Gun Lobby at it again: target practice against Democrats

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/02/25/target-practice-critics-claim-nra-sought-incite-violence-against-pelosi-giffords-magazine-spread/?utm_term=.6d9694c841fd

Headlines and photo placements are deliberate design constructs to draw attention to an article.

This is especially true in magazines in which there is more time than a daily publication to layout eye catching pages to lead readers to specific stories. I know because I spent 40 years taking photos that had to fit copy. And I worked with art directors and copy writers whose job it was to piece it all together.

Putting the headline “Target Practice” next to Pelosi’s and, of all people, Giffords’, photo was deliberate and in today’s climate of hyper-partisan “enemies” labeling most certainly a threat. Not to mention irresponsible.

Maybe the NRA thought it was clever or cute. But that certainly doesn’t speak highly of the mindset behind the editors and their bosses.

Does the NRA want real pipe bombs delivered next time?

27 thoughts on “Gun Lobby at it again: target practice against Democrats

  1. The practice or technique you describe might be called an “associative element” of layout or design.

    It takes a certain sophistication to even become aware of such things and a not-insubstantial amount of work to be on the lookout for them. Associative elements work below the threshold of consciousness, in exactly the same way as subliminal advertising techniques do.

    The difficulty is that nearly all communications are associative in nature. The one categorical exception might be scientific writing. Not because science deals in facts — it often doesn’t — but because you have to think about what you are reading to make sense of it. Consciousness is the antidote to associative manipulation.

    I’m not surprised WAPO has picked out an example of NRA propaganda to criticize. WAPO, after all, is ideologically opposed to the gun lobby. But were WAPO to commit to teaching its readers how propaganda in general works, it would undermine its own business model.

    “NRA = propaganda = danger/bad” is after all an associative formulation it its own right.

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    1. You have missed the point. It is NOT about the propaganda technique involved which you describe pretty accurately. It is about the MESSAGE that the technique is being used to promote and that was that Pelosi and Giffords are to be thought of as targets, as enemies. Maybe you can join the WAPO in criticizing THAT subliminal message?

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      1. I don’t find the “MESSAGE” of the juxtaposition particularly troubling. Among other things, it is sufficiently ambiguous that to wax wroth over only one of the multiple possible interpretations is irrational.

        Hence the propaganda effect, and journalists’ biased exploitation of it, is more concerning to me.

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        1. Journalists “biased exploitation?” You mean noting that the FACT that propaganda techniques (as described by you) had been used to “target” Pelosi and Giffords? Is it biased to note ugly FACTS? Maybe in this case, the NRA – not WAPO – should clean up its act and stop such unseemly propaganda efforts?

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          1. “‘Target’ Pelosi and Giffords” can mean a lot of different things. The metaphor is certainly loaded, but it is unhinged to overreact to mere words.

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          2. Unhinged is making accusations of “unhinged” when you have no other argument. In this case it is NOT unhinged to criticize the “targeting” of politicians by the Russian front organization whose business is promoting guns. Guns – target – get it?

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    2. WAPO is not the only media to report this.

      https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/431292-pelosis-daughter-slams-nra-over-target-practice-article

      Your explanation for the design of the article in “Rifleman” sounds more like academic analysis rather than what the NRA was trying to accomplish. And that was an appeal to their base. Unfortunately, the emphasis on targeting Pelosi they overlooked the terrible taste of including Giffords who was shot and almost killed in a political rally.

      Unless, of course, the intent was to say that Giffords in back in their sights again since she survived and supports gun control.

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        1. Of course not. That brings up the question, of course, what does appeal to the NRA base.

          Targeting, as in shooting obviously, the Speaker of the House and a Congresswoman who was shot in the head at a political rally.

          Some base.

          That is like INK magazine (a tattoo periodical) calling MS-13 their base due to their innovative facial decorations.

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          1. Other kinds of targets.

            Sure. Target Stores.

            But in the official organ of the NRA, I don’t think was the point.

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          2. RE: “I don’t think was the point.”

            Do you seriously believe the NRA wants Democrats to be shot?

            The allegation sounds batshit crazy to me.

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        2. “Do you seriously believe the NRA wants Democrats to be shot?”

          I would hope not. Yet, their side of the fence offered “2nd Amendment solutions” in a Senate race a while back. Even Trump alluded to such during his campaign. And crosshairs on some candidates faces.

          Maybe that passes for gun lobby humor. And they are certainly entitled to express themselves however they wish short of actually suggesting that so and so should be shot and here is the address.

          But in an age of pipe bombers, synagogue, church, school, ball field and mall shooters, with a debate about the proliferation of high powered semi-automatic weaponry in the news daily a little more attention to inflammatory messaging might not be a bad idea.

          The NRA might want to consider whether they should be part of the solution or part of the problem.

          I don’t know what was in that Rifleman article, but if that was the source of Don’s information, then that makes the NRA definitely part of the problem. It seems to have been exactly the opposite of the HR8, and that would be for no other reason than to inflame and already volatile issue.

          That is “batshit crazy”.

          So, to go back to your original question, was there a different message in the headline and layout?

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          1. RE: “was there a different message in the headline and layout?”

            Dr. Tabor’s suggestion that “target practice” refers to Democrats targeting gun owners sounds reasonable to me.

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      1. OK, that’s better.

        I think you are projecting. If you read even the subtitle. not even the article, it is clear that the article refers to Democrats targeting gun owners with gotcha rules intended to ensnare honest people who transfer firearms to another.

        There’s nothing hinting at violence against anyone, it’s about Democrats taking political pot-shots at innocent gun owners.

        HR8 would require a background check, with a fee paid to a licensed firearms dealer,every time a firearm changes hands, even temporarily, such as for me to loan you a rifle to go to a gun range for practice, and another background check when you returned the rifle.

        Even among family members.

        My son participates in a program that provides hunting opportunities for disabled veterans. The organization provides muzzleloader rifles and handicap accessible blinds for deer hunts for the vets and guides them on the hunt.

        That would require them to arrange a pre-dawn visit to firearms dealer for a background check on the Veteran before the hunt, then another background check at the end when the rifle was returned. And then another when my son turned the rifles over the the gun range that provides the rifles.

        Skipping any of those steps would be a felony resulting in loss of firearms rights for life.

        Is it any wonder gun owners feel like they are being used for target practice?

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        1. Your horror scenarios created by the transfer requirements in HR8 is totally BOGUS. I refer you to the text of paragraph (2) of the current version HR8 . . .

          https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/8/text?format=txt

          Among other exemptions, transfers, gifts and loans among family members (including specifically from grandparent to grandchild) are exempt from the requirements as are temporary transfers such sharing a gun with another hunter.

          How do such outright falsehoods enter the public policy debate? Are you the liar or just someone with no common sense easily fooled by a professional liar? I mean really, is it even remotely credible that anyone would write legislation requiring a background check if you let another hunter use your gun in a duck blind?

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        2. I think Paul is correct.

          There is a long list of “do not apply to” exceptions, and it covers all the scenarios you mention plus a whole bunch more.

          Which brings us back to the “Target Practice”. It makes the NRA position silly and the layout of the page dangerous.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. A bill with draconian penalties and a maze of exceptions subject to terms like ‘reasonable’ and ‘ordinary’ is even worse. You can think you’re ok only to be second guessed by a jury with an agenda, or bankrupted successfully defending yourself against a zealot prosecutor.

            Again, HR8 is all about making ME the target, not Pelosi.

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          2. Re : “Me the target”

            Of course you are entitled to whatever silly self-centered take you want on any issue but I notice that you did not answer the question. You introduced egregious falsehoods about the contents of HR8. How did that happen? Are you a liar or a dupe?

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        3. The exclusions are not as open-ended at they seem.

          One, for example, requires the allowable tranfer to occur only AT the physical location of a shooting range or IN a shooting gallery. You couldn’t lend a gun to a freind for use at a range if the hand-off occurs elsewhere.

          Another requires an allowable transfer for reasonably necessary purposes of hunting, trapping, or fishing only if the hand-off occurs in the physical presence of the transferor, who must be the legal owner of the gun.

          The examples Dr. Tabor cites could easily run afoul of either of these provisions.

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          1. ” a temporary transfer if the transferor has no reason
            to believe that the transferee will use or intends to use the
            firearm in a crime or is prohibited from possessing firearms
            under State or Federal law, and the transfer takes place and
            the transferee’s possession of the firearm is exclusively–
            (i) at a shooting range or in a shooting gallery
            or other area designated for the purpose of target
            shooting;
            (ii) while reasonably necessary for the purposes
            of hunting, trapping, or fishing, if the transferor–
            (I) has no reason to believe that the
            transferee intends to use the firearm in a
            place where it is illegal; and
            (II) has reason to believe that the
            transferee will comply with all licensing and
            permit requirements for such hunting, trapping,
            or fishing; or
            “(iii) while in the presence of the transferor.

            It is packed full of loopholes. Basically, if you know the person more than casually, you can almost do whatever you want with the gun.

            Nothing at all like Don inferred. And if that info came from the article, then shame on the NRA.

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          2. _RE: “It is packed full of loopholes.”

            Show me how I could hand a gun to a friend in my own house without conducting a background check under the provisions you cite.

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          3. Laws have to be enforceable. Your hypothetical scenario where you would be exempt from prosecution if you gave your gun to a non-relative to take away and use elsewhere would make it unenforceable. Were you illegally transferring the gun or legally loaning it? The law as drafted bends over backwards to apply common sense but that is not good enough for the gun crowd. Sad.

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  2. I appreciate your response. Yet, Target Practice was the headline. Large, bold and simple. And it is in the NRA main publication.

    The Democrats were not practicing anything. “Targeting the 2nd Amendment” would have been clearer, much more relevant and obviously less threatening.

    No, I am afraid that the visual was intentional. Tasteless and irresponsible, but intentional.

    Liked by 1 person

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