Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker further paved the way for his GOP presidential bid today, signing two bills weakening his state’s gun laws, just one week after a gun massacre left nine people dead at a church in South Carolina. Walker said that he went ahead with the planned signing despite the recent attack because if he had postponed it, “it would have given people the erroneous opinion that what we signed into law today had anything to do with what happened in Charleston.”
Clarke first emerged as a Tea Party hero in 2013, when he recorded a radio ad urging his constituents to arm themselves because “calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.” This earned him the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer’s Association, a far-right group that holds that county sheriffs have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional and arrest federal agents enforcing them. Accepting the award, Clarke called the group a “friend for life.”
Last year, Clarke joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program to warn that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to weapons confiscation and would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison”:
This year, Clarke has burnished his Tea Party credentials by appearingrepeatedlyon Fox News to assure its viewers that racial disparities in the justice system are a myth and to attack President Obama for saying otherwise.
While the choice of Clarke’s office for the bill-signing may have seemed mundane to many observers, Walker was sending a clear signal to some of the most extreme elements of his party’s base.
Larry Pratt, head of the far-right gun group Gun Owners of America, predictably reacted to last week’s horrific mass shooting at a church in Charleston by blaming the church’s pastor — one of the victims of the shooting — for his vote against a concealed carry law in the state senate and urging his group’s members to start showing up at church armed.
Pratt also lashed out at President Obama for alluding to the difficulty in passing even mild gun regulations in Congress, warning in an interview with WorldNetDaily on Friday that the president is “so incredibly ideologically driven” that he’ll start pushing for tighter gun laws because “he’s only got now less than two years to try to snap the socialist vise on the country.”
“I look at it as a time when we’re going to have the fight of our lives,” he warned.
King acknowledged that mass shootings are more frequent in the United States, but said that American has a “higher calling” than preventing “one event of violence” and can only be “the bastion of western civilization” if individual gun rights are unrestricted.
“Yes, we have a Second Amendment,” the Iowa Republican said. “And even if some of this violence could be stopped by confiscating all the guns, we have a charge, our charge is to defend freedom and liberty. We are the bastion of western civilization, and that requires us to be able to defend ourselves against tyranny. That’s the charge that our founding fathers gave us, that’s in our culture, we know that, we’ve had to do that worldwide. So, it’s a much higher calling than believing that somehow we end one event of violence.”
Yesterday, Gun Owners of America’s communications director, Erich Pratt, reacted to the shooting in a church in South Carolina by blaming the church’s pastor, one of the victims of the shooting, for voting against a concealed carry bill in his role as a state senator.
In an interview today with Houston-based talk radio host Sam Malone, GOA’s executive director Larry Pratt (Erich’s father) doubled down on the accusation, claiming that the pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, had left his congregation “defenseless” by opposing a bill that would have required churches to allow the concealed carry of firearms.
“The president and those that look at the world the way he does seem to be unshakably wedded to the idea that no defense is a good defense,” Pratt said, referring to President Obama’s remarks on the shooting. “And there you had a church where this horrible act was committed, where the pastor was a state senator who was a leading anti-Second-Amendment, pro-civilian-disarmament sort of guy. So when the dirtbag struck, he was pretty confident there wasn’t going to be anybody shooting back because they all believed that no defense is a good defense, that’s what they’d been preached about. It’s just, it was so needless. There was nobody who was able to resist.”
“It was a gun-free zone, thanks in part to the pastor, the state senator,” he said, blasting the pastor who supported keeping a policy that allows churches to choose whether or not to allowed concealed carry, or, as Pratt called it, “that stupid provision that if the church wants to be defenseless, that’s fine.”
Gun Owners of America, unsurprisingly, is reacting the shooting at an African American church in Charleston this week by urging people to carry guns to church. Not only that, but GOA’s communications director Erich Pratt implies in a post on the group’s website that the church’s slain pastor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was partly to blame for the massacre because he had voted against a bill in the state senate that would have allowed the concealed carry of guns in churches.
He goes on to attack Pinckney for being an “anti-gun activist” who opposed concealed carry in churches.
“One of the biggest problems at South Carolina church is that the potential victims were disarmed by law,” he writes. “In the Palmetto State, a concealed carry permit holder can carry in places of worship with permission from a church official. Unfortunately, the pastor was an anti-gun activist. As a state senator, the Pastor had voted against concealed carry.”
GOA is also circulating a Facebook share image urging people to carry guns to church in order to protect against attack:
GOA has posted audio of the call on YouTube, and it was quite the love-fest. Cruz thanked the “fighters” and “patriots” at GOA for endorsing him when he ran for Senate in 2012, and said that the group “played a critical part in helping get me elected.” Media Matters captured the comment:
Cruz specifically praised GOA’s extremism, saying, "I agree with Ronald Reagan who said we must paint in bold colors and not pale pastels, that's why I'm running and that's one of the things I love about GOA is GOA has never been accused of painting in pale pastels."
GOA definitely does not paint “in pale pastels.” For instance, the group’s executive director, Larry Pratt, is fond of saying that the Second Amendment exists for the purpose of putting the fear of assassination into politicians who disagree with him on gun issues. Just the latest example of this was in April, when Pratt declared, “The Second Amendment was designed for people just like the president and his administration” and “Democrats who want to take our rights.”
The love between GOA and Cruz is mutual. Pratt frequently sings the praises of the junior senator from Texas, saying that Cruz “ has not disappointed us and I’m certain that he’s not going to disappoint us,” and rejoicing that “everybody understands that Ted Cruz runs the United States House.” The New York Times has described Cruz as Pratt’s “key ally in the Senate.”
At a rally in Salem, Oregon, Saturday in protest of a new state law requiring background checks on private gun sales, anti-government militia groups promised to defy the law and warned that it could lead to civil war.
“There is no unconstitutional law that can be passed that cannot be defied, resisted, evaded, smuggled in violation of and completely nullified by armed civil disobedience,” he told the crowd.
Waving a copy of a “fiscal impact report” on the Oregon law, he demanded, “What do you think the ‘fiscal impact’ of civil war is? Because when you send the raid parties to the doors of our homes, when you begin killing those of us who resist your raw appetite for power, that is what you’re going to get: civil war. And if it comes to our doors, what makes it think it won’t come to theirs?”
“If they ironically insist on civil war as the proper panacea for ‘gun violence,’” he warned, “then regardless of how reluctant we are, they will be shown after they kill the first of us what gun violence really is, as the founders showed King George.”
He told the crowd that they should start forming armed teams with likeminded citizens to fight threats ranging from drug cartels to government forces, a variation on the far-right Posse Comitatus theory: “Whether it’s the cartels or MS13 or the secret police, it takes a team to fight back.”
Noting that members of the Oath Keepers had come from across the country to resist the BLM at the Oregon mine, Rhodes warned that “there is a storm coming in this country” and “when it hits” people wouldn’t be able to drive across the country to “defend” others.
“No one is a passenger on the good ship liberty,” he said. “Everyone’s crew, everybody rows!”
Gun Owners of America, the radical and influential gun group that boasts that it is far to the right of the NRA, announced in an email to its members yesterday that it will be holding a series of “tele-town hall meetings” with Republican presidential candidates in order to vet the candidates on their gun-law orthodoxy.
The “first of several” calls, to be held next week, will feature Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a clear favorite of Gun Owners of America’s executive director, Larry Pratt.
While it’s unclear which other GOP candidates have agreed to participate in GOA’s calls, it’s disturbing that any have agreed to associate themselves with the far-right group and with Pratt.
Pratt has long stood at the intersection of the “mainstream” right, Christian nationalists, and fringe militia movements. In 1996, he was forced to step down from a position on Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign when it came to light that he had spoken at a militia event featuring a number of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic activists. Several years earlier, Pratt had coauthored what the Southern Poverty Law Center calls the book that “introduced the concept of citizen militias to the radical right.”
A few days after the Oklahoma City bombing, he spoke to a far-right “Christian Patriots” group on the “biblical mandate to arm,” telling them that whoever had taken on the government “beast” in Oklahoma knew that “they can’t rely on the Lord to take vengeance.”
Pratt continues to promote an anti-government paranoia, urging citizens to arm themselves against a repressive government and make their elected officials fear assassination.
In an interview last year, Pratt said that being afraid of assassination was “a healthy fear” for members of Congress to have, because that’s what makes them “behave.” When Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, who had felt threatened by one of GOA’s members, complained about his comments, Pratt doubled down, saying that elected officials should fear “the cartridge box” and accusing the congresswoman of being “foolish” and having “a hissy fit.” Later, he boasted that Democratic proponents of stricter gun laws are “afraid of getting shot and they ought to be!”
Pratt repeatedly suggests that President Obama will seek to bring violence against white Christians, possibly in the form of race riots. In a 2013 conversation with far-right pundit Stan Solomon, Pratt predicted that “there is inevitably going to be some kind of social implosion, some kind of neighbor-against-neighbor” violence brought about by “these folks in power.” When Solomon predicted that that “implosion” would take the form of a race war pitting “black, Muslim and/or atheist…have-nots” on “Christian, heterosexual white haves,” Pratt replied that he wasn’t “stretching” anything.
In a separate interview, Pratt agreed with Solomon that Obama “would definitely be capable of something as evil” as raising what Solomon called “a black force” to massacre white Americans. Pratt later denied that their conversation had anything to do with race, insisting that it was really about ninjas, but said that such a racial massacre was “something that the president wouldn’t mind seeing.” Pratt holds that this race war will then allow Obama and Hillary Clinton to “build their own communist society” in the race war’s wreckage.
Pratt’s reaction to recent protests of police brutality and racial inequality have taken a similar tone. Earlier this month, he suggested that there would be no problems in Baltimore if armed citizens had simply shot dead anyone who rioted; in 2013, he blamed Trayvon Martin’s death on the teen’s “broken family.” On his radio program last year, he mused that “the African from Africa” is generally “a very happy person” and could therefore “approach some of their fellow blacks” in America to teach them to exhibit less “surliness.”
At a campaign stop at an Iowa gun range yesterday, Mike Huckabee dismissed concerns about lax state requirements for gun permits, saying he wasn’t very worried about a permit-holder “not being as trained as they could be” because “a good guy armed is still better than a good guy unarmed.”
A reporter attending the event at Crossroads Shooting Sports in Johnston, Iowa, asked Huckabee to comment on laws in Iowa that make it “relatively easy to get your permit to carry” without “actual hands-on training.”
“You know, I leave that to the states,” Huckabee said. “[I have] less worry about someone not being as trained as they could be, because I think ultimately a citizen who is going to arm themselves is going to want to avail themselves of significant training to become proficient. I mean, that just makes sense, for their own sake. But if they don’t, a good guy armed is still better than a good guy unarmed.”
He told the audience that he would hope permit holders would pursue extensive firearms training, “but that’s an individual responsibility, so I wouldn’t try to get in the way of what the state thinks is the right way to go about that.”
In an interview with Dove TV on Tuesday, Gun Owners of America Communications Director Erich Pratt claimed that laws permitting concealed carry of firearms will be “the death knell for terrorists” because “the only way that you’re going to stop” terrorist attacks is with a heavily armed populace.
Discussing the attack on an anti-Islam event in Garland, Texas, which was thwarted when local and federal law enforcement officers shot the attackers, host Perry Atkinson told Pratt, “In some ways the war on terror in America now has been unleashed at a new level. Wouldn’t that become gun owners’ greatest defense?”
“Oh absolutely,” Pratt responded. “That is the only way that you’re going to stop this, because terrorists are notorious showing up at a scene, gunning down a bunch of people, and then they run back into the woods, type of scenario. But what happened in Texas is textbook for how you deal with this.”
Citing a debunked report of an ISIS training camp in Mexico and “all kinds of reports of Middle Eastern people who are coming across our southern border,” Pratt said the Garland attack was “just a reminder that people need to exercise their right to keep and bear arms.”
“And the more and more that people are carrying, we’ve actually seen violent crime rates dropping,” Pratt said, demonstrating a grasp of statistics reminiscent of his father, GOA director Larry Pratt. “It’s very interesting, just in the last five years, the number of concealed carry permit holders has doubled in this country, and yet at the same time, the gun murder rate has dropped 12 percent. So we’re literally seeing more guns, less crime. And that approach is the death knell for terrorists. They can’t deal with that.
Gun Owners of America’s Larry Pratt has consistently opposed any type of comprehensive immigration reform because he insists that if undocumented immigrants are allowed a path to citizenship, they will eventually “vote to take away our guns.”
Pratt repeated this point in an interview with far-right radio host Andrea Shea King last month, when he lamented that Sen. Marco Rubio, although he “is an attractive conservative on many issues,” worked on the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill “which meant all these anti-Second Amendment voters were being cued up to come and vote against the Second Amendment.”
King tried to defend Rubio, citing an interview he gave to the Washington Examiner during the debate over the Gang of Eight bill in which he said that if Congress failed to act on immigration, the president would issue an executive order deferring deportation for some immigrants, and “I cannot imagine a scenario where a future president is going to take away the status they're going to get.”
“It’s impossible, once you’ve given them amnesty, you rescind the amnesty,” King said.
“Well, I would,” Pratt responded, “and I would have no problem doing it. I’d come and take that voter card right out of their hand and rip it up in front of their face.”
Fiore criticized President Obama for talking about combatting rape while failing to support her bill, to which Pratt responded that Obama wouldn’t support her measure because he is a “tyrant” who “doesn’t want the people having guns” because otherwise they’ll rise up against him.
“He doesn’t want the people having guns because he’s a tyrant, and he knows that as long as we’re armed there are certain limits to how far he can go,” he said.
“And actually, Mr. Obama, didn’t you find out the limits there in Bunkerville, Nevada?” he said, referring to the armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management at the Bundy ranch.
We think this bears repeating now that a report is making the rounds that Morgan recently turned away a father and son of South Asian descent after asking them if they were Muslim.
The Arkansas Times talked with the young man who was reportedly turned away along with his father:
"My dad and I used to go to this gun range," said the young man, who asked not to be identified by name, "but we haven’t had as much of a chance to go in recent years since I've been at college. It's changed ownership recently."
"When we went in, a woman asked, ‘Where are you guys from?’ We told her we were from Hot Springs. She said, "this is a Muslim free shooting range," so if we are [Muslim] and if we don’t like the rule, then leave. We said that we’re not Muslim, but my dad asked, ‘Why is it Muslim free?’ and they started having a conversation. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t know what went wrong, but she stopped us from filling out the paperwork and said ‘I don’t think you guys should be here.’ She told us to leave or she’d call the cops on us."
Not wanting to cause a scene, they left.
"We’re brown; I don’t know if she assumed we were Muslim," he continued. "When she first asked us, she said, ‘I would hope if you were Muslim you guys wouldn't be cowards and would be up front about it.'" The student told the Times he was born in the U.S. and lived in Hot Springs for ten years before going to college in a different Arkansas town; he considers Hot Springs his home.
He recalls reading about the "Muslim free" shooting range, he says, but "I didn't know it was this place." Once he made the connection, he said, "I kept quiet because I just wanted to have some fun and shoot some guns." He says going shooting with his dad is just something they do occasionally: "father-son time, guy time."
In an interview with the Washington Post, Morgan denied turning the pair away because of their ethnicity and said she did so because they appeared to be “under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” But she did not back away from her ban on Muslim customers, explaining to the Post that the whole reason she opened her gun range was because she had received “death threats because of posting the truth about Islam.” She insisted that she won’t change her policy unless the Koran is altered to remove passages that she believes prescribe violence.
Morgan insisted that she doesn’t “believe all Muslims are terrorists,” although she seemed to say the opposite in a recent tweet:
If you align with a religion whose prophet is a mass murderer/pedophile that commands death to all non-Muslims, then YOU ARE A TERRORIST.
“I don’t believe all Muslims are terrorists,” Morgan said, adding she has “no idea which Muslims are going to be devout and follow those 109 dictates and those who won’t.” So in her mind, the safest thing to do is to ban all Muslims from her club. “I can’t trust that they can be safe to handle guns” in front of non-Muslims, she added.
There’s another reason Morgan doesn’t take much comfort in the vast numbers of Muslims who are not violent: She believes Islam will remain fundamentally a threat until the religion is permanently reformed by removing the more than 100 passages from the Koran that she believes demand violence from its followers.
Morgan isn’t alone in her belief. At the gun range, she said, “business is booming” since she announced the ban.
The gun range itself, in a way, owes its existence to Morgan’s interpretation of the Koran. “I didn’t even own a gun five years ago,” she said, adding that she learned to shoot because of “death threats because of posting the truth about Islam” on the internet. After that Morgan kept “training and training and training” until she became an instructor. Before all this, she worked in TV news — part of the media that has now become one of her biggest adversaries.
Gilbert’s theory has been panned by traditional birthers, because it undermines their claim that Obama isn’t a natural-born U.S. citizen, but has taken off among those who are seeking other ways to question the president’s origins. It was most notably endorsed by Bill Armistead, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, who said in 2012 that he had seen Gilbert’s movie and “verified that it is factual, all of it.”
In his interview with “The Liberty Brothers Radio Show,” Pratt presented the Frank Marshall Davis theory as a plausible explanation for why Obama “hates” America.
“His father was either a Kenyan socialist or the Communist Party member who lived across the street, Frank Marshall Davis, and there’s a lot more physical resemblance between the latter and Obama than Obama Sr. and Obama,” he said.
Bringing up the conspiracytheory that Obama enrolled in school as a foreign student, Pratt said that while he doesn’t think the president is foreign-born — “I really think that more likely was that the communist that lived across the street in Hawaii could have been the father” — he does think Obama lied about being a foreign student to get financial aid.
The recall effort began earlier this year as a grassroots protest and on Tuesday resulted in State Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and State Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo losing their seats.