This Might Not Be the Best Way to Get an Anti-Gun Message Across


If you’re going to attempt to push back against the pro-gun argument that rapes could be prevented if more women responsibly carried a firearm, this is probably not the most effective way to do so:

Instead of starting a discussion about whether armed college-age girls could reduce sexual assault, the gun control non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety ended up fielding accusations of sexism and gender-based condescension:

Of course, the pushback came almost entirely from pro-gun conservatives — and the tweet was quoting a psychiatrist’s Washington Post op-ed — but the point stands: Broadly suggesting college-age women (legal adults over 18, mind you) are irresponsible, absent-minded lushes? Probably not the best approach to make your assertion that guns might not reduce campus sexual assault.

For what could be considered a more successful attempt to lobby for gun control with bold messaging, look no further than how States United to Prevent Gun Violence set up a fake gun shop in Manhattan, rife with hidden cameras, “selling” specific firearms that had been used in horrible shooting incidents.

As customers streamed into the shop to inquire about purchasing a weapon for their protection (or, as one man said, to “support the Second Amendment”), the fake clerk showed them several neat-looking pistols and rifles that come with “histories” such as being used in the Sandy Hook massacre, or the fatal shooting of a nine-month-old by a five-year-old sibling. Watch the video below:

It’s a big statement with obviously high production value.

But while the video has gone viral — as intended — it has also raised several questions, again from the pro-gun community.

Even though noted how “[t]he firearms, like the store itself, were all fake and a New York Police Department official was on site to monitor operations,” a local NRA affiliate has called upon New York’s Attorney General to investigate the stunt:

The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is calling upon state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to investigate the producer of the video for potential violations of state and local laws.

“First off, the firearms and accessories hanging in the background do not appear to comply with either New York City law or the so-called SAFE Act,” said NYSRPA President Thomas King in a statement.

“Second, it felony violation of the Sullivan Act for a person to posses a handgun anywhere in New York without a license. The video clearly shows individual ‘customers’ handling various handguns and doing so in an unsafe manner,” King said.

Prominent conservative media outlets have zeroed in on that question, leading one to wonder whether this video will face a little bit of David Gregory syndrome, where the story now becomes more about the reaction to the video rather than the video itself.

Or maybe that is what the producers wanted.

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