OLD Media Moves

Look beyond the obvious for stories

January 11, 2013

Posted by Liz Hester

If you think the gun control debate isn’t a business story – think again. Not only does it affect gun, ammunition, clothing and accessory manufactures, but also there are real dollars hanging in the balance for retailers like Wal-Mart, the country’s biggest gun seller not to mention the millions spent lobbying.

So, when Vice President Joe Biden said he was getting closer to gun control proposals, many are paying attention to see how it will affect their bottom lines.

Here are some details from the Wall Street Journal:

Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday said he plans to give President Barack Obama ideas to reduce gun violence by Tuesday and that a consensus is emerging to ban high-capacity weapons and require universal background checks.

“You all know this is a complicated issue,” Mr. Biden said at the beginning of a meeting with gun-sports groups such as Ducks Unlimited. He said there is an “emerging consensus” of about five steps the government can take to help prevent gun violence though the administration hasn’t made any final decisions.

Aside from banning high-capacity weapons and requiring universal background checks, the steps would also involve strengthening the background-check system, increasing research on gun-related injuries and deaths, and considering what responsibilities gun owners have to keep their firearms out of the wrong hands.

The story goes on to mention that the attorney general will meet with retailers like Wal-Mart, but doesn’t really give any indication of what kind of money we’re talking about. That’s a bit of a disappointment from the nation’s top business paper.

The New York Times story goes a little further on the retail angle at the end of its story, but again doesn’t tell how much money we’re talking about. From their story:

Among those at the meetings on Thursday will be a representative of Walmart, the nation’s largest gun retailer. David Tovar, the vice president for corporate communications at the company, said on Wednesday that the retailer had been “very purposeful about striking the right balance between serving hunters and sportsmen and ensuring that we sell firearms responsibly.”

But a coalition of liberal organizations on Wednesday sent a letter to Walmart’s chief executive asking the company to stop selling assault weapons.

“Assault weapons of all brands and models continue to adorn your shelves, from Sig Sauer M400s to Colt LE6920s,” the letter says. “We know the horrific capacity of these weapons to wreak havoc on our communities because we have witnessed it firsthand. They have no place in our streets and in our homes, and we strongly insist that you honor your 2004 pledge to ensure they have no place in your stores either.”

The groups, including SumOfUs.org, MomsRising, Courage Campaign and Change.org, will present petitions signed by almost 250,000 people, according to a spokesman for the organizations.

Bloomberg wrote a story that touched on the money being poured in the political debate around gun control, which was interesting.

As legislative fixes percolate, outside groups are laying the groundwork to fight the NRA, which claims more than 4 million members and spent at least $20 million advocating for the election of pro-gun federal candidates last year.

Steve and Amber Mostyn, wealthy Texas trial attorneys, said yesterday they are giving $1 million to help a gun-control advocacy group formed by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. Giffords was critically wounded in a 2011 shooting by a gunman in Tucson who killed six other people.

Steve Mostyn, one of the top contributors to a super- political action committee that assisted in Obama’s re-election effort, is listed as treasurer of Giffords’s new super-PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Mostyn said the group will have a nonprofit wing, which will be used to conduct a public education campaign.

The super-PAC’s main goal is to counter the gun lobby’s political contributions, Mostyn said, which is how he’s pitching it to other big Democratic donors as he asks them to write six- figure checks.

Given the coverage Thursday, I’ll be interested to see how quickly reporters are able to try and tally up the money involved in this debate. Between the sales and the lobbying, it’s likely in the billions (my speculation) but would make a good angle for a story once the proposals are finalized.



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