NRATV correspondent: “Men were made to create, they were made to conquer … men were meant to be dangerous”
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Loesch discounted data as House prepares to consider an expanded background checks bill
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.
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Chuck Holton: Democrats want to “import” people from “the Third World” to counterbalance American voters
Chuck Holton, a correspondent for the National Rifle Association's broadcast outlet NRATV, echoed a longtime white nationalist talking point when he accused the Democratic Party of trying to “import another group of voters” from “the Third World” in order to “to stay in power in perpetuity.”
During the January 4 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield attacked Democrats in Congress for allegedly creating “fugitive havens” instead of supporting “anything that will make us safer along the border.” Holton agreed, claiming “they don’t care about border security” because they want to “import a new populace that will vote for them by offering them all these free benefits.”
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): I’ve seen no evidence that the Democrats have ever supported border security. Ever. They voted against Kate Steinle’s law. They voted against laws to keep gangbangers out. They love sanctuary cities. Give me one piece of evidence that the Democrats have supported anything that will make us safer along the border. All they have created are fugitive havens. Well, veteran Army Ranger and Frontlines correspondent Chuck Holton has been on this story for a very long time. Chuck, welcome to the program.
CHUCK HOLTON (NRATV CORRESPONDENT): Yeah, good to see you, Grant. You are absolutely right. They don’t care about border security and that’s because they are trying to put together a voter base that will keep them in power in perpetuity. And they know that the American people are not going to allow them to stay in power in perpetuity, and so essentially what they’re trying to do is import another group of voters. They’re trying to import a new populace that will vote for them by offering them all these free benefits. Look, we have to address these pull factors that are bringing people out of -- basically all over the Third World, it’s not just the Western Hemisphere, it’s not just Latin America. I’ve been down there on the border, and I’ve seen people from India and Cameroon and Pakistan and Nepal and Afghanistan and all over Africa, Somalia. They’re all coming north and they’re all looking for the same thing. And that is, to win that lottery ticket and get across that easy-to-climb border fence that we’re seeing right there, and coming into the United States so that they can get a lot of free stuff. And, really, who can blame them?
Holton has a well-documented track record of using racist rhetoric, such as complaining that former President Barack Obama left a “mocachinno stain” on America, fearmongering about the Black Lives Matter movement committing mass violence against whites, and demanding Black people “join us in respecting authority and taking responsibility for your own actions.”
Previously while speaking about immigration on NRATV, Holton repeatedly pushed the conspiracy theory that philanthropist George Soros is behind the migrant caravan, a remarkably similar conspiracy theory to the one that motivated a gunman who carried out a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue in October. He also said that the migrant caravan is “an invasion under the guise of migration.”
The NRATV correspondent also has a symbiotic relationship with white nationalists; he has previously repeated the white nationalist talking point that cultural “homogeneity” is responsible for low crime rates, repeatedly promoted the work of scientific racist Stefan Molyneux, and been praised by neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.
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.”
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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.
The notion that Jews are behind a nefarious plot to engineer a migrant invasion is still circulating in right-wing media
In the month since a far-right gunman massacred 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh, PA, synagogue, seemingly driven by a conspiracy theory that Jews were orchestrating an invasion of the United States by migrants, this deadly false narrative has continued to spread as a talking point on right-wing platforms.
The alleged gunman, Robert Bowers, used social media site Gab (a “haven for white nationalists”) to post a derogatory statement about Jewish refugee-resettlement organization HIAS. He accused the organization of bringing “invaders” into the U.S. before unleashing his deadly attack against those worshipping inside the Tree of Life synagogue. And when he was captured, he claimed Jews were “committing genocide” of his people. Since the deadly incident, rhetoric accusing Jews of committing so-called “white genocide” by supporting immigration into the United States seems to continue to proliferate unchecked.
This week, a Twitter account called @InvasionPlot cropped up and began posting photos and names of Jewish scholars, journalists, student activists, and public officials, among others, and highlighting the individuals’ pro-immigrant and pro-refugee views. The Twitter bio says “this didn’t happen by accident,” and the account garnered thousands of followers before it was suspended.
Sociologist Philip N. Cohen noted that after he was targeted by the account, his mentions were swamped with neo-Nazis and anti-Semites:
this my mentions getting nazi-ratioed https://t.co/4E9H4mgnlp
— Philip N Cohen (@familyunequal) November 29, 2018
The Twitter account’s emergence is far from an isolated incident. The false narrative that Jews are orchestrating an invasion of migrants to alter demographics is tightly linked to sensationalized news coverage of a caravan of migrants and asylum-seekers currently situated in Tijuana, Mexico. On the white supremacist message board Stormfront, a user postulated that immigration is a Jewish plot to murder “innocent White Children.”
Posts on Gab, the forum the alleged synagogue shooter used, continue to assert that the migrant caravan is controlled by Jews and that Jews are orchestrating an “invasion of Europe” by Muslim immigrants.
But the conspiracy theory has not remained confined to the extremist right, or to the fringes of the internet. On Gab, users have attempted to pin the purported plot behind the caravan on Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
Similarly, on right-wing media, the same tactic has continued to spread, with President Donald Trump elevating this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory in October. On November 13, Ami Horowitz, a guest on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, speculated that “Soros is part” of the carvan, noting that “this whole thing cost millions and millions of dollars.”
And on November 16, NRATV correspondent Chuck Holton laid out the conspiracy theory in stark terms: “It didn’t take a whole lot ... to find a pretty direct link between George Soros money and the people in the caravan getting fed.”
Despite clear evidence that this very conspiracy theory already inspired a massacre, the false notion that Jews are orchestrating an “invasion” of the United States doesn’t seem to be disappearing from right-wing media -- and it may inspire violence again.
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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.
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