Apparently not all press is good press, after all.
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) documents recently obtained by The Guardian show the popularity of ALEC, an organization that connects corporate lobbyists with state legislators to push special interest legislation, to be in sharp decline. In the wake of the national outcry surrounding Trayvon Martin’s death, ALEC saw both its corporate and state legislative membership drop in numbers – experiencing what The Guardian describes as a “donor exodus.”
That’s because among the many damaging pieces of legislation ALEC has pushed over the years are “Stand Your Ground” laws, which became a cornerstone of the national conversation about the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Drafted in part by the National Rifle Association, ALEC promoted these types of laws as “model legislation.” But some legislators and corporations – including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Amazon, and more – decided they didn’t want any part of it.
The Guardian has learned that by Alec's own reckoning the network has lost almost 400 state legislators from its membership over the past two years, as well as more than 60 corporations that form the core of its funding. In the first six months of this year it suffered a hole in its budget of more than a third of its projected income.
For forty years, ALEC has helped advance bills that hurt everyday Americans, and PFAW works with allies like the Center for Media and Democracy to expose their extreme agenda.
If you’re in the DC area, you can join us this Thursday for a “DC Stands Up to ALEC” rally to make clear that it’s not only legislators and corporations who have had enough of ALEC – it’s the American people.
One of Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt’s stock lines is about how the one exception to his anti-gun-law absolutism is that he supports banning “angry liberals” from owning firearms.
The topic came up again yesterday when Pratt joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to discuss their joint effort to “take over the Republicans” with Tea Party leaders such as Ted Cruz and Ken Cuccinelli.
Jones went off on a tangent on gun violence, claiming that “almost all” mass shooters come from “liberal Democrat families” and are “all into weird occult stuff and on a bunch of drugs and are Satan worshippers and video-game heads.”
“And I’m getting blamed for what people with green hair that worship the Devil are doing?” he asked.
Pratt agreed, saying that “angry liberals should probably be the exception to our purist Second Amendment views” because liberals “are inherently violent.”
The following is a guest post from Elder Jabari Paul, a member of People For the American Way’s African American Ministers in Action, following last week’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Stand Your Ground laws.
My perspective on Stand Your Ground laws (SYG) is shaped by my experience and calling as a young African American clergyman and as a native of Florida, the first state to pass this type of legislation. I believe that these laws raise important questions about the moral values of our country.
The debate around SYG comes during challenging times in America – times when the political landscape is starkly divided and mass slayings in public settings are much too frequent. These laws have been divisive policies since the first one passed in October 2005 in Florida. Public contentiousness surrounding SYG can be traced back to the choices of many politicians to ignore the will of the majority on SYG laws and to push the agendas of powerful and moneyed interest groups, like the National Rifle Association. SYG has been a wedge issue because politicians, particularly conservatives, have supported such laws to placate their base in spite of a lack of need for these laws.
Stand Your Ground has been championed by its supporters as a type of law that is necessary to prevent crime in urban areas and to protect citizens from the violence of “thugs.” These arguments have clear racial undertones. Words like “urban” and “thug” have been used since America’s post-Reconstruction days to speak in coded language about African Americans and other minorities. SYG tramples upon the civil rights of those perceived to be a threat. The tragedy of these laws is compounded when the person attacked is killed and only their attacker has an opportunity to tell what happened.
As a Christian, minister and an African American male under 35, my views on SYG are shaped by my culture and my religious beliefs. I believe that SYG perpetuates violence in a society that already knows violence too well. Jesus Christ taught the opposite of violence – love. In His renowned “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” In these verses, Jesus is stressing that violence should be the last form of recourse in any situation. SYG, on the other hand, justifies and can even facilitate violence.
Our country deserves better than this. The United States of America is called, and no doubt is, the greatest nation in world. It’s time for our elected officials to drastically amend or repeal Stand Your Ground laws.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine last month shortly after the Navy Yard shooting found that in developed countries the rate of gun deaths is highly correlated with the rate of gun ownership. You might think this would be bad news for Larry Pratt’s “no-compromise” Gun Owners of America. But who needs science when you can make up your own statistics?
In an interview with conservative commentator Tom Woods yesterday, Pratt presented his own statistics to bolster the gun lobby’s orthodoxy that more guns make communities safer.
Pratt first presented the case of the Old West, which he claims was in fact “under control” and “peaceful” because “virtually everybody was armed.” In fact, as law professor Adam Winkler explains, gun violence in the Old West was “far more rare than we commonly imagine”…because most towns had strict gun control measures.
Pratt then tried to prove that gun ownership makes communities safer by comparing Great Britain’s murder rate with that of his home of Fairfax County, Virginia. While Pratt concedes that Britain’s murder rate is “admittedly very low,” he points out that Fairfax County’s is lower, which he chalks up to Virginia’s lax gun laws. What he neglects to mention is that Fairfax County is far from typical of Virginia or the United States as a whole…to start with, it’s the second wealthiest county in Virginia and fourth wealthiest in the entire country. The homicide rate in the entire state of Virginia is significantly higher than that of both Fairfax County and the United Kingdom.
Pratt then goes on to claim that while Britain has a low murder rate, its strict gun laws have made it the “fourth most violent country in the world.” We have no idea where he got that statistic, but claims that the UK is more violent than the United States have been thoroughly debunked.
The Old West was the Wild West only on the screen. In reality, because virtually everybody was armed, the Old West, as you more properly put it, was quite a place under control, peaceful. The shootout at the OK Corral was very atypical.
Now, let’s go over to Britain, because you pointed to them. In Britain, they do have a very low murder rate. But in Fairfax County, Virginia, where Gun Owners of America is located and where people can obtain a concealed carry permit for a firearm rather easily, and where you’ve got to assume that there’s a whole bunch of folks here in Fairfax County that are armed, we have a murder rate at 1 per 100,000. Whereas over in peaceful old England, it’s 1.7 per 100,000 and their violent crime rate, apart from murder – which is admittedly very low – their violent crime rate ranks them as the fourth most violent country in the world after Jamaica, El Salvador and Honduras. Boy, how’s that gun control stuff working out for you now, old Great Britain?
Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt paid yet another visit to the Talk to Solomon Show last week, to discuss how President Obama is moving in a “dictatorial direction” reminiscent of the “history of despotism,” which isn’t widely appreciated because of “a government-school spawned ignorance of history.”
Pratt started the conversation with his standard explanation that the Second Amendment exists so that “the people would always have the means to resist the government, by force of arms if need be.”
Efforts to expand background checks on gun sales, he warned, are “a pretty dangerous notion, when the very people who are the target of our guns are able to determine whether or not we get a gun.”
Later in the program, Solomon tried to rally those who might not buy into his Obama-centric conspiracy theories. “The people who the Nazis slaughtered for the most part supported their policies initially,” he warned. “If you think because you’re black, because you’re gay, because you’re a Democrat, because you’re a liberal, that they’re not going to do equally or worse to you than they are to the rest of us, I believe you are mistaken.”
“Well, that’s the history of despotism,” Pratt replied, going on to compare Obama to Vladimir Lenin. “You’re absolutely correct that those that think that if Obama were to continue moving in his dictatorial direction that they would somehow be immune because they have been politically allied, big mistake, and it reflects a government-school spawned ignorance of history.”
Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt appeared once again on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program last week to discuss his work to stop gun violence prevention legislation.
Jones told Pratt that the gun lobby needs to “get on the offense culturally, because they’ve got the kids in their clutches right now.” Pratt agreed, saying, “I think we have to push back in whatever smart way we can do to make sure that kids see, yeah having a gun is just as much fun as you thought it was when you were shooting your buddy with a water pistol yesterday.”
Earlier in the interview, Pratt and Jones were discussing their endless admiration for Texas senator Ted Cruz. Pratt reminisced about the infamous exchange between Cruz and California senator Dianne Feinstein, in which Cruz condescendingly “explained” the Constitution to Feinstein and she responded, “I’m not a sixth grader.”
Calling Feinstein a sixth grader, Pratt said, “would be an insult to sixth graders.” Jones agreed, saying Cruz “was so polite and calm with the logic, that’s why that witch got so upset.”
How will you be spending your Fourth of July? Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt will be spending his with former congressman and convicted felon Jim Traficant and former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney at an event hosted by the Holocaust-denying frontman of an anti-government rock group with ties to the Hutaree militia.
The anti-Semitic weekly American Free Press reports that Pratt, Traficant and McKinney are all signed up to speak at the southeastern Pennsylvania “Freedompalooza,” hosted by Paul Topete. Topete heads the rock group Poker Face, which got national attention in 2010 when the Anti-Defamation league reported that it had licensed a song to and defended the violent right-wing Hutaree militia. Topete himself is an unabashed anti-Semite who, according to the ADL, once called the Holocaust “one of the largest if not THEE largest scam every played on humanity” (sic).
Topete’s anti-Semitic view of world history doesn’t stop there. He has also claimed that “the Rothchilds set up the Illuminati in 1776 to subvert the Christian basis of civilization.”
Responding to the ADL’s report, Topete’s band issued a statement saying, “We are not anti-Semitic, but, we will shine the spotlight on those of Jewish faith who use their heritage to escape criticism, especially when it comes to crimes against this country, but also against their own people.” In the statement, the group also doubled down on its speculation that Israel was behind the 9/11 attacks: “Was Israel involved? It’s not beyond the scope of reasonable doubt.”
Topete is so extreme that, according to an NAACP report, his band has “been kicked off venues at Rutgers University in 2006 and a Ron Paul campaign event in 2007.”
In 2010, the Colbert Report reported that now-Sen. Rand Paul attended a gun rally where Topete threatened an armed revolt against the government.
One of Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt’s favorite talking points is that “of the mass murders in the last 20 years, all but one have taken place in a gun free zone.” (That statistic is just plainwrong, but that’s another story).
Speaking with a conservative radio host in Idaho this week, Pratt delved into the one shooting that he counts as an “exception” to this nonexistent trend: the 2011 shooting at Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ “Congress on your Corner” event at a mall in Tucson, which left six dead and Giffords critically injured.
Giffords and the constituents who came to talk with her – including a nine-year-old-girl and a Republican-appointed federal judge -- had it coming, Pratt implies, because “it was a Democrat town hall meeting of a Democrat representative” and Democrats “don’t necessarily, most of them, believe in carrying guns.”
“And so when this dirtbag attacked a town hall meeting,” Pratt continues, “he didn’t find any resistance and he was able to kill a number of people there.”
There was, in fact, a man with a concealed carry permit at the scene in Tucson…and in the confusion of the scene he very nearly shot the wrong man. Meanwhile, the shooter, Jared Loughner was brought down by an unarmed 74-year-old man who tackled him with the help of other bystanders.
Only one out of the mass murders in the last 20 years have been carried out in gun-free zones. And the one, by the way, that was an exception – I’m sorry Democrats that are listening – but it was a Democrat town hall meeting of a Democrat representative in Tucson, Arizona. And, you know, that’s kind of what Democrats are like, they don’t necessarily, most of them, believe in carrying guns. And so when this dirtbag attacked a town hall meeting, he didn’t find any resistance and he was able to kill a number of people there.
Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt has been going-all out against immigration reform, warning that immigrants will “vote to take away our guns” and are “going to be probably just sitting around drawing welfare and voting Democrat.” He told radio host Steve Deace earlier this week that if a reform bill passes, “you can buh bye to your guns and buh bye to the rest of your freedom because this would be a country that had been californicated.”
In an action alert this week, GOA tells its members to call their senators and oppose immigration reform because if it passes “you could lose all your guns before 2035.”
“By 2035,” the alert warns, “the battle will no longer be about stopping the expansion of background checks. Most likely, it will be about stopping the government from coming to take your guns away.”
You Could Lose all your Guns before 2035 under the Amnesty Bill before the Senate
Contact your Senators and urge them to vote against the anti-gun immigration amnesty bill.
We’ve written you before about the immigration amnesty bill that will be debated on the Senate floor beginning June 10.
We had just been through a hard fight to stop gun bans and registration. And some of you may have even felt the immigration amnesty was not a “gun” issue.
But if the amnesty bill is passed, within 20 years, Washington could be as anti-gun as Albany, Hartford, and Sacramento.
This is because the bill will create at least 11,500,000 new citizens -- but probably closer to 20,000,000 -- and, if history is any guide, they will vote 71% of the time for far Left Democrats like Barack Obama.
By 2035, the battle will no longer be about stopping the expansion of background checks. Most likely, it will be about stopping the government from coming to take your guns away. And there is nothing we will be able to do about it.
Gun Owners of America director Larry Pratt is a big fan of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group of Tenther county sheriffs who have declared that they answer directly to the Constitution (or their interpretation of it), rather than to the federal government. Unsurprisingly, the organization and the movement it represents have grown substantially during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Pratt often praises the Constitutional Sheriffs in his speeches, and was a guest of honor at their annual convention last week, where he presented the “High Noon Award” to the Milwaukee County Sheriff who took out an ad urging people to arm themselves rather than calling 911. Pratt also presented the “Nullifier of the Year” award to Sheriff Denny Peyman of Jackson County, Kentucky, who has announced that he will not enforce federal gun laws in his county, warning that there would be a “bloodbath in our community when they come in to take guns.”
Pratt himself summed up the gist of the Constitutional Sheriffs movement when he told WND:
There is a misconception in our time that the court somehow is the arbiter of what is constitutional; that’s not true! Every official that raises their right hand and says they’re going to adhere to the constitution, seek to protect it to the best of their ability, ‘so help me God’ – that’s something that they’re all obligated to do.
The nullification movement is growing in popularity in conservative state legislatures – for instance, Kansas has passed a law declaring that "Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas."
The nullification concept dates back to South Carolina Sen. John C. Calhoun, who argued that if the federal government did not allow a southern states to “nullify” an 1828 tariff act, they would be within their rights to secede from the Union. Historian Cody Carlson explains, “The unspoken fear, of course, was that if the federal government could levy a tariff to profoundly alter the economy of the South, was the institution of slavery safe from federal interference? Could not the North, in the guise of instituting new economic policies, virtually prohibit slavery?”
David Gans of the Constitutional Accountability Center, via Steve Benen, explains why nullification has long been discredited:
Nullification was a 19th century theory, identified most closely with South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun, based on the notion that the states created the Constitution and retained the power to determine whether the federal government complied with limitations on its power. This theory has been universally rejected throughout the course of American history by the courts as inconsistent with the Constitution. As the Constitution's preamble makes clear, 'We the People,' not the states, 'ordain[ed] and establish[ed] th[e] Constitution.'
The Constitution's Supremacy Clause provides that federal law is the 'supreme Law of the Land,' and Article III of the Constitution gives to the federal judiciary the power to decide "all cases arising under the Constitution.' States, thus, cannot simply declare that the acts of the federal government are null and void. But, despite the rock-solid arguments against nullification, state governments continue to press the idea that they have the power to treat certain federal laws as null and void. These arguments, while not new, have no basis in the Constitution."
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Pratt diverged from his primary topic of opposing any and all gun laws to discuss immigration reform. Gun activists should be interested in blocking immigration reform, Pratt said, because, “If you bring in a whole bunch of Democrats into the country, most of them are going to vote to take away our guns.”
I know it’s not a, per se, a gun issue, but it’s a freedom issue. We began to see that if we were able to beat the president on this flagship issue of his, gun control, then the rest of his agenda was likely to falter. And you know what? That’s exactly what’s happening. Even the immigration bill, which tactically I think they should have led with, that might have passed if that had been first, I don’t think it’s going to pass now. It’s probably not going to get out of the Senate because it might be that we can filibuster.
Why do we care about an immigration bill? Well, frankly, it’s a matter of numbers. If you bring in a whole bunch of Democrats into the country, most of them are going to vote to take away our guns. And in a few years, that’s exactly what would happen. So, we don’t want the other problems that come with that, but just from a Second Amendment point of view, we have a dog in that fight and it’s important that we keep that bill down.
Pratt added that he is hopeful “that we’ve got an agenda that’s set to take off” thanks to his primary allies in Congress: Rep. Steve “If Babies Had Guns” Stockman and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Of Cruz, Pratt said, “I’m so happy that we made a major effort to support his campaign when he was a candidate.” Gun Owners of America contributed over $9,000 to Cruz’s primary campaign and Cruz touted the group’s endorsement.
“He has not disappointed us and I’m certain that he’s not going to disappoint us,” Pratt added.
So I think we’ve got an agenda that’s set to take off. We’ve got them down and if we keep the pressure on offense, thankfully we’ve got people like Rep. Stockman and Sen. Cruz in the Senate, we’ve got people that will fight. And because of that, we’re going to see a lot of action during the rest of the year, and especially in the Senate, where the rules are more favorable to what we’re trying to do. And Sen. Cruz has shown that he may have only been there for four months, but he knows how to run circles around just about everybody else in that Senate. We’ve got a real hero there that’s ridden into town from Texas. And I’m so happy that we made a major effort to support his campaign when he was a candidate, and he has not disappointed us and I’m certain that he’s not going to disappoint us. This guy is the real deal.
Gun Owners of America executive director Larry Pratt has been widely credited with helping to bring down the Senate background checks bill last month, thanks in part to his cozy relationship with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his sway among Cruz’s colleagues.
In an interview with conspiracy theorist Pete Santilli earlier this month, Pratt went even further than usual, detailing what he sees as a plan by the president to turn the Department of Homeland Security into a private army “equally as powerful as the military” -- that is, if the president “can’t actually commandeer the military” first.
Santilli: Now, Mr. Pratt, here’s my most important discussion that I’d like to have with you, and my most important concern just observing the Department of Homeland Security and the amount of ammunition and guns and the way they’re staffing up. Do you think that that DHS is a fighting force built by Barack Obama’s administration to potentially be used by the American people, even in opposition to a military that choose to be constitutional? Is that one of your greatest fears?
Pratt: During his ’08 campaign, the president had talked about setting up some kind of, what do you call it, a national security force, something of that sort that would be equally as powerful as the military. Well, that should have told us what he was up to. If he can’t actually commandeer the military, then he’ll bulk up the Department of Homeland Insecurity and he’ll have them buy a gazillion bullets. At the time they bought 100 million for this year, they already had 250 million, give or take, on hand. What is that all about? And these are anti-personnel rounds. These are not target practice rounds. They’re not semiwadcutters, they’re not even the military ball ammo, they’re anti-personnel.
Santilli: And that would be billions, not millions, right?
Pratt: It’s 100 million a year for the next ten years, well over a billion, which will then be five times, give or take, what they already have on hand. If nothing else, it would seem to be a strategy designed to drive up the price and lower the availability of ammunition in particular, firearms in general, but ammunition in particular.
Rep. Frank Lucas, Republican of Oklahoma and House sponsor of a bill that is feeding a right-wing conspiracy theory about ammunition purchases by the federal government, wondered Monday if the Obama administration is leading “a conspiracy to buy up all the bullets so they’re not available to us.”
In an interview with Steve Malzberg, Rep. Lucas claimed that bullets are being “rationed” and that his constituents “have been telling me for a year they cannot buy ammunition in the retail stores.” When Malzberg played a clip of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano refuting the conspiracy theory that the administration is buying up bullets to keep them from consumers, Rep. Lucas replied, “It’s hard to see in the mind of an Obama-appointed official. They tend to be a little different than the general public, they have a different perspective.”
“But this is the administration, remember, that’s super gun control, that really, really, really doesn’t trust people with firearms and obviously they don’t trust people with ammunition,” he continued. “Is this a conspiracy to buy up all the bullets so they’re not available to us? I don’t know.”
In remarks to the FreedomWorks Texas Summit on Friday, Senator Ted Cruz credited himself for blocking recent background checks legislation, mocked his Senate GOP colleagues and derided the families of Sandy Hook victims as “political props.” In response, People For the American Way president Michael Keegan released the following statement:
“Senator Cruz’s remarks make clear that he’s more interested in representing the Tea Party than ordinary Texas voters.
“In a single speech, Cruz managed to insult Newtown families, mock his Republican colleagues and take credit for blocking background checks backed by over 90% of Americans. His remarks prove that Tea Partiers in Congress will work to block any gun safety legislation, no matter what it is or how many Americans support it.
“Senator Cruz is working overtime to alienate senators on both sides of the aisle. He may be a darling of the Tea Party, but he’s a growing political liability for the GOP.”
As the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a package of gun violence prevention proposals this week, the current debate on the role of guns in society has led to a variety of legislative responses in D.C. and across the nation.
PFAW’s recent Right Wing Watch in Focus report on opposition to more effective regulation of guns noted that promoting conspiracy theories is a primary strategy used by extremists to block common sense policies. New evidence comes in the form of a recent email from Sen. Rand Paul raising money for the National Association for Gun Rights, a group that is so far out there it thinks the National Rifle Association has gone soft.
Rand Paul’s letter uses inflammatory rhetoric to push the conspiracy theory that registration of guns and requiring background checks for gun purposes – which is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners – is just a prelude to “confiscation” by the “gun-grabbers.”
And make no mistake, the gun-grabbers’ TRUE motives behind gun registration is always the same -- outright gun CONFISCATION, and to do that they must first register every gun and gun owner.
Another letter Paul signed for the group argues that President Obama is working to empower United Nations bureaucrats to confiscate Americans’ guns:
I don't know about you, but watching anti-American globalists plot against our Constitution makes me sick.
PFAW’s report on opposition to addressing gun violence notes that there are real consequences to the promotion of conspiracy theories by elected officials:
It is also true that the failure to challenge extremist and dishonest rhetoric can lead to damaging consequences for our common public life. The promotion of false conspiracy theories, the claims by public figures that their political opponents are out to destroy freedom and America itself, and the false equation of sensible, broadly supported laws with the elimination of the rights of hunters and other gun owners, can foster a dangerous extremism, including threats of violence.
One of Rand Paul’s letters refers to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill restricting ownership of assault weapons as “the effective END of the Second Amendment in America.”
I can hardly even think about what a DISASTER for our country it would be should President Obama, Senator Feinstein and their anti-gun pals succeed in ramming this monstrosity down our throats.
An earlier alert from the National Association for Gun Rights was labeled: “Obama declares war.”