Brady Debuts Online Videos as Gun-Control Battle Heats Up

Photograph by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House press secretary James Brady, his son Scott, and his wife Sarah visit the Brady Briefing Room at the White House.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today debuted a trio of online videos featuring actors, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting and the parents of a young woman killed in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting.

The actors’ spot  includes people known for their roles in crime dramas saying “we are better than” while giving statistics on gun deaths.

Each video is about 30 seconds long, and there are plans to put them on TV, says Amy Weiss, a spokeswoman for Brady. Although the campaign, called “We Are Better Than This,” has been in the works for several months, Weiss said it launched today, sooner than planned, because “now is the right time to give voice to victims.”

These three spots were produced before Newtown, she said, but post-Newtown videos are coming soon.

Brady has quickly stepped up its outreach in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 shooting rampage at an elementary school, and these ads come on a day that President Barack Obama reiterated his support for a return of the assault weapons ban and restrictions on ammunition.

Meanwhile the National Rifle Association says it will “offer meaningful contributions” when it holds a news conference Friday, while signalling through its webcasts that it will not back any proposal to ban assault weapons.

The sped-up debut of Brady’s online campaign shows it wants to be included as the gun-control debate heats up.

Brady is named for James Brady, the former White House press secretary who was permanently disabled by a gunshot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan. His wife, Sarah Brady, is chairwoman of the Brady Campaign.

Yet Brady, which is organized as two nonprofits, has been a fraction of its former self in recent years.

It reported about $5.8 million in revenue last year —  about 50 percent of what it raised in 2004, according to tax documents for the Brady Center and Brady Campaign. The campaign is Brady’s  lobbying arm.

Gun-control groups including Brady spent more than $2 million on lobbying in 2000, about half of that by 2004 and, last year, just $240,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The NRA raises more than $200 million each year and spent almost $3 million on federal lobbying last year.

Brady may see outrage over the Newtown, Connecticut, shootings as a chance to change its fortunes.

Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother and then drove her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six more adults with a military-style assault rifle. He also killed himself.

The school shootings happened at about 9:30 a.m. Before 5:30 p.m., the Brady Campaign had sent an e-mail to its members urging them to click to a link to its “We Are Better Than This” campaign in order to send condolences to Newtown families.

That page, as well as the e-mail signed by Sarah Brady, prominently ask for donations.

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