NEW YORK: Families vs. Assault Rifles PAC, formed by parents of Marjory Stone Douglas High School students, has brought on Dini von Mueffling Communications for support.
Dini von Mueffling Communications started working on the account June 1, a few weeks after the super PAC, also known as FAMSVARPAC, registered.
The organization aims to prevent the mass shootings made possible when civilians have easy access to "guns that were meant for war, not schools," according to its website. It is doing this by investing in targeted upcoming federal races, focusing efforts against politicians who oppose this goal.
FAMSVARPAC is non-partisan, and its members include parents of children who did and did not survive the February 14 shooting at the Parkland, Florida school. Members are also gun violence victims, law enforcement officials, elected officials, veterans, and "families who do not want their children and grandchildren to be the next national headline," according to the organization’s site.
Hiring Dini von Mueffling has allowed the group to hone its message and broaden its appeal, said Jeffrey Kasky, who helped found the committee and serves as president. He explained that the agency helped the PAC soften its message, keep it "in check" and make it "more palatable" without diluting it.
Kasky explained that Families vs. Assault Rifles avoids calling out individual people and organizations by name and said he "hesitates to use the word ‘gun control.’"
His son, Cameron Kasky, is one of the Parkland students that launched March for Our Lives, a demonstration in support of tighter gun control that took place on March 24. At least 1.2 million people participated in March for our Lives, making it one of the largest protests ever. The demonstration’s list of demands included universal background checks on all gun sales, raising the federal age limit for gun ownership to 21, and a ban on the "bump stock," which was used during the Las Vegas shooting.
"We are Second Amendment advocates, we are not Second Amendment opponents," the elder Kasky told PRWeek. "I’m not afraid of guns for personal use by responsible adults."
The super PAC is focused on banning assault weapons, bump stocks, and high-capacity magazines.
"We can do it in one paragraph with an amendment to the National Firearms Act of 1934," said Jeffrey Kasky.
Executive director Matthew Gohd came up with Families vs. Assault Rifles’ tight strategic direction and its name.
Gohd is a political strategist with Tipping Point Analytics. He was introduced to Kasky through a mutual friend, Amy Sue Harwood, who helped found the PAC.
Kasky said he didn’t anticipate any collaboration between his organization and March for Our Lives, because the adults would only "dirty it up."
"It’s fresh, honest, and innocent," he said of his son’s organization. "Part of their effectiveness is the fact they’re clean of adult influence."
Dini von Mueffling Communications is the New York-based boutique that turned heads at last year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for its work supporting Sandy Hook Promise’s Evan PSA.
Ultimately, the Evan campaign took home 10 Cannes Lions: two gold, two bronze, and six silver. The PSA was produced by ad agency BBDO.
In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, which left 17 dead and another 17 wounded, parents from across the country reached out to Kasky, including those of students from Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, he said.
"Her name [Dini von Mueffling] kept coming up as the agency that’s done the great work, that is honest, and that doesn’t just do the work but believes in the cause," Kasky said.
Von Mueffling said she was introduced to Kasky through a mutual friend, who she declined to name. Cameron Kasky also appeared on a CBS segment alongside her client, Nicole Hockley, the founder of Sandy Hook Promise.
When Families vs. Assault Rifles launched its Facebook page, Kasky said the group was bombarded by name-calling and accusations that they were supported by Democratic operatives.
"My instinct was just to block them," Kasky said. "Who wants to hear all that? It’s not true, and why should we pollute our message by allowing people to do that sort of thing?"
Von Mueffling and her team counseled the group to resist that impulse. She wants Families vs. Assault Rifles to engage the opposition, redirect them to their website’s mission statement, and educate them on their goals. If their belligerence continues, then it would be appropriate to block them, she advised.
"There is little reaching across the aisle right now, which is critical to change," von Mueffling said via email. "If you don’t try and engage with people who believe they oppose you, you’ll never get them to listen."
Budget information was not disclosed.