I’ve always felt like a really good job would be one where I got paid to watch TV all day, and on Thursday I got to do exactly that. The catch was that I was stuck on one channel: NRATV, the National Rifle Association’s 24-hour propaganda network. Be careful what you wish for, folks.
Two days ahead of the March For Our Lives, I spent the entire day watching the network, and what I found was that the march, organized by a teenagers who are calling for Congress to pass stricter gun control laws, has driven the NRA even further off the rails.
In between segments about trick shooters, something like a gun-focused Antique Roadshow, and advertisements for NRA products, NRATV was brimming with disdain for the March for Our Lives Thursday, as hosts of talk show-style shows argued that the march was really a front for socialist efforts to destroy the constitution and claimed that the march organizers were violent, anti-American, and pro-cop killing.
Here, informed by my very long day watching NRATV, are the gun lobby’s basic arguments against Saturday’s March for Our Lives.
The march is organized by violent women who are duping kids and using them as human shields
A favorite argument of NRATV personalities is that March for Our Lives isn’t actually organized by young people calling for change.
“This is the event that is supposedly being put on by children. It is not. It is being organized by a group of often violent women who speak a lot of rhetoric and anti-gun rhetoric,” host Grant Stinchfield said Thursday morning. “They support cop killers. This is the organizers of the Women’s March, and I believe that these kids are being used as pawns and being duped to push an ultimate socialist agenda, not just an anti-gun agenda.”
The Women’s March, along with a number of other high profile progressive organizations and personalities, has been working with March For Our Lives and promoted the event, but the event itself is led and organized by a group of young survivors. Still, Stinchfield and others have zeroed in on comments Madonna made about “blowing up the White House” at the Women’s March last year and the Women’s March’s celebration of Assata Shakur, a black panther who was convicted for killing a police officer, in an effort to write off the organization as “violent” and anti-American.
"@womensmarch, a major force behind the anti-gun @AMarch4OurLives, is led by radicals who threaten to blow up the White House, sexually smear the First Daughter, honor cop killers…adhere to the violent threatening rhetoric of anti-Semitic @LouisFarrakhan" @stinchfield1776 #NRA pic.twitter.com/u8arr5B1Yo
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 21, 2018
Stinchfield made the argument about the Women’s March over and over again Thursday. According to him, the march isn’t really about guns so much as it is a time for the “liberal left” to put on a show.
“You know what’s going to happen is come Saturday, every left-wing organization and their agenda, whether it’s transgender rights to Planned Parenthood to MoveOn.org to the Women’s March, this will just be a display of the liberal left in America, and it will be their rally to come push all their left-wing causes,” Stinchfield said to NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch when she joined his show Thursday afternoon. “They’ll put it under the disguise of gun control, which they ultimately want as well. They’re all gonna show up to this.”
Loesch agreed and launched into a long argument about the way she thinks progressives “hijacked” the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Black Lives Matter actually began as a grassroots effort to draw attention to the relationship or deteriorating relationship between the black community and law enforcement, and there were very genuine motives in that, but it was hijacked by far left progressives,” she said. “And then those far left progressives began sending in their own individuals who aren’t even citizens of the community to take attention away from grassroots individuals, to take the media spotlight, and to make the narrative all about them instead of the people who actually live in that community. Grant, in fact, in every single one of these movements, if you’ve seen, you always have this far left faction.”
"The far-left progressive movement hijacks everything. This is what they did with @Blklivesmatter…In every single one of these movements, you always have this far-left faction and the same groups, and the same money that go in and they hijack it away." —@DLoesch #NRA pic.twitter.com/sPCKJeUY7i
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 22, 2018
Stinchfield also argued Thursday that celebrities like George Clooney getting involved and donating money to the cause raises questions.
“You then have to wonder, where is this money really going?” he asked. “When you look at the backers of this and the nonprofit — so-called nonprofit — organizations that are running it, I wonder how much money is actually going to go to putting on this march or how much will fund a socialist movement, an anti-gun movement, designed at one thing and one thing only: To not just destroy the Second Amendment — that has been a goal — it is also to destroy the entire Constitution and rip this country down, tear it apart as we know it and build it back up as a socialist dreamland.”
Later Thursday, Cam & Co. host Cam Edwards questioned the motives of anti-gun activists who boycott the NRA but aren’t boycotting rapper Lil Pump, who was recently arrested for firing a gun in his home. Instead of defending the young black gun owner, however, Edwards criticized Lil Pump, who rapped about taking Xanax ahead of his court hearing and having rich lawyers to defend him, for not “taking this very seriously.”
When Loesch joined Stinchfield Thursday, the pair also pondered whether the kids who have joined the march know about the “violent rhetoric” used by the “real” organizers.
“My question is are the kids, who I believe are really being used as human shields in all of this, do they know the violent rhetoric behind the organizers of this march? They probably don’t,” Stinchfield said. “And when I say they’re being used as human shields, I mean it this way: The organizers of this march know that we would never attack these young people that are passionate about things they believe in, but we will go after the organizers. They are not off limits, and they need to be exposed.”
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 22, 2018
The kids are pretty dumb, overly emotional and don’t understand the issues
Stinchfield went on to argue that the “organizers” are hypocritical for calling on Congress to raise the age to purchase weapons like the AR-15 used in the Parkland shooting.
“What’s so hypocritical is the very people that are behind this march… are pushing the ability to be taken away for an 18- to 21-year-old to buy a long gun. They want to take that away,” he said. “They say you’re not responsible enough for guns. Yet they will march out high school kids and put them up on stage and say now they’re responsible enough to set gun control ideas in this nation. Now how hypocritical is that? They’re not responsible enough to own a firearm but then somehow they’re responsible enough to set policy in the halls of Congress. It makes no sense to me.”
“That’s always been my question,” she said. “If you’re too immature to carry a firearm, you’re too immature to make policy about firearms, and ultimately isn’t that what this discussion is centering around is maturity and emotional awareness and at what point are you able to actually carry a firearm?”
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 22, 2018
On Thursday morning, NRATV field reporter Chuck Holton joined Stinchfield to argue that the young people who plan to march Saturday don’t actually have any idea what they’re marching for.
“When you look on the March for Our Lives website that’s all that is says is that ‘We are marching for safe schools,'” Holton said. “If they really wanted safe schools then they would be joining the NRA. They’d be joining with us because we are offering real solutions about how to keep schools safe. One of the things that we have not seen out of this movement that they call the March for Our Lives is actual solutions that would make a difference. It’s long on emotion but very short on actual solutions.”
Holton told Stinchfield he could “guarantee” that people at the march “really don’t know what solutions they’re calling for” and said that he will prove it when he covers the march Saturday.
“I can guarantee you that when I go down there and I talk to these students that are marching and I say, ‘How do you feel about the difference between a ‘may issue’ state and a ‘shall issue’ state?’ they going to have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about,” Holton said. “When I walk in and say ‘Tell me about the difference — what’s the difference between an AR-15 and an M4.’ They will have absolutely no idea. They will not be educated on the issues.”
That gave Stinchfield an idea. The host said didn’t mind exposing the playbook a little “because they’re probably not going to be watching us here,” and asked Holton to lay out the NRA School Shield program for students Saturday without telling them that’s what it was.
“When you talk about putting retired cops in these schools, when you talk about putting ex-military in these schools, when you talk about doing assessments and threat assessments in these schools. Go through that list with these kids,” he said. “Don’t tell them [where] it’s from. Say ‘Are you for this? Are you for this? Are you for this?’ And then tell them that’s the NRA school shield program and then see what their reaction is. I think it could be powerful.”
Despite saying they weren’t going to attack the kids, NRATV personality Colion Noir took to attacking the kids on his show Thursday night.
"Kids from Parkland getting ready to use your #1A to attack everyone else's #2A…I wish a hero like Blaine Gaskill had been at Marjory Douglas…your classmates would still be alive & no one would know your names because #MSM would've completely ignored your story" @MrColionNoir pic.twitter.com/KQKgCfYKlL
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 23, 2018
“To all the kids from Parkland getting ready to use your First Amendment to attack everyone else’s Second Amendment at your march on Saturday,” Noir said, “I wish a hero like Blaine [Gaskill, the armed resource officer at a Maryland school who confronted a student with a gun earlier this week] had been at Marjory Douglas High School last month, because your classmates would still be alive and no one would know your names because the media would have completely and utterly ignored your story.”
Noir also hit March for Our Lives organizer and Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg for talking about racial disparities in media coverage, calling him “Malcom in the Middle’s David Hogg.”
“The arrogance of this statement knows no bounds,” Noir said. “Who the hell gave David Hogg the authority to put on his white man’s burden costume to save me from myself by marching to restrict my right to own a gun that at one point I wasn’t considered human enough to own? This is the shit we’re cosigning?”
“Who the hell gave @davidhogg111 the authority to put on his white man’s burden costume to save me from myself by marching to restrict my right to own a gun that at one point I wasn’t considered human enough to own? This is the shit we’re cosigning?” –@MrColionNoir #NRA pic.twitter.com/mtWKtWYghB
— NRATV (@NRATV) March 23, 2018
The NRA is actually much more powerful than anyone involved with the march and marching is a sign of weakness
Much of the round-the-clock programming that fills NRATV is dedicated to playing defense, hitting the “mainstream media” for not covering the stories the NRA thinks are most important and defending the gun lobby’s reputation.
The hosts often argued Thursday that they knew the majority of people don’t support gun control, which just isn’t true.
The truth is that a majority of both Democrats and Republicans support tightening restrictions on firearms, including a majority of gun owners. Last October, an NPR/Ipsos poll found that eight in 10 Americans favor bans on “assault weapons,” high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks, as well as a federal database to track all gun sales.
Pew Research found that 87 percent of gun owners support background checks for private sales and at gun shows, 82 percent support barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists, and 54 percent support creating a federal tracking database. 48 percent of gun owners even support banning assault-style weapons, and 44 percent support banning high-capacity magazines.
But Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent turned NRATV personality, argued Thursday that the NRA is the power center of American politics.
“It’s not about the NRA. That’s just three letters. The NRA is an organization. The organization backed by people. Five million people strong, and I’ll be honest with you, Grant, it probably reflect the views of far more,” Bongino said. “There are a lot of people out there that think they’re NRA members still but probably aren’t. Maybe they let their fees lapse or whatever it may be, but it’s not just five million people. They’re out there voting… Don’t think we’re going to go down here without a fight.”
And despite dedicating hours of programming to hitting the march and criticizing its organizers and allies, on Thursday afternoon Stinchfield argued that the fact that the march is happening at all is proof they’re a weak group.
“They’re marching on Washington to exploit something else, to push an agenda that Americans really don’t want… When they’re marching on Washington, they’re showing their absolute weakness,” he said. “You don’t see NRA members marching on Washington. Why are we not marching on Washington? Because we are already powerful. We don’t need to march on Washington because the country is behind us.”