Both Sides in the Gun Debate Roll out Their Expected PR Messaging
Andrew Blum, Principal, AJB Communications
“Ban Weapons of War,” blared the headline of a New York Post front-page editorial the Monday after the two latest mass shootings struck in El Paso and Dayton within 24 hours of each other.
The right-leaning tabloid is owned by Trump ally and supporter Rupert Murdoch. What was surprising about the editorial and headline was that the Post and Murdoch broke with President Trump and the GOP on gun control.
So how do both sides message the issue of shootings and the second amendment in this era of seemingly non-stop mass shootings?
For weeks, months and years after each mass shooting, the political refrain was “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” There was no federal action on gun laws, not even after 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults were massacred in 2012 in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown CT.
For me this is personal and professional: I had a cousin murdered with a gun a number of years ago. More recently, I did PR for one of the parents of the children killed at Sandy Hook. I’ve seen first-hand how guns and shootings impact people.
President Trump, in televised comments Monday on the two mass shootings, made no calls for new guns laws – instead he blamed mental illness, video games, the fake media and white nationalists despite the fact that his rhetoric has fanned the fires of hate in this country.
The rest of the GOP took no positive steps on Monday and the NRA stuck to its guns on the issue.
But here’s something that could move the needle. The Democrats and the anti-gun groups – such as Everytown for Gun Safety, Gabby Giffords’ three groups and The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence – should keep the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky.
McConnell – nicknamed “Moscow Mitch” (for his refusal to allow a Senate vote to protect U.S. elections after the 2016 Russian election interference) — should also be dubbed “NRA Mitch” or “Massacre Mitch.” He hasn’t allowed the Senate to take up gun control legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said Monday that if Trump was serious about background checks, he should take it up with McConnell. “Demand Sen. McConnell put the bipartisan, House-passed universal background checks bill up for a vote,” Schumer said in a tweet.
There have been mass shooting at schools, synagogues, churches, concerts, festivals, movie theaters, shopping centers, stores, bars and nightclubs. And we’ve had 250 mass shootings this year alone.
What’s left as a safe haven from guns? And what should the PR plan be to get action?
How about all the survivors and the families of the victims hold vigils outside of Congress and McConnell’s home? They should carry pictures of all those who died in mass shootings. After all, McConnell is up for re-election in 2020. Maybe now is the time for the Democrats and anti-gun activists to shame him into action.
Without action, it is a near certainty we will have more mass shootings. Murdoch and the NY Post are on board to take some action. Why not McConnell, the GOP and Trump?
About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms