Gun Control Messages Fly After Colorado Tragedy

Dan Gross,
Brady Campaign
to Prevent Gun Violence

From politicians and advocacy groups to Hollywood celebrities and the general public, people are weighing in on gun control in the wake of the tragic movie theater shooting on July 20 in Aurora, Colo. 

While gun control is an issue that always sparks heated debate after a mass shooting, in this case the fact that suspect James Holmes was able to buy some 6,000 rounds of ammunition and body armor online—along with a shotgun, assault rifle and pistol in brick and mortar stores—has proved yet another opportunity for those both for and against stricter gun control laws to get their messages out.

Those for gun control are anxious to raise the debate level before the outrage over the incident fades: The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the top gun control advocate in the U.S., is looking to move the gun control issue from politics. “We need to expect more of ourselves and more of our leaders. There’s a disconnect between the interests of the American people and what our politicians are doing,” said Dan Gross, president of the group to ABC News. Thus, the Brady group is launching a new Web site late Tuesday, July 24,, that will place more emphasis on responsibility of the American people and less on the group itself. 

Meanwhile, as expected, champions for gun rights are putting a political spin on the debate. The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group, which bills itself as Colorado's only no-compromise gun rights organization, noted that Holmes was not a member of its group and called out New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as pushing a “radical political agenda” in demanding much more stringent gun control. Meanwhile, the nation's top organization for gun rights, the National Rifle Association, has chosen to remain silent—for the moment.

Hollywood is not lost in the debate either. Actor and former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander tweeted his shock and outrage of the shooting, then got into a heated online debate when he asked why military style weapons were available to the general public. Reaction poured in, many of them not so kind to Alexander’s position.

So while positions are being taken on the matter, some notables have been  silent—namely President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who have chosen to focus their thoughts on the victims. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie—who will speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. later this summer—said politicians should let the families grieve. At a press conference on Monday, July 23, Christie added that he believes those calling for new laws are focused on "scoring political points."

Proving that even when politicians try to remain neutral, they still manage to get their "political points" across.

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About Scott Van Camp

Scott Van Camp is editor of PR News, an executive-level, reader-supported publication that helps enhance the business impact of PR. Scott has a rich background in both journalism and PR/marketing. He has more than 15 years of experience as a writer/editor at various consumer and trade publications. Scott was with VNU Business Publications for five years, including stints as managing editor at IQ News and Technology Marketing magazines and senior editor at Brandweek. In the PR/marketing sphere, he has served as corporate communications manager at MarketBridge, a marketing and sales consultancy, and as editorial director for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council. While at the Council, Scott led several high-profile marketing research projects. He has also operated his own communications and media consulting firm, SVC Communications.

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  • Jason

    Today, it is my understanding that two U.S. cities with the highest incidents of gun violence – Washington D.C. and Chicago – also have the tightest gun-control laws in the country. When you take that Constitutional right away, who is not going to follow the law and disarm. That’s right, a criminal. Therefore, gun control logic stacks the deck in favor of the criminal. The bottom line: guns don’t harm people; people harm people, with guns.

  • David

    I agree with the above statement.