After declining an invitation to participate in CNN’s town hall discussion on gun violence with President Obama on Thursday, the National Rifle Association sent its top lobbyist, Chris W. Cox, to Fox News to defend the decision and explain the organization’s opposition to the administration’s executive actions and legislative proposals.
Cox defended the NRA’s refusal to join the president for CNN’s forum, calling it “an attempt to distract the American people away from his failed policies.” Noting that his organization was only offered the chance to ask Obama one thing, he told The Kelly File host Megyn Kelly that he would rather appear on her show “than sit through a lecture and get one opportunity to ask a pre-screened question.”
He then attempted to justify ignoring the forum by pointing to terrorism. “This president is creating an illusion that he is doing something to keep people safe,” Cox said. “He needs to do that because his policies failed miserably. We saw that materialize itself in San Bernardino when we had a terrorist attack. This president didn’t use it as an opportunity to unite this country. He didn’t use it as an opportunity to lay out a plan to defeat terrorism. He used it as an opportunity to impose more gun control on law-abiding Americans.”
The Fox News anchor then asked about Obama’s concerns about the gun show loophole and the fact that “people have exploited it to avoid background checks and sometimes those guns have would up being used in murders.”
“Megyn, the San Bernardino murderer has something in common with the Santa Barbara murderer, and the Tucson murderer, and the Aurora murderer, and the Chattanooga, the Charleston, the Southern Virginia…” Cox responded, “all of them went through President Obama’s background check. And every one of them passed. Every one of those murderers passed this background check.” In fact the shooters in San Bernadino allegedly got the guns from a straw purchaser and did not undergo a background check.
Cox then claimed that just 0.7 percent of criminals get their guns through gun shows. That statistic, often cited by gun-rights advocates, comes from a November 2001 Department of Justice report, which found that among state inmates serving time in 1997, 0.7 percent has obtained the gun at a gun show, up from 0.6 percent in 1991. Given that the Brady Bill, which required background checks for most other types of gun purchases, did not go into effect until 1994, it is likely that many of their crimes in this 19-year-old statistic occurred before there were any background checks at all.
Finally, Cox argued that the Obama administration has failed to adequately prosecute gun crime. “He has overseen a 40 percent decrease,” Cox argued, “in prosecution of criminal misuse of firearms.”
But a tweet from the NRA’s own twitter feed this week would seem to explain the decrease in gun crime prosecutions. “Crime is down,” the group noted on Monday. Indeed NRA News host Cam Edwards tweeted on Tuesday that “Obama has still not mentioned the fact that violent crime has been cut almost in half over past 20 years.” If violent crime is falling, it makes sense that there would be fewer gun crime prosecutions. Of course, the period mostly coincides with the passage of the Brady Bill.
Even Kelly’s fellow FNC host, Brian Kilmeade slammed Cox on Friday morning for his unwillingness to participate in the CNN Town Hall or even meet with the President, saying on Fox & Friends that the NRA lobbyist “should have shown up.” “Of course, you’re not going to agree with the president. You got to go. Show up. Give your point of view and run to a camera and tell us how the president was or wasn’t listening.”