"Gun control playbook:" Did it help shape Colorado's new laws?
Gun enthusiasts have long accused Colorado's Democratic leadership of "following the script" established by major gun-control advocacy groups, such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), in their campaign to pass legislation expanding background checks and limiting magazine capacity -- two measures that now have state senators John Morse and Angela Giron battling recall efforts. As it turns out, that may not be just rhetoric: A playbook for gun control strategists does exist, and it seems to have some bearing on the state's gun-rights battles.
An eighty-page guide called Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging, produced last year by D.C.-based political consultants who count MAIG among their clients, has been causing a stir among gun-rights groups since it surfaced in open-record inquiries about a gun buyback program in Washington state recently.
Like many strategy papers churned out on all sides of the gun debate, the document pushes various talking points for building public support for the cause. But it may be more candid than most in its discussion of how to tailor and spin the message to particular audiences, and how to use emotion rather than facts to bridge the "intensity gap" in arguments over gun violence.
Among the guide's helpful hints: DON'T use the term "gun control." DO talk about "preventing gun violence." DON'T advocate "stricter" gun laws; "stronger" gun laws plays better. DON'T refer to the National Rifle Association as an extremist organization unless you're talking to your "base," meaning a group of fellow gun-violence-prevention crusaders. Research shows that the general public regards the NRA as a "relatively benign" mainstream group, so broader audiences require a change in tune -- demonize the NRA leadership, but don't alienate the rank and file. ("We should avoid lumping NRA lobbyists and the members of the NRA into the same category.")
Graphics from the playbook.
Keep in mind that men are "much more motivated by protecting people from 'gun crime' than preventing 'gun violence.' Women are motivated by both." When addressing minority groups, "it is more likely than not you are talking to someone who has personal experience with gun violence."
And, of course, it helps to refer to "Stand Your Ground" laws as "Shoot First" and "Kill at Will" laws that "provide cover for gun-toting vigilantes."
Continue for more about the so-called gun-control playbook, including the entire document.