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  • NRATV host carried a gun in public, despite admitting he "could not hit water if I fell out of a boat"

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, the host of a news program for the National Rifle Association’s media operation NRATV, made on-air comments that he was “embarrassed” by how poor a shot he was until he recently participated in an NRA training and insurance program. Previously, Stinchfield had repeatedly talked about carrying a gun in public wherever it was legal to do so while encouraging others to do the same. Stinchfield’s admissions undermine the NRA claim that permissive concealed carry laws are a benefit to public safety and highlight how these laws often allow poorly trained people to carry guns in public.

    During the January 2 edition of NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Stinchfield said his News Year’s resolution is to “always be carrying because I got lackadaisical at times last year about carrying my gun with me. If you don’t have it with you, it’s not going to do you any good.” Over the next weekend, Stinchfield took part in the NRA Carry Guard gun training program. Launched in 2017, NRA Carry Guard sells gun trainings and insurance policies packages. Policyholders are able to recover costs associated with shooting someone under some circumstances, including legal and “clean-up” expenses.

    After he completed his training, Stinchfield told NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch he was “embarrassed” that he had “a real hard time hitting the target” and may have been affected by “the stress of it all” during his first day of training. From the January 12 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield

    DANA LOESCH: So Grant, what did you think of Carry Guard training?

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So you had to told me to be prepared that they were going to yell at me, and they were going to make me -- and guess what?

    LOESCH: No no no, hold up, hold up. You are being so dramatic about this. I just said that during some of the drills they’re going to yell, that’s all.

    GRANT STINCHFIELD: All right, well they did yell during the drills. So, but meanwhile, so me, because I am very dramatic about things, I’m waiting to just get attacked with a verbal barrage and so the whole time I’m thinking that this is going to be what happens, and it never happened. [...] And the first day, I’m embarrassed to say, I had a real hard time hitting the target, I was low and right on everything, from gripping down on my right hand and maybe just the stress of it all. By the third day, I finished tied for second in my shooting test.

    The NRATV host also interviewed his Carry Guard instructors and admitted to them that during the first day of training, “I could not hit water if I fell out of a boat.” When he asked the trainers whether they were “worried about me even coming close to passing this course,” one of them replied, “I honestly thought you would shoot a little bit better when we first started,” before saying that Stinchfield improved throughout the training.

    Despite having difficulty hitting his targets during the training earlier this month, Stinchfield previously said during a November NRATV broadcast that said he carries his firearm “everywhere I am legally allowed to”, and has repeatedly maintained that concealed carry holders “make everyone around them so much safer,” even in states that have repealed requirements to obtain a permit before carrying a gun in public.

    It is very worrisome that the NRATV host, who claims to carry wherever he is legally allowed to, was admittedly such a bad shot before taking a voluntary three-day training program. The state of Texas, where Stinchfield is based, only mandates between four and six hours of in-person or online instruction to obtain concealed carry. The range component of the training only requires the applicant to shoot a total of 50 rounds at three different distances.

    Research into the impact of allowing people to carry guns in public has demonstrated that these policies are actually associated with increases in crime, particularly aggravated assault. While NRA markets its Carry Guard program by promoting the notion that graduates will be able to take out mass shooters, there is no evidence that concealed carry is an effective deterrent to public mass shootings. 

  • NRA’s news outlet says it's “fake news” to say there are over 30,000 U.S. gun deaths each year because the figure includes gun suicides

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield: “It is a number thrown around like confetti”

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Grant Stinchfield, the host of the National Rifle Association’s news show, included what he called the “overused 30,000 gun deaths a year” statistic in his top three “fake gun news” stories of 2017, claiming that gun suicides -- which account for around two-thirds of the figure -- don’t count.

    There were 36,252 deaths in the United States in 2015, according to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Of those, 22,018 were gun suicides.

    Stinchfield, who hosts a news show for the NRA’s outlet NRATV, cruelly claimed that including suicides within the term “gun deaths” was “fake news,” calling the statistic “deceptive” and used by the media to “wage war on gun ownership”:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So 2018 is shaping up to be a busy year for us here at NRATV, exposing and correcting fake news has, yes, become a full time job for us. The devious and deceitful media are not letting up. So while President Trump released his top three fake news stories, I want to officially release mine. All related to fake gun news, of course.

    [...]

    STINCHFIELD: The final fake news of the year comes in the form of a statistic, the overused 30,000 gun deaths a year. The left never mentions that two-thirds of those include suicides. Yet it is a number thrown around like confetti. And it’s deceptive to say the least. From The Washington Post to The New York Times, they all use it to wage war on gun ownership. It’s all fake news.

    Stinchfield’s claim that “gun suicides” don’t count in gun death totals ignores a vast body of research proving that firearm availability has a direct impact on successful suicide attempts.

    According to Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a review of 90 long-term studies found that “even when narrowing the field to studies of serious attempters,” the vast majority of people who survived a first suicide attempt “did not go on to die by suicide.” Yet those who attempt suicide by firearm rarely get the chance to continue their lives, as they are successful in their attempts 82.5 percent of the time.

    A July 2016 study in the American Journal of Public Health also found that states with the highest gun ownership levels also typically have the highest suicide rates. In 2011, the National Institute for Health found that the mere presence of a gun in the home can increase the likelihood of a successful youth suicide.

    Alternatively, removing firearms from the immediate access of a suicidal person has resulted in a 68 percent drop in the number of gun suicides. Harvard University’s Means Matter campaign has focused on limiting firearm access for suicidal individuals in crisis.

    Not counting gun suicides as “gun deaths” has been pushed as a right-wing talking point before, but it has no basis in logic. As psychiatrist and Georgetown University professor Liza Gold explained to The Trace, “Firearm violence is firearm violence. Let’s say you work in a hospital and you have 100 people with lung cancer, and 50 percent of them have it because they were smokers. Are you going to say to the smokers, ‘Your cancer is not as important because you were smoking and you should have known better?’ I don’t think so. You treat them exactly the same. So, firearm violence is firearm violence, whether it’s committed against oneself or committed against others. It’s all bad.”

  • Reported child molester Roy Moore gets an A grade from the NRA

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After staying quiet for most of the Alabama Senate special election campaign, the National Rifle Association has officially awarded Republican candidate Roy Moore an “AQ” rating.

    According to the NRA’s Political Victory Fund webpage for Alabama, Moore has an “AQ” rating, which the NRA reserves for “a pro-gun candidate whose rating is based solely on the candidate's responses to the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire and who does not have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.” The NRA awarded Democratic candidate Doug Jones a “?” rating, which the group defines as “Refused to answer the NRA-PVF Candidate Questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.”

    Based on a search of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the rating was posted some time after December 8, and comes just after the NRA quietly spent more than $54,000 against Jones while at the time not mentioning the race on its Political Victory Fund website. The organization’s “AQ” grade also comes around the same time as the Republican National Committee restarted funding Moore after previously cutting the campaign off, and after Trump announced his official endorsement.

    On December 1, the Moore campaign claimed that the NRA is “on board with us now” after supporting his opponent, Luther Strange, in the primaries.

    Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple teenage girls, one as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

    Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion. 

  • NRA quietly moves to help Roy Moore win the Alabama Senate election

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters 

    The National Rifle Association has discreetly spent almost $55,000 against Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate special election, effectively supporting reported child molester and Republican candidate Roy Moore.

    Public Integrity’s Ashley Balcerzak reported that the NRA spent a total of $54,772.03 in December 2017 on postcards opposing Jones, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But there’s no mention of the NRA being involved in the race on its Political Victory Fund and Institute for Legislative Action websites, the two groups the NRA uses for election spending. According to the Political Victory Fund, the NRA is currently endorsing two candidates: a Republican in an Oklahoma State Legislature special election, and a Republican in the Tennessee General Assembly special election.

    The website claims there are “no current elections” the NRA is involved with in Alabama.

    Searching for both “Doug Jones” or “Roy Moore” on the Political Victory Fund’s media center page yields “no results.” The only recent mention of “Alabama” was in September 2017, plugging for NRA-endorsed Luther Strange in the special primary election. Running the same search terms on the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website similarly yielded no results pertaining to the Alabama Senate election.

    Moore is accused of having inappropriate sexual relationships with multiple underaged girls, as young as 14, while he was in his 30s, including attempting to rape a 16-year-old girl.

    Through regular monitoring of NRATV, the NRA’s broadcast platform, Media Matters can report that the Alabama Senate election has not been a regular topic of discussion. 

  • NRATV correspondent uses Texas church massacre to advertise for security firm where he works 

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Just hours after news broke of a mass shooting in a Sutherland Springs, TX, church that left 26 people dead and at least 20 more wounded, Chuck Holton, a correspondent for NRATV -- the National Rifle Association’s media arm -- tweeted that “If your church doesn’t have a security team, get one” with a link to LionHeart International Services Group:

    [Twitter, 11/5/17]

    Holton is director of communications at the security services firm, which he did not disclose in the tweet. While his biography on the firm’s website refers to Holton as a “war correspondent,” it does not describe his position with NRATV nor does his NRATV biography describe his position with LionHeart.

    It is legal to carry concealed guns in churches in Texas, unless the property owner gives written or oral notice prohibiting the practice.

    As is custom for the NRA following high-profile public mass shootings, the organization itself has gone silent.

    Update: During a November 6 episode of Stinchfield, NRATV’s hourly 10-minute update show, host Grant Stinchfield interviewed LionHeart International Services Group president and founder Tim Miller, who said it is time “for our churches to team up and train up” and that smaller churches need to “start prioritizing physically protecting their congregations and that means they've got to get serious about developing a plan and training the right people.” During the segment, Miller plugged his own company’s trainings for churches, saying, “Our guys are used to training police officers and federal agents.” Neither Miller nor Stinchfield disclosed Holton’s position with LionHeart:

    TIM MILLER: It really is time, though, Grant -- we’ve been talking about this -- for our churches to team up and train up. These smaller churches are the majority of churches in our country. And it’s time for them to start prioritizing physically protecting their congregations and that means that they’ve got to get serious about developing a plan and training the right people. Because if you think of one well-trained person yesterday, that may have made all the difference.    

    [...]

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): You know, Tim, I had worked very closely with two of the lawmakers that pushed through this new law in Texas that allows churches to organize their own volunteer private security without having to go through the requirements of registering as a security force. It was imperative that this got pushed through -- it did in the last legislative session -- and it allows now churches to basically have this volunteer security force without the fear of not following licensing properly or lawsuits or any of those things. And it gives them protection to take matters back into their own hands. It’s a good law.

    TIM MILLER: It’s a great law. And now what has to happen now that folks can get the weapons that they need and can not have to worry about those requirements -- but they still must have to have great training. And that’s what we try to do when we go into churches. A team is only as good as its ability to practice the skills that they have, and so when we go in, our guys are used to training police officers and federal agents. But now we really have come to realize that this is an urgent need in our country, to come in and take these great-hearted people who have taken steps to arm themselves, but they still need to train and still need to understand how to employ that weapon.