You have to wonder whether those who advocate for gun control laws actually want to get gun control laws passed. After all, for decades everything they have attempted, for all practical purposes, has failed. What do they have to do to attain their goals?
FIRST & MOST IMPORTANT: AIM AN ASSAULT WEAPON AT ALL THE GUN CONTROL ADVOCACY GROUPS. Sorry if I state the concept less than diplomatically, but it makes my most important point. Do a Google search for gun control advocacy organizations and you’ll find an almost unending list of groups. It seems that each time a tragic incident occurs, a new organization is created, from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to Mayors Against Illegal Guns to Everytown for Gun Safety and many many more. There are “mom” groups for gun control. Teacher (and other professional) groups for gun control. There are regional groups for gun control. There are groups for gun control built around religious affiliations. The list is not only long, but it grows. And each time it does, there is yet another effort for fundraising that competes with the fundraising efforts of other gun control advocacy groups. That dilutes funds and causes an absurd duplication of administrative tasks that do not contribute to the end game. At the same time, each group promotes their own specific messages, confusing the overall message. In other words, all the gun control advocacy groups contribute to an ever-increasing waste of time and money.
So, the very top priority for winning gun control laws is to put an end to all the groups seeking the same goal. I know that they all are noble and passionate and well intentioned, but their net effect is to become increasingly ineffective and unproductive.
CALL A SUMMIT AND CONSOLIDATE FOR EFFICIENCY. This requires those who currently lead individual groups to give up their power. That’s a pretty hard step, especially for passion- and mission-driven people who have dedicated so much of their lives to their cause. But it has to be done. Create one organization that can create and launch one messaging campaign, one fundraising effort, one administrative staff, one social network, and one set of iconic leaders who can become well-known and respected spokespeople. Adopt a platform. Agree on a set of rational regulations that can actually be supported by a diverse group of politicians who will ultimately have to vote on it.
END EFFORTS FOR “GUN CONTROL” AND LAUNCH EFFORTS FOR A SPECIFIC ACTION. The concept of “gun control” is too vague and not action oriented. Take a lesson from the single actual example of a gun control initiative that became law: the Brady Bill, which mandated background checks on firearms purchasers in the U.S., and imposed a five-day waiting period on purchases. That bill was introduced in 1991 and finally became enacted in 1998. It was a specific proposal, not a concept. The proposal gained a “personality.” “The Brady Bill” became branded. It became a true “movement.” That’s how it finally won. Today, if gun control advocates want a real victory, they should draft a bill that can win broad-based support, brand that bill with a memorable name, align that bill with everything good, associate opposition to it with everything evil, and campaign to get it passed.
BE UNRELENTING. Gun control advocates and their messages show up in the news whenever there is a tragedy. It may be two days later or two weeks later, but it doesn’t take long for the tragedy to exit from the news, and as that happens the gun control messages fade as well. Gun control advocates will never get what they want if they tell their story episodically instead of on an ongoing basis. Keep the campaign in the public consciousness without letup.
DEVELOP – AND USE – A FAST REPONSE TEAM TO PUT DOWN ATTACKS FROM ANTI-GUN CONTROL ADVOCATS. The more effective a consolidated campaign becomes, the more that campaign will be attacked, often with distortions or illogical arguments. They need to be corrected immediately before they pick up currency and become accepted as facts. That won’t happen because the gun control argument is “right” – it will happen only if it is made to happen.
LEVERAGE THE POLITICAL PROCESS. Two steps here (at least): 1) In a little more than a year this nation is going to the polls. Make support of the specific gun control measure an issue that will determine how people vote. Make certain every candidate has to answer the question “Will you support the Name of the proposed bill?” By being specific, the candidate loses their wiggle room and can no longer offer a non-answer such as “Well certainly I am for gun control but we’ll have to make certain we don’t undermine the Second Amendment and we have to worry about mental health issues, etc.” Wiggle room equates to no action. Pin down the candidates on the specific proposal – make it a yes-or-no issue, and then mobilize social networks so that people actually cast their votes based on the candidates’ answers. 2) Raise a ton of money, and use that money strategically to make donations to candidates’ campaigns so that supporters of gun control legislation have the wherewithal to overcome the funds anti-gun control incumbents receive from the NRA. In other words, beat the NRA at its own game.
IN SHORT: Gun control advocates need to decide they actually want to win – to attain their goals – and then consolidate their resources to do just that.