Bloomberg's gun control backfire agenda

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Bloomberg's effort risks turning a discussion about guns into a war of competing cultures. People in North Carolina and Virginia don't want people from out-of-state telling them what to do. They especially don't want a New York City mayor telling them what to do. That is what Sen. Pryor was getting at when he said, “I don’t take gun advice from the mayor of New York City. I listen to Arkansans.”

The ads financed by the Bloomberg group neatly encapsulate the problem of whether the message can survive the messenger. In one ad, a man holding a shotgun is wearing plaid flannel and a camouflage cap. He sits on the tailgate of a pickup truck while children play behind him. He says, “I support comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns.”

The message reflects coordination: frame background checks as a way to protect the public from criminals and the mentally ill, not an attempt to infringe on the rights of innocent law-abiding citizens. But the “hunter” in the ad is a little too stylized, and the spot has rightly been lampooned by conservative commentators for breaking a few basic gun safety rules. (The man points his gun while children play nearby and he has his finger on the actual trigger). “It’s like what a person from Manhattan thinks a hunter looks like,” said one Democratic strategist.

When political operatives talk about how vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election in 2014 can survive voting for effective gun control, they say that those senators will be able to rely on their local connections to voters to explain their votes. They claim they'll have the "messaging tools." Explaining why their vote wasn't a capitulation to the New York money of the soda-pinching mayor will require a few more tools.

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Bloomberg is losing this fight because he does not understand the culture outside of New York.  The ad is a reflection of this lack of understanding.  That culture is not a reflection of the NRA, but the NRA is a reflection of that culture so attacks on the NRA also backfire when appealing to those voters.

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