Following every mass shooting, The Onion – America’s finest news source – responds by sharing the same article template over and over again. They do this because A) they probably have lazy writers and B) it makes a great point.
After the tragic shooting in Orlando, I considered writing a post that we could reuse after every mass shooting that reminds our readers that Ackerman McQueen – Oklahoma’s largest and most reviled advertising agency – has represented the NRA – everyone’s uncle’s favorite borderline hate group – for nearly 30 years, helping the organization craft and promote its tone-deaf, amoral, nonsensical, extremist message on gun rights and gun ownership. But just like The Onion’s writers, I never got around to writing it because I’m lazy.
Anyway, I’m finally bringing all this up because Ackerman McQueen recently helped the NRA produce some pandering, fear-inducing video to make the public think that some extremist Islamic terrorist is currently scoping our shopping malls. As part of the video, they included photos of Penn Square Mall, highlighting all the perfect spots for a terrorist to attack.
Via Media Matters:
The National Rifle Association is promising that there will be an Islamic terrorist attack involving a mass shooting at a shopping mall, going so far as to release a video in which the NRA used a camera phone to case a real mall in Oklahoma. The video identifies where exits are “few and far between” and where there is “lots of open area,” “high ground” and “places to channelize people.”
Footage of the NRA casing a mall appears in a video released by the NRA News’ commentator series. The video opens with a re-enactment of a would-be terrorist planning his attack, then switches to the NRA’s camera phone footage of an Oklahoma mall, before returning to a video re-enactment of a planned mass shooting at a shopping mall. NRA News contributor and former Navy SEAL Dom Raso narrates the video, attempting to connect the NRA’s re-enactments with its footage of the mall, as well as news footage from the 2013 terrorist attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya…
Raso then posits that the attack will occur at a mall, arguing, “He wants to be remembered for killing more innocent people than the terrorists before him. That’s exactly why he is looking for gun-free zones in states and cities where politicians have reduced our Second Amendment freedoms.” News coverage of the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack, depicting real security camera footage from the shooting, is played as Raso narrates. (In fact, the NRA’s claims about gun-free zones have been debunked: There is no evidence that mass shooters pick targets based on whether civilians can carry guns or that civilians with guns have stopped public mass shootings.)
The NRA video then switches to footage of a real mall, apparently shot on a camera phone by a member of the NRA’s video team. While video footage and freeze frames of shoppers at the mall are shown, Raso says, “As he walks through nearby shopping malls, he’s looking at the exits. He wants them to be few and far between — hard to find in a panic, and easy to block. He wants lots of open area, high ground, and places to channelize people.”
The NRA video blurs out some faces and store signs, but not others, making the mall identifiable through its distinct characteristics. The shopping center the NRA cased appears to be Penn Square Mall in Oklahoma City, OK, less than a mile from the offices of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm. The location of the mall also undercuts Raso’s argument that a terrorist would only target “gun-free zones in states and cities where politicians have reduced our Second Amendment freedoms,” given that Oklahoma has some of the loosest gun laws in the country.
After the Oklahoma mall footage, the video returns to a re-enactment of a mass shooting breaking out at a mall. Raso narrates the viewer’s impending death amid sounds of screams, saying, “You still have no idea where the shots are coming from, but you see an exit sign. Tunnel visions sets in, your heartbeat increases, and now you feel a shortening of breath. You think you’ve escaped, but then you realize the shots and screams are getting louder. You’re surrounded. He’s planned this in advance. He’s covering the exits. He is going to kill you.”
With the re-enactment over, Raso acknowledges, “The people who want to restrict your right to bear arms will call this fearmongering.”
I own guns. I think people should be able to buy and own certain guns. I also acknowledge that our country’s obsession and passion for guns helps make the USA a less safe place to live. Guess what? This is still fearmongering. We all know you’re much more likely to be shot and killed by someone you know, or even by a police officer, than you are a crazed militant terrorist while shopping at Pottery Barn (although that can also happen). Mass shootings are awful, mass shootings are terrible, and although I’m not smart enough to know exactly how they can be prevented when it so easy for people who can snap to own a mass killing machine, I do know that arming everyone at the shopping mall with concealed weapons isn’t the best way to go about it.
The fact that Ackerman McQueen would help the NRA scope out a shopping mall in the town they call home (you’re welcome, terrorists!) isn’t very surprising. Once again, they worked with the NRA for over 30 years to help brand and promote the group’s aggressive, defiant, self-serving message. They also don’t mind going the tactless route – I mean, the chairman of Ackerman’s board did run The Oklahoman – when producing other NRA propaganda:
NRA Filmed Its Rule-Breaking Pro-Trump Ad At Alexandria National Cemetery
A controversial National Rifle Association ad filmed at a military cemetery in violation of government policy was shot at Alexandria National Cemetery.
On June 30, the NRA Political Victory Fund launched a $2 million ad buy in swing states. The ad features veteran Mark Geist — a survivor of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks — as he walks in and stands in front of a national cemetery.
Because of the distinctive fencing and foliage, Media Matters can identify the cemetery as Alexandria National Cemetery. A Friday visit to the cemetery confirmed it as the location for the ad.
The cemetery is located in Old Town, Alexandria, which is also the headquarters for NRA News and the site of an office of Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s ad firm.
It is a violation of government policy to film a political ad at a national cemetery. In recent years, several political ads have been pulled because they were filmed in national cemeteries.
Facing questions over where it filmed the ad, the NRA previously declined to tell ABC News where it was filmed, other than to say it was not filmed at Arlington National Cemetery.
Once again, I own guns and think you should be able to own guns, but isn’t it disappointing to see a prominent Oklahoma company work for such a despicable organization, and help spread evil propaganda? Ehh, not really. We’re pretty used to it around here. That being said, I wonder if Ackerman also helped write Charlton Heston’s infamous speech in Denver that followed the Columbine shooting, which I think was carried out by disturbed teenagers and not terrorists. It wouldn’t surprise me: