As 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?