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Action On Gun Violence, Not Just Words

December 14, 2012 5:12 pm ET
To the shock and grief of the country, a gunman opened fire in a kindergarten classroom at a Connecticut elementary school earlier today -- killing 26 people, including 20 small children. It's past time to do more than just talk about gun violence in America -- we need action. (Also, be sure to check out this comprehensive list of excuses for politicians to not take action and responses to them.)

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VOCABULARY

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 criminal background check for every gun sale;
NRA officials / NRA lobbyists (instead of "the NRA")
Words to avoid: "Gun control"


CORE MESSAGE

It's a time to mourn, but it's also a time to lead.

Connect: Americans are in shock and disbelief over the Connecticut massacre today. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims.

Describe: When it's this easy for someone to get guns and massacre 26 people, including 20 small kids at an elementary school, we've got a problem.

Explain: This mass shooting isn't the first one, and it won't be the last one. It's just the next one. 

Call out: If not this, what will it take for our leaders to stand with our law enforcement officials against the gun lobby to get serious about stopping gun violence?

Isolate: Even gun owners support common-sense laws -- but the NRA lobbyists and their politician allies are pushing for more guns everywhere, even in daycare centers and school campuses.

Lead: We need more than just talk. We need common-sense public safety laws to prevent gun violence.


DEBUNKING THE MYTH

  • Contrary to the myth of NRA dominance, less than 1% of the nearly $12 million spent by the NRA Political Victory Fund this campaign cycle went to races where the NRA-backed candidate won.  
  • In fact, the gun lobby had an abysmal 2012 election cycle -- spending millions to defeat President Obama, failing to turn voters against Obama even in swing states, and failing to elect their preferred candidate in six of their seven top targets for the U.S. Senate.
  • More than two-thirds of incumbents who lost their seats in the House of Representatives this election were backed by the NRA, including four Democrats.
  • Research also shows the NRA's endorsement was worth nothing to Democratic or Republican politicians running for re-election in past campaign cycles and worth only about two percentage points for Republican challengers.
  • In the last four federal elections before this year, the NRA could claim credit for only 4 wins out of the 1038 endorsements it made in Congressional races.

ATTACKS AND RESPONSES

ATTACK: "Taking away our gun rights only harms law-abiding citizens because criminals will always be able to get guns."
RESPONSE:

  • 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.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW


PUBLIC OPINION

Contrary to the claims of right-wing and even some mainstream pundits, the American people -- including gun owners -- strongly support common-sense measures to prevent gun violence:

  • Even in swing states, most voters strongly support stronger gun laws, and despite vast election spending, the NRA failed to move them against President Obama on gun issues.
  • 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

  • Today, there are 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.
  • But the NRA is still lobbying for more loopholes to allow virtually anyone to carry a gun virtually anywhere --
    • Even in the wake of the Virginia Tech and Columbine mass shootings, last year alone 18 states seriously considered and two passed legislation to allow concealed weapons on school campuses in some regard.
    • Kansas, Mississippi and Utah now allow guns on school grounds, including elementary schools.
    • Utah's law would also allow people to carry guns in buildings that house preschools and daycare centers.
    • In Ohio, it's now legal to bring a concealed gun into a bar, even though law enforcement groups warned against mixing alcohol with guns.
    • In Arizona and Wyoming people can now carry concealed weapons without any permit at all.
    • The NRA has even opposed hospitals and nursing homes from banning guns on their premises and opposed adoption agencies from asking prospective parents if they keep a gun in the house.


THE OUTCOME

 
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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