Ad Council Wants to Reframe Gun Violence With 'Public Health'

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A lot of us are very opposed to the concept of calling so-called gun violence a "public health crisis," and for some pretty good reasons.

If it were about addressing the spread of it by dealing with the people who carry it out, I wouldn't have such an issue. The problem is, we saw what happened in New Mexico. After the pandemic, people should be worried about what all levels of government will do in the face of such a public health crisis.


But the Ad Council--the one that's pushed gun control ads aplenty--is now thinking it's time to join that public health crisis chorus.

The Ad Council has launched an initiative to prevent gun violence by reframing it as a public health issue, amid what it calls an urgent crisis of violence in the U.S.

The initiative announced Tuesday morning sprouts from a partnership between the Ad Council and the National Health Care CEO Council on Gun Violence Prevention and Safety — a coalition of health system CEOs that are pledging an initial $10 million funding round to the campaign.

The goal of the effort is to raise awareness and improve education around gun violence — particularly its impact on young people. 

The organization noted in a statement that this marks a shift away from what it deems “divisive, politically charged conversations” around firearms and instead leverages public health approaches to end the violence.

Ultimately, the campaign aims to teach both gun owners and non-gun owners about preventive steps they can take to improve safety around guns.

“Gun injuries are the No. 1 killer of youth in America, a fact that demands action,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council, in a statement. “American hospitals deal with the ramifications of gun violence every day and we’re proud to partner with our nation’s leading hospitals and health systems, public health experts and some of the best minds in the media and advertising communities to educate individuals on actions that can be taken to reduce the risk of gun violence.”


The Ad Council has come a long way from "Only you can prevent forest fires."

First, it's not the number one killer of youth in America unless you squint at manipulated statistics. Yet even if it were, the issue here is that the Ad Council has partnered with groups like Brady and The Joyce Foundation, both of which favor gun control.

It's hard for me to believe that they really want to step away from "divisive, politically charged conversations" when that's this history. 

Admittedly, they might gain some more traction by moving away from groups like that, but the truth of the matter is that the Ad Council now lacks the trust it once had. It's going to push this public health stuff and it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to come away from those campaigns without seeing that it's about gun control.

Why don't they advance the idea that owning a gun allows people to protect themselves? That's both true, responsible, and would likely have a significant impact on violent crime in the United States.

That's not going to happen, though, is it?

Instead, they'll just use public health language to try and push a similar narrative. They want people to think violence is some kind of disease and that we can just make it all go away with the right policies, but it's not. A violent crime is a willful act by one person to injure or kill another. You can't mask this away.


But the Ad Council isn't interested in that. They're interested in pushing a narrative, one that ultimately undermines decades of good will they had with a lot of people.

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