Democratic Strategist Equates the NRA to Big Tobacco, MSNBC's Bashir Nods In Agreement

On the January 28 edition of his afternoon MSNBC program, Martin Bashir brought on liberal Democratic strategist Julian Epstein to talk about the left-wing’s favorite topic of late gun control.  As the interview progressed, Epstein made a comparison of the firearms industry to Big Tobacco, attacking firearms manufacturers for their role in sponsoring youth sporting events and publications like Junior Shooters.

This whole narrative was spawned from a ludicrous Sunday New York Times piece that basically said instructing kids in safe gun-handling is hazardous to their health.  As my NewsBusters colleague and MRC Times Watch director Clay Waters wrote today:

The 2,600-word investigation, "Selling a New Generation on Guns – Industry Recruits Children, Using Contests, Games and Semiautomatics,"is by Mike McIntire, previously known for trying to get the feds to probe Republican fundraising during the last presidential campaign.

The paper promised: "This is the first in a series of articles that will examine the gun industry's influence and the wide availability of firearms in America." The front page is dominated by what's probably meant to be the troublesome image of an Army marksmanship instructor giving tips to a junior shooter.

Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.

The industry’s strategies include giving firearms, ammunition and cash to youth groups; weakening state restrictions on hunting by young children; marketing an affordable military-style rifle for “junior shooters” and sponsoring semiautomatic-handgun competitions for youths; and developing a target-shooting video game that promotes brand-name weapons, with links to the Web sites of their makers.

The pages of Junior Shooters, an industry-supported magazine that seeks to get children involved in the recreational use of firearms, once featured a smiling 15-year-old girl clutching a semiautomatic rifle. At the end of an accompanying article that extolled target shooting with a Bushmaster AR-15 -- an advertisement elsewhere in the magazine directed readers to a coupon for buying one -- the author encouraged youngsters to share the article with a parent.

“Who knows?” it said. “Maybe you’ll find a Bushmaster AR-15 under your tree some frosty Christmas morning!”


Incensed by the perfectly legal teaching of responsible firearm handling and marksmanship to youths, Bashir's guest let loose with his attack on small arms manufacturers:

MARTIN BASHIR: Julian, I'm not sure what the most disgusting detail in that New York Times article was, but it may be this quote from Andy Fink who is the editor of Junior Shooters magazine. Let me read it: “who says that semi-automatic firearms are not weapons. They're a tool not any different than a car or a baseball bat. Now, Julian, I have to put it to you. Can you show me a baseball bat that can kill 20 people in a few seconds?

JULIAN EPSTEIN: We've made that point. There's nothing else out there that has the capacity to create these kinds of massacres in a matter of seconds as does assault weapons. Let me say also before going on – on this, just remind your viewers, since Newtown, there have been 1,300 – one thousand three hundred – gun related homicides. So the idea that this is not an epidemic in this country is just belied by all the statistics, and on assault weapons, as Dianne Feinstein pointed out, when we had an assault weapons ban in 1994, we saw assault weapons- related crime go down 66%, 70%. But you know – Steve, I think, is exactly right, the reason the we now see the NRA as marketing assault weapons to 10-year-olds is because sporting – shooting sports like hunting are on the decrease, and what the nra is fundamentally trying to do and what this is all about, everything that they do is about selling more guns. And the parallels to the tobacco industry become very clear. It was when we realized that the tobacco industry was trying to sell cigarettes and tobacco products to children

BASHIR: To children…

EPSTEIN: When there was a national revulsion in this country – and I think if you ask most parents, they will tell you that they think the answer to most of our children's problems does not lie in getting more cross fire in our schools or cross fires in our playgrounds. So I think this is, again, one of the things that shows the extremism, the out of touch nature, the tone deafness of the NRA and its supporters and it's one of the things –that I think – one of the reasons why we see the numbers – the polling numbers moving so dramatically in favor of the president’s proposal.

Bashir, of course, nodded along in approval as Epstein slandered gun manufacturers, as well as parents who allow their children to compete in sport shooting events.

The liberal media insist they have no problem with gun collecting, hunting, and sports shooting, but in the next breath attack the very notion of teaching kids to responsibly engage in shooting sports. The grotesque comparison to Big Tobacco is part and parcel of the left-wing media's attempt to demonize gun rights advocates and in doing so silence their contribution to the public policy debate. It's bullying in the name of journalism.