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Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt, who previously claimed that liberals were happy about the Boston Marathon bombing, said in an interview last week that the “gun control crowd” “privately rejoice” at events like the Sandy Hook massacre.

When a caller told Pratt, who was a guest on VCY America’s Crosstalk on Thursday, that he thought the Sandy Hook shooting “stinks of a conspiracy,” Pratt responded that “the gun control crowd” are “opportunistic.”

“My guess is that privately they rejoice when something like this happens,” he added. “Because they immediately go to their buddies in the media and they immediately start shedding their crocodile tears, pushing for more gun control.”

Later in the interview, a caller asked whether President Obama wants to impose martial law on the United States. Pratt agreed that he probably did but that the military wouldn’t follow the order.

That led the show’s host, Vic Eliason, to ask, “Is there an effort to generate chaos so that martial law would step in?”

Pratt responded, “I guess it’s a possibility because we know the president is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist, he’s going to fundamentally transform the country, and he’s been doing quite a job toward that. But I just don’t think that he would have the means to carry that out.”

From the 03.13.2014 edition of VCY America’s Crosstalk:

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

Gun Owners of America – which prides itself in being to the right of the NRA — has been pushing the creative conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is using the Environmental Protection Agency to institute backdoor gun control. GOA’s story goes that a Missouri lead smelter that shut down rather than comply with clean air regulations was in fact forced shut by the Obama administration in order to suppress the supply of lead used for manufacturing bullets.

The first problem with this story is that, as Steve Benen pointed out, the EPA started going after the plant in question during the Bush administration.

The story gained so much traction, though, that the NRA felt compelled to issue a statement earlier this month reassuring its members that “this particular facility’s closure should not have the dramatic impact that some have predicted.”

The word of the great conspiracy also reached a major bullet manufacturer, which itself issued a statement saying that its “supply should not be in jeopardy” and that the Missouri factory’s closure presented “no reason for alarm,” as the conservative outlet NewsMax reported.

But according to Gun Owners of America, these denials just serve to confirm the group’s suspicions. GOA spokesman Mike Hammond told NewsMax yesterday that the NRA and the manufacturer’s dismissals of the EPA-gun control conspiracy theory “only drive home his point.”

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

In a blog post this week, former Florida congressman Allen West gets behind a conspiracy theory that holds that the Environmental Protection Agency is launching a “clandestine” and “backdoor” assault on the Second Amendment. The gist of the theory is that President Obama used the EPA to shut down a Missouri smelter that refused to comply with anti-pollution regulations, thereby creating a scarcity of bullets and, in West’s words, “destroy[ing] the Second Amendment.”

Of course, there is no actual evidence to support West’s claim. In fact, the EPA first went after the smelter in question in 2008, the year before Obama became president. Steve Benen notes: “If enforcement of environmental safeguards was used to secretly undermine access to ammunition, the plot was launched by the notorious gun-grabbers in the Bush/Cheney administration.”

Despite the lack of evidence and the fact that the smelter was targeted before Obama even took office, now Gun Owners of America is also embracing the patently bogus conspiracy.

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

(via GOoA’s Pratt Suggests Defunding VA in Retaliation For Imaginary Nazi/Soviet Gun Confiscation | Right Wing Watch)

It seems that Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt never meets an anti-Obama conspiracy theory that he doesn’t like. So, when an InfoWars host last month told Pratt about a conspiracy theory that the Department of Veterans Affairs is arbitrarily disarming veterans and throwing them into psychiatric hospitals – a chain-email driven rumor that has been strongly debunked by a number of conservative bloggers – Pratt declared it “a return to Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia” and suggested that Congress defund the VA in retaliation.

Earlier in the interview, Pratt discussed his theory that President Obama is using health care reform as part of a communist plot to destroy America: “The communist understands that you have to destroy the existing system before you can rebuild paradise on the rubble that they have created in their revolution.”

Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt has been one of the most outspoken proponents of the popular right-wing theory that Trayvon Martin’s murder and the subsequent police inaction had nothing to do with race and that President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others are the real racists for daring to talk about racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Pratt brought his argument today to the sympathetic audience of American Family Radio’s Tim Wildmon and Jim Stanley, telling them up front that “Holder is a racist.”

In fact, Pratt tells them, Holder is considering civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in order to “intimidate the rest of the country so that we don’t think about defending ourselves” against “attacks by black mobs on white individuals.”

He cites, of course, the phony scandal surrounding two members of the New Black Panther Party who stood briefly in front of a heavily-Democratic polling place in Philadelphia during the 2008 election – the Justice Department eventually dropped charges against the unarmed member of the pair, provoking a Fox News-driven storm of outrage. Holder later told members of Congress that the phony outrage and comparisons of the Philadelphia incident to systematic voter intimidation and suppression in the Jim Crow South did “a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line for my people.”

Pratt, of course, takes Holder’s “my people” quote unrecognizably out of context in order to suggest that the attorney general doesn’t “belong in this country” and should move to Cuba.

From the 08.15.2013 edition of AFR’s Today’s Issues:

h/t: RWW

(via Gun Owners’ Pratt Claims DHS Buying Bullets to Prepare for Economic Collapse and Social Unrest | Right Wing Watch)

Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt continues to push the completely debunked conspiracy theory that the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling ammunition to, as he put it recently, allow President Obama to raise a private army “equally as powerful as the military.”

In an interview at a recent conference in Oklahoma, Pratt falsely claimed that the DHS “won’t answer” right-wing questions about ammo purchases. “The most benign explanation” for the DHS’s purchases, Pratt said, is that the Obama administration is “destroying the economy” and preparing to respond to the ensuing “social unrest.” 

Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt is upset that just because President Obama “got 50-plus percent of the vote,” he thinks can now carry out his policy agenda. In one of his frequent interviews with conspiracy nut Alex Jones recently, Pratt alleged that the president is a “communist,” a “full-bore Marxist” and a “Mr. Dictator” who is “grabbing ahold of every bit of power and centralizing in his hands.”

Pratt also agreed with Jones that Democrats “had to steal the election” and urged supporters to take jobs as election monitors because “it’s either that or the republic.”


Gun Owners of America may soon join fellow conservatives in opposing comprehensive immigration reform, warning that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants would lead to an increase in “anti-gun voters.”

Not only does the group oppose comprehensive legislation for clear partisan reasons, GOA spokesman Mike Hammond told the American Family Association’s news service the group may also work to defeat such bills if they include biometric identification or background checks for jobs.

h/t: Right Wing Watch

(via Pratt on CPNLive’s Talk To Solomon: “Liberals Happy About Boston Bombing Because It Will Foster More Government Control”| Right Wing Watch)

Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt spoke with Stan Solomon about the Boston marathon bombing, and they both agreed that the left is actually pleased with the attack because it might result in increased government control.

After co-host ‘Chief’ Steve Davis said that the left doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t work for the government to have guns and “they don’t care how many of us get killed, blown up, assaulted, murdered or whatever as long as they can control us by taking away our guns,” Solomon maintained that liberals are even okay with other liberals getting murdered: “It’s not just how many conservatives or Republicans [die] because these people that were killed and maimed and devastated and traumatized were overwhelmingly their people, they don’t care, they are like the Chinese who don’t care if they have a million casualties because they got a billion backups.”

In earlier interviews, Pratt and Solomon warned that President Obama is bent on launching a race war that will target upper-class white heterosexual Christians.

Excuse me, Larry Pratt! Us liberals/progressives are NOT giddy about the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Spokesman for Gun Owners of America have already warned us that background checks on gun purchases may lead to anti-Christian persecution and genocide, and last week the group’s communications director Erich Pratt warned that new gun legislation might include a “government enemy list” that could target Gun Owners of America members or “anybody who attends church or listens to Christian radio.”

Of course, the Senate gun bill actually has language meant to prevent the creation of such any gun owners’ registry, but that didn’t stop Pratt from criticizing the legislation’s plan to expand background checks.

Pratt said that while he has no problem requiring background checks for things like nursery employees, he argued that there should be no background checks at all for gun purchases since it is a “God-given right.” Pratt went on to maintain that such background checks may lead to government screenings of pastors, writers or couples seeking to get married or having children.

“If anybody has ever seen the movie ‘Minority Report’ that is where we end up going, where government sets up a pre-crime unit,” Pratt concluded.

H/T: Right Wing Watch

A little known pro-gun lobby that’s well to the right of the National Rifle Association has complicated efforts to reach a solution on gun control legislation, top Democrats have said in recent days.

The Gun Owners of America has been around for decades, operating mostly in obscurity, dwarfed by the lobbying and fundraising prowess of the NRA. The group’s big gripe is that the NRA is too squishy and willing to compromise, and its recent efforts to scuttle gun control legislation appear to be scaring away Republicans amenable to background checks.

The results have frustrated Democrats trying to strike a bipartisan deal.

“The NRA — their lobbying efforts are being pushed even further to the extreme by virtue of the fact that there’s another organization called Gun Owners of America,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told Nevada Public Radio on Friday. “Whenever the NRA tries to be reasonable, the Gun Owners of America becomes more unreasonable, and it pushes the NRA [to the right].”

GOA is proud of its obstinacy against gun control. In a New York Times profile of the group last week, its executive director Larry Pratt took credit for scaring away Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) from discussions with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) about a bipartisan compromise on expanding background checks for gun purchases.

Less clear is the extent to which Gun Owners of America is the true foe of expanded background checks, rather than a scapegoat for Senate Democrats who are facing potentially tough reelection battles in red states and are skittish about supporting any significant new gun restrictions. For now, negotiations over background checks continue, as Democrats are now seeking to win over Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-PA) support for a compromise deal.

Meanwhile, the Gun Owners of America is flexing its muscle in first major gun control effort in nearly two decades. Prominently featured on the front page of GOA’s website is a quote from Ron Paul calling the group “the only no-compromise gun lobby in Washington.”


(via GOoA’s Pratt: ‘Angry Liberals Should Not Have Guns’ | Right Wing Watch)

Larry Pratt, the extremist and conspiratorial leader of Gun Owners of America, last week gave a speech to We the People Tea Party of Northwest Louisiana where he mused that liberals should not be allowed to own guns.

After saying that President Obama held a shotgun “girly like” while skeet shooting, the Shreveport Times reports that Pratt told the group that Democrats like Obama “almost got me convinced to modify my purist Second Amendment position: there are people that shouldn’t have guns, angry liberals should not have guns.”

While the White House, governors, Congress and other public officials grapple with policy responses to last month’s mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school, many Americans wonder whether the massacre of young children will provide momentum for more effective laws that previous killing sprees – even one that gravely wounded a member of Congress – have not. 

Some assume, wrongly, that nothing can be done.  Politicians’ fear of the $200+ million National Rifle Association (NRA) is generally cited as the reason for weak gun laws that undermine law enforcement and put citizens at higher risk from gun crimes.  The power of the NRA to determine the outcome of elections may well be more myth than reality, but even the perception of such power can give the group tremendous political muscle, along with its aggressive lobbying and strong-arm political tactics.

The NRA is not alone in attempting to prevent effective regulation of guns and promoting reckless policies that leave Americans vulnerable to crime.  Its efforts are supported by the same kind of coalition that undermines the nation’s ability to solve a wide range of problems.  Corporations, right-wing ideologues, and Religious Right leaders work together to misinform Americans, generate unfounded fears, and prevent passage of broadly supported solutions.

Understanding the extremism and dishonesty at the heart of right-wing obstructionism is crucial to overcoming it.  

Who’s Extreme?

Opponents of stronger gun laws portray any effort to regulate the sale of even military-style weapons as radical assaults on American freedom.  For instance, Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, a Religious Right legal group, called President Obama a “slime ball,” claiming falsely that Obama used his remarks at a memorial service for the Connecticut shooting victims to push “radical” gun control and saying of Obama, “His extremism knows no lows.”

But it is Barber and NRA officials who are staking out an extreme position. They emphatically do not speak for the American people.  More strikingly, the NRA leadership and its allies do not speak for the group’s own members.  Huge majorities of NRA members support sensible policies that the group opposes. For example, 82 percent of the public, and 74 percent of NRA members, support requiring a criminal background check of anyone purchasing a gun.  NRA leaders strongly oppose requiring background checks for gun sales.  And a recent poll taken after the Newtown shooting found that a majority of people who live in gun-owning households support a ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines.

At the urging of NRA officials, Congress has even passed laws that undermine law enforcement officials’ ability to fight gun crimes, forcing the Justice Department to destroy within 24 hours records about the buyer in approved purchases and making it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to track sales of certain guns used in crimes.  How do anti-gun-regulation activists prevent action in the face of broad public support?  They deploy a range of strategies and tactics that right-wing activists use on a variety of issues:

Denying and Masking Reality

On issues from gay rights to climate change, right-wing activists stick stubbornly to their ideology even when it is clearly controverted by scientific consensus and other reality.  On gun violence, NRA officials  and their allies refuse to acknowledge that the availability of assault weapons and high-volume ammunition clips, or the lack of background checks for private sales of guns, are problems that make it easier for a shooter to kill more innocent people quickly.  They ignore evidence that stronger gun laws can and do reduce gun crimes. According to an October 2012 report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, “When states expand firearm prohibitions to high-risk groups, and adopt comprehensive measures to prevent diversion of guns to prohibited persons, fewer guns are diverted to criminals, and there is less violence. ”

One way to mask reality is through rhetoric that distorts or hides the truth.  Tea Party leaders and their allies rallied opposition to federal health care reform by portraying “ObamaCare” in lurid end-of-freedom, America-destroying rhetoric. They were successful in building public opposition to the generic “ObamaCare” – even though there was strong majority support for most of the substantive elements of the plan.  By portraying advocates for stronger gun regulation as government thugs who want to take guns from hunters’ hands, NRA leaders and their allies have been able to generate some poll numbers indicating opposition to “gun control,” but the more relevant fact for policymakers is that huge majorities of Americans, and of NRA members themselves, back many of the most commonly discussed approaches to reducing gun violence.  Stronger efforts to keep dangerous guns out of the hands of dangerous people are simply not attacks on the right recognized by the Supreme Court under the Second Amendment of law-abiding citizens to have guns for hunting or self-defense.

Shifting Blame

The speech by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre a week after the Connecticut shootings was a memorable display of blame shifting.  He attempted to cast blame for the killings on everyone but his own group’s resistance to stronger controls on assault weapons and the firearms or ammunition themselves.

Religious Right leaders and right-wing pundits played their usual parts in the spin. Religious broadcaster James Dobson said the shooting was God’s judgment for the country turning its back on scripture and on God.  Franklin Graham said much the same: “This is what happens when a society turns its back on God.”  Radio host Steve Deace blamed public schools for promoting a “culture of death” and teaching students “there is no God and thus no real purpose to their lives.”  American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer said God wasn’t there to protect students because schools were not starting the day with prayer.  Newt Gingrich blamed “an anti-religious secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive God out of public life,” along with video games.  Culture warriors Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder wrote in Movieguide:

By removing God, the Bible, God’s Law, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit from society, including the mass media and the schools, we are raising generations of people with no faith in God or Jesus and, hence, no moral conscience, and no self-control.  If so many people have no faith, no moral conscience and no self-control, then it’s no wonder our society is suffering from all these mass murders by evil lone gunmen.

Tea Party Nation blamed teachers’ unions, liberals, and an “over-bureaucratized society.”  The Oathkeepers, a Tea Party offshoot for military and law enforcement officials, argued that the federal government was “complicit in the deaths of these children, and in fact an accessory to their mass murder, by forcibly disarming (with the very real threat of prison) all the teachers, all the staff, and any parent who may have been on school property.”

The consequence of such blame-spreading is that it creates distractions from addressing the real problems.  One Religious Right leader appearing on American Family Radio called the shooting a “gracious” act of divine punishment designed to “bring us to our senses and bring us back to Him.” 

Hostility to Compromise

The absolute refusal to compromise – indeed, the vilification of the very idea of compromise – is at the heart of the right-wing movement and much of the modern Republican Party.  That has been the story of GOP obstructionism on tax policy, judicial nominations, and more.  Just as the Tea Party and its corporate backers have gone out of their way to punish Republicans they see as insufficiently “conservative” – even when it meant nominating extremists who could not win a general election – leaders of the NRA and other groups like the Gun Owners of America react with fierce hostility to talk of compromise.  Their political power comes largely from the fear they have created among elected leaders that the group will spend lavishly to punish even the tiniest dissent from its ideological dogma.  The NRA’s leaders loudly pulled out of current conversations convened by the White House, denouncing the effort to find policy solutions to gun violence as “demonizing” the Second Amendment, and they launched a “Stand and Fight” campaign even before the details of the White House proposals had been announced.  Rep. Steve Stockman from Texas even threatened to file articles of impeachment.

One way Religious Right leaders justify their opposition to compromise is claiming a biblical mandate for their favored policies, something Religious Right leaders do on issues like taxes as well as issues involving privacy and sexuality.  Discredited Religious Right “historian” David Barton calls the Second Amendment “the biblical right of self-defense” and says it requires that individual Americans have access to any weapon the federal government has.

Smearing Opponents

Just as Religious Right groups smear political opponents as hostile to religious liberty, anti-gun-regulation groups smear as enemies of liberty anyone who advocates for stronger oversight on the purchase of weapons capable of mass violence.  Even though polls show that NRA members believe support for the Second Amendment goes hand in hand with preventing gun crimes, the group’s leaders falsely equate any effort to strengthen gun laws to advance public safety with a desire to confiscate Americans’ handguns and hunting rifles.

Religious Right leaders are prone to make claims that only fellow believers are capable of moral action and decision making.  Snyder and Baehr, in their post-shooting column, wrote, “Without God, without faith and values, we are just soulless meat machines who can kill without mercy.”

Promoting Conspiracy Theories

The right-wing base of the Republican Party is fed a steady diet of conspiracy theories about liberals and other perceived enemies.  That’s why so many Republicans believe President Obama is a secret Muslim bent on the destruction of the US, or that he was not born in the United States. During the Obama administration, right-wing websites have circulated conspiracy theories about the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security administration stockpiling ammunition intended to be used against Americans and building concentration camps for conservatives.

National Rifle Association leaders claimed during the 2012 election that President Obama’s lack of action on gun issues during his first term was an elaborate ruse to mask his radical intentions to disarm gun owners.  Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America insisted that the federal health care reform law was meant to “take away your guns.”

Some went even further: Christian radio host Bradlee Dean, a close ally of Rep. Michele Bachmann, suggested that the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, like earlier murders at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, were actually orchestrated by the government to create a pretext to ban guns.

Extremist Interpretations of the Constitution

A Wyoming legislator has introduced legislation that would make it a felony to enforce a federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition.  The idea that a state could imprison federal agents for enforcing a federal law may excite right-wing activists, but it doesn’t reflect a reality-based view of our constitutional system of government.  And that’s a widespread problem.  David Barton insists that the founding fathers’ view of the constitutional right to bear arms means that any weapon the government possesses must also be available to the population at large: “…whatever the government’s got, we’ve gotta have the same thing, because if they’ve got an AK-47 and come through and we’ve only got a BB gun on the inside, this is not a deterrent.  So the whole purpose of the Second Amendment is to make sure you have equal power with whatever comes against you illegally.”  If Barton is really saying that citizens have a Second Amendment right to anything that is in the U.S. military arsenal – chemical weapons, fully automated machine guns, bombs, and more – that is emphatically not a view endorsed by the Supreme Court.

Ted Cruz, a new U.S. senator from Texas elected with major support from Tea Party activists said recently that efforts to restrict the sales of assault weapons and ammunition are unconstitutional.  In fact, even the conservative Supreme Court has said clearly that regulating the sale of dangerous guns is not prohibited by the Second Amendment.  According to Justice Antonin Scalia, “the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”

Harnessing Corporate Money

Right-wing causes, including the Tea Party, anti-unionism, and anti-environmentalism, have benefitted from a flood of corporate money in the wake of Supreme Court decisions gutting the nation’s campaign finance laws.  In addition, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing group that acts as matchmaker between corporate interests and lawmakers eager to do their bidding, has produced literally hundreds of model bills that right-wing legislators have enacted into law – attacking unions and public education and otherwise supporting the predatory privatization of public assets and government services.  Among the model bills ALEC has previously promoted is the so-called “stand your ground” law originally adopted in Florida.  ALEC deemed it a national “model” law, and it was enacted in more than two dozen states.  The Florida law was cited initially to prevent the prosecution of the man who killed Trayvon Martin.

Some analysts believe the NRA has morphed from a grassroots group teaching marksmanship to a trade association for gun manufacturers – a “lobbying, merchandising and marketing machine.”  Business Week reported in January 2012 that more than 50 firearms-related companies had given at least $14.8 million to the group.  The NRA has boosted gun makers several ways: its rhetoric about gun confiscation has spurred binge buying by gun enthusiasts; it has pushed a federal law that limits liability against gunmakers as well as state laws that bar cities from suing gun manufacturers (in conjunction with ALEC); and the NRA’s legislative arm has also “helped ensure the end of the federal assault weapons ban” in 2004 (which the NRA and ALEC opposed in 1994).  Business Week quotes the former NRA President Sandy Froman claiming that it “saved the American gun industry from bankruptcy.”

Anything Goes

A hallmark of right-wing activism over the past four years has been a willingness to say and do anything to try to undermine the effectiveness of the Obama presidency and to try to prevent the president’s re-election (as well as his initial election).  Rhetorically, that has meant equating health care reform and other initiatives with tyranny.  In response to recent reports that some aspects of gun regulation could be strengthened by executive order, the right-wing Drudge Report posted photos of Hitler and Stalin. 

Before the 2012 election, NRA leaders portrayed President Obama as conspiring to abolish Americans’ Second Amendment rights.  But NRA efforts to bring down the Obama administration went well beyond political rhetoric and campaign spending.  The NRA leadership played a significant role in the failed effort by congressional Republicans to turn the ATF’s botched “Fast and Furious” operation into an administration-destroying scandal.  NRA officials even announced that the group would “score” a House vote on whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, getting votes from Republicans and some Democrats eager to preserve a 100-percent NRA rating.

Money, Power, and Perception

Back in August, Daniel Webster, co-director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore said, “Democrats have decided, I think wrongly politically and morally, that it’s only an issue they can lose on.”  Indeed, even though the group’s recent political spending is heavily weighted toward Republicans, the lack of desire to cross the NRA’s lobbyists and activists is bipartisan.  In 2009, a Democratic Congress complied with demands for federal laws allowing people to bring guns onto Amtrak trains and into national parks; in 2010 the group demanded, and got, a special exemption from identifying its donors in the DISCLOSE Act under consideration.

h/t: People For The American Way