Gun group leader: Don’t ban bump stocks even though they are great for shooting people like fish in a barrel
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CNN and MSNBC hosted Gun Owners of America (GOA) executive director Larry Pratt to discuss the ongoing debate over possible new gun laws following the Pulse nightclub massacre even though just weeks ago Pratt suggested that gun owners unsatisfied with election outcomes could “resort to the bullet box.”
The recent claim about the “bullet box” is just the latest inflammatory claim from Pratt, who routinely suggests that politicians who favor passing stronger gun laws should fear being shot by a GOA supporter.
In comments flagged by Right Wing Watch, Pratt recently responded to Supreme Court decisions he disagreed with by saying on his radio show that “we may have to reassert that proper constitutional balance, and it may not be pretty” before suggesting that gun owners may “have to resort to the bullet box” rather than resolve political disputes through voting.
During June 20 appearances on CNN Newsroom and MSNBC Live, Pratt caused both anchors to become incredulous with his outrageous claims about the Orlando, FL, shooting.
On MSNBC, Pratt repeatedly insisted that the shooting took place in a “gun-free zone,” even though the club employed an armed guard -- an off-duty police officer -- and in the initial stages of the attack, he engaged in a gunfight with the suspect, with two on-duty police officers joining him.
When MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts said, “But this wasn’t a gun-free zone. … Well there was an armed guard. … It’s an off-duty police officer that was there, reportedly exchanged fire with the shooter,” Pratt bizarrely responded, “That doesn’t make him armed.”
On CNN, Pratt caused anchor Carol Costello to burst into laughter by suggesting that people should be able to carry guns in bars, with a rule that the proprietor “control the amount of booze” sold to those people.
Pratt routinely makes inflammatory claims and takes extreme positions, including saying that the Second Amendment was "designed" for people like President Obama, supporting putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and warning the federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically."
Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories including that the government staged the 2012 Aurora, CO, movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School to build support for more gun regulation, and he has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war. In October 2015, Pratt claimed that Jews in Europe lacked "determination" to stop the Holocaust.
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported that the campaign co-chairman "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a "contributing editor" to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist "tabloid" published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.
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USA Today gave a representative of extremist gun organization Gun Owners of America (GOA) a platform to smear Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The group wrote a column distorting the facts on several U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit opinions to claim Garland “had 4 chances to vote against gun rights, and he took them all.”
GOA is a far-right organization with past ties to anti-Semites and white supremacist groups and a leader, Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter if they pass laws regulating firearms.
In a May 1 column at USAToday.com, GOA general counsel Michael Hammond distorted Garland’s involvement in four cases decided before the D.C. Circuit, where Garland sits as chief judge, to claim Garland is “anti-gun.”
In one case Hammond cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling, but rather took part in a vote to decide whether the entire D.C. Circuit should rehear the case, which would require the full panel of judges to consider it. According to legal experts, a judge’s vote to rehear or not rehear a case is not indicative of what the judge thinks the outcome of the case should be. Two of the cases Hammond cited were not actually decided on Second Amendment grounds and cannot be characterized as showing bias for or against gun rights. And in the fourth case he cited, Garland did not participate in the ruling and the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds.
Hammond first attacked Garland for his participation in a vote related to Parker v. District of Columbia, a 2007 challenge to Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban. In a 2-1 panel decision -- which Garland did not participate in -- the D.C. Circuit reversed a lower court's decision upholding the ban, finding that D.C.'s law violated the Second Amendment.
Following the ruling, Garland was one of four judges, including George H.W. Bush appointee Judge Raymond Randolph, to vote to have the entire D.C. Circuit rehear the case en banc. A majority of D.C. Circuit judges voted not to rehear the case, and it moved on to the Supreme Court, where it became the landmark Second Amendment decision District of Columbia v. Heller.
The claim that Garland’s en banc vote in Parker means that he is "anti-gun" is a smear developed by the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), a discredited right-wing group that is spending millions to oppose Garland's nomination. Numerous legal experts, however, have debunked the claim that an en banc vote is representative of how a judge would rule on the merits if the case were reheard.
According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, an en banc rehearing “ordinarily will not be ordered unless” a full panel’s “consideration is necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of the court's decisions; or the proceeding involves a question of exceptional importance.” As PolitiFact noted, the Parker case satisfied both of those conditions.
Hammond also attacked Garland for his involvement in a case preceding Parker that unsuccessfully challenged D.C.'s handgun ban. As in Parker, Garland did not participate in the decision in Seegars v. Gonzalez, but rather participated in a vote on whether to rehear the case en banc.
The Seegars case was brought by a group of District of Columbia residents who argued that D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws violated their Second Amendment rights. In 2005, the D.C. Circuit ruled against the residents in an opinion authored by Reagan appointee Judge Stephen F. Williams.
While the D.C. residents made a Second Amendment argument against D.C.’s gun law, the court never ruled on the merits of this argument. Instead, the court dismissed the case on procedural grounds, with the majority opinion finding that “under controlling circuit precedent no plaintiff has standing” to challenge D.C.’s handgun ban and trigger lock laws. The vote to rehear the case failed 7-3, with Garland voting against rehearing alongside D.C. Circuit judges appointed by Democrats and Republicans. Then-D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Douglas Ginsburg, a Reagan appointee, filed a concurrence in the denial to rehear the case. As in Parker, Garland’s vote does not indicate how he would have ruled on the merits of the case.
Hammond also cited Garland’s joining of the 2000 decision National Rifle Association v. Reno as supposed evidence of “anti-gun” bias. As with his citation of the Parker case, Hammond’s attacks concerning NRA v. Reno originate from debunked talking points pushed by JCN.
In Reno, the NRA claimed that the way the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun purchases temporarily retained data on gun owners violated a federal prohibition on creating a registry of gun owners.
On appeal, the NRA lost the decision, 2-1, with Garland joining Judge David S. Tatel's majority opinion, which ruled: “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.”
As with the Seegars case, the ruling was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Rather, the case was one of statutory construction and interpretation, assessing whether the NICS system of temporary record retention was permissible under the language of the Brady Act and the Department of Justice’s interpretation of that act.
Furthermore, no court accepted the NRA’s argument that the NICS system was tantamount to a gun registry. The NRA lost the case at the federal district court level, then again at the D.C. Circuit in the ruling Garland joined, before the then-conservative-leaning Supreme Court finally denied a request by the NRA to hear the case. In fact, Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft opposed the NRA’s request that the Supreme Court hear the case, writing that the D.C. Circuit decision Garland joined was “correct.”
The last example Hammond cited as supposed evidence of Garland’s “anti-gun” bias was the 2012 decision United States v. Burwell, where the D.C. Circuit reheard a case involving a 30-year mandatory minimum sentence given to a man convicted of possessing a machine gun while committing a "crime of violence."
At issue was whether the criminal defendant in that case, who had brandished a fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle during a series of bank robberies, knew that the firearm was capable of fully automatic fire (the gun in question was capable of both automatic and semi-automatic fire).
A 2012 decision before the entire D.C. Circuit – after members of the court had voted to rehear the case en banc – affirmed the D.C. Circuit’s original decision in a majority opinion that upheld the defendant’s conviction.
Garland joined the majority opinion authored by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a George W. Bush appointee.
Like with the Seegars and Reno cases, it is misleading to claim that the opinion here offers an indication of a judge’s view on gun rights because the case was not decided on Second Amendment grounds. Instead, the case was decided on statutory grounds: whether the sentencing minimum law required the prosecution to prove that the defendant knew whether the firearm used in a crime of violence was fully automatic.
The ruling affirming the defendant’s conviction largely relied upon prior precedent within the D.C. Circuit -- a 1992 case called United States v. Harris. In that case, a panel of judges composed of Carter appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg, George H.W. Bush appointee Clarence Thomas, and Reagan appointee Laurence H. Silberman issued a per curiam opinion that reached the same legal conclusion as the opinion Garland joined in the Burwell case.
Larry Pratt: Garland Is "Big Government ... A Real Red"
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.
The most extreme pro-gun organizations are condemning National Rifle Association (NRA) board member Ted Nugent after he posted an anti-Semitic graphic to his Facebook page alleging a Jewish conspiracy to enact gun regulations. The leaders of these groups have their own histories of extremism, including instances of anti-Semitism, misappropriating the Holocaust to make points about the modern gun debate, and using violent rhetoric -- and even they think Nugent has gone too far.
An Associated Press profile of GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz's history of firearm ownership and views on firearm regulation failed to mention that Cruz is closely associated with Gun Owners of America (GOA), an extremist group that was once linked to white supremacists and whose leader has repeatedly said pro-gun safety politicians should fear being shot.
The Associated Press chronicled Cruz's history with guns in a January 19 article that noted "Cruz has made the defense of Second Amendment rights a cornerstone of his presidential campaign," but also raised questions about his bona fides as an anti-gun regulation absolutist, characterizing a legal brief filed by Cruz in the landmark 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller Supreme Court case as "nuanced" because it accepted that prohibitions on felons owning firearms, and some other restrictions on gun ownership, are constitutional.
(The AP article glossed over Cruz's record in the Senate, failing to mention that he has repeatedly credited himself as the driving force behind defeating overwhelmingly popular legislation in the U.S. Senate to expand background checks on gun sales following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.)
The article also noted that the first written reference to Cruz owning a gun occurred in 2003 and that Cruz's first hunting license on record was issued in 2006, suggesting that Cruz's "passion for the issue emerged relatively recently in his life, coinciding with his ascent in Republican circles in Texas."
The article devoted a great deal of space to establishing whether Cruz is or is not a devoted hunter, garnering comments from a campaign spokeswoman, but failed to mention Cruz's relationship with GOA, only noting support from the National Rifle Association on his campaign website. Cruz has significant ties to GOA, a gun rights group that is widely considered to be to the right of even the NRA, and which has called for the abolishment of all background checks on gun sales.
During a May 2015 GOA "Tele-Town Hall" event, Cruz -- the only Republican presidential candidate to participate -- said GOA was "critical" to his election as a U.S.Senator and said "one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels." GOA in turn endorsed Cruz in September 2015 in a statement filled with conspiratorial and anti-immigrant undertones. Cruz has touted GOA during GOP debates, stating that he is "honored" to be endorsed by the group.
It is hard to overstate the extremism of GOA head Larry Pratt, who has repeatedly suggested that politicians should fear being shot by a GOA supporter, has claimed the Second Amendment was "designed" for people like President Obama, has supported putting guns in kindergarten classrooms, and has warned the federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically."
Pratt has also flirted with conspiracy theories that suggest the 2012 Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre and 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School were staged by the government to build support for more gun regulation, and has given credence to the claim that Obama will start a race war.
Pratt was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan in 1996 after The New York Times reported he "had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements" during the rise of the militia movement in the 1990s. Pratt has been a "contributing editor" to an anti-Semitic publication, and his articles on gun ownership have appeared in a white supremacist "tabloid" published by the racist Christian Identity movement. The GOA donated "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist group during the 1990s, under Pratt's direction.
A new CBS Evening News' series that examines gun violence in America has featured prominent conservative misinformers on the issue, including a guest who once suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government. While "Voices Against Violence" has also featured advocates for stronger gun laws, CBS has given airtime to Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt -- whose group has donated money to a white supremacist group -- and Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke, who has raised the idea of justifiable armed revolution against the government and is well-known for his inflammatory commentary, such as that Hillary Clinton "is willing to prostitute herself to secure the black vote."
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Larry Pratt, the leader of the firearm lobbyist group Gun Owners of America (GOA), suggested in a recent interview with FoxNews.com that Jews in Europe lacked "determination" to stop the Holocaust.
Although Pratt and GOA routinely promote such extreme views, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said at the September 16 GOP primary debate that he was "honored" to be endorsed by GOA. Pratt was once a contributing editor at an anti-Semitic publication.
In an October 12 video posted on FoxNews.com, Pratt was asked by Fox News Radio's Alan Colmes to respond to a recent ahistorical and controversial claim by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson that the Holocaust "would have been greatly diminished" if not for Nazi Germany's regulation of firearms.
Pratt replied: "Had the Jews had really good amounts of armament, they could have given the Nazis a real headache for a prolonged period of time, and in fact, had they had that determination to fight long before the [Warsaw] Ghetto, it might have been an entirely different story."
Colmes called Pratt's claim "an extremely offensive position to a lot of Jews and also historically inaccurate."
Claims that the Holocaust could have been averted were it not for Adolf Hitler's gun policies have been repeatedly called historically inaccurate by The Anti-Defamation League, a national civil rights group. In fact, Hitler loosened gun laws for his political allies while banning firearms for the people he wanted to oppress, which is an indictment of fascistic policies -- not laws regulating firearms.
Pratt is widely seen as one of the founders of the 1990s militia movement in the United States. In 1996, he was forced to leave the presidential campaign of Republican Pat Buchanan after it was revealed he had spoken at militia gatherings with representatives from white supremacist groups, including the leader of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity movement. He also previously served as a contributing editor to a publication of the anti-Semitic United Sovereigns of America.
Following press coverage of Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) comment during the second GOP presidential debate that he was "honored" to have won the endorsement of Gun Owners of America (GOA), the group lashed out at media coverage documenting its long history of extremism. In an open letter posted on its website, GOA claimed it has "NEVER aligned ourselves with racist groups" -- despite the fact that the group's leader, Larry Pratt, once acknowledged that he directed GOA to donate "tens of thousands of dollars" to a white supremacist organization and shared the stage with white supremacists at rallies organized by the racist Christian Identity movement in the 1990s.
During CNN's September 16 GOP presidential candidate debate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he was "honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on the stage today." GOA has donated money to a white supremacist group, opposes any background checks on gun sales, and advocates for guns in kindergarten classrooms. Its leader, Larry Pratt, has suggested mass shootings are staged by the government and has past ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations.
Larry Pratt, the head of extremist gun group Gun Owners of America (GOA), warned the U.S. federal government that "we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically" during an appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' radio show.
GOA, which opposes any background checks on gun sales, recently endorsed Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (TX), who has called GOA's support "critical" to his 2012 election to the U.S. Senate and praised GOA's hardline stance on guns in remarks to the group's supporters.
Pratt was forced to leave the 1996 presidential campaign of Pat Buchanan after it was revealed he had spoken before high-profile white supremacists at militia gatherings. GOA donated money to a white supremacist group and Pratt previously served as a "contributing editor" for an anti-Semitic publication. Pratt has also suggested that mass shootings are staged by the government.
During a September 15 appearance on The Alex Jones Show, Pratt said, "Just like those Minutemen in Lexington, Massachusetts, we've got to be ready at a minute's notice to come to the defense of, as it was, Cliven Bundy or be [it] a milk producer in Elkhart County, Indiana -- could be anywhere where the government thinks they might have an advantage."
He later added, "The Second Amendment requires an adversarial relationship with the federal government. The Second Amendment says, 'Federal government, you can go here and no farther and if you try then the Second Amendment comes into play. To put it a little bit more crudely, we'll point our guns at you if you try to act tyrannically.'"
From the September 15 edition of Genesis Communications Network's The Alex Jones Show:
Extremist group Gun Owners of America (GOA) endorsed Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, noting that he is the only candidate "who has completed and returned the GOA presidential survey on the Second Amendment." GOA opposes any background checks on gun sales and advocates for guns in kindergarten classrooms, while the group's leader Larry Pratt has suggested mass shootings are staged by the government and has past ties to white supremacist and anti-Semitic organizations.