“We are mobilizing for a fight,” NRA President David Keene told CNN. “We will engage our members.”
The association is planning to send mailings to its members urging them to contact members of Congress with their opposition to new gun laws. “Let them know you feel strongly,” is how Keene summarized the group’s message to member.
So my question to you my friends in the public safety movement is, “What are you going to do to beat them?”
The NRA went into yesterday’s meeting with Vice-President Biden knowing they weren’t going to agree to any suggestions or make any concessions. How do I know? They had their statement written to send out before the meeting even started. Although I don’t have a time stamped copy, I’ve worked with organizations who put out statements. It takes days, sometimes weeks to get one put together. They are working hard to get the discussion back on their terms and on their turf. The NRA says, “Come on America, stop focusing on dead kids! Think of yourself!” I’m going to bet 200 Quatloos that there wasn’t a press release version that said, “It was a very productive meeting, we are looking forward to co-authoring bills that will save lives and reduced gun deaths and gun violence.”
Keen and the NRA leadership are going into this in the same way that the right wing has been going into governing meetings for years. They start as hardline as can be, even to the point of suggesting that they are the true victims. No crumbs given, no hint of compromise, because it makes their base angry. The key is to activate their base on something scary (even something that will not be done, something they will be willing to die, or even kill for.) What are they really saying to their base?
“They are going to take all of your guns! They are going to limit your rights! If you let them do that you are weak. Will you let that, that… woman, Feinstein, take your gun? She is taking your mancard! What do we do when someone tries to take what is ours? We don’t just defend, we attack.”
Note how they move from the issue at hand to:
“This is about you. You need to act. You are under attack. You don’t want to be a victim, you want to be the victor. You need to be in control. Don’t listen to them talking about how your gun wouldn’t make a difference. YOU know you could have saved the day if you were there in Sandy Hook. Don’t you want to have that chance to save lives? Think about how bad you would feel if that woman takes away your guns and you couldn’t protect yourself or family. She uses guns to protect herself! Hypocrite! If she was really brave she wouldn’t let her security guards carry.”
It has been documented that the lack of empathy is a trait of hardcore conservatives. The NRA wants to move the debate away from situations where normal people show empathy. (And by the way, hardcore conservatives do show empathy, but primarily for members of their own family, tribe.) They are going to ask their enthusiasts to show up at debates, write letters and comment on this issue from the position of focusing on their own lifestyle and needs rather than those of someone else in another place.
Now my question to you is, “What would it take for you to have this same level of activism?” Is it because you don’t care enough or you have come to accept that we just have to live with this level of death by way of guns? Is it because you have accepted the frames of the people who are having this discussion? Do you even use their terms? “Pro-gun, anti-gun? “Gun rights?”
Now I’ve been cautioned not to evoke the individual names of the dead children in getting people to act. So I won’t. But I also know that reluctance to return the focus on humans and their decisions and consequences fits perfectly into the status quo the NRA extremists want. Don’t talk about the dead and the specific reasons for their death. Move the focus elsewhere. Talk about being under siege, throw around numbers, statistics, slogans, choice to focus on only one part of the constitution. There was an example of this just this week.
How the NRA Activist Base Attempts to Skew the Reality of a Majority
I wrote on Tuesday of this week about Mark Thompson’s Town Hall Meetings in Napa, Vallejo and Santa Rosa. He’s the chair of the task force to reduce gun violence. I read yesterday’s Press-Democrat story closely, but I didn’t see any TV coverage of it. The TV story I predicted is a bit like the newspaper one, only longer with more “regular” people quotes. I then read the comments after the story. Usually comment sections in newspapers are worthless, but this one shows the vigilance of the people who have taken the extremists leaders of the NRA’s messages to heart.
The two comments interested me, this one first:
It was a divided crowd…. but not right down the middle, as you intimate by omission, Mr. Kovner. From those who spoke, I would say that only about 20% of the speakers favored stricter gun controls, and the other 80% spoke out against further limitation to the right to bear arms, or did not address that issue. And from the general mood of the crowd, I’d give roughly the same breakdown to the general populace that showed up.
(Full comment from Clay Mitchell, here.
Later, someone who was pro-public safety pointed out how the pro-gun crowd treated other people:
9 out of 10 of the people that went straight to the 2nd amendment as their focus (not the forum topic BTW) were gun fetishists. They acted like children, shouting and making buzzer noises to cut off comments they didn’t like and demanded that people who they did like be allowed to finish even after the their time was up. It was despicable to listen to people cheer a comment in which a cowardly man-child stated that he was okay with Thompson being hung from a telephone pole.
(Full comment from gad.seditious, here)
Sounds a bit like the GOP debates, eh?
This is how the NRA is going to fight this. They will do it publicly and behind the scenes. They will use the psychology of their extremist members to be the pointy edge of the spear (maybe I should say bayonette, but screw using their metaphors.) They know they can count on their shock troops to be scared and active. They believe that the media and politicians can be swayed, just as long as you don’t act and they can move the focus from those little bullet ridden bodies piled on a mountain of bodies.
You know, I try to be all reasonable and/or funny with my posts on pubic safety. I like to educate, engage and get people active. I like to figure out how to stick it to the right wing media and right wing nuts in general. I’ve listed before things you can do, buttons you can click, petitions you can sign, but I also want to you to understand who you are fighting and what lengths they will go to win this fight.
Because if they win it will be over your dead body.
Photo by Eva Rinaldi released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.
Cross posted at Spocko’s Brain