malley's comments on "Black Lives Matter" to argue that "the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens":

    In June, speaking to the United States Conference of Mayors' annual gathering in San Francisco--where the current mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, was sworn in as president of the organization--O'Malley said, "One of the sad triumphs of white racism is the degree to which it has succeeded in subconsciously convincing so many of us, black and white, that somehow black lives don't matter."

    In truth, the lives that apparently don't matter to O'Malley are those of law-abiding citizens--no matter what their background.

  • NRA: 200+ Hate Crimes Committed With Guns "Not Freaking Happening Often Enough To Merit Mention"

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    The National Rifle Association's online magazine attacked an analysis of federal data that found that more than 200 hate crimes were committed with firearms between 2011 and 2013, writing that the number is not "enough to merit mention." The gun group also falsely claimed that the data in question "shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes." The NRA's stunning statements come less than two months after a white man shot to death nine African-American parishioners at a historically black church in South Carolina, in what authorities have classified as a racially-motivated attack.

    An Aug. 12 article in the NRA's online magazine, America's 1st Freedom, headlined, "Gun Hating Justifies Race-Baiting," accuses The Trace of "twisting federal data to taint guns with the most radioactive subject in American politics: race" because it published an article that analyzed federal hate crime data to determine how many incidents involved guns.

    Although only recently launched, The Trace -- an online venture that describes itself as "an independent, nonprofit media organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States" -- has quickly become a target for criticism by NRA-run media, which span online, print, and radio. (Though editorially independent, The Trace received part of its seed funding from Everytown for Gun Safety, whose founder, Michael Bloomberg, is perhaps the NRA's top adversary in the gun debate.)

    In an Aug. 10 article, The Trace analyzed data from the FBI's National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and found that between 2011 and 2013, 207 hate crimes involving firearms were reported. As The Trace notes -- and even the NRA acknowledges -- only around one-third of police departments in the country report this type of data to the FBI. In addition to hate crimes that go unreported, this means that the total number of hate crimes committed with guns is very likely greater than the number of incidents in the NIBRS.

    The Trace article, headlined "The Gun Doesn't Have To Go Off for it to Be a Hate Crime," cited several hate crime incidents, including June's mass shooting at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina as well as an incident from the NIBRS where an African-American woman and her children were repeatedly threatened by a white man who waved a gun and yelled racial epithets at them. The Trace's analysis of FBI data found "79 [hate crime] incidents in which an anti-black bias was the known motive (more than twice as many as crimes driven by any other bias)."

    The NRA took issue with The Trace's characterization of the FBI data, writing in America's 1st Freedom that the piece "took a stab at creating the impression of a nationwide hate-crime spree fueled by bigots waving firearms" and made an attempt at "smearing guns and gun owners with such a dingy film of racism."

    The NRA article nonsensically countered that the FBI data actually "shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes" -- even though official reports from NIBRS include 207 such incidents between 2011 and 2013. From America's 1st Freedom:

    Analysis; Data; Pattern. One can almost see the banks of lights flickering on The Trace's supercomputer. After all, it would take one to look at federal data that shows firearms are not being used in hate crimes, yet at the same time see an epidemic of bigots intimidating minorities just by waving guns around.

    America's 1st Freedom also accused The Trace of "manipulat[ing] the numbers so self-servingly, any self-respecting database would be ashamed to be cited by them," apparently because The Trace broke down data in several categories, including charts showing the races of victims and perpetrators and a graphic showing which type of bias is most common in reported hate crimes.

    Although the NRA article initially denied the incidence of hate crimes with guns at all, it later acknowledged that these crimes do occur, but argued that they do not happen often enough to merit attention. 

    In response to The Trace's observation that incidents in which a gun is used to threaten violence in a racially-charged situation are not "often talked about in America," the NRA responded: "It's not talked about because, by your own 'research,' it's not freaking happening often enough to merit mention. Your own research finds that only 2.6 percent of hate crime involves firearms."

    That's more than 200 gun-abetted hate crimes that the NRA doesn't think is enough to warrant a discussion.