Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
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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.”
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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
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.
"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." –@MrColionNoir #MSMsense pic.twitter.com/0CulOKEPSn
— NRATV (@NRATV) May 24, 2018
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.
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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.
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After multiple reports of physical abuse came out against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the National Rifle Association’s media arm, NRATV, used the reports to falsely claim the solution to violence against women is more gun ownership. In reality, the presence of firearms in households where there is domestic violence drastically increases the likelihood that women who live there will be killed or injured.
A May 7 New Yorker article reported that four women say Schneiderman committed “nonconsensual physical violence” against them. According to the article, he “repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent,” as well as choked them. Just hours after the story broke, Schneiderman announced his resignation.
NRATV wasted no time using Schneiderman’s reported abuse of women as a pretext to slam gun regulation and push for female gun ownership as a means of defense against sexual assault and domestic violence. During the May 8 edition of her NRATV show Relentless, NRA national spokesperson Dana Loesch claimed that Schneiderman’s views on gun regulation were motivated by his abusive behavior, saying, “Let’s not forget that Schneiderman just hates lawful gun ownership. Hearing these stories about him it’s no wonder why. The last thing human filth like this would want is for a woman to be in a position to defend herself.”
The next day on NRATV’s news show Stinchfield, Loesch said that it was “fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed” and claimed that abusers are usually “far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves”:
GRANT STINCHFIELD (HOST): I am tired of using the word hypocrisy over and over again for just about everything the left does, but once again here we are. I don’t know how else to describe it.
DANA LOESCH: Well, it seems fitting that Eric Schneiderman is also anti-gun because predators such as men like him, they don’t like for their victims to be armed.
People like Eric Schneiderman and Harvey Weinsteins of the world -- he apparently was the Harvey Weinstein of New York politics -- these individuals, more often than not, they are far-left individuals who want women to remain victims and are absolutely aghast when women speak about their right to defend themselves or do anything else that would be in anyway considered self-empowerment. So I’m not surprised. I think hypocrites should feel the double force of the law, personally.
In actuality, there is a mountain of evidence that the presence of a firearm makes domestic violence situations more dangerous. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.” One study found that among women living in the United States, “about 4.5 million have had an intimate partner threaten them with a gun and nearly 1 million have been shot or shot at by an intimate partner.” Another study that interviewed women at women’s shelters found that 71 percent of women who reported living in a household with a firearm had been attacked or threatened with a gun, but only 7 percent had successfully used a gun in self-defense. In fact, a September 2013 Violence Policy Center study titled "When Men Murder Women" found that women were more than three times more likely to be murdered when there was a gun in their household.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner.” On average, three or more women are murdered by their husbands and boyfriends every day. And one in four women have been the victim of severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime -- that's roughly 40 million women. The issue also disproportionately impacts women of color.
While the NRA continues to dangerously advocate for greater firearm ownership as a solution to violence against women, it has also historically fought efforts to strengthen laws to keep domestic abusers from accessing guns. The group also spent more than $30 million in support of President Donald Trump’s campaign and stood by him when a tape emerged of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women. The organization used its NRATV platform to shill for Trump while accusations of sexual misconduct mounted against him, including pushing the claim that such reports were getting too much attention in the press.
Incoming National Rifle Association President Oliver North, a former Fox News contributor and a national security aide in the Reagan administration, claimed that survivors of the February school shooting in Parkland, FL, are engaged in “intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking” in their advocacy for stronger gun laws.
North commented on activism by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, saying they were involved in harassment, intimidation, and illegal activities. He did not provide any evidence for his claim. From the Times:
He said the young survivor-activists who have emerged as representatives for gun restrictions — and as fierce opponents of the NRA — are getting swept up by a broader propaganda machine.
“What they did very successfully with a frontal assault, and now intimidation and harassment and lawbreaking, is they confused the American people,” he said. “Our job is to get the straight story out about what happened there, and to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen again because the proper things are being done with the advocacy of the NRA.”
Unlike the Parkland activists, North does know something about criminal activity. While serving in the Reagan administration, he was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the U.S. secretly selling arms to Iran, and was convicted of three felonies for his role in it. North’s convictions were later vacated, although in 1994, a judge revoked his permit to carry a concealed gun in public, citing North’s “conviction for crimes involving moral turpitude.”
North also said that the NRA was receiving threats and that a “cyberwar” was being carried out against the organization, and he compared the NRA to victims of the Jim Crow era:
Mr. North said the NRA is now the victim of “civil terrorism” after vandals splashed fake blood on the Virginia home of a top NRA official and other opponents aimed personal “threats” at NRA leaders and members.
“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” he said.
“You go back to the terrible days of Jim Crow and those kinds of things — even there you didn’t have this kind of thing,” he said. “We didn’t have the cyberwar kind of thing that we’ve got today.”
Oliver North, a central figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra arms dealing scandal, will become the NRA’s president during the next few weeks, according to a report from CNN’s Dana Bash:
NRA just announced: Lt. Colonel Oliver North, USMC (Ret.) will become President of the National Rifle Association of America within a few weeks, a process the NRA Board of Directors initiated this morning.
— Dana Bash (@DanaBashCNN) May 7, 2018
North’s ascendancy to the presidency is a deviation from the group’s standard succession for the position. In recent years, NRA presidents have served two-year terms. Current president Pete Brownell, a gun, ammo, and accessory retailer, was elected in 2017, meaning that he will leave his term a year early.
Additionally, for the past several terms, after serving two years, the NRA president has been succeeded by the group’s first vice president. For example, Brownell was first vice president during the term of NRA President Alan D. Cors between 2015 and 2017. Cors had served as first vice president during Jim Porter’s two-year term, which began in 2013.
A statement released by the NRA confirming North will become president noted that “to devote his full time and energy to his family business,” Brownell would not seek re-election. The statement did not explain why Brownell is leaving before his term expires.
It is also unclear whether the change in succession will change the role of the president; NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has far more control over the organization's direction.
North is a current member of the NRA board of directors, with a term that expires in 2019, and is also the co-host of a show on the NRA’s media operation NRATV. He has also been a longtime contributor for Fox News but will leave that position effective immediately, according to the NRA statement.
Along with his involvement in the Iran-Contra arms dealing scandal -- for which his convictions for several felonies were overturned in 1990 -- North has a history of using inflammatory rhetoric and has been enmeshed in other controversies:
National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent was allowed to address the Women’s Leadership Forum at this year’s NRA annual meeting in Dallas, TX, despite his history of misogyny and reports that he engaged in sexual misconduct involving minors.
In a May 5 Facebook post, Nugent shared this picture of himself speaking at the Women’s Leadership Forum, writing, “A grand American freedom celebration was had by all at the mighty NRA party in Dallas”:
Nugent has a long record of making profane attacks against women, including telling a CBS News producer that he would “fuck” her in a lewd off-camera remark, claiming “fat chicks” will kill you, defining the term feminist as “some fat pig who doesn’t get it often enough,” calling former Attorney General Janet Reno a “dirty whore,” and referring to Hillary Clinton as both a “worthless bitch” and a “toxic cunt.”
Back in the 1970s, a 30-year-old Nugent became the legal guardian of a 17-year-old girl with whom he had a romantic relationship. The woman later said, “It just really wasn’t a terribly appropriate situation in most people’s eyes. And now, it would be criminal.” In 2004, singer Courtney Love said that she performed oral sex on Nugent when she was 12 years old. According to Mediaite, “Nugent apparently declined to comment” about Love’s statement when she made it.
The Women’s Leadership Forum was held on May 4 and billed as an event for “philanthropic women united with the mission of infusing new enthusiasm, new excitement, new leaders and new opportunities into the fight for Second Amendment freedoms.” This year’s forum featured professional sexist Tucker Carlson as its keynote speaker.