Everytown for Gun Safety, the national lobbying group identified earlier this week as one of the “Top Ten Astroturfers” by award-winning journalist Sharyl Attkisson, is today demanding an apology from two state lawmakers for supporting concealed carry on campus as a defense against sexual assault.
Their e-mail demand was sent Friday morning over the name of Kirsten Moore, director of partnerships for Everytown, the $50 million so-called “grassroots” lobbying group set up by anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Everytown and its companion, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, share the No. 1 spot on Attkisson’s “Top Ten” list of “astroturfers.”
Attkisson defines “astroturf” as “fake grassroots.” She adds this: “The whole point of astroturf is to try to convince you there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not.”
“The language of astroturfers and propagandists,” Attkisson writes, “includes trademark inflammatory terms such as: anti, nutty, quack, crank, pseudo-science, debunking, conspiracy theory, deniers and junk science. Sometimes astroturfers claim to ‘debunk myths’ that aren’t myths at all. They declare debates over that aren’t over. They claim that ‘everybody agrees’ when everyone doesn’t agree. They aim to make you think you’re an outlier when you’re not.”
These are interesting observations, considering that in the Everytown e-mail, Moore wrote this: “In most states, colleges can decide whether to allow guns on campus. And the vast majority have said NO.
“Now, the NRA and their allies have teamed up to push extremist bills that would force colleges to allow guns on their campuses,” the message continued. “The NRA’s solution to every problem is more guns. By saying that guns will prevent rape, they’re putting the burden on the victims. And they’re denying the indisputable fact that the vast majority of campus assaults are perpetrated by a partner, friend, or close acquaintance — the types of people around whom people would never think to carry a gun.”
Turning the debate around, would it be fair to argue that Everytown is against the idea of college women defending themselves against rape? By demanding an apology from Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley and Nevada state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, the latter who might need a little more finesse next time she speaks to the New York Times, it would seem that is exactly what Everytown is saying.
“If these young, hot little girls on campus have a firearm,” Fiore reportedly told the newspaper, “I wonder how many men will want to assault them. The sexual assaults that are occurring would go down once these sexual predators get a bullet in their head.”
But there is more to this part of the story. According to MSNBC, Fiore clarified her comments by acknowledging, “That may not be the most eloquent way to phrase it; however, I stand wholeheartedly by that sentiment because I want every citizen, whether they’re on a college campus or not, to have the right to defend him or herself from sexual assault.
“So I ask,” she continued, “‘What’s your point? Are you opposed to the right to self-defense or are you arguing that rape is the new normal of attending college?’”
When MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough endorsed the idea of concealed carry on campus, Media Matters – the group that came in at No. 2 on Attkisson’s Top Ten list – went after him. He had the audacity to contend that making campuses “gun-free zones” leaves them open to mass shootings. Media Matters called that an “evidence free” argument, ignoring the fact that all the campuses where shootings have occurred prohibit student carry, while there has not been an incident on campuses in Utah or Colorado where carry is allowed.
Whether the idea is to provide a defense against sexual assault, or a mass shooting, the campaign to allow carry on campus by legally-licensed adult students is not going to disappear. Having organizations identified as “astroturf” by an investigative journalist of Attkisson’s stature on the other side of the argument simply reinforces the position of self-defense advocates that the fight to keep students disarmed and thus vulnerable is merely a manifestation of the Bloomberg-financed gun prohibition movement.
That’s not grassroots by any stretch. It’s more consistent with noxious weeds.
UPDATE: National Gun Rights Examiner Dan also discussed Attkisson’s “astroturfers.”
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