For the past five decades the organized gun control community has been trying to sell the American people an idea they’ve made clear they don’t want: civilian disarmament. Much like a company trying to unload a terrible product, repeated rejection has forced gun control advocates to perpetually reinvent their groups and messaging in an attempt to make their agenda more acceptable.
Just as the National Council to Control Handguns became Handgun Control, Inc. and later the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the effort to rebrand the anti-gun movement continues.
Recently, two new anti-gun groups have epitomized this rebranding tactic, this time with gun controllers using doctors and mothers in an attempt to persuade the public to abandon logic for emotion. One is the dubiously named Doctors for America, headed by U.S. Surgeon General Nominee Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy. The other is Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, led by public relations veteran Shannon Watts. It doesn’t matter to the civilian disarmament advocates that doctors and mothers don’t have any specialized knowledge of issues relating to crime, violence or firearms, because they are simply interested in using these demographics to repackage their stale and rejected agenda.
Doctors for America was founded by Murthy in 2008 as Doctors for Obama to support then-Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Following the 2008 election the group adopted its current name and worked to promote a variety of Obama administration policies, most notably the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, following the tragic shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn., the group turned to marketing the president’s anti-gun agenda under the public health banner.
It’s easy to understand why gun control advocates would jump at the chance to use doctors to sell their flawed policies. A 2013 Gallup poll that asked participants to rate the trustworthiness of several professions rated medical doctors as among the most honest professions. Anti-gun political activists are all too eager to exploit that trust for political gain.
However, while doctors know medicine, as a group they don’t have any specialized knowledge of firearms or firearm policy. In fact, Murthy and his organization have shown a penchant for ignoring the best information available when confronted with data that interferes with the president’s goals.
For instance, in a January 14, 2013 letter to Congress, Doctors for America endorsed a ban on the sale of certain types of semi-automatic firearms and also endorsed a “buyback” of popular semi-automatic firearms. However, Obama’s own Department of Justice admitted, “a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.” The same memo also stated, “Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented.”
Similarly, virtually everyone has an emotional connection to mothers, but no one can reasonably argue that being a mother confers an expertise in firearm policy. However, that hasn’t stopped the gun control marketers from using moms as a demographic selling point. Anti-gun activists have long coveted the success of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Moms Demand Action is the latest effort to replicate that model.
So in 2012, at the outset of the largest gun control push in more than a decade, the anti-gun movement reactivated the moms’ strategy. This time it was Shannon Watts who attempted to capitalize off the image of motherhood by creating Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. With a background working in the public relations offices of several of America’s largest companies, it’s easy to see how Watts recognized the potential emotional power of moms arguing for more gun laws.
While the federal legislation Moms Demand Action supports has been roundly defeated, the branding effort continues, with the focus now shifting to pressuring private businesses to support anti-gun policies. In late 2013, Moms Demand Action merged with Michael Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate, giving Bloomberg an appealing new voice to articulate his agenda.
This continuous rebranding to make the anti-gun position more palatable exhibits the fundamental weakness of the anti-gun agenda: while the spokespersons change (or change their names), their anti-freedom message remains the same. The NRA, by contrast, is composed of millions of Americans who make their voices heard through their votes. As 2014’s critical elections approach, candidates need to hear from you louder than ever if our Second Amendment freedoms are to survive. Make your voice heard this November!
Chris Cox is the Executive Director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. His column appears in America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman and American Hunter. Join the NRA and receive a $10 discount on your annual membership and get America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman or American Hunter delivered to your door – click here.