A New York Times opinion columnist, Pamela Paul, has proposed a crackdown on firearms similar to efforts against cigarette usage.
In her Wednesday op-ed, Paul explained what this attempt would look like and how other public service messages have affected the public opinion in the past.
“Smokey Bear warned that only you could help prevent forest fires (if only this were entirely true). An actor dressed up as a Native American shed a single tear to get people to stop littering (or at least feel guilty when they did),” she said.
“The crash-test dummies made anyone bypassing a seatbelt look like a moron. Later campaigns against smoking, like the one featuring the singing cowboy, terrified many teenagers out of lighting their first cigarette,” Paul added.
She noted the influence that public service campaigns have had over people and suggested “Here’s how to start changing people’s minds about guns”.
Paul called Americans’ want, or “love,” for guns a “disquieting fact”. “Not only does this country have more guns than people, but also over the past 30 years, Americans have grown less supportive of stricter gun laws”.
Mentioning the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, she claimed the most effective measures are “repealing the Second Amendment, getting the Supreme Court to apply its supposed strict constructionism to the phrase ‘well regulated militia,’ state laws regulating production and sales”.
To solve the problem, Paul said “We could counter the gun industry’s efforts to sell more guns with a huge public health campaign”.
“Make guns less cool, less acceptable, less a part of the supposedly American way of life. Scare people. Gross them out. Even try humor,” she added.
“What if we got more ambitious with the messaging and went after gun ownership itself?” she asked, suggesting the mentioning of mass shootings taking place in the U.S., “killings in a given period,” and testimonials from loved ones of victims.
“A forceful campaign could run ads during major events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars,” Paul continued. “And a savvy one could find teenagers not only on the big screen and in the classroom (where some Texas textbooks gloss over the Second Amendment) but also on platforms like TikTok and Discord”.
“Through technology and schools, it could bring kids into creating and disseminating the message,” she concluded, asking if it would hurt to try.