May 10, 2000
NRA counters mom march with new ads
By LAURA MECKLER
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) With thousands of mothers set to rally
against guns, the National Rifle Association has opened an ad
campaign that portrays its members as mainstream Americans who
want to bring gun safety lessons to the nation's classrooms.
In a television and newspaper ads running across the country this
week, the NRA dismisses policy disagreements as gun politics
and says it will spend $1 million to educate children about gun
safety. It asks viewers to match it.
Every kid in every school deserves gun safety education.
And together, we can make that happen, NRA activist and
actress Susan Howard says in the ad.
Playing off Sunday's Million Mom March for gun control, Howard
points to $1 million contribution: That's a million NRA
moms, challenging a million more moms just like you to put up
just a dollar each.
The money is aimed at bringing the NRA's Eddie Eagle gun safety
program, or its equivalent, to every American school, suggesting
that both sides of the charged debate could agree on that much.
In fact, gun control groups compare Eddie Eagle to Joe Camel,
saying the program is really meant to entice kids and develop
future gun buyers.
Eddie Eagle is a gun industry salesman masquerading as a
gun safety mascot, said Josh Sugarmann, executive director
of the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group that issued
a study of the program in 1997.
Sugarmann said the program was fundamentally flawed because it
is funded by gun manufacturers and because it does not talk about
the dangers of guns, only telling kids to stay away from them
and tell an adult if they see one.
Eddie Eagle never says guns can kill, Sugarmann said
Tuesday. You have to warn of the risk to have an effective
An NRA spokesman, Jim Manown, said the program is appropriate
for elementary school-aged children and said many people contribute
to the foundation that funds the program, not just gun makers.
Manown said he didn't know how much had been raised for the group's
gun safety program since the campaign began Sunday. He also wouldn't
say how much money the group was spending to air the TV spots.
Also Tuesday, a bill to require the licensing of most gun buyers
was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
It would cover buyers of handguns and some semiautomatic weapons
and would mandate that records for sales of each be kept.
The time has come to say enough is enough and demand of
Congress the passage of common sense gun laws, said Feinstein.
New gun laws, including tighter sales and mandated child safety
locks, have been stalled in Congress for months.
Meanwhile, the issue has been thrust to the top of the presidential
election debate in recent days as presumptive nominees Democrat
Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush trade barbs on the topic.
And at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which
oversees the nation's public housing developments, guns have almost
become a full-time diversion.
On Tuesday, Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo called a news conference
to display hundreds of guns that have been turned in to police
as part of a HUD-sponsored gun buyback program in 43 cities.
A day earlier, Cuomo called on Bush to clarify whether he would
pursue new laws to protect gun makers from liability lawsuits
if he became president.
The administration also is counting on this weekend's planned
Million Mom March organized by Donna Dees-Thomases of New Jersey
to generate new political pressure on behalf of its gun control
The march, however, has drawn some critics.
The justification for the level of coverage spawned by this
event exists only in the hype-generated universe created by people
with a direct interest in raising the red herring of gun control
as a solution to youth violence, said Rep. Robert Barr,
R-Ga. The message the media is sending is subtle but effective:
Supporting gun-control is a maternal duty, and women who oppose
it are unworthy of the responsibility of motherhood.
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KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News