But even on social media, the NRA is way ahead of those working to prevent gun violence. They have nearly two million Facebook fans. The Brady Campaign has just about 50,000 and Americans for Responsible Solutions around 25,000.
So how about some pure grassroots, organic effort? Is anything popping up that can harness the awesome power of moms to use the web to organize and connect?
There are several parallel efforts at this point. One Million Moms and Dads Against Gun Violence has about 1,000 Facebook likes so far. One Million Moms for Gun Control has over 20,000 likes and is picking up steam.
Progressive entrepreneur David Bennahum has a vision of a million kids marching on Washington D.C., a living metaphor of what’s at stake in the gun debate. More than 7,000 people are following the Facebook page and the idea has created some controversy over whether parents should include their children in a political debate.
Bennahum told the American Prospect that he considers the whole movement an educational experience. “It’s an amazing teaching opportunity about the right to petition our government, freedom of assembly, and what it means to be an engaged citizen in a democracy,” he said.
It’s a powerful message with a nice start, but they’re still about a million kids away from the goal, at this point.
Here’s what I’m hoping: All these groups will decide on one date — maybe the anniversary of the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, CO, as that’s a nice time of the year. They’ll reach out to some celebrities with some huge social media followings or find some other way to reach moms who are already engaged on the issue.
And most of all, I hope they’ll stop using the words “gun control,” as Jonathan Alter has suggested. It makes the issue about “freedom” and taking something away. By focusing on “gun safety” or opposing “gun violence,” the victims become the issue, not the gun owners, who, whether you like it or not, feel attacked.
NRA members agree with many of the things we can do to stop gun violence such as closing the gun show/private sales loophole. A large number even support bans on assault weapons and high-volume magazines. A focus on the dangers instead of the gun owners can create the kind of viral energy that’s going to be necessary to do anything to prevent some of the 30,000 gun deaths Americans suffer every year while we have a chance.