As the National Rifle Association sees it, the March For Our Lives taking place in Washington and in cities and communities nationwide, is a ploy to destroy the Second Amendment. On NRATV, host Grant Stinchfield said he is "committed to exposing the violent, even deadly history of these people behind this weekend’s March For Our Lives, anti-gun fraud of a protest."
"March For Our Lives is backed by radicals with a history of violent threats, language and actions," Stinchfield said March 21.
The key evidence behind that claim?
Stinchfield argued that the Women’s March, the massive protest the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January 2017, is "a major force behind" the March For Our Lives.
He further argued that the Women’s March organization is run by radicals with violent tendencies. Stinchfield’s first example: Singer Madonna telling a crowd that she felt so frustrated after the election that she "thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House." ("But I know that this won't change anything," she quickly added.)
We explored the facts behind each link in that chain of association. The organization behind the March For Our Lives defies easy description, but one thing is clear: As an organization, the Women’s March is not a big player.
The NRA broadcast mentioned Tamika Mallory, a Women’s March national co-chair.
"She has nothing to do with this," said Allan Mayer, co-CEO of 42West, the public relations firm for March For Our Lives.
The NRA listed another Women’s March co-chair, Linda Sarsour.
"Absolutely no connection to what we’re doing," Mayer said.
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam pointed to an article on Bustle, a news, entertainment and beauty website, describing how the youth engagement arm of the Women’s March was promoting gun control activism. That’s true. The youth organizers have posted a detailed gun control policy including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. They promoted the National School Walkout protest in mid March and provided a toolkit for young organizers who wanted to hold their own local events.
But their website has only a single mention of the March For Our Lives. It is the 14th point on a page about the school walkout and says "We will be at #March4OurLives too!" It adds, "It will take sustained action to end gun violence and we stand in solidarity with our peers who are also organizing around gun violence prevention."
The clearest link to the Women’s March comes in the person of Deena Katz, a producer of Dancing With the Stars and a co-executive director of the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation. Through a personal connection to a family in Parkland, Fla., the site of the deadly school shooting, Katz stepped in early to work with the student activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Katz applied as an individual for the permits to march in Washington. She is the president of the March For Our Lives Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit established to fund the march and future lobbying on gun control.
But Mayer at 42West said Katz is doing this on her own, separate from the Los Angeles Women’s March group. A spokesperson for the LA group told Buzzfeed in February that the organization itself was not involved.
The march has been a magnet for the many advocacy organizations that have pressed for gun control over many years. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Sandy Hook Promise all promote the march.
Two organizations, Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords Courage to Fight, are playing a prominent role in organizing sibling marches around the country and providing logistical muscle for the main march in Washington. Everytown — along with its grassroots organizing arm Moms Demand Action — has funded local marches, and maintains an interactive map showing where they are taking place.
Everytown for Gun Safety receives significant support from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Giffords Courage to Fight emerged after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and is the project of gun victim and former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband Mark Kelly.
The liberal activist group MoveOn and Planned Parenthood also actively support the march. Planned Parenthood lists 14 local marches on its website.
The Episcopal Diocese of Washington is coordinating housing and meals for out-of-town visitors.
March For Our Lives has had no trouble securing hefty donations from Hollywood stars, companies and philanthropists.
George and Amal Clooney pledged $500,000, a sum that was quickly matched by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, and others.
The march also raised more than $3 million online through a GoFundMe campaign.
The NRA said that the March For Our Lives is "backed by radicals with a history of violent threats, language and actions." That allegation rested on the idea that the Women’s March played a major role in the march, and the NRA host mentioned two co-chairs by name.
We found no evidence that either the organization or those people are directly involved in the march. The Women’s March website doesn’t even list the gun control march as an upcoming event.
The only significant tie between the marches is a producer who leads the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s March. But the chapter said it is not involved, and the producer has acted on her own to apply for permits and establish the March For Our Lives’ nonprofit support fund.
Major organizational muscle behind the march, both in Washington and in cities nationwide, comes from two well-known gun control advocacy groups, neither of which has a history of violent behavior. A number of related organizations have lent their support, including the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, and celebrity donors have given millions of dollars.
The NRA claim is without merit. We rate it Pants on Fire.
Correction: After we published, a reader noted that the Youth Empowerment FAQ page on National School Walkout included a reference to the March For Our Lives. The fact-check has been corrected to reflect that reference.
We also updated the story to reflect Madonna's full quote from the 2017 Women's March.