Democratic strategists have drafted a how-to manual on manipulating the public’s emotions toward gun control in the aftermath of a major shooting.
“A high-profile gun-violence incident temporarily draws more people into the conversation about gun violence,” asserts the guide. “We should rely on emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence.”
The 80-page document titled “Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging,” also urges gun-control advocates use images of frightening-looking guns and shooting scenes to make their point.
“The most powerful time to communicate is when concern and emotions are running at their peak,” the guide insists. “The debate over gun violence in America is periodically punctuated by high-profile gun violence incidents including Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Trayvon Martin killing, Aurora and Oak Creek. When an incident such as these attracts sustained media attention, it creates a unique climate for our communications efforts.”
Apparently, as President Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”
The manual offers a step-by-step guide on how to stir up sympathy for victims, arrest the “moral authority” from opposing groups like the National Rifle Association and keep the debate emotional instead of allowing facts to interfere.
“Essentially it’s a how-to book on inciting a moral panic,” comments James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal.
The guidebook, discovered by the Second Amendment Foundation and reported by Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner, was prepared by four strategists including Al Quinlan of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which touts it is “committed to progressive goals,” and includes among its clients the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, among dozens of other left-leaning organizations.
The manual opens by claiming three key arguments are the most “powerful” when trying to grip the public: “One: The serious personal toll that gun violence takes on people’s lives, Two: People’s right to be free from violence in their communities; Three: The changing nature of weapons towards more powerful, military-style ones that make us less safe.”
“The notion that today’s weapons are different in kind from what was available in the past is an especially powerful idea and helps make the case for new levels of concern and scrutiny around access to weapons,” the manual posits, a tip seen in wide action following the Newtown school shooting, as national debate broke out over the AR-15 rifle and the size of ammunition magazines, with gun-control advocates frequently referring to these as “military-style” weapons or “automatic rifles,” when neither description is technically accurate.
Key arguments in mind, the manual then offers a step-by-step guide on how to frame an intensely emotional discussion, beginning with Step 1: “Always focus on emotional and value-driven arguments about gun violence,” followed by Step 2: “Tell stories with images and feelings,” then Step 3: “Claim moral authority,” Step 4: “Emphasize that extraordinarily dangerous, military-style weapons are now within easy reach across America.”
Later tips remind gun-control advocates to, “Always start with the pain and anguish that gun violence brings into people’s lives,” and, “Use statistics to support an emotional argument, not to replace it.”
Even when the manual does get around to dealing with facts instead of emotional appeals, offering a list of statistics and factoids that are easy to memorize and keep at hand, the authors admit, “These aren’t a comprehensive statement of the most critical facts about the issue – just a quick guide to a few items with powerful communications potential.”
Finally, the document is interspersed with several examples of how to counter a gun-rights advocate’s arguments.
For example, the manual suggests, if someone were to say, “If an honest citizen with a gun were present, this [tragedy] would not have happened,” a gun-control advocate should counter with, “There’s not a shred of credible evidence that more guns and more shooting save people’s lives. More guns and more shooting mean more tragedy.”
But Jeff Knox, director of the Firearms Coalition, warns gun-control campaigns like this specifically direct advocates to shy away from facts because they’re based on trying to fool the public.
“That gun-control playbook is full of lies,” Knox told WND, “with the biggest one being in the opening statement that they have the facts and logic on their side, but that we use emotion and money to advance our cause.
“The opposite is true and demonstrated by the suggestions in the book,” he continued. “They depend on emotion and fear, because reality does not support their position. Gun control doesn’t work. It never has. If it did, there would be ample evidence, but the only evidence they have is so weak and suspect, even anti-gun panels for the Centers for Disease Control and the Science Foundation couldn’t find any strong evidence of gun-control efficacy.”
In a WND column earlier this year, Knox specifically countered the guidebook’s argument that “more guns and more shooting mean more tragedy.”
“Reviews of existing literature going back to the 1970s have consistently found no connection between gun control and crime,” Knox wrote. “On the other hand, there are several peer-reviewed studies which show that guns in private hands are used to stop crimes more often than they are used to commit crimes, and that the prevalence of guns appears to result in reduced violent crime.”
Though the guide was originally produced in 2012, prior to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Bedard commented that gun-control advocates in Washington seemed to have taken a page right out of the guidebook following the shooting.
“Clearly the president and other Democratic leaders followed the talking points,” Bedard wrote. “The talking points, for example, suggest phrases politicians should use [when] speaking about mass shootings, and at least three were adopted by the president in just one speech last March on gun violence.”
In fact, the woman introducing Obama for that speech, Katerina Rodgaard, followed the guide’s advice perfectly, beginning with the first key argument, the “personal toll” of gun violence.
“I have been personally affected by gun violence,” Rodgaard began. “As the mother of a first-grader, I cannot even look at my own daughter without thinking about the poor, innocent victims at Sandy Hook. My heart breaks for them and their families and the families of the eight children every day who are killed by guns in this country.”
She then followed in order with the second key argument, the “right” to be free from violence: “I feel that my rights to feel safe in this country and the rights of our children to feel safe in this country are paramount and worth fighting for.”
Obama then followed with the third key argument – fear of military-style weapons – pledging Congress would vote to “keep weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines that facilitate these mass killings off our streets.”
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