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Brady Campaign to Gun Control Supporters: Listen, Dummies

Friday, November 22, 2013

Last January, National Review Editor Rich Lowry joined a host of others in denouncing Barack Obama's use of elementary school children at a press conference to unveil his gun control agenda, calling the spectacle "stupidly exploitative" and "infantile."  A newly-released ad from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, however, suggests some in the anti-gun community have perversely taken that criticism as a challenge.  With the new ad, the Brady Campaign seems intent on taking the tone of anti-gun arguments from the school yard to the nursery.

Aptly titled "Gun Laws for Dummies," the video features an armed cartoon "bad guy" (one suggestive of the popular Angry Birds franchise) wreaking havoc on his illustrated community, using a privately-acquired firearm to break one character's vacuum and pop another's balloons.  Brady also uses the ad as an opportunity to repeat the invalid statistic that 40 percent of gun sales occur in private transactions and to portray members of Congress as corrupt and rooting for the "bad guys."  As if this all weren't creepy enough, it also includes narration by what sounds like a preschooler, who suggests that keeping firearms from the unlawful by enacting more laws should be "easy peasy."

The ad was released as part of a new push to criminalize all private firearms transfers.  This move coincides with the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Brady Law.  The Brady Campaign's proposed expansion of federal background checks would force even many family and friends to get government permission for firearm transfers amongst each other and subject all lawful gun transfers to federal paperwork and recordkeeping requirements, the prerequisites for a national registry.

While the cartoon fantasy in the video simplistically promotes this solution as a remedy for criminal firearm possession, the experience of law enforcement in the real world shows that it won’t solve anything.  A Bureau of Justice Statistics report, which surveyed inmates on how they acquired firearms, showed that that 79 percent obtained firearms from a "street/illegal source" or from "friends or family."  In some cases, persons who go on to commit crime originally obtained their firearms lawfully.  Further, one BATFE report notes that 46.3 percent of firearms traced during investigations involving firearms trafficking originated with straw purchasers.  No scheme to criminalize private transfers can effectively target criminals who obtain guns in these ways.   As we have reported, moreover, existing laws aimed at stopping straw purchases have been woefully underutilized by the Obama administration.

Aside from the ad's weird childishness, the video's key statistic, that 40 percent of firearm sales occur privately, has repeatedly been debunked.  Even the Washington Post, whose editorial board is amongst the most anti-gun in the nation, reprimanded Obama last April for repeatedly using the statistic in the run-up to the Senate gun control vote.  In a Fact Checker column that awarded the president three out of four Pinocchios, the Post pointed out that the 40-percent figure arose from an antiquated study that included information on gun purchases that took place in the early 1990s, before background checks at dealers were even federally mandated.

Further, the Brady Campaign's characterization of lawmakers as bought-off by the gun rights lobby is farcical.  NRA's grassroots political power comes from our 5 million members and other informed gun owners who reliably volunteer their time and efforts with political campaigns and who turn out to vote.  On the other hand, it's the Brady Campaign's billionaire anti-gun ally Michael Bloomberg, and his various Astroturf front groups, that are best known for spreading around the cash.   Gun controllers also aren't above funneling taxpayer dollars to lawmakers in pursuit of their mission.  Following the April 17th vote rejecting the criminalization of many private sales, Politico reported that an "official with one of the major gun-control groups" lamented about being unable to buy Senate votes with taxpayer cash, stating, "Bribery isn't what it once was… The Government has no money.  Once upon a time you would throw somebody a post office or a research facility in times like this."

NRA-ILA strives to provide the public with accurate, well-reasoned, and well-cited materials that respect the intelligence of its readership and seeks to inform what should be a policy debate amongst rational adults.  In contrast, the name and tone of the Brady Campaign's new ad suggests that the organization doesn't think very highly of the intellect or maturity of the video's target audience.  And considering the video is featured primarily on their website, it's "easy peasy" to guess who those "dummies" might be.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.