Wednesday, December 19, 2012

NRA To Rise Up This Week After Seven Days of Lying Low

As I posted yesterday, the NRA has been strangely -- and wisely -- silent about the Newtown shootings. Until now. The lobbying behemoth plans a news conference Friday. At that time, we can expect that NRA will unholster its big guns, come out firing, take a shot at gun control advocates, give opponents both barrels, or whatever cliched pun you can think of. Oh, there is one more: The NRA will not be shooting from the hip.

No, whoever the spokesperson is will be schooled and ready. It will be interesting to hear what the NRA has to say. I want to see if the spokesperson is confident enough to field questions. How will the room be set up? What coverage will the protesters outside, which are a certainty, receive? What gun control supporters will be interviewed about the NRA's message, and which media outlets will go for the emotional by interviewing family members in Connecticut?

The NRA statement Tuesday said, "'The National Rifle Association of America is made up of four million moms and dads, sons and daughters -- and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown. Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again,' the group said. It plans to hold 'a major news conference' on Friday and both their Facebook and Twitter presences are active again." (

This latest mass slaughter may bring stronger pressure on Congress than past shootings because most of the victims were first graders. But the gun control people must act quickly. That's because after a period of mourning and activism and fist shaking, they know there's not much time or money to make their case for change before most people move on in their lives to new issues, according to Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

"'Look,' Glaze said, 'when this kind of thing happens, we have to make the case in that very short window -- what went wrong, why it went wrong, how you can fix it -- in a way that motivates Congress to do what it should.'"
Meanwhile, the Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence was on Capitol Hill with members of a new community group, Newtown United. Josh Horwitz with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said his group just hired temporary staff to deal with hundreds of new volunteers who want to help.
The debate comes down to communications. The Institute for Crisis Management divides stakeholder groups into advocates, adversaries, and ambivalents. The NRA has to hope it hasn't lost many advocates. It knows the killings didn't swing adversaries to its side. The debate probably comes down largely to the ambivalents in the middle. Maybe there will be enough ambivalents joining the adversaries to make some changes in gun laws. Then again, many in Congress depend on the NRA for campaign contributions.
In the past, a vote against an NRA position usually meant an opponent in the next election. This time around, voting against anti-gun measures might result in the same thing come election time. I expect the NRA to be challenged like never before to reshape its key messages and deliver them to ambivalents and members of Congress. History is on the side of the NRA.

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