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  • NRATV deceptively edits Nancy Pelosi speech to claim she praised MS-13 gang members

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    NRATV host Grant Stinchfield aired a deceptively edited video of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to claim she defended MS-13 when she supposedly criticized President Donald Trump for not respecting “the dignity and worth of” the gang members. Stinchfield went on to accuse Pelosi of “Trump derangement syndrome.” From the August 3 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): What about MS-13, a gang whose motto is “torture, rape, kill”? President Trump called them animals. Why? Because they are and everyone knows it. Still the response from the Democrats was to defend MS-13.    

    [BEGIN CLIP]

    NANCY PELOSI: We’re all God’s children. There’s a spark of divinity in every person on earth and that we all have to recognize that as we respect the dignity and worth of every person.

    [END CLIP]

    STINCHFIElD: Dignity and worth? They’re killing people. Clearly Trump derangement syndrome must be real. These leaders of the Democratic Party have gone nuts.

    NRATV cut Pelosi off and didn't air her full remarks. Pelosi made these comments during her weekly press conference on May 17 and she was clearly referring to “undocumented immigrants”:

    We believe, some of us who are attracted to the political arena, to government and public service, that we’re all God’s children, there’s a spark of divinity in every person on Earth, and that we all have to recognize that as we respect the dignity and worth of every person and as we recognize our responsibilities with that spark of divinity within us.

    And so, when the President of the United States says about undocumented immigrants, ‘These aren’t people, these are animals,’ you have to wonder does he not believe in the spark of divinity, the dignity and worth of every person? These are not people. These are animals. The President of the United States.

    NRATV previously aired video footage of members of antifa -- the far-left-leaning militant group that resists neo-Nazis and white supremacists at demonstrations and other events -- causing property damage in Washington, D.C., on inauguration day, falsely claiming that the footage was from the Women’s March that took place the next day. The outlet has broadcast other blatant falsehoods, such as lying about a "direct quote" from FBI Director James Comey in defense of Trump and referring to a satire article clearly labeled “fiction” as if it were serious on Election Day in 2016 in order to urge viewers not to vote for Hillary Clinton.

  • NRATV’s Dan Bongino misquotes Rep. Maxine Waters to claim she made a “decapitation” analogy about Trump

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    NRATV host Dan Bongino misquoted Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and claimed she told Americans they should be “screaming for Trump’s head” during the July 25 edition of his NRATV show We Stand. Bongino read the purported quote from a July 25 Washington Examiner article headline without acknowledging the line was a misleadingly paraphrase of an interview Waters gave to CNBC. He went on to ask if we’re “making decapitation analogies again”:

    DAN BONGINO (HOST): Again, here we go again with Maxine Waters. “Americans should be in the streets screaming for Trump’s head.” We’re now making decapitation analogies again? What is this, the French Revolution? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

    NRATV later tweeted out Bongino’s segment on Waters, attributing the entire fake quote to her.

    In reality, Waters told CNBC host John Harwood that “Americans should be out in the streets screaming to the top of their voice” over President Donald Trump’s insinuations that he can pardon himself and his refusal to condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin for his country's interference in the 2016 elections.

    UPDATE: The segment featuring the fake quote was the top story in the July 26 edition of NRATV’s daily newsletter, which included an image of the misleading Washington Examiner headline and a quote from Bongino implying Waters made a decapitation analogy.

  • NRATV ran defense for Trump after he sold out US in disastrous Helsinki press conference

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    The National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, spent an entire day defending President Donald Trump’s press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin that was otherwise widely characterized as disgraceful and un-American.  

    While NRATV was running defense for Trump, another significant Russia news story broke: Maria Butina, a Russian pro-gun activist with close ties to the NRA, is being charged with conspiracy against the United States over attempts to establish “back channels” that the FBI says “could be used by the Russian Federation to penetrate the US national decision-making apparatus to advance the agenda of the Russian Federation.” According to the charging documents, Butina attempted to use the NRA and other politically minded groups as conduits for her efforts.

    Putin and Trump met for a July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland, for “nearly two hours behind closed doors and another hour” in a press conference. During the press conference, Trump doubled down on his earlier tweet that both countries share blame for the current tense state of relations. He also said Putin’s denial of any election meddling was “extremely strong and powerful,” effectively throwing the U.S. intelligence community -- which has unanimously concluded Russia interfered in U.S. elections -- under the bus.   

    CNN’s Anderson Cooper called the press conference “perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president” during a meeting with Russian leadership, and media figures and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress lambased it as un-American and shameful. Even Fox News’ reliably pro-Trump program Fox & Friends said that the president “fell short” while Fox Business host and Trump booster Maria Bartiromo called the press conference “probably the low point of the presidency so far.”  

    Despite the near-universal criticism, NRATV host Grant Stinchfield defended Trump’s appearance on his July 16 broadcast as “quite an amazing thing to witness,” and exclaimed that Putin and Trump “may even be fond of each other":

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): President Trump and Vladimir Putin wrapped up their summit, meeting, whatever you want to call it. It doesn’t matter -- it’s all semantics. Two leaders of two very powerful countries met to talk, to try to iron issues out. It appeared to me that President Trump and Vladimir Putin actually like each other. If I ever knew that I had something in common with Vladimir Putin, I didn’t until today. Vladimir Putin admitted that he wanted President Trump to win the election because President Trump talked about normalizing relations with Russia. That is a valid reason why a leader of a giant country like Russia would want President Trump to win. So did I, for that reason and so many others. Listening to these two leaders talk about all the issues at hand, and hearing, right off the bat, Vladimir Putin say the Cold War is a thing of the past and confrontations are a thing of the past is really quite an amazing thing to witness. Now, we know the confrontations will continue. We know Vladimir Putin will still be working against us and, I do believe, still hacking into American computers. I also believe that the United States has put Vladimir Putin on notice, saying, we are on to you. But this meeting showed that these two leaders can get along.

    ...

    STINCHFIELD: So I do believe this will go down as a historic meeting between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. It reminds me of when Ronald Reagan met with [Mikhail] Gorbachev, and I see those pictures even now of the two meeting. It was an amazing sight and I do believe the two of them get along well. They may even be fond of each other. That is actually helpful when you talk about adversaries trying to work through serious, serious issues.                    

    Just before the press conference, Stinchfield had also argued that the indictments of 12 Russians over hacking allegations by the Department of Justice were released last week specifically to “undermine President Trump” going into the meeting with Putin. (During the press conference announcing the indictments, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said that he had briefed Trump in advance on the indictments and that the timing was “a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence, and the law and a determination that it was sufficient to present the indictment at this time.”)

    NRATV host Dan Bongino also went to bat for Trump. During the July 16 edition of his evening show We Stand, he praised Trump’s performance at the press conference (albeit noting that “he could have worded some things differently”) and slammed a journalist who dared ask whether Russia has any compromising information on Trump.

    These defenses of Trump come while the National Rifle Association is knee-deep in questions about whether Russian money was funneled through the organization to help Trump during the 2016 presidential election. While NRATV has been happy to absolve Trump of Russia-related wrongdoing, the outlet has been reluctant to address reports of Kremlin involvement in the NRA.

  • Sacha Baron Cohen exposes how deep gun extremism runs in America

    Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    During the inaugural episode of his Showtime series Who Is America? comedian Sacha Baron Cohen got gun activists and sitting members of Congress to endorse a hypothetical program to arm preschoolers to ward off school shootings.

    While one might imagine Cohen would have had to interview fringe and obscure activists to secure endorsements for such a program, which he said would arm children as young as 3, the two gun group leaders interviewed both wield significant influence over how gun laws are shaped in the United States.

    Posing as an Israeli anti-terror expert, Cohen conducted sit-down interviews in which he touted his program with Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) president Philip Van Cleave, Gun Owners of America (GOA) executive director emeritus Larry Pratt, and several members of Congress.

    During his interview, Van Cleave called gun training for children as young as 3 “a good idea” and mused that children could be “very effective soldiers” because they haven’t developed a “conscience, where you feel guilty about doing something wrong.” He also bragged that his group killed a bill in the Virginia legislature that would have restricted access to guns for children between the ages of 4 and 12. Van Cleave also agreed to film promotional materials for Cohen’s program; in the video, he is shown handling a number of guns disguised as stuffed animals that would be given to children.

    Similarly, Pratt said that it was a “great” idea to “arm certain gifted children” and suggested that a “good toddler” could stop a bad guy with a gun. He also laughed uproariously after Cohen said “it’s not rape if it’s your wife” in telling a fictitious story where he was shot by his wife after getting “horny in the middle of the night” and after Cohen told a fictitious story about a Muslim man being mistaken for a terrorist and shot while praying.

    Like Van Cleave, Pratt filmed promotional material for Cohen’s program in which he read from a script that said, “Toddlers are pure, uncorrupted by fake news or homosexuality. They don’t worry if it’s politically correct to shoot a mentally deranged gunman -- they’ll just do it.”

    Prior to their appearances on Cohen’s program, neither Pratt nor Van Cleave were strangers to extremist rhetoric. Pratt, who was forced out of Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential campaign after his ties to white supremacists were revealed, has repeatedly said that politicians should fear being shot by GOA members if they endorse stronger gun laws. During a 2013 CNN appearance, Pratt expressed support for having guns in kindergartens, presumably in the hands of school staff. For its part, VCDL promoted an article in a 2011 newsletter that described in explicit detail how to use a gun to ward off an attack by “urban thugs” armed with pangas -- a type of African machete.

    Despite these fringe views, both Van Cleave and Pratt are prominent lobbyists against stronger gun laws. The Associated Press calls VCDL one of Virginia’s “most influential gun rights groups.” VCDL tracks the dozens of gun laws introduced each year and on its 2018 tracker claims 75 legislative victories on gun bills. For years, VCDL has staged rallies outside of the Virginia legislature at the start of each session. During the events, armed VCDL supporters (guns are allowed inside the state house) lobby against proposals to strengthen gun laws and in favor of proposals to weaken gun laws. (After a disappointing 2014 lobby day, VCDL suggested in its newsletter that if the group didn’t get its way on gun laws, violence would be a legitimate option.)

    GOA is closely associated with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. During a 2015 GOP primary debate, Cruz said that he was “honored” to be endorsed by the group. During a call with GOA supporters earlier that year, Cruz said, “GOA endorsed me early on when I ran for the Senate and played a critical part in helping get me elected and sending me from the state of Texas to represent 27 million Texans.” Following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the National Rifle Association was reportedly willing to allow a modest expansion of background checks on gun sales to pass the Senate, but the group changed its position after GOA was successful in spreading the false narrative that the law would create a federal gun registry.

  • The NRA’s attempt to deflect blame away from guns for the Parkland shooting just fell apart

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch dismissed new findings that a school-based discipline program called Promise was not responsible for the Parkland, FL, school shooting after pushing the allegation for months that the program allowed the shooting to happen.    

    Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz had been referred to Broward County’s Promise program, an alternative option for students “who have committed a behavioral infraction that would normally lead to a juvenile delinquency arrest” in 2013 after he vandalized a bathroom in an area middle school. Despite claims that referring Cruz to the program contributed to the failures to report his behavior to law enforcement, a commission set up to investigate the mass shooting concluded the program was “irrelevant” to Cruz’s ability to obtain an assault weapon and carry out the massacre.

    During the months following the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead and 14 others injured, NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch repeatedly shredded the “Obama-era” Promise program during her show, Relentless. During the May 29 edition of her show, Loesch suggested people should protest outside the house of President Barack Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, because it was his “Promise program initiative that assisted this murderer.”

    Loesch said “the real story” behind the Parkland shooting is Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie “worrying about the appearance of complying with an Obama-era Promise program” which ultimately “guaranteed that this murderer’s red flags would being completely overlooked” during the June 1 edition of Relentless. Four days later, she insisted Duncan’s “policies that were implemented that coddled this murderer failed” Parkland students.      

    One day after the Miami Herald reported the commission’s findings, Loesch did a segment on the commission’s work that discussed the Promise program but ignored the revelation that it was found to have no causal relationship to the shooting. From the July 11 edition of NRATV’s Relentless:

    KERRY PICKET (NRATV CORRESPONDENT): Now, Cruz was sent into the Promise program despite initial denials from the school’s officials. But back in March, The Associated Press reported local Florida officials once suggested they wanted Cruz forcibly committed to a mental institution via Florida’s Baker Act two years before the Stoneman Douglas massacre, but their advice was never heeded. According to documents obtained by the AP, Cruz cut himself with a pencil sharpener and told a fellow student he wanted to buy a firearm. Cruz also told another student he had drank gasoline and later vomited. Dana.                 

    DANA LOESCH (HOST): Wow, yeah, those I think are -- that coupled with everything else that we know, the whole body of evidence that has to deal with his mental health and then of course the violent threats -- what was it -- some of the family members had said that he had held a gun to peoples’ head before, he had hit his mother so hard he knocked teeth out of her mouth. It is amazing, A) that she intervened and B) that there was not enough material there existing already for either mental health professionals or even  law enforcement to act when prosecutors say under Florida state statute you could have gotten him for a felony because of the threats and because of all of the stuff he demonstrated health-wise. You could have had him Baker Act-ed. I’m wondering, because I know that there is still an investigation ongoing, but I mean, with all of this discussion about red flag laws, this -- I mean, you couldn't have been more obvious about it if you took out a billboard in Times Square. Are they going to answer for actually not following up on what is clearly actionable items according to every prosecutor from Florida that I’ve spoken to and I think you as well have?

    PICKETT: Well, here’s the thing is that this particular school safety commission, they are going to be meeting tomorrow as well as the following day to discuss not just the questions that you’re bringing up but also questions as to why, for example, law enforcement, why their communications were so shoddy, specifically the radio communications between law enforcement. As well as the mental health history of Nikolas Cruz. So this is something that this particular commission really wants to clear up. Now, something else too, the Promise program. A lot of people wonder why this hasn’t been eradicated yet. It looks like the Promise program is going to stay, but it looks like it’s going to be reformed in some way, shape, so we’re going to have to wait and see what happens with that.

    LOESCH: Reformed in some way? And I’m sure we’re going to get details as to how they’re going to quote-unquote “reform” that program?

    PICKETT: Correct.

    LOESCH: Wow.    

    The Promise program was the first agenda item on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission’s July 10 meeting. According to the Miami Herald, commission chair and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said the commission found that the program “would never in any way, shape, form, would’ve affected his ability to buy that AR-15.” He went all to call claims that the program contributed to the shooting “a rabbit hole” and a “red herring” and explained that even if Cruz had been taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center and charged with a first-time misdemeanor instead of entering the Promise program, his punishment would most likely have been community service which would have no impact on his ability to buy a gun.   

    During the July 13 edition of NRATV’s Relentless, Loesch referenced a tweet Runcie wrote in which he echoed the commission's finding and said she questioned “how much” she believes him. She went on to place blame squarely on the superintendent, saying if the findings are true, “wouldn’t that just mean that it was his own personal incompetency then that contributed to this instead of a bad program? I mean, that seems like it’s worse.”

  • NRATV celebrates Brett Kavanaugh's radical view that bans on assault weapons are unconstitutional

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Immediately after Judge Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, NRATV, the media arm of the National Rifle Association, cheered a dissent he wrote that argued bans on assault weapons are unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. That view is far outside of mainstream legal thought.    

    On July 9, President Donald Trump announced Kavanaugh, a judge on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, as his nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy and praised his “impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and ... proven commitment to equal justice under the law.” Trump picked his nominee from a shortlist of four right-wing federal appeals court judges, and a mounting number of Democratic senators have announced that they will oppose Kavanaugh’s confirmation.   

    The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislation Action -- the NRA’s lobbying arm -- put out a press release on July 9 applauding Kavanaugh as an “outstanding choice” and highlighting his “impressive record that demonstrates his strong support for the Second Amendment.”  

    In a 2011 challenge to D.C.’s assault weapons ban, known as Heller II, Kavanaugh split from the rest of the D.C. Circuit Court and wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that “semi-automatic rifles, like semi-automatic handguns, have not traditionally been banned and are in common use by law-abiding citizens for self-defense in the home, hunting, and other lawful uses.” He went as far as to claim that “a ban on a class of arms …. is equivalent to a ban on a category of speech.”

    Based on this position, Kavanaugh would consider bans on the type of firearms most typically used during mass shootings -- including those used in recent massacres in Parkland, FL, Sutherland Springs, TX, and Las Vegas, NV -- unconstitutional. This view is entirely at odds with how federal courts have ruled on the issue. According to The Washington Post, “no federal appeals court has ever held that assault weapons are protected” by the Second Amendment.    

    NRATV host Cam Edwards immediately celebrated Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion, tweeting that it was “a better reasoned argument than the majority opinion.” During the July 10 edition of NRATV’s Stinchfield, host Grant Stinchfield suggested gun owners and NRA members “take this appointment as a reward for our hard work” and hailed Kavanaugh as a “strong dissenting voice in the court’s decision to unfortunately uphold the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons.” NRATV host and spokesperson Dana Loesch said she was “very pleased” with Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion during her show Relentless later that same day.

    Edwards joined Stinchfield during the July 11 edition of Stinchfield to continue to praise Kavanaugh’s Heller II dissent:

    GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): So, Cam, you’ve been in and around this for a long time. Most of us are looking at the [District of Columbia v.] Heller go-around number two. Dianne Feinstein mentioned it, this was when Kavanaugh dissented in the D.C. ban on so-called assault weapons. Have you looked through that ruling? What does it tell you about Kavanaugh?  

    CAM EDWARDS: I have looked through the ruling, Grant, and it’s a great decision. I mean, it’s a great opinion by Judge Kavanaugh. I wish that his opinion had carried the day because he actually looked at what the Supreme Court said in Heller and McDonald [v. Chicago]. And he said, look, it doesn’t matter if I like these gun control laws or I don’t like these gun control laws. What matters is that, under the precedent set by Heller and ratified by McDonald, so we know that these Second Amendment protections don’t just apply to infringement by the federal government, D.C.’s blanket ban on the most commonly sold rifle in America today doesn’t pass constitutional muster. And he made a very commonsense argument. He said, look, in the Supreme Court said in the first Heller case that you can’t ban semi-automatic handguns because those are in common use by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. Well, what’s the difference between a semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic long gun? They’re both in common use, both owned by millions of Americans for lawful purposes. If you can’t ban one, you can’t ban the other.                        

    Kavanaugh’s dissenting opinion is a radical interpretation of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s handgun ban in a 5-4 decision. The 2008 ruling, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, explained that the Second Amendment right is “not unlimited” and that there is no “right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Specifically, the Heller opinion said that “dangerous and unusual” weapons can be banned under the Second Amendment, which is the rationale federal courts have relied upon in upholding bans. In April, a federal district court judge (who was appointed by Ronald Reagan) rejected a Second Amendment challenge to Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban by positively citing Scalia’s language from Heller that explained cases where gun ownership can be limited.

    Kavanaugh, however, has signaled he would advance the NRA’s interpretation of the constitutionality of assault weapons bans, which defies mainstream legal thought.

  • NRATV ignored the Jason Washington shooting in its live updates for a week straight

    Blog ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS

    Over the past week, NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s broadcast outlet, covered a litany of stories during its hourly live updates but ignored the police shooting of a Black veteran who had a license to carry a concealed weapon in Portland, OR.

    Billed as “live news updates,” NRATV’s Stinchfield airs for 10 minutes at the top of every hour, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Throughout the past week, the show failed to report that Portland State University campus police shot and killed 45-year-old Jason Washington outside a local bar on June 29. Washington was trying to break up a fight and dropped his legally owned firearm on the ground. According to CNN, police officers can be heard in a witness video shouting “drop the gun” repeatedly before firing several shots. The university released a statement that same day confirming that the Portland Police Bureau has launched an investigation into the shooting and that the two officers involved are on “paid administrative leave.”

    The show did, however, cover a range of other stories, including:

    The “Abolish ICE” movement:

    The “utter disgrace” of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein:

    The border situation:

    “Pretty little socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    Protests on the Fourth of July:

    Immigrants being discharged from the military:

    NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch mentioned the shooting twice during her hour-long show, Relentless, but during both segments she implied that Washington could have avoided the killing by not getting involved in the situation. During the first segment, on the July 2 edition of her show, Loesch referred to the incident as “tragic” but said she was “never going to keyboard quarterback what police are doing” and asked, “Should he have been in that position, even though he was being a good samaritan, because he was carrying?” During the second segment, on July 3, Loesch asked her guest, “Should someone be doing that [intervening in a fight] if they’re concealed carrying and it doesn’t look like this is going to disrupt into something fatal?” and the guest replied, “No, no, no.” Loesch also said, “When police are already there on scene, I think you have to question, do you need to be involved anymore at that point?”

    Loesch’s comments are similar to remarks she made after 32-year-old Philando Castile was shot during a traffic stop. Loesch said at the time that Castile did not deserve “to lose his life over a stop” and the incident was “awful and avoidable,” but she also implied that Castile was partially to blame by highlighting missteps she said he made such as not having his handgun permit visible.