The Report Highlights the Gun Lobby’s Decades-Long Role in Stoking Far-Right Extremism, Emboldened Like Never Before, With Guns as Its Weapon of Choice
This Report Comes Nearly One Week After President Trump Issued a De Facto Call to Action to a Far-Right Islamophobic and Misogynist Hate Group
NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund (“Everytown Support Fund”) released a new report detailing the gun lobby’s decades-long amplification of far-right rhetoric and advocacy for laws that enable right-wing extremists in the United States to arm themselves. The report examines the toxic mix of conspiracy theories, the common denominator of guns, and far-right extremism in America.
The report comes nearly one week after President Trump refused to condemn white supremacy at the first presidential debate. When asked directly “to condemn white supremacists and militia groups and to say that they need to stand down,” President Trump instead told the Proud Boys –– a far right Islamophobic and misogynist hate group –– to “stand back and stand by!”
Key findings from the report include:
- The NRA has been instrumental in spreading radicalizing, far-right messaging: The gun lobby, in particular the NRA, has played a significant role in amplifying radical messaging of extremists to a broader audience, fanning the flames of anger and fear in those already radicalized, and advocating for lax gun laws that enable violent extremists to arm themselves.
- Rhetoric and conspiracies promoted at highest levels have increased prospects for violence: In recent years, messages of xenophobia, racism, fear of outsiders, and fringe conspiracy theories promoted and validated by the White House and the gun lobby have encouraged white supremacist and anti-government activists across the country. An unprecedented questioning of political and institutional legitimacy reinforces conspiracies that have been circulating in extreme-right circles for years.
- Guns are a key component of extreme-right violence: Guns are an integral part of anti-government and white supremacist violence. In 2017, a joint report from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security concluded that “firearms likely will continue to pose the greatest threat of lethal violence by [white supremacist extremists] due to their availability and ease of use.”
- Mass shootings are often motivated by white supremacist extremism: The report reveals that in one-third of the 20 deadliest shootings in the past decade, the shooter was motivated by or had previously expressed support for white supremacist extremism.
- Social media threats of an impending civil war: A review of extreme-right social media posts indicates frequent discussions about violence and civil war. These posts include conspiracy theories relating to mail-in voting and gun confiscation, among others, that have been advanced by President Trump and leaders in the gun lobby.
“This report traces the growth of far-right extremism in America from the fringes of the internet to the mainstream, emboldened by the gun lobby and the White House,” said Nick Suplina, managing director of law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “These groups are organized by one central principle –– gun extremism –– and our findings show that combating their hate begins with disarming them.”
“This report rings the alarm that the extreme-right’s resurgence is driven by conspiracy theories and dangerous rhetoric amplified by the gun lobby,” said Justin Wagner, senior investigations counsel for Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “This rising threat of armed and organized white supremacists and anti-government extremists should be among the top concerns for the U.S. government.”
“I know all too well that white supermacy and other far-right ideologies are killers. My mom was killed by a man filled with hate and armed with a gun,” said Rev. Sharon Risher, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and survivor of gun violence whose mother, two cousins, and childhood friend were killed during the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church. “This report not only shows the history of how the extreme-right have used guns, but warns us of the potential for future violence. Lawmakers should prioritize making sure that these warnings don’t come to fruition.”
“Extremist violence and firearms are inextricably linked,” said Oren Segal, Vice President of the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League. “Research has indicated that the majority of domestic extremist-related murders are committed with firearms. With the resurgence of the extreme right, we must take seriously the prospect of extreme-right violence. Everytown’s report is essential to understanding this threat at a critical time.”
“For years far-right gunmen have been enabled to commit violent attacks, aided and abetted by the gun lobby’s deadly pledge to ensure that near-instantaneous, unfettered access to firearms,” said Howard Graves, Senior Research Analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Everytown’s report lays out the history of the devil’s bargain that pro-gun groups like the NRA have made with militant extremists and demonstrates the ways in which those groups continue to fan the flames of divisiveness in American politics today.”
“White supremacist terror is already a dire threat to our security and our democracy — made all the more volatile as these extremists exploit lax gun laws to turn their hate even more deadly. Charlottesville and the cycle of violence that’s followed made clear how — fueled by conspiracy theories, disinformation, and bigotry — armed extremists are terrorizing our communities. Now, as these extremists celebrate President Trump’s comments as marching orders for a civil war, we must use every viable tool to disarm their hate,” said Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America which is backing Sines v. Kessler, the federal lawsuit against the neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and hate groups responsible for the Charlottesville violence.
“Communities of color have long viewed the relationship between right-wing extremism, white supremacy, and the gun lobby as a lethal threat,” said Vincent Southerland, executive director of Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at New York University School of Law. “This report painstakingly documents that threat with irrefutable evidence, and demands that lawmakers meet it with bold action to protect us all.”
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