NRA's PRecarious position

      11 Comments on NRA's PRecarious position

Flag of the United States of AmericaAs a PR guy, I’m looking forward to watching how the National Rifle Association (NRA) reacts to the horrific shootings of 20 young children and six women in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.  As of this writing, about 46 hours after the murders, the NRA remains silent.

Of course, we know that the NRA is among the most powerful lobbying organizations in the country, successfully holding down efforts to regulate the sale of guns by supporting pro-gun rights candidates.  Its well-known slogan, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” is indicative of its dogged commitment to battle any attempt at gun control.

So far, the only public NRA reaction has been to cancel an event.  According to a Global Post article, the NRA “had planned a live ‘Tweet & Greet’ with country music rapper Colt Ford for 1 p.m. Central Time Friday afternoon, just a few hours after the shootings.” An NRA spin-off organization reportedly tweeted that the event would be rescheduled. “Any information about the event has since been taken down from their Twitter and website,” the article stated.

I’m not informed enough to discuss specifics on gun legislation, but just as there were after Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Aurora, there will be all kinds of calls for restrictions on access to guns after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  The NRA will have to walk a fine public relations line, at least for the next few days, to ensure the organization won’t appear insensitive.  But its presence and power within American politics will leave most of our leaders silent.  They are too afraid that the NRA will throw big money at their next opponent if they speak out on behalf of tougher gun laws, so instead they will pray, empathize and make heartfelt statements of sympathy.  But I predict they will, for the most part, do nothing.

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” is a wonderful slogan if your role is to protect the possession and sale of guns.  Yes, the NRA is doing its branding job very well.  Your thoughts?

11 thoughts on “NRA's PRecarious position

  1. Bert Cunningham

    With Sandy Hook victimes still being buried, the NRA responded to the Sandy Hook killings saying: to stop gun slaughter in schools, more guns are needed. To those who are not gun advocates, it sounded arrogant and insane. Especially in response to a tragedy that struck such a deep, universal emotional cord. But PRpros and students need to visit and read yesterday’s complete press statement and related postings. There’s a Mein Kampf-like logic to the NRA’s message. It not only speaks to its members, their bread and butter, it also speaks to those less emotional about Sandy Hook or informed about gun violence in general. And that’s how they plan to speak past renewed calls for greater control of guns and gun use in America. With the NRA’s aggressive “our way is the best way to protect you” PR strategy now clear the question is: How will those who seek change advance PR messaging and solutions in a sustained way to overcome it?

  2. publicrelationspro

    It appears to me that the NRA took their time and was very careful about how they handled such a tender situation. After hearing their statement, I was surprised and actually impressed at how they handled the situation. I was glad to see that they employed public relations tactics, as they should have. After all, this is one of the most horrible tragedies to ever hit the United States. I don’t think that a whole lot will change as far as people being able to acquire guns, but I do think that some positivity will come out of how guns will be dealt with in the future. Even though they represent such a large business, they clearly recognized that this was a severe matter that needed to be full investigated and to get all the facts right before they came out with too much info.

  3. klevick1206

    I believe that there does need to be stricter gun laws. However, if people are so deranged such as Adam Lanza was, he was going to find a way to kill those innocent people. But if there were stricter gun laws maybe it would make it harder. The NRA needs to say something as far as PR goes.

  4. Nicole Risell

    I think it’s wise for the NRA to stay silent because I think no matter what they would decide to say, it would be meant with resistance. It’s already a controversial organization as it is, and when tragedies like this happen, the first figure people lash out at is usually the NRA. I don’t know much about the NRA, but I don’t think they call for zero regulation of guns and I believe that is a big misconception about the NRA. I don’t think banning guns will ever happen and if it does, people will still find ways to get them.

  5. Taylor Albright

    This was such a horrible tragedy and I think something does need to be done. After Friday, there were millions of tweets going out about this incident and one stuck out in my mind. Similar to the “guns don’t kill people. People kill people” quote, the tweet went something like this: “the second amendment needs refining. Sorry hunters and other responsible gun owners, but incidents like this outweigh your activity. #truth”. The NRA is a powerful organization and it I definitely think this incident might have been the “final straw” Obama said it himself, this has to stop, there have been too many things like this and something needs to be done. Hopefully he follows through with that and something does get done.

  6. Bert Cunningham

    Crucial public policy issues get addressed when they reach critical mass, e.g., highway safety and anti-drunk driving laws. The issue had to build to the point where public opinion moved the “powers that be” to address the problem. But the public drive for action must involve a personal perspective or context. The slaughter of the innocents in Newtown has put a new context on gun violence for a great many Americans. Not that other incidents did not have connections to our individual humanity. The murder of six and seven year old children, however, has struck a universal humanity. Tonight, President Obama framed the conversation on what to do in response to the Newtown tragedy. “Are we doing enough to protect our children?” And he answered as most Americans will answer when he said: “No.” How will the NRA answer that question? How will Congress and the individual states answer that question? The answer will come after an all out public opinion blitz by PR pros on all sides of this issue. This time the outpouring of empathy for the innocent victims of this latest tragedy may be the tipping point for positive action to stem gun violence.

  7. publicrelationspro

    I believe you are right about the NRA kind of keeping quiet. This is no doubt one of the biggest hurdles that the NRA will likely face; at least I certainly hope so. However, I think that if the NRA chooses to respond to the issue, they will seek out the ways in which their policies were not correctly followed. Since the guns were legal and licensed to the mother of the shooter, the questions that come to my mind is “were the guns locked away like they are supposed to be?, Why does a kindergarten teacher need an assault rifle?” (nearly identical to the M16 i carried when I was at war in Iraq) let alone 3 weapons. Just like any other organization under scrutiny, they will likely look for the path of least resistance.

  8. Chloe Lambros

    What an interesting way to tie in PR (crisis management) with such am awful and unexpected incident. Like Leia, I can also imagine how the NRA’s public relations people will address the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary. I agree with Leia that “sensitivity must be at the forefront of any message released.” Yes, the people affected will mostly appreciate the compassion and sympathy, but I’m sure they would also like to hear about a possible safety plan for the future gun buyers/users. However, I don’t think that its is wise for the NRA to be taking a long period of time to really make a statement (aside from empathy) about the issue at hand. In PR, honesty is the best policy and dealing with an issue sooner is better. Prolonging statements will only make it worse for the NRA.

  9. hikerprman

    None of what I write here is to diminish the deaths of 20 kindergarten aged children that just happened. But these events are rare in the scheme of things and only seem prevalent because of the nature of news reporting. The facts are that the shooting of children happens every day, especially in neighborhoods of color. It only seems to get into people’s conciousness when a mass shooting occurs. Some statatistics from the Children’s Defense Fund: Approximately 3,000 pre-teen kids are killed by guns each year in the U.S. The total number of preschool-age children killed by guns per year averages nearly double the number of law-enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Among 23 high-income countries in the world scholars have studied, the United States is home to 80 percent of all gun deaths, and 87 percent of all gun deaths of children younger than 15.

    Obviously we have a problem here, but it is about much more than deranged killers who make shocking news. But if the sensational news events serve to precipitate better gun control, then so be it.

  10. Leia Schultz

    You’ve written an interesting post in the wake of this awful event. It brings me to wonder how the NRA and gun manufacturers feel about their craft when someone uses a gun to commit unfathomably terrible tragedies. This is not to suggest that I believe that these parties are in any way directly responsible for what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but the nature of what they are proponents for is violence – I believe that when people come into the possession of a gun they are aware that it is an object intended for violent purposes (be that purpose self-defense or just firing at a shooting range). I don’t want to go on any further about the ethics of gun ownership, but I will say that I am insecure about how seemingly easy it is for people to come to own a gun (or more). There is an undeniable association between what the NRA stands for and the details of this tragedy. I can imagine that NRA’s public relations people are critically assessing how to address this, especially when this event involved the deaths of so many young children. Ultimate sensitivity must be at the forefront of any message released. I think that we can assume that those who were affected by the shooting at Sandy Hook would most appreciate compassion and empathy in these days just after the incident. Engaging in respectful dialogue is more important – indeed, more human – than using this tragedy to incite rhetoric about the second amendment and its implications in our society.

  11. Jon Fisco

    I was looking forward to this post and was wondering what your topic would be after Friday. I think the NRA is as powerful an organization this country has ever seen and its power is well known. That being said, they’re not just powerful they’re also smart and well documented when it comes to their opinions and their stance on gun control. The internet has been ablaze with comments of “restrict all guns” and “guns are too easy to buy” but as the facts stand Lanza had never purchased the guns in the first place, they weren’t his. I understand people’s concerns and outrage but I don’t think attacking gun control will do much as the NRA will stifle the conversation once it becomes to poignant.


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