Lessons From The Colorado Massacre
When it's this easy for dangerous people to get military-style assault weapons, we're all less safe.
Connect: Our hearts go out to the families of the Colorado victims -- no one should have to go through the tragedy of losing a loved one like this.
Describe: The Colorado gunman fired into a crowded, dark movie theater using a military-style assault weapon and thousands of rounds of ammunition he bought off the Internet.
Define: Gun laws should help keep us safe and protect the freedoms of all law-abiding Americans, but when it's this easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons, we have a problem.
Unify: It's time to stand with our law enforcement officials and the American people, who support keeping weapons that only exist to kill lots of people quickly out of the hands of dangerous people.
Discredit: Lethal military-style assault weapons aren't needed to hunt deer or protect a homeowner from a robber.
Call to action: It's time for our leaders to stand up to the gun lobbyists who rely on these political battles for fundraising and profit when weapons are sold to anyone -- including terrorists, criminals, and madmen.
Words to use: Preventing gun violence / Gun violence prevention (instead of "gun control"); Public safety laws (instead of "gun control");
Stronger gun laws (instead of "stricter" gun laws);
Loophole-ridden laws (instead of "lax gun regulations");
Private sale loophole (instead of "gun-show loophole");
A background check for every gun sale;
NRA officials / NRA lobbyists (instead of "the NRA")
Words to avoid: "Gun control"
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DEBUNKING THE MYTH
- Contrary to myth, research shows the NRA's endorsement is worth nothing to Democratic or Republican politicians running for re-election and only about two percentage points for Republican challengers.
- In the last four federal elections, the NRA could claim credit for only 4 wins out of the 1038 endorsements it made in Congressional races.
ATTACKS AND RESPONSES
ATTACK: "This is just an isolated incident by one madman."
- Every day 34 Americans are murdered by guns, and that's not including suicides and accidents. And there have been nearly five hundred mass shootings since 2005 alone.
- In America today, six million guns a year are sold by unlicensed dealers who don't have to run even a background check. Almost anyone can buy a gun from a private seller or at a gun show no questions asked, including terrorists and convicted murderers.
- When it's this easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons, we're all less safe. When the gun lobby profits off these weapons being sold to anyone -- like the 6,000 rounds of ammo that the Colorado gunman bought off the Internet -- we have a problem.
ATTACK: "If more people in that movie theater had been armed, fewer people would've died."
- More guns don't even the odds -- they multiply the chaos.
- This is just common sense. More panicked civilians shooting into a dark, crowded theater during all the chaos and confusion would've meant more bloodshed, not less.
- So do the NRA and their politician friends want a mandate for all Americans to carry an assault weapon everywhere they go? It sounds crazy but that's the outcome they're basically arguing for.
- Should moms feel like they have to pack heat or teenagers like they have to wear bulletproof vests when they go to the movies? Or, how about simply keeping dangerous weapons from dangerous people?
ATTACK: "Taking away our gun rights only harms law-abiding citizens because criminals will always be able to get guns."
- Of course the bad guys can keep getting guns when the NRA lobbyists have rewritten our laws with so many loopholes. The gun lobby weakens our gun laws, flooding the illegal market with firearms and mass ammo clips -- then complains that too many dangerous people have guns.
- When they're fighting for more loopholes that let terrorists and convicted murderers get lethal military-style assault weapons, it's no longer about guns for law-abiding Americans.
- For them, this is what it's about: showing their base that there are more political battles to be won, so they can keep fundraising and selling increasingly lethal military-style weapons.
ATTACK: "Liberals are just trying to take away Americans' right to bear arms."
- The Second Amendment talks about the right to "bear arms." Where does it give people the right to stockpile military-style assault weapons and buy 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet?
- Even Justice Scalia said "the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapons whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose."
- Nobody but the arms dealers and their NRA lobbyists think these loophole-ridden laws are a good idea. The rest of us don't want an America where we could be in the line of fire wherever we go.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Contrary to the claims of right-wing and even some mainstream pundits, the American people -- including gun owners, according to a new poll released today -- strongly support common-sense measures to close loopholes and prevent gun violence:
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans -- including over 60% of Independents -- agree that we should ban the sale of assault weapons. The assault weapons ban enjoyed overwhelmingly strong public support at the time the Republican Congress let it expire in 2004, too.
- Nearly two-thirds support banning high-capacity magazines or clips that can hold 30, 50, or 100 bullets at a time.
- Nearly 90% support requiring all gun buyers to pass a criminal background check, no matter where they purchase the weapon or from whom they buy it.
- Nearly 70% support limiting the number of guns a person can buy in a given time frame.
- Nearly 90% support banning those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.
OUR LOOPHOLE-RIDDEN GUN LAWS
- There are still virtually no restrictions on the type of weapons available for purchase by private individuals in America, including military-style assault weapons and grenade launchers.
- Only federally licensed gun dealers are required by law to run background checks, and 40% of gun sales -- six million guns a year -- are sold by unlicensed dealers not subject to the law.
- So nearly anyone can buy a gun from a private seller or at a gun show no questions asked and without any background checks, including terrorists and convicted murderers.
- In fact, in one undercover investigation of illegal online sales, more than 6 in 10 private gun sellers agreed to sell a firearm to a person they knew to be prohibited from buying because he said he couldn't pass a background check.
- The shooter in the Colorado massacre was allegedly armed with an AR-15-style assault weapon, a shotgun, and at least one handgun -- all legally stockpiled over just two months. He had also bought 6,000 rounds of ammunition off the Internet, as well as bulletproof vests and other tactical gear.
- The shooter's assault weapon can fire off 50 to 60 bullets per minute and is designed to hold a high-capacity magazine that can hold 100 bullets at a time.
- The federal assault weapons ban that Congress let expire in 2004 would very likely have banned his assault weapon and definitely banned the high-capacity ammunition magazine he used.
- There have been hundreds of mass shootings since 2005 alone, and 34 Americans are killed by guns each day, not including suicides and accidents.
- Far more Americans have been killed by guns within the U.S. than have died in all our wars combined.
We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.
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