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Bloomberg Ad Inadvertently Portrays Limits of Gun Control Agenda

Friday, August 1, 2014

With $50 million, one would think Michael Bloomberg and his anti-gun cronies could afford to conduct some focus testing. However, judging from the reaction to the latest fear-mongering ad from Bloomberg’s Everytown group, the ex-mayor and his astroturf activists are clueless when it comes to women and firearms.

The ad depicts a mother and child alone in a house. A man begins pounding on the door, demanding entry. The woman calls 9-1-1 and explains that her “ex” is trying to break in, and she has a restraining order against him. While the woman is still on the phone, the man bursts through the door and grabs the child.  As the unarmed woman futilely attempts to stop him, he pulls a gun. The screen fades to black, and a gunshot is heard.

The ad was released to coincide with a congressional hearing aimed at expanding federal firearm prohibitions pertaining to misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders. Yet the reaction to many who saw the ad makes clear that it does nothing so much as illustrate the limitations of those measures.

As the “ex” pounds on the door, he yells, “This is my house!” However unwittingly, the producers of the ad thus establish that the man would almost certainly be prohibited under current federal law from possessing a firearm, insofar as he cohabitated with the woman, and she had obtained an order of protection against him.

In any event, as far as the ad is concerned, the order appeared to provoke the man, rather than restrain him; the police could not respond in time to enforce it; and whatever legal repercussions the man faced for possessing a firearm illegally were manifestly not a deterrent. How this argues for the expansion of any of these measures is unclear.

On the other hand, the ad does make a rather compelling argument for the proposition that the only thing that could have saved the woman once the man burst through the door was her own exercise of the right to armed self-defense.

Much like Bloomberg’s botched launch into “grassroots” organizing, the ad’s debut has once again shown the ex-mayor’s paid activists being outmaneuvered by grassroots gun rights supporters. Within hours of the video’s release, bloggers were extolling the pro-gun message of Everytown’s new effort. Others have edited the video to show what might have happened had the mother been armed (efforts that Bloomberg’s lawyers scrambled to censor). Journalist Katie Pavlich’s commentary on the ad was followed by a different commercial, which now has over two million online views, that demonstrates a far more favorable outcome to a home invasion in which the female resident was armed. 

Lest anyone think this interpretation of the Everytown ad is confined to the pro-gun community, the sentiment has been shared by a diverse audience. Following a viewing of the ad on ABC’s The View, a show aimed squarely at a modern female demographic, host Sherri Shepherd told the story of time she was fearful of a break-in and suggested that women use firearms to defend themselves and their children. Following Shepherd’s comments, guest Juliet Huddy and host Jenny McCarthy shared experiences where they felt threatened and wished they had been armed.

The attitudes these women on The View expressed towards firearms are emblematic of broader trends in gun ownership. Media outlets are replete with stories of more women purchasing firearms, learning to shoot, and acquiring Right-to-Carry permits. In February 2013, the New York Times ran an article titled, “Rising Voice of Gun Ownership is Female.” The item cited a National Shooting Sports Foundation survey that found, “73 percent of gun dealers said the number of female customers had gone up in 2011, as had a majority of retailers surveyed in the two previous years.” Further, NSSF’s report “First Time Gun Buyers” concluded that, “women are motivated to purchase their first firearm predominately for personal defense.”

In contrast to Bloomberg’s campaign to expand largely symbolic federal gun control measures are state and federal legislative options that can help to provide real security for those under the threat of impending violence. For instance, in Ohio a person can apply for a 90-day temporary emergency concealed carry handgun license. This allows for a person who submits evidence of being in imminent danger to be promptly issued a Right-to-Carry permit, bypassing the lengthier issuance process that normally applies. Similar laws apply in Wisconsin (see section 175.60(9r)) and other states.

In some cases, those facing violence must flee their homes. Proposed federal Right-to-Carry reciprocity legislation (see related article) would ensure that permit holders facing this circumstance could exercise their right to defend themselves regardless of where in the country they were forced to go.

Everytown’s latest miscalculation is symptomatic of a well-heeled organization with limited actual insight into the issue on which they presume to advocate on or the people who they are trying to engage. Thankfully, survey and sales figures indicate those concerned with personal safety have increasingly put their faith in the tools of self-defense, rather than empty promises from politicians and gun control advocates.

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