American NRA executives were caught on video advising an Australian nationalist political party on how to respond to mass shootings in a three-year undercover sting by Al Jazeera investigative reporter Rodger Muller.
Muller, a native of Australia, spent three years posing as a member of the right-wing Australian One Nation party, whose members asked the NRA for advice on loosening the country’s gun laws. Australia banned nearly all rifles and shotguns after a mass shooting in 1996.
During Muller’s work, he recorded the NRA members discussing how to respond to mass shootings to push its pro-gun rhetoric.
Muller introduced One Nation Chief of Staff James Ashby and Queensland One Nation leader Steve Dickson to the NRA and traveled with them to meet with the group in Washington DC in 2018.
The two leaders sought up to $20 million in donations from the NRA’s members.
In a meeting at the group’s Virginia headquarters, NRA officials were recorded coaching the leaders on how to use mass shootings to push support for loosening gun laws.
The NRA Playbook:
Catherine Mortensen, an NRA media liaison officer, told the men that the best way to respond to a mass shooting is to “say nothing” but advising going on the offensive if questions persist.
"Just shame them to the whole idea," Lars Dalseide, a member of the NRA's public relations team, was recorded saying. "If your policy, isn't good enough to stand on itself, how dare you use their deaths to push that forward. How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?"
"I love that, thank you,” Dickson replied.
Dalseide also urged the leaders to enlist the help of friendly journalists.
"You have somebody who leans to your side that worked at a newspaper, maybe he was covering city hall or was a crime reporter," Dalseide said. "We want to print up stories about people who were robbed, had their home invaded, were beaten or whatever it might be and that could have been helped had they had a gun. And that's going to be the angle on your stories. That's what he's got to write. He's got to put out two to five of those a week."
Mortensen suggested using law enforcement officials to publish pre-written pro-gun columns.
"We pitch guest columns in the local papers," said Mortensen. "A lot of the times, we'll write them for like a local sheriff in Wisconsin or whatever. And he'll draft it or she will help us draft it. We'll do a lot of the legwork because these people are busy. And this is our job. So, we'll help them and they'll submit it with their name on it so that it looks organic. You know, that it's coming from that community. But we will have a role behind the scenes."
Mortensen went on to recommend posting pro-gun videos on social media.
"These are hugely popular and they're short little snippets. You know, 'Joe Blow', cashier at the local convenience store, had his firearm with him and protected himself," she said. "Those are good because they're short and they kind of get you outraged. We call it like 'the outrage of the week'."
Dickson told the NRA execs that he was worried about “African gangs imported to Australia” coming into your house “with baseball bats to steal your car.”
"Every time there's a story there about the African gangs coming in with baseball bats,” Dalseide replied, “a little thing you can put out there, maybe at the top of a tweet or Facebook post or whatever, like with 'not allowed to defend their home', 'not allowed to defend their home'. Boom."