Preventing Gun Rights Debate With Targeted Messaging

John Galt
Activist Post

When it comes to the verifiable truth, the establishment continues to admit that they are losing. Hillary Clinton was clear when she said they were losing the war of information to alternative media:

When facts are not on your side, the strategy must shift towards appeals to emotion, or outright propaganda. We have seen this in the war on terror and the subsequent real wars that have resulted. No WMDs? No matter. Just rile people up enough to the point where they are terrorized without the presence of real terror and now you’ve got a plan.

Another area where emotions trump facts is gun control. And, there again, the establishment admits they are losing on both accounts: emotions and facts. Instead of fully capitulating, however, a guidebook was produced with the title: “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging.” It’s worth a closer look.

Much as Hillary Clinton addressed the loss in the infowar, we have Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder expressing the need to literally brainwash the public into believing that gun control is a cornerstone solution to all that is wrong with America. Because, as the above guide suggests:

There is an intensity gap that has built up over years. In the general public, those who view themselves as supporters of gun rights are more deeply committed to and emotionally invested in their position than those supporting stronger gun violence prevention measures. 

Notice that Holder discusses the obsession youth seem to have with violence from what they see “in the media” without ever addressing the U.S. government’s obsession with using real guns and violence. This is what an emotion vs. fact argument tends to look like.  A true “anti-gun, anti-violence” message might have included not sending guns to Mexican cartels, or preemptively waging war on the planet.

Nevertheless, we see the call from Holder to employ effective messaging through repetition; and for that, ironically, they would need the help of the media.

The 70-page document mentioned above is an instruction manual to do just that. An excellent summary of the document has been presented by Ethics Alarms, wherein they rightly point out the hypocrisy that rather than empower people to resist imminent threats of violence, the strategy manual is about exploiting violence for political gain after the fact.

“The debate over gun violence in America is periodically punctuated by high-profile gun violence incidents including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Trayvon Martin killing, Aurora, and Oak Creek,” the guide points out. “When an incident such as these attracts sustained media attention, it creates a unique climate for our communications efforts.” Early on, the document it makes it clear that the “communication efforts” must always concentrate on stirring up emotions, not relying on facts or engaging in substantive debate. “A high-profile gun violence incident temporarily draws more people into the conversation about gun violence. We should rely on emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence.”


Recommended phrases to use in forums and interviews include, 

  • “It breaks my heart that every day in our country (state or city) children wake up worried and frightened about getting shot.” 
  • “Just imagine the pain that a mother or father feels when their young child is gunned down.” 
  • “The real outrage – the thing that makes this violence so unforgivable – is that we know how to stop it and we’re not getting it done.”

These are prime examples of how to short-circuit critical thinking and replace it with the obvious emotions any empathetic individual should have toward any violence. There is also, of course, the assumption that “gun violence prevention measures” involve anything but guns. However, the facts get in the way. Just one study, in fact, obliterates this notion. The Cato Institute’s Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens used “an extensive collection of news reports from over an eight-year period to survey the circumstances and outcomes of defensive gun uses in America.”

The immediate difference between just this one statement, and what is suggested throughout the “effective messaging” manual is that it relies on a comprehensive overview of actual reports, rather than the emotional pull of one single event, or theoretical event, i.e. “imagine the pain of a mother or father…”

People have been taught through government/media messaging that any appeal to facts is callous, which gets leveraged to prove their non-factual statements. Whereas, the call to facts and logic is precisely the opposite: it seeks real-world solutions to stop violence, not just make people feel good about being involved in failed policies.

Another study conducted at Harvard makes the case for gun proliferation even clearer: the more guns a nation has, the less crime it has. This can be further supported on a state-by-state case basis.

  • Almost every mass shooting that has occurred in the United States since 1950 has taken place in a state with strict gun control laws
  • The city of Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the United States. So has this reduced crime? Of course not. As I wrote about recently, the murder rate in Chicago was about 17 percent higher in 2012 than it was in 2011, and Chicago is now considered to be “the deadliest global city“. If you can believe it, there were about as many murders in Chicago during 2012 as there was in the entire nation of Japan.
  • After the city of Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law requiring every home to have a gun, the crime rate dropped by more than 50 percent over the course of the next 23 years and there was an 89% decline in burglaries


However, if one wants really wants to appeal to emotions, don’t worry, that is also available to supporters of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. How about some of these stories? Can you imagine the pain of your sister, mother, grandmother, girlfriend or wife not standing a chance against a violent criminal?

  • Approximately 200,000 women in the United States use guns to protect themselves against sexual crime every single year. (Source)
  • Female Marine Kills Attacker in Self-Defense: Marine Cpl. Rayna Ross bought a gun (in a non-waiting period state) and used it to kill an attacker in self-defense two days later. Had a 5-day waiting period been in effect, Ms. Ross would have been defenseless against the man who had been stalking her.
  • Minneapolis Good Neighbor Apprehends Robbery Suspect: Seeing an armed criminal rob a woman of her purse at gunpoint and pistol-whip her, a Minneapolis CCW holder pursued the robber in an attempt to capture him, which resulted in a confrontation in which the citizen had to shoot the robber, who later died of his wounds.
  • Ohio Woman Shoots Ex-Boyfriend That Restraining Order Failed to Stop: An Ohio woman who feared that her ex-boyfriend and father of their two children was not going to be deterred by the restraining order requiring him to stay away armed herself with a pistol and was glad she did when the ex-boyfriend broke into her home and assaulted her with a crowbar. Fearing for her life, she shot and killed the intruder. Under Ohio’s newly-adopted Castle Doctrine, there is a presumption of self-defense in circumstances such as these.
  • Released Inmate Shot Dead During Redding, CA Home Invasion: 37-year-old Jesse Theis was released early Thursday morning from the Shasta County Jail and before sun-up Friday, he invaded a Redding, CA home. The 66-year-old female homeowner fired warning shots when she heard someone trying to force entry into her home. When the invader tried a short time later to climb into her window, she shot him dead. Theis had been released due to a county prison policy designed to ease over-crowding by requiring the daily release of those inmates prison officials deemed “low-risk.”
  • Armed Houston Dad Foils Attack on 14-Year-Old Daughter: Hearing a commotion shortly after his daughter had left for school early one morning, Richard Goodie left his house to see two men, one of them armed, accosting his daughter. Goodie’s warning shot failed to frighten off the assailants, one of whom put the daughter in a choke hold and a pistol to her head while threatening to kill the girl if her father did not back off. While the assailant was dragging the daughter away, some space opened up between the daughter and the bad guy, allowing the father to shoot the suspect in the stomach, ending the encounter and putting the second suspect to flight. No charges are expected against the father, who says he did what he had to do to save his daughter.
  • NC Woman Defends Family Members: A North Carolina family was returning to their vehicle at 1 a.m. after some Black Friday shopping at a Myrtle Beach, SC Walmart when they were set upon by armed robbers. One of the robbers shot a woman in the foot, even though she had surrendered her purse on their demand. The woman’s son attempted to protect his mother, and was shot at and pistol-whipped for his efforts. The woman’s sister, hearing shots fired as she entered her vehicle, picked up her own loaded pistol from the vehicle’s console and confronted the robbers. Not wanting to shoot directly at the robbers for fear of hitting her family or bystanders, she fired two shots over the heads of each robber, scaring them off. Her family credits the legally-armed woman with saving the lives of her sister and nephew.
  • Ohio Woman Fights Off Sex Offender: An Ohio woman had her concealed pistol permit for three years, but wasn’t sure whether she could actually use the gun if needed. She found out recently that she could when a 23-year-old sex offender accosted her at a bank and forced his way into her car while making sexually suggestive remarks. The woman was able to reach her pistol in her car console but couldn’t bring it to bear against her attacker while struggling with him in the confined space of her vehicle. Her warnings of having a gun had no effect on the assailant, so she stuck the gun out the open passenger door and fired one shot in the air, scaring him off. Police apprehended him a short time later in the same area. The woman now knows she is capable of defending herself, and urges other women to take heart from her experience and prepare to defend themselves. Police said her use of the gun was appropriate, and was exactly the reason law-abiding people get carry permits.
There are many, many more examples. And, ironically, if the above events had not taken place, and some of these people fell victim to gun-related death, they would have been exploited in a call for further gun control!

Between this messaging manual in favor of gun control, and the studies showing the negative effects of gun control, the information is out there on both sides of the argument. There is no longer any excuse to rely solely on emotional appeals … unless of course you have your facts wrong, or you are in the deliberate service of a specific political agenda.

Read other articles by John Galt Here

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