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No Controversy...Except In Congress

March 29, 2013 9:46 am ET
Marking over 100 days since the Newtown massacre, the President called on Congress yesterday to pass new laws to reduce gun violence -- proposals like a background check for every gun sale (check out this new UNRA ad) and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, like those Adam Lanza used to kill 26 people in less than five minutes. These plans are hugely popular with the American public, gun owners and even NRA members, but some lawmakers are still trying to generate controversy.

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CORE MESSAGE

Common sense laws to prevent gun violence aren't controversial -- except in Congress.

Connect: Americans from all walks of life agree we owe it to the Newtown families to pass common sense laws to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

Define: Lawmakers in Congress who oppose legislation to reduce gun violence stand apart from gun owners, law enforcement, NRA members, and the rest of the American people who overwhelmingly support it.

Illustrate: Requiring a criminal background check for every gun sale is so popular that 90% of Americans support the plan -- including 80% of Republican voters, 80% of gun owners, and 75% of NRA members.

Contrast: But some in Congress still oppose the plan, along with other common sense proposals like banning the military-style assault weapon and high-capacity magazines that killed the Newtown children.

Lead: We need our leaders to put the American people ahead of the NRA lobbyists funding their campaigns.


ATTACKS AND RESPONSES


ATTACK: "Universal background checks would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy."
RESPONSE:

  • If you want to talk about what specifically would've stopped the Newtown massacre, let's talk about banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines.
  • This is about what we know will reduce gun violence in the future, not just what lessons we can draw from gun violence that happened in the past. And the truth is that background checks work -- they've stopped more than 2 million gun sales to dangerous people like convicted felons.
  • That's why Colorado just strengthened its background checks at the same time it placed limits on the size of ammunition magazines in response to last summer's shooting in Aurora.
  • We cannot prevent every tragedy, but universal background checks are a basic first step toward keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. They're fast and convenient. The plan is so common sense that it isn't controversial -- except in Congress.


ATTACK: "Universal background checks will lead to a national gun registry."
RESPONSE:

  • Federal law prohibits the creation of a national gun registry. No one is proposing to change that.
  • Here's the reality. The only official record of each gun sale is a basic sales receipt that stays with the seller. Gun dealers have already been keeping these receipts for four decades.
  • Law enforcement officials would get to access the records only in very limited situations, such as for criminal investigations. The completed background checks of law-abiding buyers are also destroyed by the FBI within 24 hours. That's hardly the basis for a national registry.
  • NRA lobbyists are just trying to fundraise from concerned gun owners and boost gun sales for the gun manufacturers. In fact, an enforceable background check system protects law-abiding gun owners from getting the blame for the crimes of others.


ATTACK: "Assault weapons only look scary, but they're just like any gun."
RESPONSE:

  • Police Chiefs, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officials support the new assault weapons ban because they see the difference firsthand when criminals and madmen use assault weapons on cops and civilians. Try telling them this ban is just about how a gun looks.
  • These military-style assault weapons are designed to be more lethal than other firearms. Unlike handguns or traditional sporting firearms, military-style assault weapons have specific features designed to make it easy to spray-fire a lot of bullets into a wide area.
  • In fact, the Army's field manual for the military's M16 standard issue rifle, the basis of the AR-15, says "rapid semiautomatic fire delivers a large volume of effective fire into a target area." You can even get a simple add-on to an AR-15 so it can fire 900 rounds per minute -- and it's legal.
  • No wonder mass shootings with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines -- like Newtown and Aurora -- usually end up with more people killed than in mass shootings with other weapons.
  • How else are assault weapons different from other guns? They're bigger moneymakers for gun manufacturers and arms dealers.


ATTACK: "The Arms Trade Treaty is a threat to Americans' gun rights."
RESPONSE:

  • The Treaty protects law-abiding Americans' freedoms and legitimate international trade. The Treaty only affects foreign countries, but NRA lobbyists keep spreading lies about it anyway so they can fundraise off gun owners here at home.
  • In fact, the only remaining opponents of the Treaty are North Korea, Iran, and Syria -- along with NRA lobbyists and the Republican Senators whose campaigns they fund.
  • In America, we follow the U.S. Constitution and the laws enacted by American leaders. The President has also committed to rejecting the Treaty if it infringes on the 2nd Amendment.
  • The United Nations says it has no jurisdiction over America's gun laws and the Treaty explicitly reaffirms America's "sovereign right and responsibility" over our gun laws.

POLLING YOU NEED TO KNOW
 

  • 90% of the American people, including more than 80% of gun owners and 75% of rank-and-file NRA members, agree with law enforcement officials that we should require a background check no matter where people buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.
  • Nearly 90% of rank-and-file NRA members agree that support for Second Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns away from criminals and other dangerous people.
  • Over 80% support making illegal gun sales a federal crime, and 75% support increasing criminal penalties for straw purchasers (people who pass the required background check but who buy a gun for someone who has not passed a background check).
  • A strongly majority of Americans, or 60%, agree that we should reinstate and strengthen the federal ban on the sale of assault weapons. That support for the assault weapons ban is nearly 70% among women, over 70% among gun owners, and 60% of NRA rank-and-file members.
  • Nearly two-thirds support banning high-capacity magazines or clips that can hold 30, 50, or 100 bullets at a time.
  • Nearly 70% support limiting the number of guns a person can buy in a given time frame.
  • Nearly 90% support banning those on the terrorist watch list from purchasing guns.
  • Only 5% of adults are gun owners who say the NRA always reflects their views.
 We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn't working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.


 


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