Know the Opposition: Violence Policy Center

H/T AmmoLand.

Knowing your enemy helps beat him.

Josh Sugarmann
Josh Sugarmann

United States – -( One of the reasons that we are facing a harder fight for our rights is that anti-Second Amendment extremists have gone beyond the misuse of firearms in the commission of crimes and acts of madness as a reason to take away our rights. This strategy, which has become very effective, had its birth with the Violence Policy Center.

Do not let the innocent-sounding name fool you. The Violence Policy Center is responsible for not only creating the “assault weapons” myth that is regularly used to beat Second Amendment supporters over the head, especially in the wake of mass shootings, but it is part of an overarching long-term strategy that is responsible for a paradigm shift in the debate over our rights.

You see, to the Violence Policy Center, mere ownership of any type of firearms threatens the “public health” of the entire country. By moving it to this angle it allows them to hammer law-abiding American citizens who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights – even when they have done nothing wrong. It is part of a pattern of anti-Second Amendment innovation – one that has been a hallmark of the organization’s founder, Josh Sugarmann.

Sugarmann, as Second Amendment supporters should know, is the one who initially suggested that the future of anti-Second extremism was shifting the focus away from handguns and on modern multi-purpose semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. His infamous quote is one that Second Amendment supporters should point to when trying to convince our fellow Americans that they are being misled.

But it goes beyond modern multi-purpose semiautomatic rifles. The Violence Policy Center has also sought a complete ban on handguns over the same years. Again, the refrain is they are a danger to public health. We also saw them hype of alleged dangers from rifles that used the .50 BMG cartridge, and it has waged a relentless war on concealed carry laws, often highlighting the very rare times concealed carry permit holders were charged with crimes. The group even targeted subcompact pistols like the Glock 26 calling them “pocket rockets.” There is one very common denominator in all of this: The Violence Policy Center was trying to create fear about gun ownership and modern firearms technology.

But the Violence Policy Center has not stopped there. In addition to the fear-mongering, the Violence Policy Center has proposed to give career bureaucrats the right to impose gun bans. This is, in fact, precisely what the Violence Policy Center advocated in 1994. Their model legislation was introduced in 19931995, and 1997 by then-Representative Major Owens.

The group calls it “regulating the gun industry” – ignoring the many federal, state, and local laws on firearms already in existence. At the link, you will note that they will claim teddy bears are regulated for health and safety, while guns aren’t.

Putting guns under the model of consumer product regulation would, in essence, allow anti-Second Amendment extremists to ban guns – leaving Americans with little recourse against such a ban. It would even apply to accessories like laser sights. And all from a bureaucrat’s edict – with no effective response. When was the last time a federal government bureaucrat got fired for abusing power?

While the Brady Campaign was dangerous in its ability to harness emotional stories, and to separate a lot of well-meaning gun owners from defending the Second Amendment, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has added a more religious fervor that many groups adopt, the Violence Policy Center has literally put forth the nuts and bolts of a plan to take away our rights. They also have played a role in creating the climate of fear used to fuel efforts to take our rights away.

While that approach has been brushed off easily in the past, these days, it is becoming more and more effective – and we are paying for that in terms of losing elections. Eric Holder’s long-sought brainwashing of Americans against guns has begun to take hold, and the Violence Policy Center’s work has been the crux of that campaign. How else do you explain the way an advice columnist can tell a father to put his hatred of guns over love for his daughter, and then double down on it?

Overcoming this climate of fear will be a full-spectrum fight over the long haul that will require the right approach and much attention to not just strategy and tactics, but how Second Amendment supporters come across to their fellow AmericansSupreme Court rulings will only be of temporary respite rather than the beginning of the end of infringements on our rights if the fear created by the Violence Policy Center is not overcome.




Know the Opposition: Brady Campaign

H/T AmmoLand.

The author of this article calls it to know your opposition it should be called to know your enemy.

Make no mistake the Brady Campaign is the enemy of guns and gun owners.

United States – -( For roughly four decades, the primary organization that has sought to take away our right to keep and bear arms has been the Brady Campaign. It first started out as the National Council to Control Handguns, then became known as Handgun Control, Inc. In some ways, it was the most dangerous adversary Second Amendment supporters faced. For this article, we’ll just use Brady Campaign, even though some of the actions came as part of their HCI and NCCH incarnations.

Today, this organization has largely been overshadowed by other groups – March 4 Our Lives, Moms Demand Action, and the Giffords Center. In fact, the biggest recent mention of the Brady Campaign in the news was when Dan Gross, a former president of the group, spoke at a pro-Second Amendment rally this past weekend. The fact he made that speech and what he said is why the Brady Campaign was arguably the most dangerous anti-Second Amendment group out there.

In recent years, we have seen a marked shift in the attitudes of anti-Second Amendment extremists. These days, gun ownership itself is demonized. An advice columnist can openly tell a father to put his hatred of guns and gun owners ahead of loving his daughter. That is just one of many instances where gun ownership and support of the Second Amendment is becoming socially stigmatized. A look at the remarks from Gross, on the other hand, reflects what had been, at times, a highly effective strategy against the Second Amendment.

If you want the best description of the Brady Campaign’s strategy and tactics, we need only to hear it from one of its early leaders, Nelson “Pete” Shields. In a 1976 New Yorker article, he said, “The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country. The second is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition – except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.”

That and other calls for handgun bans hampered the Brady Campaign’s effectiveness, at least until the late 1980s. Then, the organization switched its strategy, and gained some significant success. How they did this is something Second Amendment supporters need to understand in order to better defend our rights in the future.

What they did was to start to target some obscure issues – but they hyped them up, pushing forward poorly-written legislation. For instance, when it came to “cop-killer” bullets, the Brady Campaign pushed a law that would have banned normal centerfire rifle ammo – like the .30-06. The National Rifle Association stood against that – and the Brady Campaign sprung their trap. They had a number of police chiefs appear in ads, asking if the NRA had lost its mind. The tactics worked, pulling in support from suburban voters.

The Brady Campaign then got a boost when Sarah Brady took a more active role after the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The Brady Campaign had long used the relatives of victims of the misuse of firearms as spokespeople for their cause, including Shields. Brady was very effective in this role, using her emotional story to gain support for her agenda despite the facts that shot down her proposed “solutions.”

The plan worked for them – somewhat. With the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, and a Congress willing to consider new infringements on liberty, they made some real gains. They got the Brady Act in 1993, but good damage control by the NRA helped prevent a permanent five-day waiting period. The 1994 semi-auto ban with a ten-year sunset was a pyrrhic win for them, as pro-Second Amendment leadership took the House and Senate in that year’s mid-terms. In 1999, the NRA outmaneuvered them on gun shows and a pro-Second Amendment president won, appointing two justices who proved decisive in the Heller and McDonald cases.

Today, the Brady Campaign is an afterthought when compared to Bloomberg’s groups or March 4 Our Lives. As their former president Gross noted, the effort to infringe our rights has now become, in his words, “an ideological hatred” rather than a well-intentioned but misguided effort to save lives. But we should remember how they were able to succeed. Not only to defend against such tactics in the future, but to also use those to defend our rights.