When It Comes To Reaching Hearts & Minds About Gun Violence, The NRA Doesn’t Stand A Chance.

This morning I sat down and watched the NBA-Everytown gun ads again.  They really get a message across.  And it’s a very simple message; if a gun gets into the wrong hands, someone’s going to get hurt.  And of course it’s not just the message, but the messengers.  I mean, is anyone going to accuse Carmelo Anthony of being a shill for Mike Bloomberg when his salary tops $22 million a year?

carmelo              On the other hand, sooner or later I’m expecting to see the NRA’s Number One shill, the so-called Colion Noir, prancing around with his AR-15 on a basketball court in Dallas, telling all those folks who pretend to be his camp followers about the value of their 2nd-Amendment rights.  In fact, his latest attempt to promote Mossberg, FN and the other gun companies who sponsor his amateurish digital nonsense has him lecturing four African-American brothers who, like eeny-meeny-miny-moe, sit around mouthing various nothings while Colion explains the dangers of gun control because “as soon as they get their hands on the plastic stuff, they’ll be after the wooden stuff next.”

It might come as something of a surprise to Colion or whatever his name is that for forty-nine years before the 2008 Heller decision, which extended 2nd Amendment protections to private ownership of guns, the only thing that the 2nd Amendment actually protected were guns kept at home by Americans who used them for what we call the ‘common defense;’ i.e., service in military units like the National Guard.  And do you know how many guns all those liberals confiscated from law-abiding Americans between United States v. Miller in 1939 and District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008?  None.  Not one.

This is one of the two biggest falsehoods that the NRA and gun-loving sycophants like Colion Noir repeat all the time.  And Colion is allegedly a lawyer so he knows that what he is saying just isn’t true.  The other big falsehood which Colion also repeats again and again is that without access to guns we would all be the victims of violent crime.  The last time I checked, there were on average 250 justifiable homicides each year and between 2007 and 2011 less than 1% of all violent crimes resulted in someone protecting themselves with a gun.  Occasional anecdotes aside, the chances that a card-carrying member of the NRA would find himself in a situation where he needed to protect himself with a gun are about the same as that individual walking out of his home and being run over by a rhinoceros.  Walking around with a gun to protect yourself may sound good, may feel good, may provide Colion with some footage for one of his video rants, but it’s got nothing to do with the reality of guns.

I’m going to say something that’s probably going to get me into hot water with my gun-nut friends but I really don’t care. I happen to think that this whole notion of guns as being necessary for self-protection is a case of arrested development and nothing else. If, according to the Police Foundation, cops on the job aren’t adequately trained to deliver lethal force, then how in the world can all these CCW civilians believe they have the training and experience to defend themselves with a gun?  Has Colion Noir ever used a gun in self-defense?  Of course not.

Colion gives the whole thing away when he talks about “taking back the narrative for a new generation of gun enthusiasts.”  Want to listen to the new narrative?  Listen to NBA star Carmelo Anthony when he introduces a national PSA on gun violence with, “the gun should never be an option.”  Now who is the next generation going to listen to?  Colion Noir who says that guns are the most important option for self defense?  Or Carmelo Anthony who doesn’t have to get your attention by proving anything at all?

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In The GVP-NRA Contest, GVP Will Win.

I have been involved in the gun business since 1965, which is longer than most of the people have been alive who follow me here and on Huffington Post.  And that is because in 1965 I went down to North Carolina to work for my great-Uncle Ben who owned something called the Imperial Metal Products Co., where he manufactured a little 22-caliber revolver called the IMP.  The gun held five rounds but the effective capacity was far less, because by the third shot either the 2-inch barrel would fall off or the cylinder would crack in half.  This Saturday Night Special sold for about thirty bucks in pawn shops all over the South, and when GCA68 ended Ben’s life as a gun maker he became the Smith & Wesson law enforcement distributor for North Carolina and sold plenty of better-made revolvers to the cops.

gun free              So there’s very little about guns and the gun business that I don’t know, and in that regard when I say that the GVP movement is soon going to eclipse the NRA, it’s not a feeling based just on hope or whimsy, it reflects what I have seen and heard over the past fifty years. The truth is that when it comes to guns as an issue of public safety, until the last couple of years the NRA had the playing field all to itself.  Every once in a great while there would be a little public dust-up, like after good ol’ Charlie Whitman climbed the Texas Tower in 1966 and killed or wounded more than 45 people in a 90-minute spree.  Or again in 1969 when the cops and the Black Panthers in Los Angeles exchanged several thousand rounds of gunfire from which, unbelievably, no one was killed. But the deliberations leading up to GCA68 hardly, if ever made front-page news, and even the gun bills passed by Clinton in 1994 were hardly front-page stories except perhaps on the day of the votes.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that the NRA is a paper tiger that will roll over and play dead every time a new GVP initiative comes down the line.  To the contrary, since the mid-90’s the gun gang has scored some notable victories, in particular a rewriting of CCW laws in nearly every state, a law gagging doctors in Florida and three other states, and a public mood shift towards more support for 2nd Amendment rights.  And of course let’s not forget the biggest victory of all, namely the 2008 Heller decision by gun-nut Scalia which says that the 2nd Amendment protects private ownership of guns once and for all.

Notwithstanding the above, I still believe that the GVP’s time has come.  First, anyone who pretends that GVP is not a strong, widespread and growing grassroots movement is either a pro-gun sycophantic noisemaker paid to say otherwise, or is blind, deaf and dumb. And let’s not forget that much of the GVP organizational activity has only been spurred since the massacre at Sandy Hook. Second, for the first time in all time we have a national Presidential candidate who is not only calling for a national GVP movement, but promises to lead it if she is elected in 2016.  And let’s not forget the remarkable GVP ads that ran yesterday during NBA games.  Nothing the NRA will ever push out on its silly video channel will ever achieve even a fraction of the audience that heard Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul.

Last week the NRA put out a statement reminding its members that Obama, Hillary, The New York Times and every other liberal politician and publication is basically anti-gun.  They have been running this same message for the last twenty years.  But often there hasn’t been much of a response from the other side.  For the first time in my 50 years of watching the gun industry, the GVP message is loud, continuous and clear.  And it’s going to get louder, of that I’m sure.

 

The NBA Takes On The NRA And I’ll Take The Short Odds On The NBA.

You may recall that before he was appointed Attorney General that Eric Holder gave an interview in which he said that the way to deal with gun violence was to tell kids that guns “weren’t cool.”  That statement a storm of acrimony from the NRA and its various noisemaking minions, all of whom were committed to a strategy that promoted guns to millennials and other non-traditional gun-owning demographics on the basis that they were cool.

spike              Probably the most outrageous attempt to sell this nonsense has been the video antics of an African-American lawyer who calls himself Colion Noir, who has been prancing around on the NRA video channel coming up with all kinds of hip and cool reasons why we should all own and carry guns.  The folks who write his scripts have come up with some kind of concocted blather about using guns for self-defense, but what’s really going on here is an effort by the NRA to capture the hearts and minds of younger minority folks, most of whom don’t appear to be all that interested in guns.

Of course the truth is that Colion Noir and the NRA in general have about as much to do with defining “cool” as the veritable man in the moon.  Most NRA members are older, White men who listen to country music and live in Southern states and smaller, Midwestern towns.  They represent a demographic that’s about as far away from anything hip and cool as could ever be imagined; getting this audience to respond to an inner-city, jive-talking Black dude would be tantamount to bringing back the Miles Davis Quintet to play the weekly barn dance at Grand Old Opry in Tennessee.

Which is why I sat up and really took notice yesterday when a group of NBA players announced that they were joining with Mike Bloomberg’s Everytown to run ads on messages about gun violence that will appear during a series of marquee games that will air on Christmas Day. The ads will feature NBA players like the Warriors’ Stephen Curry and the Clippers’ Steve Paul, along with testimonies from survivors of shootings and relatives of folks killed by guns.

I knew something was when I noticed that Spike Lee was becoming very visible on the gun violence issue, particularly when he and Al Sharpton announced a gun violence initiative following the premiere of Spike’s new movie, Chi-Raq, which is all about gun violence on Chicago’s South Side.  At that press conference, Spike and the Reverend Al pledged to hold a series of summit meeting in various cities, but you can’t begin to compare the impact of such meetings to the power and force of the ads that will appear on national tv.

These ads represent a level of interest and concern that could be (pardon my pun) a real game-changer when it comes to the national discussion abut guns. Because the people featured on these ads don’t represent cynical politicians scurrying around for votes by lamenting the loss of our ‘freedoms,’ they don’t represent noisemakers for the manufacturers who want to sell guns, and they certainly don’t represent some amateur-hour video huckster who wants you to think he’s a real dude because his skin color happens to be something other than white.

I never thought that gun violence was about race, or poverty, or inner-city life or anything of that sort.  I always thought that gun violence was about one thing and one thing only: guns.  And the remarkable thing about this effort is that every person who appears in these ads says something about guns and what guns have done to their lives and to the lives of people they love and used to love.

I’m going to catch these ads on Christmas because I want the ratings of these games to reflect how I feel about gun violence. And I don’t think it would be a bad idea if someone (hint, hint) would let us all know when future ads will appear.