California’s Hope and Heal Fund doesn’t like the way the mainstream media reports Golden State “gun violence.” So HHF hired Spitfire — a PR company that helps left-leaning orgs push their progressive message — to recommend ways to bend firearms-related press coverage to HHF’s will. And left-leaning Media Matters posted the results.
Here are some excerpts from Spitfire’s analysis of “218 articles from nine major newspapers papers and 163,000 relevant mentions on Twitter between December 2015 and January 2017.” And their recommended game plan for promoting civilian disarmament.
Coverage ignored everyday gun violence.
Ongoing gun violence in California — including domestic violence, suicide and gang violence –received minimal coverage compared to more sensational gun-related tragedies. These three issues accounted for just five percent of news coverage.
Gun violence was rarely framed as a public health issue.
Only four percent of news coverage discussed gun violence in the context of public health.
California’s policy leadership fueled complacency.
Coverage often noted that California has some of the most robust gun laws in the nation, and these statements contribute to a narrative that there is little more that can be done to combat gun violence at the state level.
Politicians were the primary messengers.
Politicians accounted for nearly 40 percent of newspaper quotes on gun violence – more than funders, researchers, advocacy groups, community groups and victims of gun violence combined. Democrats were more likely to be quoted than Republicans. On social media, politicians accounted for the majority of the messengers with the greatest spread.
So Spitfire gets it: mass shootings get the ink, day-to-day firearms-related suicide and crime, not so much. Despite the coverage of high profile spree killers, these black swan events don’t motivate the public to support gun control. Because they’re black swan events.
In that sense, Spitfire acknowledges the fact that California gun grabbers are a victim of their own success; there’s nothing substantive left to offer as a solution to “gun violence,” big or small.
At the same time, the civilian disarmament industrial complex is a victim of its own failures. The Golden State’s “strict” gun control laws haven’t stopped firearms-related injury and death. Ipso facto.
Make the case that there is much work left to be done in California.
Counter the perception that California has done enough to address gunviolence by pointing out that we must do more than enact strong gunlaws – we must also address the root causes of violence.
Reinforce public health framing.
Continue to talk about gun violence as a public health issue until that framing permeates the media narrative. Identify doctors, researchers and public health experts who can serve as effective messengers.
Depoliticize gun violence by appealing to common values.
Sidestep political opposition by crafting messages that emphasize universal values like safety, opportunity and freedom from fear.
Focus on storytelling instead of data.
Highlighting personal stories will bring statistics to life, create empathy and overcome stereotypes about who is impacted by gun violence.
I’m down with that! Address the root causes of [firearms-related] violence: gangs and mental illness. Yes? Hello?
As for the “guns are a public health crisis” pitch, even the sympathetic mainstream media aren’t buying it. If nothing else, it’s boring. Especially compared to the idea that [non-suicide] “gun violence” is a crime/policing problem.
Spitfire’s recommendation to “depoliticize gun violence” is an attempt to get the anti-gun elite to ignore/block any discussion of the facts.
Which they already do, by focusing on “personal stories” of carefully chosen and often groomed “gun violence victims.” And that the media love. You might even say that’s what got the anti-gun rights movement where it is today.
But no further. Because, at some point, facts matter. And the facts do not support infringement on Americans’ natural, civil and Constitutional protected right to keep and bear arms.