The Democrats' Anti-Gun Manual Exposed

A shocking new report reveals a deliberate plan by Democrats to exploit incidents of gun violence to their advantage.  As Rahm Emanuel said, "You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before."  In other words, forget the facts of cases, the circumstances surrounding them, or even the victims themselves; just take advantage of circumstances and current events to push your agenda.  Or, as the manual puts it: "The most powerful time to communicate is when concern and emotions are running at their peak."

Regarding the issue of gun control, the Democrats are prepared; they published an 80-page manual titled "Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging" that instructs users on how to exploit the emotions resulting from horrific incidents to attack the National Rifle Association (NRA), supporters of the Second Amendment, and gun owners -- ways to take advantage of events to get around the constitutional right to bear arms.

Who doesn't want to prevent "gun violence"?  Who is promoting "gun violence"?  What about gun crime?  The manual addresses those questions when guiding readers in how to address certain audiences: "For example, when talking to men, it is important to know that they are much more moti­vated by protecting people from 'gun crime' than preventing 'gun violence.' Women are motivated by both."

This is because the phrase "gun crime" aptly describes an incident committed by a criminal, not by a law-abiding citizen who may or may not be a gun owner.  Most registered gun owners do not commit crimes, whereas every single person who commits a criminal act with an unregistered gun is a criminal.  When people think about criminals with guns, they are less likely to support "gun control" legislation because they realize that legal guns could protect them.

The "gun violence" manual's writers also urge caution when going after the NRA: "How to discuss the NRA is another example. It's critical to know that our base supporters are very critical of the NRA's role in enabling gun violence. But, most general audiences view the NRA as a mainstream organization."

The NRA enables gun violence?  See the not-so-subtle bias here?

The NRA website gives a straightforward message.  "In civilian training, the NRA continues to be the leader in firearms education. Over 55,000 certified instructors now train about 750,000 gun owners a year. Courses are available in basic rifle, pistol, shotgun, muzzle loading firearms, personal protection, even ammunition reloading."

The "gun violence" manual turns the NRA's message on its head: "It is far better to discuss the NRA in terms of the role its officials play in preventing people and communities from protecting themselves from the terrible personal toll that gun violence takes on people's lives."  (Emphasis theirs.)

If the manual writers had perused the NRA website, they would have seen the "Refuse to Be a Victim" training course, where "you can learn the personal safety tips and techniques you need to avoid dangerous situations and avoid becoming a victim."  The fact is, the "gun violence" manual writers do not wish to deal with or acknowledge anything that would interfere with their messaging to promote gun control (just not in those words).

The "gun violence" manual tells readers, "Do talk about 'preventing gun violence.'"  "Don't talk about 'gun control.'"  "Do advocate for 'stronger' gun laws."  Don't use the term 'stricter' gun laws."  Yes, if they were truthful about their desire to take the guns away from law-abiding owners, people might just disagree with them.

According to the manual, the best time to sway people to the gun control side is after a high-profile shooting incident such as "Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, the Trayvon Martin killing, Aurora and Oak Creek."  When people's emotions are running high, the gun control crowd is urged to become more vocal.

"A high-profile gun violence incident temporarily draws more people into the conversation about gun violence. It opens the eyes and ears of folks who, in more 'normal' circumstances, don't pay much attention to the issue of gun violence prevention."  The writers think it is the perfect time to emphasize "emotion over policy prescriptions."  Or as James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal framed it, it is a lesson in "how to incite a moral panic."

The manual writers fervently believe that gun control will lead to fewer incidents of gun crimes.  If that were true Washington, D.C. would not have been the murder capital of the United States for so many years, when it had the strictest gun control laws in the nation.  Neighboring Virginia is seeing a decline in gun crimes as the number of gun owners increases.

The writers also included a section in the "gun violence" manual to address contentious issues.  For example, the Obama administration's Justice Department got involved in a gun-running scheme known as Fast and Furious, where guns were sold in the U.S. to questionable purchasers and ended up in Mexico, where they killed many people, and in the U.S., where one was used to murder U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.  The manual guides the reader on how to handle this:

ACKNOWLEDGE FAST AND FURIOUS AS A BOTCHED OPERATION AND THEN PIVOT TO WEAK GUN LAWS. There is no need to get drawn into a detailed defense or re-litigation of Fast and Furious. We are better off acknowledging that it was a botched operation and then quickly moving on to a broader conversation about weak gun laws and guns flowing into the hands of drug cartels.

It's odd: the first messaging principle the manual suggests is "Always focus on emotional and value-driven arguments about gun violence, not the political food fight in Washington or wonky statistics."  The death of a United States citizen and law enforcement officer by means of a government-endorsed gun-running operation is pretty emotional and value-driven, but not to those who want to push for "gun control" for law-abiding citizens.  In that case, it's just a box checked in the messaging and a pivot to avoid the unpleasant facts.

And that is how demagogues throughout history have won supporters, influenced debates, and destroyed governments.  There was a time when American students were taught to spot such specious arguments in others, never to use such rhetoric themselves, and to disdain mob tactics of all varieties.  Today, on the other hand, demagoguery is just another form of political spin.  Worse, such false rhetoric is enshrined in a political party's instructional manuals.

­­­­­­­­­­Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. wrote her doctoral dissertation on political rhetoric and is a former presidential speech writer.

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