First there was the National Council to Control Handguns which became Handgun Control, Inc. for the next 20 years. Eventually this morphed into the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In making this name change in 2000, Handgun Control, Inc. did two things. This helped to soften their image from control to merely prevention. Just as importantly, by deciding to rename the organization after Jim and Sarah Brady, HCI was aiming to make sympathetic figures the face of gun control.
Now that the Bradys have passed away, gun control needs to regain its cult of personality. Mike Bloomberg is not sympathetic nor is home-wrecking, socially and politically ambitious Shannon Watts. However, Gabby Giffords does make a sympathetic figure.
Playing up this cult of personality was the announcement today that Americans for Responsible Solutions will now just be called Giffords. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (sic) which used to be known as the Legal Center Against Violence will now be the Giffords Law Center. Finally, their PAC will be known as Giffords PAC. Giffords is also now subtitled, “Courage to fight gun violence.”(sic)
“Addressing a problem that almost took my life will be the cause of my life,” said Congresswoman Gabby Giffords upon the announcement of her namesake gun violence prevention organization. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. But I’ve also seen great courage as we’ve fought to save lives from gun violence. Every day I meet brave Americans who are standing with me in the fight for a safer future—from law enforcement officers and military veterans, to parents, community leaders, and concerned voters. When we stand together, stand up for our children, and use the full power of our voices and votes, I know that we can make change happen.”
“When people think of Gabby, they think of courage, determination, and grit—and it’s exactly those characteristics Americans need to channel in order for us to save lives from gun violence and make our communities safer,” said Captain Mark Kelly, co-founder of Giffords. “When Gabby and I began this journey, we knew this wouldn’t be an easy fight. The gun lobby has been selling a message of fear to the American public for years. It’s used its money to scare lawmakers into following its extreme ideology—and it’s made talking about guns culturally divisive, despite the fact that the majority of gun owners support stronger gun laws. A safer America requires changing that dynamic. We need more people to show the courage to stand up for what’s right and we need more elected officials to show the courage to take action.”
It is probably a smart move on the part of these gun prohibitionists to reemphasize Gabby Giffords as the face of their organization. She is a sympathetic (and pathetic) figure who survived an assassination attempt in the prime of her life and seems to have regained some of what she lost from her injuries.
With the renaming of the organization, the image of Gabby Giffords will always be more important than the reality. The image is that of the courageous survivor who fought back and is now leading the fight against “gun violence” (sic). The reality is that we don’t really know what level of mental capacity she retains given her servere brain injuries and that she very well could be more of a puppet than an actual leader. As for her husband Mark Kelly, the image he wants the world to see is that of a devoted husband caring for his grievously wounded spouse and seeking to protect others from what happened to her. However, when I look at the reality of today’s Mark Kelly, words like “puppet master”, “leech”, and the male equivalent of “gold digger” come to mind. Obviously, I don’t think much of him as he seems to have abandoned the oath he took as an officer to support and defend the Constitution in favor of political and monetary gains.
It will be interesting to how well gun control uses the cult of personality to make political gains. Time will tell.