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Attacking The Source of Anti-Gun Political Capital

Yesterday we talked about the sources of political capital for gun control organizations. If we understand the sources of the Brady Campaign’s political power, then we would also be remiss if we did not discuss ways it can be undermined.  There are a few ways we have done, and are already doing that.

Heller is perhaps the newest tool that we have won in order to attack one of the core sources of Brady’s political power, and how powerful it will be has not yet played out.  But for the first time, it gives us a tool to attack infringements on Second Amendment rights that exist in parts of the country where our political power has been utterly destroyed, and there is no culture of responsible, legal gun ownership to speak of.   Even though Heller has been embraced by Brady, because it takes the fear of confiscation off the table, as Dave Hardy pointed out to us a few nights ago, if Brady thinks Heller is so great then certainly incorporation of the Second Amendment would be fifty times better.  But they are smart enough to know spin from reality.  They will fight incorporation tooth and nail, because it will give people in the areas affected by these bans or near bans the opportunity to legally procure firearms.  It will mean gun shops and pistol ranges opening up in places like Chicago and New York City.  Exposure to firearms makes their fear mongering and disinformation considerably less effective.

The biggest damage that gun owners have done to the Brady Campaign over the past two decades is enhanced our own political reputation at the expense of theirs.  The Brady Campaign has not made any significant progress on gun control at the federal level since 1994.  It’s made very little at the state level too.  In the period since then, they’ve been losing ground on many fronts.  Their lack of effectiveness, and lack of ability to keep gun control in the political spotlight has hurt donations and media relationships.  Even though this past election offers Brady the opportunity to flip the tables, the Democrats won because the media largely did the Democrats a favor by ignoring gun control entirely.

But Brady’s media relations started very strong, and still are.  Media is one area I think the NRA is sadly deficient.  It is a challenging environment, because it’s ground that The Brady Campaign owns.  It would be difficult for them to make inroads through a direct attack, but that’s not to say there’s no way to make inroads.  There are many things NRA does get right.  NRA-ILA’s new media outreach efforts, so far, have been pretty good, and traditional media sees them as a resource on gun control issues.  Folks in advancement has been doing some pretty impressive work using social networking. But NRA as a whole organization has no unified media strategy, and it needs one.  NRA cannot just think of media as a resource for supporting/opposing the issue or legislation du jour.  There needs to be an overall strategy for helping the story of responsible gun use infiltrate its way into media circles.

Fortunately, the changes in technology offer a prime opportunity, and are reshaping the media landscape to be less favorable to Brady, and more favorable to us.  The Internet is doing the same thing to the media establishment in the early part of the 21st century that the personal computer did to the computing industry in the late 20th century.  Just like personal computing made computing available to the average person, undermining the large computing oligopoly enjoyed by companies like IBM, Honeywell, Unisys, and Siemens, the Internet has made the means of publication and distribution effectively free, undermining large media giants like The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, and the LA Times.  Network TV newsrooms have fared little better.  Cable news is doing better, but is seeing some losses, and isn’t growing like it once did.

Democratization of news doesn’t necessarily mean all old forms of media disappear, but it does mean things will change.  In many ways, NRA is in a much better position to capitalize on this moving forward, because it has actual grass roots which can participate in this democratization.  But NRA is not perfectly oriented in this regard.  The next few years will likely see some big media giants fall, and Brady’s political capital along with it.  We ought to be in there picking up the pieces.  You can bet Brady will be.

5 Responses to “Attacking The Source of Anti-Gun Political Capital”

  1. Homer says:

    I’ve long thought that the pro-gun side fails to properly use the media. Given that the media is, at its core, unfriendly to the pro-gun position, there are still ways to work the problem.

    For example, across the country there are numerous gun ranges; were the NRA to build a plan for media events at some of these ranges, help with some sponsorship (read: either obtain ammo donations or pay for some ammunition) and work with range owners to conduct a media-only invitational event I suspect that two minutes of Barbara Blowdry on the 6 o’clock news firing a Ruger Mark II at bullseye targets, repeated several hundred times across the country, would have a positive effect.

    I’d bet that a number of the NRA types will abandon northern Virginia next week for Orlando; might be a good time to hunt them down and ask why there’s no organized effort to “turn” the anti-gun media into, if not pro-gun, at least neutral.

  2. Turk Turon says:

    Excellent essay!

  3. teqjack says:

    Gun-control consequences – John Lott posted a clip from TV that I had chuckled at:

    *Gun Lock*

    Well, if Boston Legal can show Shatner shooting a mugger – twice! – in the legs and now Monk can show the silly side, may we hope for a Hollywood trend?

    Hah! Now, that IS a silly idea…

  4. Melancton Smith says:

    Yep, can’t see how they can claim to be winning when they can’t even beat us in IL.

  5. Voolfie says:

    At the heart of the issue, I believe, is this: The Bradys and the media have – essentially – the same world view and the same thought processes…which are FUNDAMENTALLY different than ours. When I recently had a running E-mail argument with Chris Satullo, editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Inquirer, I trotted out fact after fact. He countered with emotionally based FEELINGS. After a while, I simply gave up. Looking back on it, I realize that the only way we can counter the other side is to either figure out how to speak their language (difficult – because we deal in past facts and future abstractions rather than current feelings about how awful it is that so many people get shot) or we have to establish our own media outlet – a la Fox News Channel that can counter the raw emotion with what the other side most conspicuously and intentionally omits…context. When people learn that half-again as many people die ‘from’ motor vehicles annually as from gunshot wounds – despite all the safety equipment and licensing requirements – something ‘clicks’ in their heads and they begin to see things just a tiny bit differently. It’s a start, but it is vital. I am now convinced that the NRA will have to become a media outlet if it is to save the second amendment. There are those at NRA HQ who understand this. But it is a daunting task.

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