Democratic anti-gun 'guide' urged using Trayvon Martin's death to hit NRA, guns

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Gun Control,National Rifle Association,Trayvon Martin

Newly uncovered Democratic anti-NRA talking points urge anti-gun advocates and politicians to hype high-profile gun incidents like the Florida slaying of Trayvon Martin to win support for new gun control laws.

In talking points likely followed by top Democratic leaders including President Obama after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in December, the anti-gun "guide" urged gun foes to speak out when a shooting "creates a unique climate" to shout down the National Rifle Association.

"The most powerful time to communicate is when concern and emotions are running at their peak," said the 80-page document titled "Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging," and produced by three Democratic firms led by the polling and research outfit Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

The guide was produced in 2012, before the Sandy Hook shootings. According to a report posted on NRA News from Examiner.com, not connected to the Washington Examiner, it was developed to help anti-gun advocates in Washington State's effort to control gun purchases, though it clearly has national overtones and uses, especially as groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner client -- expand their fight for gun control.

The guide spells out how to talk about gun control and when to press the issue, the best time being in the wake of a publicized shooting. For example, it calls on gun control advocates to speak out, "don't wait" for the facts, after a shooting like Martin's heightens awareness of the issue.

"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," said the guide.

"A high-profile gun violence incident temporarily draws more people into the conversation about gun violence," added the talking points. "We should rely on emotionally powerful language, feelings and images to bring home the terrible impact of gun violence," said the guide, which also urged advocates use images of scary looking guns and shooting scenes to make their point.

Clearly the president and other Democratic leaders followed the talking points in the aftermath of the horrific Newtown, Conn. shootings last December. The talking points, for example, suggest phrases politicians should use speaking about mass shootings, and at least three were adopted by the president in just one speech last March on gun violence. Despite the Obama led effort, during which he sometimes surrounded himself with the families of Sandy Hook victims, Congress didn't adopt any gun control legislation.

Much of the focus of the guide is the National Rifle Association, which the Democratic consultants warned is considered a "mainstream organization by most Americans." While slapping the NRA to liberals is accepted, "when we are communicating with the general public, we need to be aware of the fact that, beyond our base, people have a positive impression of the organization and it's role."

The talking points even include language politicians should not direct at the NRA including, "The NRA is an extremist organization and they have to be stopped."

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.