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  • NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch blames ATF for not regulating gun sellers. The NRA sponsored a law that makes it harder for them to do that.

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch cited reporting about the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) low penalty rate for firearms dealers who have violated the law, to disingenuously attack getting “the government involved,” because it’s not “doing their job.” But, Loesch ignored that the NRA championed a law that restricts the ATF's ability to regulate the sale of firearms and makes it extremely difficult for the bureau to take action against non-compliant arms dealers.

    During the June 4 edition of her NRATV program Relentless, Loesch pointed to a June 3 New York Times article reporting that there were “11,000 inspections of licensed firearm dealers in the year starting in October 2016” and “more than half were cited for violations” but “less than 1 percent” actually lost their licenses. Loesch said these violations “should have resulted in actions by the agency” and that the government, which is “tasked with protecting innocents,” is “ultimately [falling] short of doing that job”:

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): We’re told over and over that the solutions to all of the problems related to all forms of violence is to ban all of the things and to get the government involved. In fact, one of the favorite pastimes of the progressive left is to claim that they don’t want to repeal the Second Amendment, they just want the quote, unquote “universal background checks,” or to make sure gun sellers are held accountable for breaking the law.

    ...

    LOESCH: All of these solutions depend on the government doing its job, but the problem is that they aren’t doing their job. The New York Times is reporting that the ATF, quote, “regularly find violations of the law, ranging from minor record-keeping errors to illegal sales of firearms.” But the ATF rarely does anything about it or at least does very little. According to this report, out of the 11,000 inspections of firearms dealers, more than half had violations that should have resulted in actions by the agency but in the end, less than 1 percent resulted in any real serious consequences like a loss of a license. Combine this with the failures of the FBI to follow up on leads or federal bureaucracies that have failed to, in any way, communicate with one another in order to prevent a prohibited possessor from purchasing a firearm, as happened in Sutherland Springs, as happened in Charleston, the same disturbing picture that we saw unfold in Parkland appears. A government, tasked with protecting innocents yet preventing us from protecting ourselves, and then they ultimately fall short of doing that job.

    While the Times article claimed that many ATF “supervisors downgraded recommendations that the stores’ licenses be revoked,” it also noted the bureau is tasked with proving “that store owners not only violated the law but intended to do so,” which dealers “would almost certainly appeal.”

    Loesch neglected to mention that the NRA actively supported the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, which mandated that the ATF prove a firearms dealer is “willfully” breaking the law when selling to a prohibited person, limited the agency to inspecting over 135,000 active federal firearms licensees once a year, and mandated that the bureau reduce the penalty for inadequate records of firearms acquisition and sale from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    On the nearly 25th anniversary of the 1986 law, NRA-Institute For Legislative Action, the NRA’s lobbying arm, cheered the passing of the bill as the moment “the gun rights movement really came into its own” and “NRA-ILA and other pro-gun groups … earned their spurs.”  

  • Infowars livestreams a Planned Parenthood protest the day after the anniversary of Dr. Tiller's murder

    Blog ››› ››› SHARON KANN


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    On May 31, 2009, an anti-abortion extremist murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, who had been harassed and targeted by anti-choice groups and right-wing media for years. On May 31, 2018, Infowars reporter Owen Shroyer announced that he would be hosting and livestreaming a protest outside a Texas Planned Parenthood location.

    During the May 31 segment of Genesis Communication Network’s The Alex Jones Show, Shroyer announced that Infowars would “launch a protest here in Austin at Planned Parenthood” the next day in response to his frustration that the NRA and Infowars were “being blamed for anytime there’s a shooting” while Planned Parenthood wasn’t blamed for being part of “a death cult.” Shroyer noted that in addition to organizing the protest, he would also be livestreaming the event to various channels. Toward the end of the segment, host Alex Jones and Shroyer started mocking the people they think will show up to the protest, calling them satanists and claiming they'll say things like “We are slaves, we are dying,” “I love abortion,” and “I want to kill kids.”

    Back in reality, anti-abortion violence and harassment are both very real and very serious threats to those who publicly provide, write about, or even discuss abortion. Since 1993, 11 people have died as a result of anti-abortion violence, and numerous providers, patients, and their families have been injured; as recent data from the National Abortion Federation (NAF) demonstrates, this trend shows little sign of abating. NAF found that in 2017, “trespassing more than tripled, death threats/threats of harm nearly doubled, and incidents of obstruction rose from 580 in 2016 to more than 1,700 in 2017.” There was also a continued “increase in targeted hate mail/harassing phone calls, and clinic invasions,” as well as “the first attempted bombing in many years.”

    According to NAF’s 2016 report, rates of anti-abortion clinic protests were already at the highest levels seen since the organization began tracking incidents in 1977. And in 2018, there have already been numerous reports of violence or threats against clinics, with incidents reported in Illinois, New Jersey, Utah, Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and more. In North Carolina, abortion provider Calla Hales has documented the frequent anti-abortion protests and harassment directed at her clinic -- including attacks on her personally.

    Nevertheless, right-wing media have frequently fostered or encouraged anti-abortion harassment -- sometimes directly targeting abortion providers by name. Before being ousted from Fox News after public reports that he sexually harassed multiple colleagues, Bill O’Reilly spent years not only spreading misinformation about abortion, but also openly bullying abortion providers like Tiller. Prior to Tiller’s death, O’Reilly called the doctor “Tiller the baby killer” and insisted there was a “special place in hell” for him. After a deadly shooting attack at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in 2015, O’Reilly defended his previous attacks on Tiller, claiming that his comments were accurate.

    Even without O’Reilly, Fox News programming is still rife with anti-abortion misinformation and demonization of abortion providers. In just one example, after Fox News’ The Five briefly moved to a prime-time slot, co-host Greg Gutfeld took a page out of O’Reilly’s playbook and called for anti-abortion violence. During the April 2017 segment, Gutfeld compared abortion to slavery and argued that “if you are pro-life and you believe it is murder, you should be willing to fight” and “start a war” to stop abortions from being performed.

    Beyond Fox News, wider right-wing programming has also contributed to an atmosphere that fosters anti-abortion violence and harassment. In 2016, after Robert Dear allegedly opened fire in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood center (killing three and injuring at least nine more), The New Republic reported on Dear’s penchant for right-wing media such as Fox News and Infowars -- noting in particular how these outlets contributed to Dear’s paranoid, conspiratorial views on abortion and Planned Parenthood. According to The New Republic:

    In fact, as I learned from hours of speaking with Dear, the narratives he learned from Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones and Bill O’Reilly and countless far-right web sites meshed perfectly with his paranoid delusions, misogynist beliefs, and violent fantasies. The right-wing media didn’t just tell him what he wanted to hear. They brought authority and detail to a world he was convinced was tormenting him. They were his shelter and his inspiration, his only real community.

    Fox News had launched in October 1996, a little more than a year after the Oklahoma City bombing, and O’Reilly was one of its biggest on-air talents. “Fox gives voice to people who can’t get on other networks,” O’Reilly later told a reporter. “When was the last time you saw pro-life people unless they shot somebody?” Like Limbaugh, O’Reilly devoted lots of air time to denouncing abortions, and those who provided them.

    That the conspiracy theory site Infowars would follow this playbook for stoking anti-abortion harassment is of little surprise.

  • Don’t believe anything NRATV says

    The National Rifle Association's media outlet sent a pro-censorship message on social media and then went ballistic when people called it pro-censorship

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s media operation, caused a stir on Twitter Thursday afternoon after sending a tweet that read, “It's time to put an end to this glorification of carnage in pursuit of ratings because it's killing our kids. It's time for Congress to step up and pass legislation putting common sense limitations on #MSM's ability to report on these school shootings."

    The tweet immediately generated outrage, which is understandable given that it appeared NRATV was promoting the notion that Congress ought to limit how the press can report on gun violence. NRATV, however, had taken itself out of context. The tweet was promoting a video narrated by NRATV host Colion Noir that ultimately concluded that such action by Congress would be wrong.

    Viewers could be forgiven for not sitting through the four-minute video given its painfully bad logic. It essentially equated Congress passing a law to limit how the press could cover shootings to Congress passing a law that regulates gun ownership. This is of course nonsensical given that rights protected by the Constitution are regulated in different ways, something that Noir, a law school graduate, should know.

    Prohibiting the press from reporting on shootings would constitute prior restraint, which would violate the First Amendment. Regulations on firearms, however, are typically permissible under the Second Amendment.

    The 2008 landmark Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller found that the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding individuals to have a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. The ruling means that total gun bans are unconstitutional. However, many other regulations are permissible. As Heller’s majority opinion, written by conservative Antonin Scalia, stated, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

    Federal courts have repeatedly upheld laws banning assault weapons, for example. According to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller,” finding that myriad regulations comport with the Second Amendment right.

    This is all unimportant to NRATV, which crowed about the controversy and was clearly pleased with the result of its dishonest ploy. Noir wrote on Twitter, “I hate to humble brag but My recent  video just exposed how our mainstream media refuses to watch a 4min video in its entirety before reporting on it and pushing their agenda.” Apparently without irony -- given that NRATV took itself out of context -- NRATV’s Twitter account promoted a tweet from The Washington Times that read, “NRATV host Colion Noir enraged critics on Thursday who were eager to use an out-of-context tweet on de facto media control as a serious argument.” During the May 25 broadcast of NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield said of the media, “We here at NRATV set a trap, and they got caught,” adding that it "borderlines on criminality when it comes to the way they abuse the First Amendment."

    Promoting obviously false information is a tactic at NRATV, which has fabricated congressional testimony during its broadcasts to attack its political opponents and even once quoted a satire article published by the NRA’s magazine that was clearly labeled “fiction” as if it were serious in order to encourage people to vote for Donald Trump on Election Day.

    Chillingly, NRATV has actually supported anti-First Amendment measures as part of its pro-Trump efforts, particularly when it comes to the freedom of the press and the right to assemble. While branding itself as a news source, NRATV clearly does not act in good faith and should be thought of less as a legitimate journalism operation than as a propaganda outlet.

  • In the wake of mass shootings at schools, conservatives blame everything but guns

    Blog ››› ››› DINA RADTKE, SANAM MALIK & NATALIE MARTINEZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    After nearly every school shooting, right-wing media scramble to find reasons why guns should not be blamed for gun violence.

    After 10 people were killed during a mass shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, TX, pro-gun proselytizers in the conservative media sphere insisted that gun safety laws would not have prevented the shooting and instead pointed to other aspects of American culture that they said required reform. Here are some of the excuses right-wing pundits offered for the May 18 shooting:

    In February, after the school shooting in Parkland, FL, claimed 17 lives, conservative media took the very same approach:

    • Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce claimed that talking about firearms doesn’t get to the “core issue” of “the human condition.” She and the hosts of Fox & Friends also blamed drugs, virtual reality, and video games for the shooting.
    • Radio host Michael Savage tweeted that “liberal judges and the ACLU” were to blame.
    • Fox guest Lou Palumbo blamed “the media, the entertainment industry,” and “the lack of parenting.”
    • Fox News contributor Kevin Jackson blamed “Leftist-run schools” and falsely claimed that the shooter was linked to antifa.
    • Fox News host Laura Ingraham blamed “mental illness”and “broken or damaged families” for the shooting on her show.
    • The Gateway Pundit suggested that the shooter supposedly being a registered Democrat was a factor. (He was not actually a registered Democrat; the blog was forced to correct the story.)
    • Townhall’s Kurt Schlichter blamed the FBI’s Russia probe for the shooting, tweeting, “The FBI was too busy trying to undermine the president to bother with doing it's (sic) freaking job.”
    • The Daily Caller’s Peter Hasson suggested that the shooting was related to the shooter growing up without a father.
    • Liberty One TV’s Joe Biggs (formerly of Infowars) tweeted that the FBI was “too busy chasing Trump/Russia nothing burgers” to have prevented the shooting.
    • Pamela Geller falsely claimed that the shooter was connected to antifa and Islamic terrorist groups.
    • Laura Loomer shared a fake photo of the shooter and speculated that he was a “radical leftist” with potential ties to antifa and Islamic resistance groups.
    • Infowars claimed that the “MSM” (mainstream media) was “already covering it up” that the shooter was likely a “Democratic voter” and had clothing “similar to the style worn by ISIS fighters in Syria.”

    But as others have pointed out, most of the phenomena listed above are also present in other countries that don’t experience nearly as much gun violence as the United States does.

  • In new video, NRATV blames "moronic media" for turning mass shooters into rock stars

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Just days after a shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, TX, NRATV released a video blaming the media and “our culture” for causing mass shootings by routinely turning the gunmen into “rock star[s].”

    On May 18, a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School in Texas, killing 10 and wounding 13 with his father’s legally owned shotgun and a .38 revolver. This is the 22nd school shooting this year in the United States and comes just three months after the Parkland high school shooting that left 17 dead and 17 injured. 

    The Santa Fe shooter reportedly told police officers he targeted the students he didn’t like and spared those he did. The mother of one of the victims said her 16-year-old daughter faced “four months of problems from this boy” as he kept “making advances on her.” She said her daughter had stood up to him in class a week before the shooting. 

    Despite this emerging picture of the Santa Fe gunman’s motive, NRATV released a video in which host Colion Noir blamed media for the increase in school shootings, claiming reporters turn the shooter “into a damn rock star within hours of the damn shooting.” Noir went on to criticize supposedly liberal phenomena including “safe spaces” and “participation trophies incentivizing mediocrity,” saying that we “tell our young boys that their masculinity is toxic, and our young girls that being a woman means acting like a man, further confusing the hell out of kids”:  

    COLION NOIR (NRATV HOST): So, when are we going to be completely honest and acknowledge the awkward, bullied, sexually frustrated, psychotropic drug-laced, suicidal, mass shooters in the room for what they are? Or are we just going to keep acting like we don't know what's going on in the name of not confronting the miserable reality that they are a creation of our so-called progressive culture and media?

    [...]

    Yet our moronic media in their blind pursuit for ratings will post every picture they can find of the shooter and repeat the shooters's name habitually, turning the kid into a damn rock star within hours of the damn shooting and they will keep asking why these shootings keep happening in a country obsessed with celebrity culture raising a generation of kids with an inability to cope with anything.

    [...]

    Instead of teaching our kids how to cope with the harsh realities of life, we shield them in safe spaces and give them participation trophies incentivizing mediocrity and tell our young boys that their masculinity is toxic, and our young girls that being a woman means acting like a man further confusing the hell out of kids who are naturally going to struggle with their identity as is. Anyone screaming for gun control in response to this last shooting is just not being honest with themselves. The kid used a shotgun and a revolver that he took from his parents because he wasn't old enough to buy a gun legally. Ask yourself, what is more likely a reason this latest killer decided to secretly build improvised explosives in order to murder his classmates in cold blood, "loose" gun laws or our culture?

    The NRATV host made similar comments after the Parkland school shooting and taunted the student activists by saying he wished an armed guard had been there to stop the shooting because “your classmates would still be alive, and no one would know your names.”

    This followed his 2016 tweet after the Pulse nightclub shooting that attacked calls for stronger gun laws, and his 2015 warning to the parents of slain Virginia journalist Alison Parker to not become “so emotional” that they channel their “grief-inspired advocacy” to the wrong effect.

  • Tucker Carlson spent just 17 seconds on Texas school shooting

    Instead of covering a mass shooting, Tucker covered diapers, robots, and whined with the NRA's Dan Bongino about being called "deplorables"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    Hours after a school shooting that left at least 10 high school students dead, Fox host Tucker Carlson almost completely ignored the massacre, spending a total of 17 seconds of his hour long primetime show on the shooting. Carlson instead filled the show with segments about robots, diapers and the royal wedding. While Tucker did host NRATV’s Dan Bongino for a discussion, they completely ignored the shooting, instead complaining that Trump supporters were called “deplorables” and speculating that Democrats support MS-13. Below is what Tucker Carlson covered instead of the Texas school shooting:

    Speculating that Democrats added defense of MS-13 to the party platform

    NRATV's Dan Bongino and Carlson completely ignored the shooting, instead attacked Democrats

    DAN BONGINO: Think about what she said, “we’re not comfortable with anybody being called animals.” A little list for you of things the Democrats are comfortable with. They’re comfortable calling NRA members terrorists, Obama comparing Republicans to Iranian hardliners, tyrants, calling Americans deplorables who vote for Trump. I mean really?

    The Pentagon has increased investments in robots

    Trump administration's introduction of guidelines to restrict funding to clinics that provide abortion.

    Whether parents should seek consent from their babies to change a diaper

    The royal wedding