Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The National Rifle Association's PR disaster

This has been a fortnight of PR disasters. After gruesome crimes and horrific incidents in the world's flag-bearers of democracy- the USA and India, the targets of the agitation were involved in huge PR disasters. The government of India and especially the Prime Minister, were committing one PR disaster over another, in their response to the protests and reactions over the horrific gang-rape incident in Delhi.

Across the seas and oceans, the USA was rocked by the mass killings in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. As is common (and very necessary), there were huge voices and loud calls in support of enacting laws for regulating the ownership of guns and ammunition across the country. The Americans, who fiercely defend their constitutional guarantees, were bound to be vocal across both sides. First, since the constitutional gives rights to people to own guns, that right needs to be protected. That the guns end up taking lives of others (who are not necessarily the gunman's enemies) is an other matter. The National Rifle Association (NRA), which is an association of gun owners in America, is an extremely powerful body with over four million members. Not only are they an association, they are lobbyists too and powerful ones. They spent more than US$24 million in the 2012 elections towards funding political campaigns of candidates who were favourable to them. But, if they had spent a fraction of that amount on PR management, their  CEO, Wayne LaPierre, would not have ended up in a PR disaster soup.

After the mass killings in Connecticut, where most of the victims were young children, many aged less than 12 years, there was an outcry to have stricter gun control. The NRA was expected to say something, not that many expected it to say anything in favour of gun control. But even the NRA's members would not have expected it to be such a huge PR disaster. In a press conference, LaPierre said that the only way to stop gunmen from going on a rampage is handing guns to good people. So, instead of limiting the types of guns available and the number of people those who can own those, LaPierre wants everybody to have them. In the moments of grief, this isn't a welcome statement. It is almost like saying you need to fight more wars to have more peace. This was a pure PR disaster, indicating the mindset of the NRA members. Sure, you are a rifle association, so then why should civil population have access to assault weapons and military grade guns and ammunition? That too, in Wal-Mart, as if it were a weekly purchase of eggs! Nancy Lanza, the mother of the killer (Adam Lanza) in the Connecticut shootings, owned an array of guns in her home, which were accessible to her sons. Now, why did she need so many? If she was a collector of some sort, then shouldn't it be necessary for some regulations that ensure the safety of the weapons and restrict their accessibility?

Sure, your constitution guarantees the right to possess a firearm for self-defense within the home. But, is this the age when you might be attacked by a group of bandits, that you need to possess military grade assault weapons? And if so, why can't you let the police classify your area as such. Certainly, areas that are relatively safe do not need you to possess assault and automatic weapons. But then, for a safe society, all Americans need to accept that they need to adhere to certain restrictions. Will these restrictions guarantee a certainty in safety. Absolutely not, but then adhering to the 2nd amendment's provisions also has not done the same. Wonder how many people who matter would now want to side with LaPierre, after his press conference?
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1 comment:

  1. The mass killings in Connecticut, is not the first time, but then the gun lobby over there is too strong.