One Pagers

Fit To Lead

April 17, 2013 2:18 pm ET
The Senate will soon vote on legislation to prevent gun violence, starting with a bipartisan amendment by Senators Manchin and Toomey to close loopholes that allow criminals to buy guns online and at gun shows without a background check. Despite support for background checks from 90% of Americans, including their own constituents and our law enforcement (contrary to NRA lobbyists' claims), some Senators keep looking for any false excuse to oppose the plan. Boldly frame their opposition.

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If you can't stand up to the lobbyists when children are dead and 90% of the country stands with you, you're not fit to lead.

Connect: We expect our leaders to have the backbone and the integrity to do the right thing.

Define: Some lawmakers in Congress are standing with a few NRA lobbyists instead of law enforcement officials, the children and families in their own states, and the rest of the American people.

Explain: These politicians are using every discredited excuse from the Washington gun lobby to oppose closing the loopholes that let anyone buy guns online and at gun shows without a background check.

Discredit: The plan will crack down on criminals and reduce gun violence while reaffirming the ban on creating a gun registry. Background checks are such a common sense idea that 9 out of 10 Americans support it.

Values: If making it easier for criminals to gun down our children is your response to the Newtown massacre, that's shameful. If you can't stand up to the lobbyists when 90% of the country stands with you, you're not fit to lead.

Expose: If Congress can't pass this, can it still call itself a functioning governing body? Do our lawmakers represent us and our families -- or the gun industry lobbyists?


ATTACK: "Gun owners should be able to carry concealed weapons from one state to another."

  • These national concealed carry "reciprocity" proposals, like GOP Senator Cornyn's amendment, will create a dangerous race to bottom in state public safety laws. The states with the weakest standards and the most loopholes will get to set the national standard for who can carry guns.
  • Here's what that means. People from states that don't require a permit to carry a concealed gun could go anywhere in the country with any permit. One state would be forcing the rest to let violent criminals, untrained amateurs, and teenagers go anywhere with a hidden gun.
  • National and local law enforcement officials, domestic violence prevention advocates, and over 900 mayors -- the ones who would be dealing with the resulting public safety crisis -- strongly oppose these national concealed carry reciprocity schemes.
  • Our lawmakers in Washington should be working with our law enforcement leaders to keep guns out of the wrong hands, not making it easier for criminals to get dangerous weapons and carry them wherever they go.

CONCERN: "The Manchin-Toomey background checks compromise will be ineffective."

  • Requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale in the commercial setting -- like over the Internet and at gun shows -- is critically important to shutting down criminals' access to guns. Closing these loopholes will keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands.
  • The bipartisan plan by Senators Manchin and Toomey would do exactly that and close the loopholes that let criminals buy guns over the Internet or at a gun show without a criminal background check.
  • Just look at the websites where guns are up for sale, like, where 73,000 guns are offered by mostly private sellers, or the 4,000 gun shows that happen in the country every year. Bringing those sales into the existing background check system should be a no-brainer.

ATTACK: "Universal background checks will lead to a national gun registry."

  • Federal law already prohibits the creation of a national gun registry. The Manchin-Toomey Amendment reaffirms the ban and makes a violation punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • Here's the reality. The only official record of each gun sale is a basic sales receipt that stays with the seller. Gun dealers have already been keeping these receipts for four decades, and the proposals on the table would simply extend that existing system to private sales.
  • Law enforcement officials would get to access the records only in very limited situations, such as for criminal investigations. The completed background checks of law-abiding buyers are also destroyed by the FBI within 24 hours. That's hardly the basis for a national registry.
  • NRA lobbyists are just trying to fundraise from concerned gun owners and boost gun sales for the gun manufacturers. In fact, an enforceable background check system protects law-abiding gun owners from getting the blame for the crimes of others.

ATTACK: "Expanded background checks would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy."

  • If you want to talk about what specifically would've stopped the Newtown massacre, let's talk about banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
  • This is about what we know will reduce gun violence in the future, not just what lessons we can draw from gun violence that happened in the past. And the truth is that background checks work -- they've stopped more than 2 million gun sales to dangerous people like convicted felons.
  • That's why Colorado just strengthened its background checks at the same time it placed limits on the size of ammunition magazines in response to last summer's shooting in Aurora.
  • We cannot prevent every tragedy, but universal background checks are a basic first step toward keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. Plus they're fast and convenient. The plan is so common sense that it isn't controversial -- except in Congress.


Call for action: The White House Plan On Gun Violence; Action On Gun Violence, Not Just Words; and Newtown Was 3 Months Ago Today.

Define the opposition: Why They're Blocking Gun Laws;NRA Lobbyists vs. Gun Owners; and No Controversy...Except In Congress.

Flip their frame: Flipping the Gun Rights Frame.

Bolster support for the assault weapons ban: Assault Weapons Ban.

Push for universal background checks: Why Background Checks Protect Gun Owners and A Background Check For Every Gun Sale.

Rebut their attacks: ATTACKS & RESPONSES: Gun Violence and 1 Hearing, Many Myths About Gun Laws.

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.


Posted in - Guns - Crime

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