Brady Campaign’s slipping relevancy underscored by NRA convention
Op-Ed By Alan Gottlieb and Dave Workman
Adhering to a pattern of behavior that has developed over the years, a tiny contingent of gun prohibitionists paraded outside of the Charlotte Convention Center while the National Rifle Association was hosting its record-breaking members’ meeting, but they remained only long enough to get some camera time with local news crews.
Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, came to that North Carolina city in order to grab some face time and get his name in the local newspapers. Where the NRA can pull more than 70,000 members, the Brady bunch could barely muster two dozen protesters to parade around for perhaps an hour, probably less, and then leave satisfied that the 5 o’clock news would carry their images.
For several years, right up to the devastating 1994 mid-term elections that turned dozens of Congressional anti-gunners out of office, the Brady Campaign and other gun control groups enjoyed media and public support. But when gun rights organizations began fighting back with facts, and developed a strategy of education through legal journals, their influence began to wane. That influence continued to erode as time tested their rhetoric and found it not simply wanting, but totally preposterous.
Their dire predictions in state after state that concealed carry reform and state preemption statutes would spawn Wild West gunfights at fender benders, bloody shootouts in restaurants and cocktail lounges, and skyrocketing murder rates in which perpetrators would be citizens who were licensed to carry all were false. Influential people, including prosecutors and county sheriffs, recognized this and went on the record to say so.
These days, Brady’s Helmke is reduced to spouting platitudes on the steps of the Supreme Court, verbally bashing important civil rights cases like District of Columbia v. Heller and the Second Amendment Foundation’s pending McDonald v. City of Chicago.
His organization has desperately resorted to attacking Starbucks Coffee to gin up support while pandering paranoia; an effort that anti-gunners have developed into an art form, albeit a lousy one.
They have attacked the most anti-gun president in the nation’s history, giving Barack Obama an “F” grade because he is not anti-gun enough to suit their extremist philosophy.
The Brady Campaign has not managed to push through a single piece of federal legislation in more than 15 years. Their attempt to sue the gun industry into bankruptcy using anti-gun mayors as their puppet proxies failed on legal merit and in the court of public opinion.
If it weren’t for the fact that pro-gun rights groups are so active, the Brady bunch would not even have events to attend. In short, gun prohibitionists have become irrelevant, and in their desperation for attention, they appear to be in a state of denial, reaching out to a shrinking audience that still believes in public safety through demagoguery and surrender to the criminal element.
Just like some politicians, Helmke and the Brady Campaign do not know when it is time to retire.
Alan Gottlieb is the Founder of Second Amendment Foundation. Dave Workman is senior editor of Gun Week. They are co-authors of Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns.