Brady Campaign: Beware 'Under-Intelligent' Gun Owners

By David Thibault | July 7, 2008 | 8:05 PM EDT

( - Beware the lethal combination of alcohol, New Year's Eve revelry and a loaded gun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which in its latest press release, pointed to the threat posed by "overexcited and under-intelligent" gun owners.

Those people, the Brady Campaign warned, might "welcome 2005 with an act of stupidity," defined in the release as "the indiscriminate unloading of weapons into the air," or "celebratory gunfire." And "they may kill an innocent in the bargain, too," the anti-gun group stated.

However, even the gun control group, Americans for Gun Safety Foundation, found fault Wednesday with the Brady Campaign's use of the words "overexcited and under-intelligent" while referring to gun owners.

"I don't think that any gun owners are likely to be persuaded by a press release that effectively calls them stupid," said Casey Anderson, executive director of the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation.

"I certainly think that people ought to be careful how they handle and store their guns. But I doubt that a release of this type of tone is likely to persuade many people to take this advice seriously," Anderson added.

Anderson said he suspects the Brady Campaign wasn't really aiming to "engage the audience of people who might do something irresponsible with their firearms. It's more aimed at people who are already convinced that guns are bad," he said.

While the Brady Campaign, named after former White House press secretary James Brady, who nearly died during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, is unapologetic in its pursuit of gun control, Anderson said his group tries to strike a more moderate tone.

"We see ourselves as trying to bridge the gap between people who care about gun rights and take them seriously on one hand, and people who are extremely concerned about gun violence on the other, and try to show where their common interests lie," Anderson said.

"I think if you expect people to respect your point of view, you have to show that you respect them as well," he added.

In urging Americans "to leave the guns locked up on New Year's Eve," the Brady Campaign contended that each year, on New Year's Eve and Independence Day, "scores of people place others at risk of injury or death as a result of celebratory gunfire. When a bullet is fired into the air, the bullet has to come down somewhere."

Celebratory gunfire is a major problem in Miami, New Orleans, Phoenix, Los Angeles and in towns along the U.S./Mexican border, according to the Brady Campaign. The group pointed to the June 1999 death of a Phoenix teenager, Shannon Smith, who was killed by a stray bullet while talking on the telephone in her backyard.

"Shannon's Law," named for the 14-year-old victim, now makes it a felony to fire a gun into the air within Phoenix city limits. According to the Brady Campaign, 95 cases of random gunfire were successfully prosecuted in the city in 2003.

The Brady Campaign also used Iraq as an example of how random gunfire can be dangerous.

"Last November, celebratory gunfire in Baghdad following the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons cost 31 Iraqis their lives, including two young children. Seventy-six others were wounded," the Brady Campaign release stated.

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