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Posts tagged "Gun Owners Of America"

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Alexander Zaitchik at Rolling Stone

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW


Alex Jones & Larry Pratt: Obama Training Military To Attack Tea Party

Ever since the Bush administration authorized a DHS report that concluded that home grown terrorists posed an extreme threat to America, Conservatives have been using it as a propaganda tool to rile up the militia movement and other far right conservatives as an attack on their freedom.

Conspiracy nut Alex Jones has been opining that the Obama administration has been hot on the heels of the Tea Party movement and will use tanks, drones and everything else to mount an attack on them. After the Las Vegas shooting, Jones said he was convinced that Harry Reid and others planted a false flag operation against him and other gun nuts because-freedom.

Jones kept up the paranoid claptrap with another kook, Larry Pratt of the Gun Owners of America and they held a conspiracy nut pity party on Jones’ radio show:

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h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

NRA swag

INDIANAPOLIS— The theme of last week’s National Rifle Association annual meeting was an odd one: maternity.

It was not an official theme in the way macho slogans like “All In” and “Stand and Fight” have formally defined recent NRA congresses. But it was a thick running thread, one that signals the quickening of a broad shift underway across the gun rights movement, from the gun makers to the grassroots.

Red schwag set the tone. At tables throughout the complex, NRA staffers handed out “I’m an NRA MOM” buttons and t-shirts. At the building’s main entrance hung an enormous banner of a woman, looking a little pouty, next to a populist taunt of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently said he would spend big on behalf of the gun safety movement.

While it is unclear if the woman is an NRA mom, she is notably not NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre or board member Ted Nugent. The billboard captures perfectly the NRA’s double-pronged messaging campaign of the moment, best summarized as “Glocker Moms against Mayor Mike.”

NRA banner

For years the role of women in the politics and business of guns has been growing. We may look back at 2014 as the year it flipped. In Indianapolis, women constituted a full quarter of NRA attendees for the first time — up to a five-fold increase over the past decade, according to the group.

The NRA is pivoting quickly to adjust, and for the first time its convention program featured two major events for women. In addition to the $250-a-plate Women’s Leadership Forum Luncheon and Auction, the group held the first annual Women’s New Energy Breakfast, where female gun owners and NRA moms mixed and networked over a $15 breakfast buffet.

These same women are the target of a female-oriented media push, anchored by a running NRA web series called “Armed and Fabulous.” An early episode looks admiringly at the Potterfield women of the Midway ammunition empire, whose scion, Larry, is one of the NRA’s biggest industry donors.

The women-and-guns motif carried over into the male-dominated dog-and-pony show known as the Leadership Forum, where 2016 hopefuls bragged about their wives’ gun racks. Rick Santorum boasted that his wife owns more guns than he does, and that his five-year old daughter is already an NRA member. Indiana Governor Mike Pence talked about falling in love with his wife for her handgun. Florida Senator Marco Rubio bemoaned the paperwork required for his female staffers to carry and conceal. And after two years in which Glenn Beck delivered the keynote, this year’s honor fell to the pistol-packin’ Mama Grizzly, Sarah Palin.

What’s going on? The modern NRA is, above all, a thinly veiled industry group. Its “mom” offensive reflects basic gun industry economics: manufacturers’ continued growth depends in no small part on making up for the duck and deer hunting demographic, which has been static or declining for generations.

The industry hopes that women can be their growth market. Thus far its degree of success is anyone’s guess. Anecdotal evidence and some polling shows an increase in female gun ownership in recent years. But according to the General Social Survey, the gold standard for survey research, only 12 percent of women owned guns in 2012, a lower level than in the mid-1990s.    

Whether or not there’s a real demographic sea change at hand, the transformation is unfolding in the gun media, both popular and trade, where designers and analysts discuss the need for new models representing the past and future of the industry. Gun makers are rolling out more rifles fitted for arthritic fingers, as well as handguns like the Pavona pistol, “designed for the discerning woman.”

Gun swag

There is also a political dimension. Following the Sandy Hook massacre, Shannon Watts opened a new front in the gun debate by founding Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, which now claims 130,000 moms as members and chapters in all 50 states. The group’s calls for common-sense gun-reform sparked new life in a grassroots gun-reform movement that needed a boost. Last year Watts’ group merged with Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, giving it money to go with its grassroots muscle. Watts’ success created a frame that put the gun lobby on the wrong side of the gender divide.

The result was the image makeover rolled out in Indianapolis. A couple of years ago, in St. Louis, the group unveiled a testosterone-heavy election 2012 media campaign centered around Chuck Norris and R. Lee “Gunny” Ermey, best known as the donut-hating drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket. Last weekend, the NRA unveiled a modern look: slick ads that prominently featured women and people of color.

After drawing criticism in the wake of Sandy Hook for the paranoid ranting of white male spokespeople like LaPierre, the NRA has spent the last 18 months building a diverse bench. It now employs seven commentators for its NRA News media wing, including three women (Natalie Foster, Gabby Franco, and Nikki Turpeaux), an African American (Colion Noir), and Chris Cheng, an Asian-American who has declared himself “gay for guns.”

Meanwhile, young women like CNN’s S.E. Cupp, The Blaze’s Dana Loesch, and Fox News’ Katie Pavlich regularly appear on cable news to provide the NRA’s line on the gun issue.

The NRA mom meme isn’t just a top-down thing coming from Fairfax. While strolling the gun show floor — a 40,000 square-foot maze of merchants exhibiting everything from gun insurance to fully automatic, sub-compact “greasers" — I ran into Kyle Coplen, the affable young CEO of the Armed Citizen Project, a non-profit that offers free shotguns and training to residents of high-crime neighborhoods. He was handing out his own mom-themed schwag, and said he’d been doing it for months. The shirts he designed show a female silhouette holding a child’s hand with one arm, a shotgun with the other. With a nod to shirts found in the tourist shops of South Beach and the French Quarter, it reads: "I support single moms."

Coplen explained that he’s currently arming all kinds of moms. “We’ve trained and armed women in wheelchairs and women with special needs children,” he said. So far, his donated shotguns have all been traditional steel and wood, but he’d have no problem handing out guns in the increasingly popular hot pink. “The idea of banning pink guns is part of the liberal anti-gunners ‘war on women’,” he said.  

I’d heard the same thing earlier that morning in a park opposite the convention center. There, a coalition of new pro-gun mom groups took advantage of perfect spring weather and rallied under the slogan, “Armed Moms United to Protect.” Suburban and middle-class, they were textbook Glocker Moms. There weren’t many of them, but they all seemed to have their own mom group.

Whether these groups were letterhead organizations or represented a genuine phenomenon among the brassroots is hard to say. But they do seem serious. Most have registered as 501(c)3’s and some are also functioning as PACs. The groups sponsoring the Saturday rally included Moms With Guns Demand Action, Indiana Moms Against Gun Control, and 1 Million Moms Against Gun Control. Some of them had mom-guns in their mom-jeans.

I asked one of them, Linda Elliot of 1 Million Moms Against Gun Control, how many mom groups like hers had sprung up. “Too many to count probably,” she said. “The rhetorical terrain is shifting toward women, so our message is that it’s okay to be a mom and own guns. I hate to give Shannon Watts any credit, but when she threw such a tempter tantrum, it kind of exploded.”

The Glocker Moms’ message may be tailored for women, but they are going to have trouble with that broad political hinge group once famous as Soccer Moms. As I approached their rally, the gun lobbyist and hard-right operator Larry Pratt, who runs the NRA rival Gun Owners of America, was praising Cliven Bundy as an American hero (this was after Bundy’s comments on the state of “the Negro”).

Pratt, who has consorted with neo-Nazis and other extremists over the years, may be the scariest mother of them all. If Linda Elliot wants to cultivate non-rural female gun ownership and activism, her group might want to stop associating with people with long records of conspiratorial and racist commentary.

Pratt is a minor obstacle if the goal is bringing more women to the gun movement. The NRA’s board of directors tolerates a culture shot through with misogyny. Earlier this year, Nugent became the subject of a firestorm of controversy after he was invited to campaign with the GOP’s candidate for governor of Texas and state Democrats responded by highlighting his inflammatory commentary on women.

Larry Pratt

Later that afternoon, back at the gun show, I asked Jan Morgan of Armed American Women about this tension. Morgan had keynoted the “Armed Moms” rally with a speech that blended gun-policy with attacks on liberals and abortion rights, delivered while wearing a pistol prominently strapped around her calf. She said pro-gun women should make their case in the context of protecting life, and that means tying it to anti-abortion politics. “Look, if anti-gun liberals are going to talk about banning guns to protect children, then they need to look at abortion,” she said.

Whether most women agree with her on abortion or not, she said there was no stopping the surge in women buying guns. “Women [gun owners] are the largest growing group because of the level of crime, the number of mass shootings,” she said. “They understand the best way to protect yourself and your children is with a gun. They’re gonna have a huge impact on the movement. Shannon Watts and Bloomberg are going to regret opening up the language of ‘moms’.”

Shannon Watts, the original Gun Debate Mom and an Indianapolis native, was in town for the weekend. On Saturday, she led a 300-mom strong “stroller jam” in protest a few blocks north of the convention center. On Sunday, she unveiled a Mothers Dream Quilt and released a new report, “Not Your Grandparents’ NRA.” The latter was written under the imprimatur of her new group, Everytown for Gun Safety.

Watts’ report focused on the NRA’s growing political radicalism, but the gender shift is leaving pink streaks that are also unlike anything in the group’s history. Few were the exhibits on the gun show floor that did not feature products catering to women. We are now well past the novelty of a pink AR-15 here, a sparkled pistol there. Today’s woman has holsters and targets of her own. In Indy, the Law Enforcement Targets booth had already sold out of its bestselling pink shooting target, sales of which benefit not the NRA’s “round-up” program, but breast cancer research and awareness. “Our new line of female targets is selling like crazy,” said a company rep. Down the aisle, the first company to market exclusively to the woman shooter, the Ontario-based Packing In Pink, likewise did a brisk trade.

"Industry is finally catching up with us," said Linda Elliot of 1 Million Moms. "A few years ago it was hard to find a holster or gun that fit a woman’s hand."

As the convention was winding down on Sunday afternoon, I chatted with Alan Gottlieb, the man who anticipated all of this. Gottlieb was sitting unassumingly in his trademark bowtie, signing up new members for his gun-rights group, the Second Amendment Foundation. Most NRA members have never heard of Gottlieb, but he is among the most important figures in the development of the modern gun-rights movement. His group, not the NRA, built the legal team and the strategy behind the landmark Supreme Court gun cases of McDonald and Heller, not to mention dozens of important state-level suits. Among the literature arrayed before him was the current issue of a magazine called Women and Guns, which he has been publishing since 1989. A long-term strategist, Gottlieb dismissed the “mom” boom as a silly marketing arms race and a distraction from larger trends.

"It’s not just about ‘moms,’" said Gottlieb. "The future is about all of the non-traditional groups: single women, the LGBT community, people living in cities, Hispanics who come to this country to enjoy our freedoms, including Second Amendment rights. Those are the only places we can grow. That’s where you find the future of the gun-rights movement."

As he began packing up his materials, I asked Gottlieb if the rapid adoption of maternal messaging — by the NRA, by the Glocker Moms, by industry — might not betray a fear, or at least a nervousness, that suburban women and mothers, if unchallenged, could swing the political momentum toward serious gun reform.

"Fear? Look around," he said, gesturing at the bustling arms bazaar extending in every direction.

"No, I really don’t think these guys are too worried about their future." 

h/t: Alexander Zaitchik at MMFA

Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, praised lawless Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s actions in a sparsely attended speech outside the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting.

"I think that this is a very positive development that came out of the confrontation out on that ranch," said Pratt, who regularly sits for credulous interviews with mainstream media outlets. "And hopefully we will look back on what happened there as a turning point in modern American history. The American people are saying ‘Enough, no farther.’"

After Bundy refused for decades to pay the government fees required for his cattle to graze on public land, federal officials attempted to execute court orders to confiscate and sell the cattle to pay off the more than $1 million he owes the public. Bundy became a right-wing folk hero after he threatened violence against those officials, drawing the support of both conservatives in the media and hundreds of armed men — including militia extremists — who descended on Bundy’s ranch, triggering an armed standoff with the government.

When the government stopped the confiscation fearing an outbreak of violence, Bundy’s supporters cheered, but most of those allies abandoned him last week after The New York Times reported Bundy’s racist comments, in which he questioned whether black Americans were “better off as slaves” or “better off under government subsidy.”

But on April 26 Pratt praised the rancher’s standoff with the Bureau of Land Management, which he described as “an illegitimate entity” whose employees “shouldn’t have guns, not as government officials.” He linked the event to the surge in sheriffs who have said they will refuse to enforce expanded federal or state gun laws.

"I think we really are hopefully on an upswing," he said to a group of roughly 20 onlookers, including a Media Matters reporter. “We are seeing, finally, a proper, legitimate, lawful response to illegitimate, unlawful exercise of government power, particularly on the federal level.”

Pratt frequently appears in the media as an advocate for gun rights, most recently responding to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s expanded gun safety efforts in a New York Times article earlier this month. The Times profiled Pratt and his “upstart group” that takes positions “farther right” than the NRA in April 2013, featuring praise from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Dean Heller (R-NV), and reported that the organization has been successful in ”freezing senators, particularly Republicans” from taking positions in support of gun violence prevention legislation.

But Pratt also has a long record of anti-government extremism; he was forced out of his position as co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s 1996 presidential run following the “disclosure that he had spoken at rallies held by leaders of the white supremacist and militia movements,” as the Times reported at the time. More recently, he has suggested that the shooting at the Aurora, CO, movie theater may have been staged and flirted with the claim that the Sandy Hook shooting was a government “programmed event” designed to build support for stronger gun laws. 

Pratt’s speech came during a “Safety & Self-Protection Showcase” held in the park across the street from the Indiana Convention Center, where 70,000 members of the NRA were meeting this weekend. The event was sponsored by groups including Moms With Guns Demand Action, Gun Rights Across America, American Gun Rights, Indiana Moms Against Gun Control, 1 Million Moms Against Gun Control, 2A Friendly, and Armed American Women. Other speakers included Jan Morgan of Armed American Women, Indiana state representative Jim Lucas, Doc Greene of Raging Elephants Radio, and Nikki Goeser, author of “Denied A Chance.”

From Pratt’s April 26 speech:

h/t: Matt Gertz at MMFA

Iowa radio host Steve Deace was on Larry Pratt’s Gun Owner’s News Hour last week to promote his new electoral strategy book, “Rules for Patriots.” The two spent quite a bit of time lavishing praise on Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for his crusade to bust his state’s public-sector unions.

Deace shared his theory that that public-sector unions are one of the “four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement,” along with “the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby” and “government education” (which is “how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them”).

He praised Walker for removing “one of the four pillars,” namely “the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions.” Deace apparently thinks that five anonymous teenagers yelling “hail Satan” at a pro-choice protest in Texas means that all public employees are Satanists.

Deace counseled Republicans against supporting any GOP politician who supports any one of the “four pillars.”

Pratt agreed, adding that the public-sector employees, including teachers’ unions, that protested at the Wisconsin state capitol in 2011 were “such ugly, dirty people” that nobody would want teaching their children.

Deace: There are four pillars of the leftist, statist, Marxist movement in America: the child-killing industry, the homosexual lobby, government education – that’s sort of their youth ministry, that’s how they get the next generation to indoctrinate them. The homosexual lobby and the abortion industry is where they get their mega, mega hundreds of millions to fund their schemes. But the worker bees, the grassroots, the mobocracy, the ‘Hail Satan’ chanters down in Texas last year, that’s the government-sector employee unions. And if you cut them off, that’s like cutting off the recruiting ability of a college football team. That’s the lifeblood of their program is those government-sector employee unions.

And if you do some of the math, I think the average annual union due in Wisconsin is like $1,500 a year for an AFSCME member. And if they truly lost 40,000 members, Larry, 40,000 times 1,500, you can pretty much buy the Wisconsin state government every year for that kind of money. And to have him cut off the head of the snake like that, he removed one of the four pillars. He’s maybe the only elected Republican in my lifetime I can think of who’s actually removed one of their pillars. And now you know why they have done everything they can possibly do to get rid of him.

And I would just say to your audience, if you’re supporting a Republican who doesn’t threaten at least one of those pillars, you’re wasting your time. If you’re supporting a Republican who aids and abets or collaborates with one of those four pillars, I don’t care how good he is on every other issue, he’s actually working for your opponent. Because that’s the infrastructure of the American left, those four facets.

Pratt: When Scott Walker had those union thugs lying all over the lobby of the capitol dome, the capitol building itself, they were such ugly, dirty people. ‘Those were teaching my kids?,’ I think people might have been thinking. They lost so much stature, it was just amazing what was happening.

From the 04.12.2014 edition of Republic Broadcasting Network’s Gun Owner’s News Hour:

 h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

From the 04.15.2014 edition of CPNLive’s Talk To Solomon

h/t: Brian Tashman at RWW

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW 

On VCY America’s Crosstalk last week, Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt agreed with a caller who said that unarmed teachers who protect students during school shootings aren’t heroes.

“When you see these stories on the news about teachers, and they’re saying they’re heroes because they’re running and hiding and locking doors and everything, and that’s supposed to be a heroic act. I think it’s sheer terror,” the caller complained.

“I’d rather they be a hero with a good shot,” Pratt agreed.

Earlier in the program, Pratt said that gun laws are only rational “if you want to be a dictator.”

“For those who are not thinking as totalitarians, gun control otherwise is not rational,” he said. “Now, if you want to be dictator, gun control is very rational. Like Hitler said, we’d have to be crazy to let the conquered people have guns. And crazy is one thing I don’t think he was. So, he understood that, but we apparently can’t think even as clearly as that monster.”

From the 04.03.2014 of VCY America’s Crosstalk:

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

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

Larry Pratt, the descriptively named executive director of Gun Owners of America, has figured out how to improve The Blacks in America: In a recent radio interview, he explained that American blacks would have a much better time of it if they could just be more like “the African from Africa.” You know, that one guy.

Pratt, who has previously warned about the private army of blacks that Obama is building to foment race war in the USA, spoke last month with Selwyn Duke on the “Gun Owners News Hour” — proving again that every rightwinger has a podcast — and they went over the usual news, like how Obama is converting the U.S. military into “a martial law ready” force by promoting minorities above whites, and then they got to the more arcane stuff about how American blacks could really learn a lot about good attitudes from Africans from the Africa:

“Generally, the African from Africa is a very pro-American person, a very happy person,” Pratt said. “I know several, and they’re always happy with a joke, a pleasant smile on their face, and they clearly don’t identify with the surliness that’s all too frequently the attitude of their fellow African Americans here.”

And Larry Pratt sure could learn a lot from trying to emulate human beings, now couldn’t he?