The NRA’s Media Strategy, Is It Working?

The newest efforts to ban guns being undertaken by Democrats and President Obama demands response and the National Rifle Association isn’t lying down on the job. But is the NRA’s media strategy working?

For about a week after the murders of 26 school children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, the NRA was sensibly–and respectfully–silent over the incident. But after allowing a suitable time to go by to allow some grieving to take place, the NRA came out swinging with a few ideas on what to do about guns, one of which was to place armed guards in our nation’s schools.

Immediately the left skewered the NRA for the suggestion, even though the President himself later proposed something similar–and was criticized for it from his own side.

Next, on December 23, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre went on NBC’s Meet The Press and the result didn’t seem to help the NRA’s cause much. LaPierre’s appearance was widely panned by the whole of the Old Media establishment, but also by some of the center right. The most cringe worthy aspect of his Sunday morning show segment was his awkward attempts at humor over this serous topic. When appearing on TV to talk about firearm abuse, one might be best warned not to try and be funny when murder is the topic of discussion, especially when it’s the murder of children.

The NRA followed that initial roll out of its argument with a video ad calling Obama a hypocrite for using armed guards himself and for sending his children to a school that had armed guards even as he and his party scoffed at helping to supply America’s children with such heightened security.

Once again the leftward media slammed the NRA. Almost to a man the Old Media attacked the NRA for bringing the President’s children into the political debate.

While many on the right thought the ad hit the right note, even some inside the NRA’s inner circle thought that the video ad was “ill-advised.” Late in January, for instance, Jim Baker, the head of the federal affairs division at the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, positioned himself as one that wasn’t happy with the ad.

“I don’t think it was particularly helpful, that ad,” Baker said in a telephone interview with Reuters wire service. “I thought it ill-advised.”

“I think the ad could have made a good point, if it talked about the need for increased school security, without making the point using the president’s children.”

Others on the GOP side of the aisle also spoke out against the ad. Opportunist New Jersey Governor Chris Christie slammed the ad saying it was “reprehensible” to use the President’s kids to make a political point.

“To talk about the president’s children, or any public officer’s children, who have–not by their own choice, but by requirement–to have protection, and to use that somehow to try to make a political point is reprehensible,” Christie said.

Since his widely panned appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre has stepped back a bit allowing most of the media work to be done by David Keene, the organization’s President. It has, however, been announced that LaPierre will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 30 as that body works toward mark up on the Democrat’s newest gun ban bill.

One thing is sure, no matter what the NRA has done with it’s media response, membership is way, way up. Whether the NRA has a successful media campaign or not has not stopped over a quarter of a million of new members from joining the nation’s preeminent Second Amendment-supporting organization.

At the very least, the principles and ultimate work of the NRA is certainly supported directly by somewhere around four million Americans and counting not to mention millions more that haven’t parted with dues money. Various polling firms seem to verify this by finding that even after Sandy Hook, the NRA has not lost its support from the general public. So, the NRA is still in the good graces of most Americans despite its less than effective media campaign.

There have been mistakes made in the NRA’s media strategy, a major one of which seems to have been putting Wayne LaPierre up as the group’s public face. Perhaps, though, the NRA has done as well as it could when taking into account the fact that the entire Old Media establishment has lined up against it no matter what it does.

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Posted by on January 29, 2013.
Filed under 2nd Amendment, Barack Obama, Constitutional Issues, corruption, Culture Of Corruption, Democrats, Gun control, Liberals, Media.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment.com and BigJournalism.com, RightWingNews.com, CanadaFreePress.com, RightPundits.com, StoptheACLU.com, Human Events Magazine, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of PubliusForum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions, EMAIL Warner Todd Huston: igcolonel .at. hotmail.com "The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it." --Samuel Johnson

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  • herddog505

    WTHPerhaps, though, the NRA has done as well as it could when taking into account the fact that the entire Old Media establishment has lined up against it no matter what it does.

    I think that’s really it. No matter what the NRA does or says, it’s “How DARE they!!!” or “NRA takes heat for saying …” The gun-grabbers know that the NRA is their #1 obstacle, so they’ve got no choice but to try to portray the organization and its members as cranks and extremists: admitting that the NRA has ANY good ideas, giving it ANY legitimacy, undermines that strategy.

    As for the ad involving Barry’s children, I thought that it was spot-on: Barry and the rest of the gun-grabbers have armed security, live in gated, guarded communities, send their kids to exclusive, well-guarded schools, etc. The children of John and Jane Doe have… their parents. When a hoodlum broke into that house in Georgia a few weeks ago, there was no Secret Service team with automatic weapons (REAL automatic weapons) and an armored limo to help them out: there was only Mom and a revolver.

    The gun-grabbers want to make sure that Mom doesn’t even have that.
    Further, after Barry used children as stage props, I fail to see why HIS children are out of bounds.

    I suggest that another part of the problem is that the NRA refuses to follow The Script: they don’t have the “reasonable” Maverick who will be willing to reach across the aisle and compromise, i.e. give the gun-grabbers 90% of what they want while sh*tting all over his own organization. Instead, LaPierre and the rest of the NRA leadership are pretty much intransigent and simple: there’s no real compromise that they are willing to make.

    How dare they, indeed.

  • GarandFan

    Wayne LaPierre isn’t one of my favorite people. While the suggestion for armed guards in the school might seem over the mark – you have to wonder how many other crazy copy-cats are out there? Most schools in California have ‘resource officers’ already assigned to them. As to the comment about Barry’s kids and armed guards – a better target would have been that simpering David Gregory. HIS kids attend the same school as Barry’s kids. Gregory poo-poos the guard suggestion, yet where does he send his kids? Hope he doesn’t choke on the hypocrisy.

  • Commander_Chico

    NRA is flacking for the gun manufacturers.

    Armed guards at schools = more gun sales. Simple.

    • MartinLandauCalrissian

      So?

    • jim_m

      You’re a moron.

      The tired and fraudulent meme that the NRA is only representing manufacturing concerns has been demonstrated to be pure fantasy. If you look at the NRA it is not manufacturers that hold the most influence, it is the grass roots. Individual member dues provides at least half of the NRA’s annual budget. Historically, the NRA has been driven by grass roots 2nd amendment rights concerns for the past 30+ years.

    • jim_m

      You’re a moron.

      The tired and fraudulent meme that the NRA is only representing manufacturing concerns has been demonstrated to be pure fantasy. If you look at the NRA it is not manufacturers that hold the most influence, it is the grass roots. Individual member dues provides at least half of the NRA’s annual budget. Historically, the NRA has been driven by grass roots 2nd amendment rights concerns for the past 30+ years.

    • LiberalNightmare

      Commander chico. Simple.

    • LiberalNightmare

      Commander chico. Simple.

    • Par4Course

      Liberals want to force gun makers out of business. A couple years ago, Illinois passed laws that prohibited the manufacture of certain weapons. As a result, one local business, Les Baer Custom Inc., moved from Illinois across the river to Iowa. (There were probably many similar moves out of other areas of Illinois.)

      Americans prefer to purchase AR15 and other defensive weapons (rarely used to “assault” anyone) that the left wants to outlaw. Stopping idiotic gun bans protects individual rights but also has the side benefit of keeping gun makers in business – to the liberals’ chagrin. All the better.

  • Hank_M

    I’m just happy to see the NRA fighting back against these hypocritical preening fools.

    The ad using Obama’s children? Great ad. And I don’t care at all what Christie has to say any longer.

    As for the Old Media, Eff em!

  • Wild_Willie

    To say we don’t need armed guards in schools is hiding your head in the sand. Active Shooter scenario’s are increasing in all areas including schools and healthcare facilities. FEMA with the FBI train emergency management executives Active Shooter training as a need for credentialing for emergency management positions. I attended that training. California fire fighters fight their wildfires with controlled fires. Risky but effective.
    The NRA isn’t singling out the Obama kids, they were drawing a contrast of those politicians that have security for them and their families who attend private schools whom also have armed security but they think us common fold can’t have that. Now if Christie cannot understand that comparison, he is very dumb. ww

  • jim_m

    Is it working?

    YES!!

    Over half of Americans believe that Sandy Hook is being politicized and 60% of independents think so. Even worse for the left:

    Democrats, who normally count on the youth vote, may be surprised to find that 70 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 58 percent of 25-34 year-olds say “assault weapons should be allowed.” Similarly, Republicans, who usually rely upon the senior vote, will find that 57 percent of 55-64 year-olds and 61 percent of people over the age of 65 say assault weapons should be prohibited.

    Other surveys have shown that 60+% of young Americans plan on owning a gun. The left has lost the next generation already on this issue.

    [edit] Oh, and in the above survey, 29% defined assault weapons as fully automatic weapons, so there are some out there that want to roll back the 1934 NFA.

  • jim_m

    Is it working?

    YES!!

    Over half of Americans believe that Sandy Hook is being politicized and 60% of independents think so. Even worse for the left:

    Democrats, who normally count on the youth vote, may be surprised to find that 70 percent of 18-24 year-olds and 58 percent of 25-34 year-olds say “assault weapons should be allowed.” Similarly, Republicans, who usually rely upon the senior vote, will find that 57 percent of 55-64 year-olds and 61 percent of people over the age of 65 say assault weapons should be prohibited.

    Other surveys have shown that 60+% of young Americans plan on owning a gun. The left has lost the next generation already on this issue.

    [edit] Oh, and in the above survey, 29% defined assault weapons as fully automatic weapons, so there are some out there that want to roll back the 1934 NFA.

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    If you’re a Second Amendment supporter, you’re going to be looking for a voice. The NRA’s a LOUD voice in support of Second Amendment rights, even if it does occasionally sing a sour note.

    And with the current media penchant for taking anything they can use to castigate those it disagrees with – the only safe thing the NRA could do to avoid their wrath is to stay completely silent. (Which, of course, is the desired effect.

    It’s not about having a dialogue, it’s about making the folks defending their rights STFU..

  • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

    If you’re a Second Amendment supporter, you’re going to be looking for a voice. The NRA’s a LOUD voice in support of Second Amendment rights, even if it does occasionally sing a sour note.

    And with the current media penchant for taking anything they can use to castigate those it disagrees with – the only safe thing the NRA could do to avoid their wrath is to stay completely silent. (Which, of course, is the desired effect.

    It’s not about having a dialogue, it’s about making the folks defending their rights STFU..

  • Conservachef

    From the Blogroll on the right: Reid refuses to endorse assault weapons ban legislation..

    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/01/reid_refuses_to_endorse_assault_weapons_ban_legislation.html

    Interesting quotes from the article:

    “Reid said he would bring gun-violence legislation to the floor and open it to a lengthy amendment process…” (translation- pork it up to try and buy some votes)

    “We’re going to have votes on all kinds of issues dealing with guns, and I
    think everyone would be well advised to read the legislation before
    they determine how they’re going to vote [on] it.” (read the bill before voting on it? What a novel idea!! I thought that went out of fashion back when they passed “pass it to find out what’s in it” Obamacare).

    I think (hope) DiFi’s bill won’t ever make it out of the House, and Reid knows it.

    • jim_m

      DiFi’s bill won’t make out out of House subcommittee. It doesn’t matter what Reid does. truth is that he can’t even get it to win on the floor of the Senate.

      • Conservachef

        The American Thinker article also speculated that Reid would get a lot of heat back home if he pushed very hard for gun control.

  • LiberalNightmare

    Is the NRAs message working?
    Definately, but i suggest that people who try to judge this by the NRAs growing membership numbers are purposely missing the bigger picture.

    The number that matters is the number of weapons sold in the past 4 years. Each of those sales represents a person who has plunked down their hard earned cash, to voice their support of the 2nd ammendment.

    That requires a little more enthusiasm then your average democratic faux grass roots movement can generate.

    • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

      I’d say the current shortage of ammunition is also an indicator. But Washington is VERY good at ignoring what they don’t want to see.

    • herddog505

      Past four years? Try the past FOUR WEEKS!

      • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

        Never really had a desire for a .223/5.56 – but at this point I might buy one if I could find something affordable.

        Man, it’s laughable when the know-nothings blather about how deadly something like that is – and ignore things like a .30-06 or a .30-30.

        • herddog505

          Uncle Choo-choo was actually right about one thing: a shotgun is (in certain circumstances) more effective than an “assault weapon”. Cheaper, too.

          “Know-nothings” is right: these lackwits have decided (or, more accurately, been told to believe) that a rifle with a pistol grip and a large, detachable box magazine is a veritable death ray while other firearms, even if they fire identical (or even more powerful) cartridges and are fed by identical magazines are (for now) acceptable.

          But liberals don’t understand anything else, so why should we expect them to understand firearms?

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            I’m in a discussion over on another forum trying to get them to understand that something like this…

            http://www.gunandgame.com/forums/attachments/powder-keg/23678d1247184798-hi-point-45-carbine-stock-new.jpg

            firing a .45 pistol cartridge isn’t as powerful as something like this firing a .30 WCF.

            http://www.gunandgame.com/forums/attachments/winchester/32610d1276384136-winchester-30cal-wcf-lever-action-serial-number-winchester-model-94-30.30-lever-action-rifle-010.jpg

            But there seems to be a disconnect. They don’t care how things WORK, they care how they LOOK. It’s black, and ‘military styled’, therefore it needs to be banned.

            It’s really hard to argue against emotion with reason. I don’t think I’m getting through very well.

          • herddog505

            You can’t. They’ve been told that the Evil Black Rifle is (A) sooper-deadly and (B) good for nothing but shooting innocent people. They’ve got their story, and they’ll stick to it to the grave.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Maybe so – but hopefully I can erode their certainty to a point where something else, maybe unrelated, will crack it to a point where they go “Wait a sec…” and they’ll Google up info on their own.

            I think I got through to someone today who was spouting the old line that ‘if you’ve got a gun, you’re many times more likely to have a family member killed by it’. Apparently it’s the result of one anomalous study in Cleveland. It’s Myth #3 at the link.

            http://people.duke.edu/~gnsmith/articles/myths.htm

            If nothing else, it makes me more certain of my positions re gun control. And maybe someone else here can use it in their discussion with someone else.

        • Conservachef

          JLawson,

          At the moment, I wouldn’t want to buy a .223- or at least not an AR style. Not because I’m afraid of the big-bad army gun, but because I think demand has caused prices to jump beyond my reach. If cost weren’t an issue, I’d love to get a Stag Arms AR- I’m a lefty and I like the look of their left handed rifle.

          • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

            Yeah, the prices are insane at this point. Maybe in 6 months or so, when the ammo famine recedes…

            Re left-handed shooting – I’m a lefty myself, but right-eye dominant so it’s no real problem for me.

  • JWH

    Whom does the NRA need to impress? Its own members? Potential members? Policymakers? Individuals sympathetic to its political agenda, but who are not members or politically aligned with them? Individuals who dislike gun control, but don’t like Wayne LaPierre and/or the NRA?

    Knowing the target audience would allow a better assessment of how well the NRA’s strategy is working.

    • jim_m

      I would wager that since NRA membership is skyrocketing right now it is aiming its message at both members and potential members and it is getting that message exactly right. I don’t think that the NRA really cares about people that dislike them. They are focused on the 2nd amendment issue and are voicing the concerns of their members.

      It’s a lot of people and it’s a lot of money. The difference between the NRA and the Brady Campaign is that when the NRA asks for members to call congress the switchboard shuts down due to high traffic. When the Brady Campaign makes the same request nobody notices.

      • Conservachef

        That’s the thing- the NRA is huge, and I’d bet that a great percentage of its’ members are voters and politically active enough to contact their reps. Not like some other organizations that can convince people to march with a sign or protest this or that- but go home and forget about it.

    • herddog505

      I’d say that they are trying to “impress” a couple of different groups:

      — Their base: “Look, we’re standing up for you. We’re not compromising, we’re not backing down, and we’re sure as hell not going to play the gun-grabber’s game of having a ‘dialogue’ about ‘reasonable’ ways and means to disarm you.”

      — The gun-grabbers: “F*ck you. We’re not compromsing, we’re not backing down, and we’re sure as hell not going to play your game of having a ‘dialogue’ about ‘reasonable’ ways and means to disarm us. Oh… Did we say, ‘F*ck you’? In case we didn’t, F*CK YOU!”

      I think it’s working in both cases.

  • Vagabond661

    I would also say the bullying tactics of the left is working which is amazing in itself given their outspoken protests to bullying.

  • LiberalNightmare

    This guy thinks the NRA is a paper tiger. Maybe we should let him know different…

    http://www.politico.com/story/2013/01/this-is-not-your-fathers-nra-86885.html

  • retired.military

    I love how Obama is pushing gun control when the govt is offering for auction a fully automatic M16 to private citizens (with the right firearms certificate)

    (I sent Kevin a link to the actual sale from this site)

    http://www.govdeals.com/?cm_sp_o=RAf_BAEp+kbELlCjCmA_lbpbzybwlCjC7BMKwzkl

    It seems either the auction has expired or they took it down. LOL . Last bid on it was $12,500. (A bit overpriced if you ask me).

    The site also had an SK with a 30 round clip for sale as well.

    • http://www.rustedsky.net JLawson

      No firearms available on that site. There’s some accessories – but that’s all I was able to find.

      Interesting stuff they’ve got there. An RV for $500? Of course, you’ll have to rebuild the thing’s interior… There’s one auction of ammo brass, swept up from a range – that’s up to almost $8k.

      I know folks are desperate for reloading supplies… but $8k?!