Nationally syndicated radio personality and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) surrogate Steve Deace hosted Larry Pratt, president of Gun Owners of America (GOA), to denounce Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland as “big government” and “a real red.” Pratt, who has been linked with white supremacists and has a history of gun misinformation, pushed the conservative smear that Garland is radical on gun rights.
Obama Names Judge Merrick Garland As His Nominee To The Supreme Court
President Obama Named Judge Merrick Garland As His Nominee To The Supreme Court. On March 16, President Obama named Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Garland has served on the D.C. Circuit since 1997. [The New York Times, 3/16/16]
Deace Hosted GOA President Larry Pratt To Denounce Garland's Nomination
Pratt Appeared On The Steve Deace Show To Distort Garland's Record On Gun Issues. On the March 16 episode of The Steve Deace Show, Gun Owners of America president Larry Pratt distorted Garland's Second Amendment record, claiming Garland supported keeping “an illegal record” of background checks and calling him “a bright-color liberal ... a real red”:
LARRY PRATT: It doesn't take long at all to find out that this judge, who has been on in effect the next to the Supreme Court if you wanted to put our courts in a tiered system. The D.C. Court of Appeals is where a lot of federal matters go; regulatory agencies often are in court there against American citizens. It's a very important, unhappily, court in our federal system. That's where Merrick Garland has been serving.
While there, he distinguished himself as on the wrong side of what became the Heller decision by the Supreme Court. He didn't think Mr. Heller had a individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. And he's also been rather in favor of what Clinton was doing: keeping an illegal record of people whose backgrounds had been checked, something we said would of course happen once the government got that information. They weren't about ready to let it go. And they got caught under the Clinton administration. And Judge Merrick Garland said, “That's OK. That's the federal government; they can do what they want.”
PRATT: ... hopefully there is some chance that he is so flagrantly a big-government, let-the-president-rule-by-decree sort of fellow that that might actually be a problem for him. Maybe, we'll see.
STEVE DEACE (HOST): I don't know; it doesn't seem to be a problem for it when they are faced with it in the flesh. I don't know why it would be a problem for it in the third person, Larry.
PRATT: I know, I know. All I can tell you is I am not smoking anything funny, not drinking anything funny. It's just that this is so in your face, and it's right on top of Obama's lie that he was going to look for somebody that he might slip through because he would be so colorless. Right. This guy comes with bright pastels. He is the opposite of a Reagan bright-colors conservative. This guy is bright-color liberal. What we used to call a real red. The colors have been inverted lately. But no, this guy, I am very concerned. His willingness to give the government any executive power that they think they need is very concerning. [The Steve Deace Show,3/16/16]
A Well-Known Conservative Judge, Among Others, Joined Garland's Decision To Rehear A 2007 Case That Pratt Claimed Was “On The Wrong Side Of” The Future Heller Supreme Court Case
Garland Voted, Along With Three Other Judges, To Rehear A 2007 Case That Had Overturned D.C.'s Handgun Ban. In March 2007, a panel of three judges -- not including Garland -- issued a decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, overturning a lower court case to rule that D.C.'s ban on handgun ownership violated the Second Amendment. After the decision, Garland was one of four judges who voted to rehear the case en banc, a procedure in which the full court can reconsider the case and decide differently. In a 6-4 decision, the court declined to rehear the case en banc. The notion that this suggests he opposes the Second Amendment came from the discredited conservative group Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which omitted key details in its attack on Garland. [Media Matters, 3/14/16]
Well-Known Conservative Judge A. Raymond Randolph Also Voted To Rehear The Case. The four votes to rehear the Parker case also included one cast by Judge A. Raymond Randolph, a George H.W. Bush appointee to the D.C. Circuit and a well-known conservative. In fact, JCN -- then still operating under the name Judicial Confirmation Network -- promoted a discussion between Randolph and ultra-conservative jurist and rejected Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork months after Randolph joined Garland in voting to rehear Parker. [Media Matters, 3/14/16]
The Clinton-Era Gun Registration Requirement Garland Upheld Was Never Found Unconstitutional
Majority Opinion In NRA v. Reno Case, Which Garland Joined, Affirmed A Lower Court Ruling That Gun Registration System Was Constitutional. The decision in the 2007 D.C. Circuit case National Rifle Association v. Reno found that, while the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases did temporarily retain data of gun owners for the purpose of audits, the practice was lawful and did not violate a federal prohibition on creating a registry of gun owners. Judge David Tatel authored the 2-1 majority opinion and was joined by Garland. Tatel wrote:
Finding nothing in the Brady Act that unambiguously prohibits temporary retention of information about lawful transactions, and finding that the Attorney General has reasonably interpreted the Act to permit retention of such information for audit purposes, we affirm the district court's dismissal of the complaint. [National Rifle Association of America, Inc. v. Reno, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, 7/11/00; Media Matters, 3/16/15]
The NRA Appealed The Decision To The Supreme Court, Which Declined To Take Up The Case. Following the D.C. Circuit decision to affirm the legality of the FBI's background check system for gun purchases, the NRA appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The conservative-leaning court “without comment, turned aside the NRA's challenge,” as reported by the Associated Press. [Associated Press, 6/26/01, Media Matters, 3/16/15]
Pratt Has A Long History Of Gun Extremism
Pratt: “The Second Amendment Was Designed For People Just Like The President And His Administration.” During a June 4 appearance on fringe radio program The Roger Fredinburg Show, Pratt endorsed the notion that the Second Amendment allows for the violent overthrow of government, claiming that it was “designed” for people like President Obama:
ROGER FREDINBURG (HOST): I think the next revolution is going to start and be won by people with rifles and Leupold [brand] scopes. I don't think it's going to be won by guys in the trenches with machetes.
LARRY PRATT: We figured that that was kind of what they were up to and the Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration. And, yes, ifThe New York Times and the Rolling Stone and whoever else wants to have a hissy-fit, yes our guns are in our hands for people like those in our government right now that think they want to go tyrannical on us, we got something for 'em. That's what it's all about. The Second Amendment is not about hunting, it's not about target shooting, it's about Democrats who want to take our rights. [The Roger Fredinburg Show, 6/4/15, via Right Wing Watch; Media Matters, 2/26/15]
Pratt Has Said Politicians Should Fear Being Shot By A Gun Owners Of America Supporter If They Pass Laws Regulating Firearms. During an interview on Fox News Radio with pundit Alan Colmes, Pratt said that he agrees that politicians should have a “healthy fear” of being shot because “that is what the Scond Amendment is all about”:
ALAN COLMES (HOST): Is it your belief that you -- in fact you have been quoted a number of times saying that politicians should have a healthy fear of being shot because such fears are a way to make sure they behave.
LARRY PRATT: Well ultimately if they push too hard that could happen.
COLMES: But this notion that our politicians should have a quote “healthy fear” of being shot. You support that idea?
PRATT: Sure that is what the Second Amendment is all about.
COLMES: About fear in our elected officials that they could be shot?
PRATT: Sure, because otherwise we have fear from them cause they have guns and when they start imposing their will tyrannically, when they start doing things such as what happened at the Bundy ranch in Bunkerville, Nevada, then it's time that the people, in this case, the [Bureau of Land Management], be put on notice that you are not going to be allowed to do that.
COLMES: So you like the idea, you want to instill fears in the hearts of our elected officials, that they could be shot.
PRATT: Otherwise I'm not quite sure how else we restrain them. [Fox News Radio, The Alan Colmes Show, 11/18/14; Media Matters, 11/20/14]
Pratt: “We Have To Admit” That The Aurora, CO Movie Theater Mass Shooting Could Have Been Staged By The Government. During a discussion of the July 2012 mass shooting in Aurora, CO that left 12 dead and scores wounded, Pratt said on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show, “Now, we have to admit that maybe this is something that our government is capable of.” [Genesis Communication Network, The Alex Jones Show, 7/27/12; Media Matters, 2/26/15]
Pratt Spoke At White Supremacist Rallies And Has Steered GOA Donations To A White Supremacist Group
GOA Founder And Leader Larry Pratt Directed GOA To Donate Money To A White Supremacist Group. A 2014 Rolling Stone profile of Pratt said he directed his organization, GOA, to donate “tens of thousands of dollars” to a white supremacist group:
But the NRA stopped short of supporting the Christian Identity lawyer Kirk Lyons, who was representing multiple victims of Waco. [Founder Larry] Pratt and the GOA had no such compunction and donated tens of thousands of dollars to Lyons's white supremacist organization CAUSE (short for the Aryan bastions of Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Europe), “Not $50,000 -- but a lot of money for us,” Pratt told Rolling Stone in 1995. [Rolling Stone,7/14/14; Media Matters, 3/1/16]
Pratt Was Forced To Leave Pat Buchanan's Presidential Campaign After Pratt's Past Ties To White Supremacists Were Revealed. Pratt, who was a co-chairman of Buchanan's 1996 presidential run, was forced out of the campaign after it was revealed that he had spoken at white supremacist gatherings:
Last week, Larry Pratt, a co-chairman of the Buchanan campaign, took a leave of absence after the disclosure that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements.
Mr. Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said in an interview that he did not know the other speakers. He also said he did not harbor anti-Semitic or racist views, although his articles on gun ownership often appear in The Jubilee, a tabloid published in California by leaders of the Christian Identity movement, a white supremacist organization. [The New York Times, 2/18/96; Media Matters, 3/1/16]
Boston Globe: Participants At Rallies Pratt Spoke Included Individuals With Ties To The Ku Klux Klan And Aryan Nation. In a follow-up to The Times report, The Boston Globe discovered that Pratt had spoken before high-profile figures in the white supremacist movement:
Prominent participants at that meeting included Pete Peters, head of a group called Christian Identity, former Ku Klux Klan leader and Aryan Nation official Louis Bream and Aryan Nation founder Richard Butler. The Center for Public Integrity report also said Pratt attended a meeting in 1995 with militia leader Bo Gritz, at which racist and anti-Semitic material was available. [The Boston Globe, 2/17/96; Media Matters, 3/1/16]
Pratt “Seemed To Justify” The Oklahoma City Bombing In Speech Before Adherents To The Racist Christian Identity Movement. According to a 2014 Rolling Stone profile of Pratt, three days after Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, Pratt suggested that the bombing may have been a justified response to the 1993 standoff between authorities and Branch Davidians in Waco, TX:
On the afternoon of the Oklahoma City bombing, Pratt was in Washington, D.C., demonstrating in front of FBI headquarters for its role in the Waco tragedy. Three days later, Pratt spoke before a gathering of 600 Christian Identity adherents and assorted radicals convened by Pete Peters at the Lodge of the Ozarks in Branson, Missouri. Pratt addressed the “Biblical Mandate to Arm” and seemed to justify McVeigh's act of terror, at the time the bloodiest in American history. According to an account by Michael Reynolds in Playboy, Pratt told the gathered, “The government behaves as a beast. It did in Waco, and we have somebody, whoever it might have been, whatever group it might have been, assuming they can't rely on the Lord to take vengeance.” [Rolling Stone, 7/14/14; Media Matters, 3/1/16]
Pratt Was A “Contributing Editor” For An Anti-Semitic Publication. Rolling Stone reported that Pratt was a “contributing editor” for anti-Semitic publication United Sovereigns of America:
Those who do not share Pratt's politics appreciate his work, and appear willing to overlook his ties to extremists. Pratt's former role as a contributing editor at a publication of the anti-Semitic United Sovereigns of America hasn't even seemed to complicate his relationship with Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. “None of that strained GOA's relationship with JPFO,” says L. Neil Smith, a Libertarian member and writer for JPFO. “I myself would also talk to white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups. I talk to liberal groups, but people don't accuse me of being liberal. I wash all that off at home. It's important to talk to anyone who will listen.” [Rolling Stone, 7/14/14; Media Matters, 3/1/16]