WASHINGTON: A newly formed organization affiliated with gun-control groups including the Brady Campaign and the Million Mom March has begun to roll out a campaign aimed directly at taking on the National Rifle Association (NRA), widely considered the most powerful lobbying group in Washington.
The campaign, which has tapped Dan Klores Communications, hopes it can help win congressional support for the renewal of the current ban on assault weapons and foment opposition to proposed legislation that would provide blanket legal immunity to gun manufacturers, dealers, and distributors. That immunity would be from lawsuits that attempt to hold the industry liable for crimes committed with illegal firearms. The group has taken the name of its website, StoptheNRA.com.
The campaign's first tactic has been to publicize an extensive list of people, organizations, and companies from a wide cross-section of groups on the NRA's website that are identified as having "anti-gun" views or supporting "anti-gun" causes. The group has taken to calling collection of names an "enemies list," a term was once used for an infamous list compiled by President Richard Nixon.
"It's an enemies list that's been on the NRA's website for some time," said Peter Hamm, communications director for the Brady Campaign. "We thought long and hard about how to bring this who's who to America's attention. Some of the names are so counterintuitive, even for the NRA's paranoia."
Andrew Arulanandam, NRA director of public affairs, said that gun-control groups are struggling in the post-Clinton political landscape. "When facing these dire challenges, they have to resort to whatever tactic they can to maintain their political relevance," he said.
StoptheNRA.com launched a website last Monday, NRAblacklist.com, which easily links to the list, buried deep inside the NRA's website. It allows those interested in the cause to add their names to a petition and contribute funds toward an advertising campaign that is scheduled for launch later this week. As of last Thursday, the group said 10,000 people had signed the petition.
The site was launched on October 13 in coordination with a column by The New York Times' Bob Herbert, who is on the list along with the likes of writer Maya Angelou, pop star Britney Spears, the AFL-CIO, NFL team the Kansas City Chiefs, and scores of others.
On Tuesday of last week, MSNBC gossip columnist Jeannette Walls ran an item about the list's celebrity names, and on Wednesday the list was featured on a segment of NBC's Today show.