Under fire for violent rhetoric and at least two cases in which fans of his nationally televised conspiracy rants went on shooting sprees against cops, Glenn Beck is doubling down on guns.
Exactly one week before Election Day, the Fox News host is traveling to Colorado to speak on behalf of a self-proclaimed “radical” gun rights group that has compared the rival National Rifle Association to the appeasement of Neville Chamberlain and which lobbied ferociously against Colorado’s efforts to pass gun laws in response to the 1999 massacre of 13 people at Columbine High School.
The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners — founded by Colorado-based GOP activist Dudley Brown who also runs a national umbrella group called the National Association for Gun Rights — is bringing Beck to Colorado Springs as part of a western swing for Beck that includes the right-wing media maven’s standard high ticket prices and the sponsorship of an odd assortment of extreme right-wing groups.
Here’s Brown’s official announcement of the Oct. 26 event:
On Tuesday evening, October 26th, at the Colorado Springs World Arena, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is proud to sponsor…Glenn Beck! Barely two weeks from today, Glenn Beck and I will be speaking to a group of thousands of conservatively-minded citizens.Seating is limited so you’ll have to act quickly.
The event — which includes a $500 a person meet-and-greet with Beck — is described as a fundraiser for something called “The Constitutional Challenge,” a proposed right-wing educational program for kids that doesn’t seem to exist yet but is under development from Utah conservative Stephen Pratt, who claims he helped the 1960s-era ultra-conservative John-Birch-style activist Cleon Skoussen write The 5,000 Year Leap, a 30-year-old tome that argues that America is a Christian nation and has been boosted by Beck onto the best-seller list.
But in associatiing with Brown’s gun lobby, Beck is now working with pro-gun groups that are on the extreme right of the NRA.
“We’re not afraid to be called radicals on the gun issue,” Brown said in a 2001 interview with Westword. “Because that’s what we are.” His Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the NAGR routinely campaign against politicians with an “A” rating from the NRA as being too soft on guns; “The NRA promotes the same policies as Neville Chamberlain : appeasement,” Brown has said. “You know — if we just give them, they’ll be happy.? In fighting a state law to require gun-show background checks after the Columbine tragedy, Brown sounded a tad Beckian when he said “We feel like the Jews did in Nazi Germany.“
The NAGR website is larded with conspiracy mumbo-jumbo suggesting that President Barack Obama or his administration are moving to confiscate guns or ammo, even though in the real world the Democratic president has made no moves on gun control during his 20 months in the White House. The NAGR is very aggressive in the fundraising department. The umbrella group’s action items claim that the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to ban ammo and that Obama and Hillary Clinton are working with the UN to ban guns.
Ironically, the notion that Obama is planning to confiscate Americans’ guns was adopted by an unemployed and unstable Pittsburgh man, Richard Poplawski, who proceeded to shoot and kill three Pittsburgh police officers who showed up at his home during a domestic dispute in April 2009. As I reported extensively in my new book The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama, Poplawski was a fan who, according to his best friend, “loved Glenn Beck” and posted online a video of Beck and Rep. Ron Paul talking on Fox News Channel about the discredited and ridiculous theory of so-called “FEMA camps” for rounding up citizens.
Last week, Media Matters for America reported that another gunman, California’s Byron Williams, who traded gunfire with police officers in Oakland and said he was on a violent mission against the liberal Tides Foundation, a group that has been frequently attacked on Beck’s program, also cited the FNC host as an inspiration, saying that Beck’s theories “blew my mind.” Beck’s increasingly inflammatory rhetoric has drawn ire from police union leaders and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
After the Williams’ story broke, Beck condemned an attack on gays in the Bronx and seemed to be an anti-violence campaign — that only lasted for a day or so. Before last week was over, Beck said that anyone trying to force a vaccine on his family would meet “Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson,” and then he launched into yet another diatribe against the Tides Foundation. Now, he heads west to rally support for a radical, no-holds-barred pro-gun group — raising thousands of dollars, and kicking the rhetorical firepower up a notch higher.