Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or … laugh. There’s nothing to cry about. The anti-gunners are making fools of themselves once again, and that’s always good news. The only question is: are we laughing at the antis or with our own side?
Case in point. If you were poking around on the Internet and saw a really—I mean really—stupid ad bearing the name of an anti-gun group, what would your first thought be? “Oh man, those victim-disarmers are idiots!” Or “That’s so stupid it’s just got to be a parody cooked up by pro-gunners.”
In case you’re having trouble imagining such an ad, see the ads below.
Hard to tell, isn’t it? Both carry nonsensical messages. Both feature an intact cartridge magically flying from a gun barrel.
Ad A, the one accusing 80 million American gun owners of threatening children, is real. It’s from the Facebook page of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
Ad B? That’s a more complicated question.
The ad popped up online a few days after Michael Bloomberg announced the creation of his new “grassroots” group, Everytown for Gun Safety, and it appeared on a Facebook page that seemed to be associated with that group. But just as it was starting to make the rounds with, “Oh man, those victim- disarmers are idiots!” comments, cooler heads warned, “Wait, wait. It’s a fake. It’s a parody.”
As I write this, people are still arguing about it. Miguel G, who blogs at the Gun Free Zone (which is a pro-gun blog, despite its name), contacted Everytown’s communications director, Erika Soto Lamb. She denied that the “speeding cartridge” ad was theirs and claimed that imposters were cybersquatting on Facebook using the Bloomberg group’s name. That appears to have been true.
However, it also may have been true that, once the real “Everytown” group got control of that Facebook page, they continued using the “fake” ad, at least for a while. Perhaps even they couldn’t tell parody from genuine anti-gun ignoignorance? At this point, it all remains a little confusing. In any case, the page with the “speeding cartridge” ad eventually disappeared, leaving only a mystery behind.
Well, maybe not only a mystery. Also a laughable record of anti-gun incompetence. Bloomberg’s astroturf group, the group that inspired the “speeding cartridge” ad, will soon demonstrate (once again) that you can’t buy grassroots support with money. But immediately after he announced his creation of the faux and folksy-sounding Everytown for Gun Safety, he demonstrated that money, at least in his case, doesn’t even buy competent planning.
As soon as Bloomberg announced his plan to spend $50 million to create Everytown for Gun Safety, literally dozens of Facebook pages and blogs with that name or variations of it burst online. A few were parodies. More were actual sites promoting gun safety—as in muzzle control and Eddie the Eagle. None of them belonged to Bloomberg.
Apparently $50 million can’t even buy managers capable of locking in all the relevant URLs in advance. Or perhaps Bloomy—whose self-regard is so stratospheric that he declared he’s destined to get into Heaven “without even being interviewed”—didn’t need to bother with advance planning. Maybe he assumed God would smite anybody who grabbed the URLs he wanted. God didn’t cooperate. The Bloomies began a desperate scramble to sic the intellectual-property police on a multitude of pro-gunners operating “Everytown” sites.
The next thing the Bloomy crew did after belatedly securing their organization’s name was demonstrate just how “grassroots” they really are by paying several dozen demonstrators to turn up at this spring’s NRA convention. The demonstrators were accompanied by PR “mom” and Bloomberg’s right-hand, Shannon Watts. When a gun-friendly reporter tried to question her, Ms. Watts was whisked away by armed security guards in an SUV bearing New York license plates. What an impressive display of both sincerity and “grassroots” activism!
Aside from goofy graphics, displays of managerial incompetence, and a Hindenberg-sized ego, the real selfparody lies in the fact that a billionaire thinks he can create a “grassroots” group and manage it from New York with the help of yuppie PR flacks.
It’s been tried before. Repeatedly. The failures have been laughable. The late billionaire Andrew McKelvey, founder of Monster.com, twice tried presenting himself as an Average Joe gun owner promoting “common sense.” His astroturf groups, Americans for Gun Safety and American Hunters and Shooters Association, both died due to utter lack of public support.
The rabidly anti-gun Joyce Foundation, using a front called the Freedom States Alliance, once disguised itself as GunGuys.com—a blog “Where everyone’s a straight shooter!” and where “We’re about guns, guns, and guns. What else do you need to know?” Folksy “Mike Magnum” (who oddly, unlike every real gunblogger in the world, posted only during corporate business hours and never on weekends or holidays) had nothing but bad things to say about gun owners and gun-rights activists. When foundation funding was withdrawn, GunGuys.com swiftly disappeared.
According to Wikipedia, the Joyce Foundation is a major funder of the Violence Policy Center and a contributor to Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG).
Just last year, the phony American Rifle and Pistol Association rose up, promoted the usual “safety” messages— and died. That one must have set a record. It was cynically launched on July 4, fully exposed as a fraud within the week, and was kaput before Thanksgiving. (Its Facebook page still exists but hasn’t been updated since November 12, 2013.)
And guess what? One of its founders, Peter Vogt, was a cheerleader for MAIG. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)
Yes, it’s ridiculous—though not unique—for a billionaire like Bloomberg to pretend to create a grassroots group. On the other hand, you’ve got to have a little sympathy (a very little) for the antis. They really have no choice. Because they don’t have a grassroots, period. They never have. Their organizations have always been run from the top down, relying on corporate or foundation funding and propaganda partners in the media.
The few times they’ve tried to count on real anti-gun grassroots … well, we’ve laughed at them again. We laughed when Obama’s Organizing for Action couldn’t even turn up a dozen people at its rallies, not even during the blooddance following the Newtown school shooting.
We laughed when MAIG tried to keep the dates of its “No More Names” bus tour secret in a desperate attempt to keep Second Amendment supporters from outnumbering the antis at every stop. We laughed when “No More Names” spokesthings mindlessly included murderous criminals (including one of the Boston Marathon bombers) among the poor, pitiable “victims” of “gun violence.”
And we’ll go right on laughing as Michael Bloomberg throws millions into a bottomless pit. Have at it, Mikey. We’ll still be here when you’re done wasting your money. Because here’s the thing you and your rich friends always fail to get: We’re in this for our rights and for the freedom of our kids and grandkids. Millions of us.
And that trumps a few lying snobs with an agenda. Every. Single. Time.