WASHINGTON: Advocacy groups on both sides of the gun-control issue are finding unique ways to get their messages out this election year, despite the new McCain-Feingold restrictions.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is launching its own news organization and website, NRAnews.com, taking its view of the facts directly to the public in a move expected by many to test the limits of First Amendment press protections. The 4 million member group made its first program available on the internet last week and is reportedly looking to purchase a radio station.
"Creating this is our way of saying the NRA will not be silenced," spokeswoman Kelly Hobbs told The Washington Times. "It is designed to circumvent the campaign-finance restrictions, which would bar us from communicating to our members before elections."
The McCain-Feingold law bars third-party groups from running political advertisements in the months leading up to an election.
Opponents of the NRA are relying on an increase in more traditional grassroots activities to communicate with voters. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is designing a fall campaign around the September 19 expiration of the Clinton-era Assault Weapons Ban.
The group will use a Capitol Hill rally on Mother's Day, May 9, to unveil a pink recreational vehicle that will tour at least 17 states, stopping at the conventions of both political parties, to stimulate public interest in the issue. The tour, supported by a heavy internet push, ads, and law-enforcement involvement in various cities, will capitalize on the ban?s expiration date.
?We?re going to point out that this law is going to expire just in time for American children to go back to school,? said director of communications Peter Hamm.