The use of emotion to gain support

The use of propaganda to gain public sympathy

For some considerable time gun control organisations have made an incredible effort to remove firearms from law abiding citizens. The chosen method is propaganda. No tragedy involving firearms is allowed to pass without these organisations attaching their ideology and placing the blame on firearm owners. The greater the emotion that can be generated from the tragedy, the greater is the propaganda effort of the gun control organisations.

The focus of these campaigns is legal firearm owners, not criminals as one would hope. There is a deliberate blurring of the distinction between legal firearm owners and criminal use of firearms. The gun control organisations lump them together and falsely claim that control of one group is the control of the other, the common factor being guns. In propaganda terms this is known as a logical fallacy.

Gun control can therefore be used as an excellent example of the use of propaganda in attempting to force legislation. Both by influencing public opinion and subverting the thinking of people in power.

There are many other examples and in America the campaign of the Anti-Saloon League will be best remembered for the prohibition of alcohol. The resultant advent of organised crime and racketeering as a direct result of these propagandists efforts.

Gun control organisations

These organisations are in truth some of the most highly skilled spin-doctors practising the art of persuasion on earth. That they have enjoyed great success with these methods is an indication of the effectiveness of this type of campaign. Like a creeping cancer they are patient, repeating the same slogans and lies over and over again until even the most slow witted can understand them. Waiting and praying for the tragic event that will allow them to gain sufficient support for changes to legislation.

They know and understand both fear and emotion and will play on them until people will react without thinking. Until the mention of a word or phrase will result not in a thought process but will conjure up a picture or symbol, producing an emotional result or reaction. At this point such a person becomes a believer in the cause and will defend that belief. Logical argument plays little part in reversing this belief. Each and every time the person thinks of the object of the propaganda a feeling of distaste, fear or horror will persuade them of the error of logical argument. Even if they know or realise that the argument is factual they will within a short time reject or rationalise it to be false or unacceptable.

Let us look at the introduction of all recent gun control legislation around the world. All, without exception, have been introduced after some tragic event involving firearms, especially those involving children. Not one piece of legislation so introduced would have prevented that event or any other similar event. Yet, in most cases, it is doubtful if that legislation would have passed without the emotion generated by the tragic event. The result of this legislation is that crime has not decreased, as was promised, but increased. This is a sure indication that lies were told. Who told them? Governments and their allies, gun control organisations aided by the media.

The complicity of the media

All that is required for this type of persuasion to flourish is that only one side of the story is presented to the public. The media routinely does this by selective reporting, allowing the propaganda process to flourish with little opposition. That the media promotes these propaganda campaigns with sensationalist and biased reporting of firearms related events is not in question. The only question that can be asked of the media is why. All will claim that it is to increase readership, circulation or viewing and that it is what the public wants. How they sleep at night when it is realised that their actions and greed will cost the lives of millions of innocent people is a wonder.

Principles of propaganda

We need to examine the principles used in propaganda so that it can be readily recognised. Sometimes propaganda can be difficult to identify but for the most part the practitioner will not be subtle and appeal strongly to an emotional response. This could be as simple as a slogan "guns kill" or more complex as a story of grief, desperation and horror of some event. The objective being to get the audience to remember the subject with an emotional response such that the mention of the object or target of the propaganda conjures up in the mind a picture of great emotion. It is this emotional response that is desired because people in the main respond to their feelings rather than reason.

Some of the more specific techniques employed are;


The use of stereotypes which has a natural tendency to type people and in time this may become a fixed impression. Some familiar stereotypes are Negro, Jew, communist, criminal, nut, freak and capitalist. How many times has the media, government officials and gun control organisations refereed to what is provably the most responsible segment of the population, licenced firearms owners as irresponsible? Yet Gunfree South Africa's commissioned and sponsored research by Antony Altbeker found no such evidence.


The use of labels or substitution of words is also employed to change the impression of a statement. This is used to disguise the harsh reality of disabled or paraplegic by replacement with "physically challenged". It can in the same manner be used to reverse the impression as well. The president of the union becomes "union boss" or firearm owners become "cowboys", "firearms freaks", "gun nuts" or "gun slingers".


Demonisation such as "Guns kill", "Cop killer bullets", "Guns are evil", "Guns were designed to kill" is also used. If the words do not enrage then an atrocity can be used to create emotion. "If there were no guns then these innocent school children would still be alive." "John X in cold blood murdered four innocent school children with a gun".

So good was the British WWII wartime propaganda in stigmatising the Germans that even today, more than 50 years after the event, Germans bear the stigma attached. Legal firearm owners now find themselves in a similar position of being unjustly stigmatised by gun control organisations. Using the same methods and principles that Adolph Hitler used against the Jews.


Censorship is an essential component of propaganda. The persuader will select only those facts that are suitable for the purpose. Thus from a vast array of data only that which matches the sentiments of the purpose are selected. For example the failed attempts of firearm legislation to reduce crime will not be mentioned. Nor will the proven record of good behaviour of legal firearm owners.

As free thought and questions are to be avoided, assertions are made presenting one side of the picture. You can't talk back to or debate with a TV or newspaper. This is the essence of persuasion.

Assertions may be for or against and can be directed at some real or imagined enemy. The enemy can be that which is frustrating the purpose or the will of the audience. As an example, the statement; "Firearms owners are responsible for the large number of illegal guns and we need much stricter controls to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands" is an attempt to persuade that legal firearm owners are responsible for crime and the solution is to decrease the number of firearms available.

This ignores the fact that the victim of the theft of a firearm does not contribute to the crime in which the firearm was used. This is clearly illustrated where no blame for bank robbery is attached to the owner of the stolen get-away vehicle. Yet gun control organisations are attempting to persuade us to accept that legal firearm owners are responsible for murder.

It is exactly what women have had to contend with for so long in cases of rape. It places a presumption of guilt on the victim of somehow aiding the criminal act. We see the same thinking in all firearms legislation where the person wishing to legally own a firearm is presumed to be a lesser or deviant citizen.


Lies, the mainstay of the propagandist. If there are no supporting facts for the purpose these can be manufactured. Falsehood is the stock in trade of the persuader. Such as these familiar and untrue statements. "You are more likely to be killed with your own gun". "Firearms owners are part of the problem". "Children's lives will be saved".


The persuader hopes that in time the audience will accept repetition of the same key words or slogan. This practice is much used in advertising. Most often the statement makes no sense but if it can be attached to emotion or feeling so much the better, like "Beer is good" and "guns kill".

Band wagoning

The appeal may also be to follow the crowd. "Overwhelming support for stricter controls". "The public have indicated that.", "All respondents." implies that everyone is doing it, those that are not, are outsiders and should do the same. Commonly referred to as band wagoning.


Note that all are appeals to the emotional sense and not the logical sense. There is much value in words that conjure up pictures in the recipients' mind. There is much value in pictures that shock that can be associated with the words of appeal. Gun control organisations' preference for using tragic events involving children has resulted from their previous successes in using these tragedies to get gun control legislation passed.

Gun control organisations have found a powerful emotional lever into the hearts and minds of people. A lever that it will exploit regardless of the pain and suffering of those directly involved with the tragedy. They and the media will descend on the event like a pack of hyenas, ripping and tearing it apart until nothing remains. Nobody wants to see such an event repeated and will accept without question the falsity of suggestions of preventing a reoccurrence.

Appeals to authority

Suggestion by its nature is an appeal to authority. That authority may be a prominent person, the state, religion, science or some profession. The persuader will also make the appeal deliberately vague and have no logical references that can be checked. "American statistics have shown that.", "Medical research indicates that.", "Doctors agree that."

Emotional appeals

Emotional appeals. "Make your country safe for your children", "If just one life could be saved", "Children die each day" are just some of the many examples of emotional appeals used. They form the main thrust of propaganda campaigns; all appeals are emotional appeals in one way or another.

Special appeals

Fear is a very powerful inducement much favoured by the anti-firearms organisations. The audience is warned that disaster will follow if a certain course is not followed. "Rampant crime will increase unless we drastically reduce the number of guns in our society". "The number of people killed with firearms will increase unless we remove all guns". "Crime and violence is the result of our gun culture."

Logical fallacies

Logical fallacies are the process of drawing a false conclusion from one or more premises. "Thousands of firearms are stolen or lost by legal firearm owners. These guns are used to murder, rob and rape people. Stricter controls will reduce these crimes by eliminating this source of firearms." The logic presented ignores the fact that criminals will always obtain firearms from the many available sources. That removal of only one source will simply change the pattern of flow of guns to criminals. It also places blame and responsibility on legal firearm owners for the criminal act of theft. In exactly the same way blame is placed on rape victims for inviting the crime.

In simple terms some logical fallacies. Cats have four legs. Dogs have four legs. All dogs are cats. Criminals use guns. Citizens own guns. All gun owners are criminals.

Unwarranted extrapolation

We can also create logical fallacies with unwarranted extrapolation. Which is prediction based on a few data points and extended greatly. The residents of Alexandria interviewed did not own firearms. Therefore "Studies show that there are no firearms in Alexandria".


Statistics are a wonderful tool in the persuaders' hands. If at first the figures do not indicate the desired result them remove the offending figures or add some other influence until they do. When the gun control laws of Washington DC were first introduced the population figures of the city prior to the introduction were used to show that crime had decreased. However, more than a hundred thousand people had left Washington DC because they wished to continue to own firearms. This reduction, although known to the city fathers, was not used in the per capita crime rate calculations as the statistics would then have shown that crime had increased!

HCI, Handgun Control Inc. claims that 13 children per day die in the US from guns. The children are aged up to 19 years of age and include gang and drug related deaths. The number of deaths of children aged 5 and under is insignificant in comparison to the total quoted or how many are drowned in swimming pools or killed by bees.

Closer to home, The McKenzie report, reports on ten African countries and provides validity for the study and sponsors by examining one country that fits the case, Botswana. All other data presented in the study that showed the opposite was ignored. Dr. Richard Wesson has examined this data and his report is more balanced showing the results Ms K. McKenzie should have obtained.

Some notes on propaganda

Note that often two or more techniques are combined in an assertion and defining the exact techniques used is often difficult as some types of appeal tend to merge into each other.

What has to be remembered is that propaganda is chosen by those with weak evidence or false ideology who desire to bring about changes by public demand. The purpose of the persuasion is to carry out a task. It can be carried out by offering a solution to the public. "Get rid of all Jews" is one solution that such propagandists have offered.

Gun control in all its vast number of implementations in many countries over many years does not have a single success of reducing crime or the supply of firearms to criminals. This obvious fact and proof of the falsity of gun control in reducing crime is overlooked by all because it is never mentioned. This truth is rejected totally by those who are indoctrinated and would save lives.

The proven results of gun control are increased crimes; murder, robbery hi-jacking and rape. Those countries like Britain and Australia who have enacted such legislation at the call of propagandistic gun control organisations after a tragic event. Now suffer vastly increase firearm related crime and home invasions. Few know this since few have the time to check what the media does not report.

Is this the result wanted from crime control? The increased number of people murdered or who will suffer violent beatings, rape and injury should cause worry and concern. If you are concerned about the violence, death and misery, gun control and other such laws would force on us with lies and deceit then make your voice heard.

Following the propaganda of gun control organisations for more restrictive legislation on legal firearms owners can have only one result. More suffering at the hands of criminals. Curiously Professors John Lott and David Mustard in their study noted that women and blacks were the most likely victims of violent crime. They are are also the largest supporters of gun control.

Written and released by Crimefree South Africa
Copyright 2001 Crimefree SA, all rights reserved