The President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists completely misstates facts about guns at Obama health care Town Halls

A Mr. Ted Rall has a very disappointing opinion piece that is distributed by Yahoo news and multiple other places on the claimed "klannsman" types were "threaten[ing] to assassinate" the president. Given that he had obviously read my piece, it is startling to me that he would continue to make this long list of false claims. I wonder what reaction the Universal Press Syndicate, which carries his column, will get. Given that Mr. Rall is the President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, one would think that he would be more concerned about getting these facts somewhat correct.

Dear Mr. Rall:

Some corrections for your piece entitled "The Guns of August":

1) "AR-15 military-style automatic rifle" -- Note that the term "military-style" normally is used to refer to civilian versions of military weapons. Civilian versions of these weapons are semi-automatic guns. The weapon in question here was a semi-automatic, not an automatic rifle. Automatic weapons are machine guns. The gun being referred to in Arizona has the inside firing mechanism of a low caliber hunting rifle (it is a .223 caliber gun, a deer hunting rifles are about .30 caliber).

2) "Two weeks ago, a right-wing man protested outside the president's healthcare meeting in New Hampshire" -- In this case the man was several blocks away and a couple of hours removed from where and when the president was speaking. He was on private property at a church where he had been given permission to be there.

3) "A week later, a dozen men appeared outside Obama's appearance in Phoenix" -- Again, these men were several blocks removed from the indoor event that the president was speaking at.

4) "This is a revival of Klannism." -- The man who carried the semi-automatic rifle was black (indeed he is the man that you quote from in the piece). Is there any evidence, even one quote, that anyone of these people were racist? Is there any evidence that they disagreed with the president because of his race?

5) "to watch goons threaten to assassinate" -- Threatening to assassinate a president is a federal crime. If you have evidence of this, it should be reported to the Secret Service. As it is, I quote from the Secret Service spokesman in my piece. If you have evidence that there were multiple people threatening the president, you should provide it. "Cops stood by and watched. The Secret Service did nothing. Strictly speaking, these mooks are allowed to openly carry guns. Which is fine with me," you write. But people are not allowed to threaten harm, let alone assassination, of the president.

6) On bringing guns to the events. In Kostric's case, he carries his gun with him all the time for protection. There was nothing special for him bringing the gun with him to the church for the protest. As to the Arizona event, a radio talk show host set this up as a PR stunt. He contacted the police before hand to make sure that it was OK for them to bring the guns to the event (hardly the threats to the president that you claim).

There are several other mistakes, but what I find most disappointing about your piece is that you knew these different statements were false (or had at least been alerted to them being false) (including the fact that the gun was a semi-automatic). My piece provided links to show the points that I made, and yet you made these claims. My question is: why did you make such false claims?


John Lott

For those interested, a couple of my previous posts on this are here and here.

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