At last night’s debate, Sen. Ted Cruz attempted to show his Second Amendment bona fides by touting his recent endorsement from Gun Owners of America, a group that thinks the National Rifle Association is not extreme enough on gun rights.
Cruz boasted of his role writing an amicus brief in District of Columbia v. Heller, the case in which the Supreme Court determined that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms, and his work in the Senate to defeat a bill expanding gun background checks shortly after the Sandy Hook school massacre. He then said that he was “honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today”:
You mentioned that the U.S. Supreme Court had rightly upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms. I was proud to lead 31 states before the U.S. Supreme Court defending the Second Amendment, and we won that landmark victory. And indeed, just a couple of years ago, when Harry Reid and Barack Obama came after the right to keep and bear arms of millions of Americans, I was proud to lead the fight in the United States Senate to protect our right to keep and bear arms, and for that reason. I was honored to be endorsed by Gun Owners of America as the strongest supporter of the Second Amendment on this stage today, and I will fight every day to defend the Bill of Rights.
Cruz didn’t mention that he got GOA’s endorsement because he was the only candidate in the race to return the group’s candidate survey. He also didn’t mention any of the reasons he’s the only candidate willing to publicly support GOA.
Although Cruz may be GOA’s only outspoken ally in the presidential race, he has been a good one for them. During the effort to defeat the background checks bill, the New York Times reported that Cruz was GOA’s “key ally in the Senate.” Cruz is the also the only candidate to have agreed to give a telephone briefing to GOA’s members; in his briefing, he praised GOA’s members as “fighters” and “patriots” and thanks them for helping him get elected to the Senate.
Cruz evidently has no qualms about associating with a group that promotes paranoia about an impending race war, birther conspiracy theories about President Obama, and not-so-veiled threats that elected officials will face assassination if they step out of line.
To begin with, the gun group’s executive director, Larry Pratt, has a long history on the fringes of the radical right that was too extreme for even Pat Buchanan, who dropped him from his 1996 presidential campaign because of his ties with white supremecist groups. As we wrote back in May:
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 push wild conspiracy theories about impending government takeovers and race wars and frequently tells elected officials that they should fear being shot by his group’s members:
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 also pushes all manner of conspiracy theories regarding President Obama. He has claimed that Obama is building up a private security force within the Department of Homeland Security to use for his own purposes “if he can’t actually commandeer the military”; warned that Obama will enlist undocumented immigrants into a private “ Praetorian guard” and advise police officers to go after people with conservative bumper stickers ; said Obamacare will ultimately “take away your guns”; feared Obama is stockpiling “anti-personnel rounds” because he “ seems to view the American people as the enemy”; claimed that Obama “had to steal” the 2012 presidential election and even buys into the fringe birther theory that holds that the president’s “real father” was labor activist Frank Marshall Davis.
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.
Just this week, Pratt joined conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones to discuss how the military and police departments will be ready to turn on President Obama if he tries to impose any sort of tyrannical government.