Skelton: Newsom should use TV to win voters over gun control

It is very rare that anything monumental is done in the American political system without strong public support. This is certainly the case with gun control.

The emphasis here is on strong Support.

What we need to achieve this is a television ad campaign on gun safety.

Polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of citizens support gun control — but not enough to force meaningful bills through Congress, such as requiring universal background checks and banning assault weapons, especially their high-capacity magazines.

It’s not high on voters’ priority lists – and barely thought of between the massacres in schools, churches, bars and dance halls.

This is not true, however, for gun addicts. They are single-issue voters whose candidate choices often depend solely on a politician’s uncompromising allegiance to unlimited gun rights. This allows them and the gun lobby to wield extraordinary influence over members of Congress, especially Republicans.

And that’s why America’s national gun restrictions — unlike California’s — are pathetic. The problem for California is that we are vulnerable to weak laws in other states. Their residents can bring weapons into California that are illegal to sell here. Or we can shop across the border.

So the resolve and demand of the majority – in California and across the country – must be intensified so that before any candidate can win their vote, there must be a commitment to support key firearms regulations. fire.

How can voters go from impassive to pushy?

The same way people turned against tobacco, became more cautious about drink-driving, and learned the consequences of throwing cigarettes out of car windows: video ads.

We have seen public service television commercials showing the debilitating and deadly consequences of smoking and drinking and driving. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Some of us remember Smokey Bear in a low voice pleading, “Only you can prevent forest fires.

During World War II before television, Rosie the Riveter public service posters encouraged women to work in the shipyards while the men were out fighting. Over the radio, as enemy submarines stalked our shores, we heard that “loose lips sink ships”.

Everything was very efficient.

Similarly, we might now have TV ads urging, “Beware of guns.”

The message would not need to be anti-guns, per se. These could include meaningful background checks and the use of a “red flag” law to flag a gun owner who is acting strangely and appears to pose a threat; his weapons could be temporarily confiscated.

Show caskets and victims to visualize the evil of gun violence.

And displaying ugly assault rifles with their high capacity magazines to raise in people’s minds why these weapons of war are needed outside the military. The narrator would not need to ask the question. Viewers would wonder.

Let people know that more Americans die from gunshots – 45,222 in 2020 – than from traffic accidents. Between 2011 and 2020, firearm deaths increased by 33%. Nearly 80% of murders involved firearms.

“Ads like this can have a huge impact, like those against drink-driving and against wearing seatbelts,” says Christian Heyne, vice president of policy and programs at Brady, who campaigns against armed violence.

“The states with the weakest gun laws are the same states with the highest rates of gun death,” he adds. “It’s not an accident. It’s a correlation…. Until the federal government acts, we will continue to see these tragedies.

UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, who specializes in gun law, says “messages about the danger of guns can be effective in changing people’s attitudes about guns.”

“One of the reasons the NRA has been so successful over the past half-century,” he continues, “is that it has consistently pushed the narrative that guns are effective tools of Self-defense.The data suggests otherwise.In fact, you are more at risk if you have guns in the home.

Easily accessible firearms are fired in domestic violence. Children shoot them accidentally. They are preferred in suicides.

These dangers could be mentioned in a television advertisement.

So would a commitment to gun owners that the goal is not to seize all of their guns. It would be politically and constitutionally impossible anyway.

A reader, Rich, emailed me: “Most gun owners I know will support most of what [Gov. Gavin] Newsom says the nation needs. What we all fear is that it will never be enough…. It’s the “never give an inch cause they’ll take a mile” philosophy.

“Banning high-capacity magazines is probably the most reasonable start,” the reader adds. “Ask Newsom to come out and say, ‘This is what we have to do and this will be the end. Then he can get some traction.

The gun lobby would disagree, but they are hopeless. Gun control supporters should target Rich and his sane friends.

I called veteran Democratic consultant Bill Carrick, a skilled producer of television political ads. He’s a realist who hinted that I was crazy.

“How do you do that?” ” He asked. “Who’s going to pay for this?”

Good point. Certainly not Congress when Republicans control the House. Television networks may offer discounts, but they are unlikely to give away advertising time for free. Neither does cable, streaming services, or social media.

But Newsom and the state legislature always seem to have enough money for whatever they want. This governor could be a pioneer in producing gun safety spots that were a national model.

“You’re going to have to find private funding somewhere,” Carrick says.

Well, there are 735 billionaires in America who are collectively worth $4.7 trillion. You would think two or three would be willing to invest in gun safety.

Los Angeles Times

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