For most of U.S. history, the word “rifle” was innocuous, offending no one. In the past decade or so, however, this has changed.
Now, to progressives, except those making violent movies in Hollywood, a gun is tantamount to hatred, especially hatred of children.
To wit: the National Rifle Association (NRA), founded in 1871, in New York City, is the go-to bogeyman and culprit after every mass shooting — even though no NRA member has been guilty of spraying a crowd with bullets.
A few days ago, David Hogg, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and now an anti-gun zealot, staged a “die-in” to protest the Publix grocery-store chain for contributing to the campaign of Adam Putnam, a pro-NRA Republican candidate for governor of Florida.
Hundreds of protestors entered Publix stores in Florida to lie on the floors, pretending to be dead while holding anti-gun placards. Shoppers had to step over these “fake corpses” while buying their tomatoes. Not good for business.
Surprise (not): Publix caved by suspending all political contributions, to the left and the right, until executives “review” donation policies.
Instead, Todd Jones, CEO of Publix, should have called the cops to have all protestors arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
But, because most CEOs are petrified of controversy and bad publicity, regardless of the reason, the protestors won. Alas, they will continue to win.
What did they win?
Attention, increased leverage to overpower and disrupt fearful businesses, and more branding headaches for the NRA.
Ironically, protests and movements to ban guns simply drive enthusiasm for them: purchases are spiking — even though Americans already own over 300 million. Accordingly, Oliver North, the NRA’s new president, expects, in short order, to more than double his current membership from six to 14 million.
Despite this mounting firearm fervor, or perhaps because of it, the protestors are gaining influence, momentum, and funding — from the likes of George Soros — and aren’t going to stop.
Neither will politicians in blue states such as California. Democrat Gavin Newsom, in the lead to become the next governor, has been running on an anti-gun platform. Democrat Dianne Feinstein is doing likewise to hold on to her Senate seat.
What can the NRA do?
Change its name. That’s right, change its name.
If “rifle” is going to continue to be a constant source of enmity and distraction, and it will, the NRA must eliminate it.
The main purpose of owning a firearm is to have freedom, freedom from harm, freedom from tyranny, not merely to possess a weapon.
Yes, of course, people own firearms for hunting, but hunting is not mentioned in the Constitution and is not the core issue here.
So, the NRA is about freedom, not steel tubes that shoot bullets.
Without the Second Amendment, there would be no First Amendment. Many laugh when they hear this, but it’s true. In Europe, where guns are banned, one can get arrested for expressing the “wrong idea” on Twitter.
Freedom is the NRA’s real brand and must be in its name. As I explained at the outset of this column, times have changed — probably irreversibly; the NRA must change with them.
After the NRA’s rebranding, angry protestors will have to rail against freedom, instead of guns. How stupid would this look and sound?
One of the best ways to win an argument is to reframe it. The NRA must do that now.
Marc Rudov is a branding advisor to CEOs, speaker, media commentator, and author of "Brand Is Destiny: The Ultimate Bottom Line" and "Be Unique or Be Ignored: The CEO’s Guide to Branding." Find him at MarcRudov.com. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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