Nostalgia gripped gun owners this week as longtime foe the Brady Campaign managed to garner a few measly headlines in the media landscape they once commanded so ably. As it happens, the Brady Campaign has decided to undergo another rebranding effort and will now go by simply “Brady.” For those counting, this is the fourth different name for the outmoded handgun prohibition organization.
According to a piece in The Hill, the new marketing campaign was announced at a February 26 event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Brady bill. The group also announced a new focus on four overarching initiatives. The “combatting crime guns” initiative seeks to advance policies that further burden already heavily regulated Federal Firearms Licensees (gun dealers) “rather than the individuals that perpetrate crime.” The other initiatives seek to enact firearms storage requirements, abuse the legal system to attack the firearms industry despite the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and organize youth to create a “diverse and intersectional movement driven by young voices.”
“Brady” was founded in 1974 as the National Council to Control Handguns. The organization was established with the explicit goal of banning the civilian ownership of handguns. NCCH’s literature demanded, “strict federal laws that will effectively restrict the possession of handguns to only the police, the military, licensed security guards, licensed pistol clubs, and registered collectors.”
In order to achieve their aims, the group adopted a long term strategy of successive gun control measures that would ultimately result in a handgun prohibition. In 1976, NCCH Chairman Nelson T. “Pete” Shields explained to the New Yorker, “I’m convinced that we have to have federal legislation to build on. We’re going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily—given the political realities—going to be very modest,” adding, “Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal—total control of handguns in the United States—is going to take time.”
In 1979 NCCH became Handgun Control, Inc. Despite the misleading name, it is under this moniker that the group expanded its efforts to restrict the ownership of all manner of firearms. The group was a staunch supporter of the 1994 Clinton ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles.
It was in 1989 that Sarah Brady, wife of Reagan White House Press Secretary James Brady, became chair of HCI. In the years that followed Sarah Brady became a leading face for infringing Second Amendment rights. In recognition of the Bradys’ contributions to the civilian disarmament effort, HCI was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in 2001.
The handgun prohibition organization’s fortunes took a significant blow in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the legal arguments the group advanced in favor of the District of Columbia’s handgun ban, by striking down the prohibition and recognizing that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms. Further, the group’s anti-gun efforts have been eclipsed by those of Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, which is fueled by the media billionaire’s nearly inexhaustible wealth.
According to a Gallup poll taken the year after NCCH’s founding (1975), when asked “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?,” 41 percent of Americans stated that there should be. Asking the same question in 2018, only 28 percent of those polled supported such a measure.
After 45 years of failure to achieve their goal, a more introspective group might consider that there may be a defect in their ideas rather than their marketing. However, history suggests that it is only a matter of time before “Brady” undergoes yet another name change. They should spare themselves the consulting fees. Continuing the trend of creating ever more concise names, the group should further truncate “Brady” to just “Y.” As in: Why does this decrepit handgun prohibition organization still exist?