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by spocko

How to Get Gun Makers and Lobbyists to Fund Massive Mental Health Programs

8:25 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

After the Sandy Hook shootings one response of the NRA was a program to put more guns in schools. From a marketing and sales perspective that was a brilliant move. Almost worthy of the cigarette manufacturers, “New cancer cure might surprise you. It’s tobacco!

Mental Health Clinic, Las Vegas

The current rhetorical tactic is to shift the conversation to the mental health of the shooters. However, the weapons manufacturers do not want to have a program that will find and help treat people with mental illnesses. Heck, they don’t even want to help make sure that people with a history of mental illnesses get into the state databases that feed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). These state programs still need help and many states aren’t complying fully.

So to people who say, “It’s not about the guns, it’s about the mentally ill.” I would ask, “So, what are you doing to help fund mental health programs? How supportive are you of expanded funding for mental health care?” and a simple one “What steps have you taken in your community or state to make sure info about people’s mental health problems go into the NICS?”

By asking these questions, instead of talking about guns, we can move to discussions about patient confidentiality, fears of people never getting off the list, who is considered mentally ill, not trusting the system with this information etc. etc. etc. These are important issues to address and I’ll like discuss them now, when everyone is saying, “We really need to do something about mental illness.”

How Can Companies Make Money On the Mentally Ill?

If the issue really is mental illness, what kind of new funding is directed to this issue? Who will get  money for more mental health programs? Why aren’t they going for it? Here is a suggestion: Let’s ask the medical insurance companies, Pharma and health care professional associations to unleash a few lobbyists looking for funding.

The health insurance companies can go to the gun makers and the weapons lobbyists first and ask for funding. As a PR move they might even throw in a few million. But it really is only the federal government that can move the needle.  But, as we know, nothing is done “for the public good” anymore unless someone is going to make money.  So let’s use that impulse.  We have the demand for more and better mental health care, this could be a profit center for some big hospital chain. They can bill the insurance companies or the federal government.  Or we can create thousands and thousands of fully-funded and staffed community mental health care centers.

So what kind of legislation is being created to address this issue and who is moving it forward? Who is supporting it? Who isn’t? Why not? These are a bunch of questions we can throw up to elected officials, lobbyists, health care professionals and people arguing on the internet.

What is great about this discussion is that the weapons lobbyists can find bedfellows in unusual places. There are people who really are concerned about confidentiality and fears of incorrect diagnoses of mental illness being used by the state to lock people up and take away their rights.  This is an excellent place for the weapons manufacturers and their lobbyists to see that their concerns are addressed.

Everyone agrees that privacy is important, peoples’ rights need to be respected, mental illness issues need to be addressed, and the overall level of public safety needs to be increased. And since the “tool” isn’t really the focus, we are addressing a common problem.

I’m quite sincere about getting greater resources to deal with mental illness. And I know that there are people in the gun-owning community who feel the same way. So let’s all get on board and push this.  Who’s with me?

Funding Peter to Help Paul

Here is something else I know.  Unless there is a direct correlation of money spent on dealing with mental illness to the sale of more guns, the weapons manufacturers and their lobbyists really won’t get on board.  From a messaging point of view the focus on the mental illness is nice, but it’s designed to direct attention away from guns.  Because frankly having untreated mentally ill people shooting people is good business in the long term.

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

20 Dead Kids = Inconvenience to NRA Lifestyle

3:13 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

National Rifle Association gearing up for a fight - CNN

“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.

Happy Australian kids

Kids of Australia: 'It sure is hot, but we're not shot!'

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 Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Guns Don’t Sell Guns, People Do. How the NRA Turns Death Into a Sales Tool and How to Stop Them.

4:07 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Sales of AR-style rifles, ammo spike up

–Walla Walla Washington Union-Bulletin

Right now the NRA is primarily a marketing and sales organization. Sure they do other things like offer gun safety training programs and threaten politicians to push some laws and crush others. But I believe a lot of their power comes from the development and training of their members in communication skills and providing them with the right words, phrases and concepts to achieve their current goal: guns everywhere.

If you have become pro-public safety, like I have, you’ll want to figure out ways to convince others of your views and then develop ways to reach your goals. Also, when you see the NRA for what it really is, how they make the public less safe, and can work on ways to increase public safety.

The NRA has a $300 million budget, a large portion of that goes to “education and communications.”  And they are good. Very good. Tobacco industry good.  In a recent LA Times Op-Ed there is a story from a former NRA trainer about the psychological and linguistic techniques used on NRA members.

Ever since reading,  the brilliant and funny book by Christopher Buckley, “Thank you for Smoking.”  I’ve been impressed with the tobacco industry’s communications strategies.  Those of a certain age can complete this line, while singing the melody. “You can take Salem out of the country but…” If you sang the rest of the line in your head, their marketing worked.  In the book the guns, alcohol and tobacco lobbyists all meet and talk about their work as “MODs” (Merchants of Death.) The tobacco industry’s savvy communications, PR, advertising and lobbying led to their primary goal. Sell more tobacco.

The NRA didn’t just “take a page from the tobacco industries book” they went deep into the hearts and minds of men (and women) and so they could keep answering the same question of their actions, “How will this help sell more guns?”

The methods of the NRA-trained operatives vary from the subtle–like ALEC bill authoring and strategic lobbying/threatening of politicians; to the crass –”Cold Dead Hands” bumper stickers and rhyming “logic” for the masses. The New York Times says they also have “virtually unmatched ferocity in advancing [their] political and legislative interests.”

Anyone who has ever engaged someone on this issue knows they can expect debate techniques ranging from aggressive, threatening logic that blames the victims for not carrying a weapon, to well-thought-out positions. I’ve  seen how they use clever parsing of words in laws they create and how they attack terms or definitions to defeat laws they hate.  ”It’s not an automatic, it’s a semi-automatic. There is no such thing as an assault rifle! You have no credibility with me! (unless you use the terms exactly as we have defined them…)”

Bringing Words to a Word Fight

Over the years the NRA has gone from selling ideas like the importance of gun safety to selling the idea that your identity is tied to your possession of a gun. Linking your identity to a product is a very powerful thing to do, and marketers try to do this all the time.  ”We say the product is cool, when you own it you become cool –and women will want to have sex with you.” (I just added that last part because it usually goes unspoken, but it’s implied.) Because of this linking of identity to product, people are willing to pay more for a product, as well as create multiple reasons why they must have this product. But the marketers at the NRA also recognize that it’s childish for people to say, “I want it because I want it!”  Therefore, they suggest quoting parts of the 2nd Amendment and hypothetical life or death scenarios where the gun owner is the hero to prove their case to anyone who questions them.

But what happens when the thing that makes you cool or defines you is taken away? That will make them angry. And when they are angry they stop using polite words and turn to threats.  I sometimes wonder if the reason pro-public safety people don’t like to engage gun enthusiasts is because of this unstated (or stated) threat. For every responsible gun owner who will explain to me, “I’m not threatening you with my gun, I’m just having a discussion.” there are two who will tell me about their “2nd Amendment solutions” to “anti-gunners.”

Will You Become Ferocious in Advancing Your Political, Cultural and Legislative Interests?

Now let’s say that people have finally had enough with the way the NRA leadership is driving “the discussion”. Let’s also say that words like mine and the new pro-public safety public starts having a cognitive impact on the public at large.  What can you, (insert your own name here) do, to make a difference?  Well to begin, start thinking of what you are for, as well as what you are against.

I’m pro-public safety so when the details about the latest shooting comes out, I apply that view to the problem. In some cases the shooter will have a mental health problem. A pro-public safety person can push the states to have better laws that get violent mentally ill into the National Instant Criminal background check System. My doctor hunting friends in the midwest could easily get behind that action. If their buddies, who are extremists in the NRA, call them “anti-gunners” they can make it clear you want to protect people from those who are violently mentally ill, even if they also were going to kill someone with a knife, hammer or car, (since they love to bring up those examples of other “killing tools.”)

If the shooter obtained weapons though a gun show loophole you could support state and federal efforts to ban specific items as well as support the need for better tracking in general.

Every shooting is an opportunity for change for a safer future, if we act.

Here are some specific actions you can take to match your personality:

Like to march? Go to the January 26th March on Washington.

Want to help pass better laws and close loopholes? Donate or volunteer for my friends at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. I worked with them when I was trying to figure out how to get NRA board member Ted Nugent busted for bringing guns to the Pima County Fair, right outside the town Gabby Gifford was shot.

Want to help convince corporations, other than gun manufacturers, to get in the game? Try my friends at The National Gun Victims Action Council.  Personally I always thought that Mars Corporation should be donating big corporate dollars to end gun violence, after all, there were Skittles in the hands of Trayvon Martin when he was shot. They might want more kids to grow up to eat candy rather than a bullet.

Want to help change some of the “Shoot First” laws that got Trayvon Martin killed? Try the The Second Chance on Shoot First campaign.

Want to know what your city is doing? Check out Mayors Against Illegal Guns.  See if your city’s mayor is a member, (list) If not, drop your mayor a line. My friends at MAIG would love more member mayors. That’s a four minute doable action. Go!

Want to get educated on issues and on policy? Go look at the Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. Get on their mailing list, they provide great information if you want to engage a gun enthusiasts. If you want to simply go over the gun enthusiasts heads they have easy ways to help you go directly to people who can change laws.

Want to keep informed on the issue? Subscribe to The GVP Report -It’s a comprehensive, every other week e-newsletter. Sign up here or read it online.

I try to help a lot of non-profit groups in this area beyond the Brady Campaign because I believe in multiple strategies to reach difference audiences.   Donate or volunteer depending on your interests and how active you want to be. Remember, if you don’t do anything the terrorists NRA wins.

LLAP

Spocko