The NRA's unhinged spokesman: Ted Nugent's at it again, posting a video of Bernie Sanders shooting Hillary Clinton

Nugent is a living example of why we need gun control, so why does the NRA keep him on as a board member?

By Amanda Marcotte
May 11, 2016 8:48PM (UTC)
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Ted Nugent (Reuters/Steve Marcus)

It appears, yet again, that there is nothing that Ted Nugent can do to lose his position as a board member of the National Rifle Association. On his Facebook page on Tuesday, Nugent posted a video of a Democratic primary debate, edited to make it look like Bernie Sanders is pulling out a gun and murdering Hillary Clinton.

"I got your guncontrol right here bitch!" Nugent writes.




Needless to say, a right-wing nut like Nugent is not exactly a big fan of Sanders, who he has previously accused of exploiting "stinky hippies" who have supposedly been "indoctrinated by our public schools." (That Nugent, who always looks like he hasn't showered in weeks, thinks he's in the position to scold anyone else's grooming choices is a subject for another time.) And, similarly needless to say, there's no reason to think that the Sanders campaign had anything to do with this.


No, it's quite clear that the pleasure that Nugent takes in this is from the idea of a man using violence to silence a woman who disagrees with him. He goes out of his way to call her a "bitch," just in case you were momentarily tempted to imagine this was anything about a bit of misogynist propaganda.

Nugent isn't just some former celebrity turned internet troll, though. He is, as mentioned, an NRA board member. For over two decades, the NRA has used Nugent as a celebrity spokesman and a huge draw at their various conventions.

It's an odd choice for the NRA to align themselves with Nugent so strongly. After all, the organization's has long defended its opposition to gun control by invoking the idea of the "responsible gun owner": The sober-minded man (or woman) who has no interest in violence or dominance, but only uses a gun for sports or self-defense.


And yet, in their choice of Nugent as a prominent spokesman, they give the game away. Nugent is a caricature of the worst fears that liberals have about gun nuts: An unhinged bigot with disturbingly violent fantasies who is clearly drawn to guns because they make him feel like he has the power to dominate people he believes are beneath him, like women and people of color.

For all the protestations about "responsible gun owners," the ugly reality that the NRA — which is an industry lobby, after all — knows that the economic health of the gun industry depends not on responsible people at all, but men with dominance issues who collect guns to make themselves feel manly and powerful. Men like Ted Nugent.


The number of gun owners in the United States has been on the decline, with only about 1 in 5 Americans owning a gun, down from 1 in 3 in 1985. The gun industry increasingly depends on a small number of gun nuts who are intent on building mini-arsenals in their homes. That means marketing directly to men who have violent power fantasies, convincing them the more guns they have, the manlier and scarier they are.

That's why Nugent is such a powerhouse in the community. (That, and conservatives have so few celebrities on their side that they're forced to dig up some 70s-era butt rocker to burnish their paltry "cool" credentials.) He is exactly the guy that the gun industry needs to keep selling to in order to keep profits high, and keeping him around helps appeal to that demographic.

But while Nugent is good for sales, he's bad for the NRA's claims to represent the "responsible" gun owner. If anything, the man is a walking billboard for why guns don't just need to be controlled, but banned entirely. Any nation where a person like Ted Nugent can get a gun is a nation where the gun problem is wildly out of control.


Back in February, Nugent got national attention for posting a meme that unsubtly suggests that gun control is a Jewish plot to take over America. After he was criticized for this, he posted a picture of Nazis rounding Jews up during the Holocaust, where he blamed the victims for not defending themselves with firearms.

In response, the NRA lamely told the Washington Post that "individual board members do not speak for the NRA." As if they're helpless and forced to continue to put him in leadership positions and use him as a spokesman on the road and at conventions.

This isn't even the first time that Nugent has publicly fantasized about killing Hillary Clinton. In 2007, Nugent was filmed ranting onstage about wishing violent death on both Clinton and Barack Obama.


"Obama, he's a piece of shit. I told him to suck on my machine gun," he raged, while waving two machine guns.

"Hey Hillary," he added. "You might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch."

It's a testament to how much the gun industry depends on selling to people like Nugent, i.e. demented rage-monster bigots who need to take a Valium instead of buy another gun, that the NRA continues to be reluctant to simply cut Nugent loose. The profit motives are all geared towards getting guns to the people least capable of handling them responsibly. Which is all the more reason the government needs to step in and start regulating the industry more stringently.

Amanda Marcotte

Amanda Marcotte is a senior politics writer at Salon and the author of "Troll Nation: How The Right Became Trump-Worshipping Monsters Set On Rat-F*cking Liberals, America, and Truth Itself." Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMarcotte and sign up for her biweekly politics newsletter, Standing Room Only.

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