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Brady’s Thanksgiving Turkey
How the Brady Campaign Links Gun
Control to “Materials for Mass Destruction”

by Sean Oberle

November 22, 2001

No kidding: The Brady Campaign is now linking its gun control agenda to terrorists getting “materials for mass destruction.” This represents an absurd escalation of the gun control movement’s recent attempts to ride piggyback on post September 11 fears. 

Before now, the Brady Campaign and such allies as Violence Policy Center at least limited their initiatives to the idea that GUN controls would prevent terrorists from getting GUNS. 

However, in a November 20 emailed fundraising plea above the signature of Brady Campaign President Michael Barnes, the organization claims:

“But, our financial shortfall is still seriously jeopardizing our ability to reduce the threat of weapons being used against Americans here at home, smuggled abroad and resold at a profit to buy materials for mass destruction” [entire letter reproduced below].

Mass destruction? According to the United Nations, the term mass destruction describes nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, sometimes called NBCs (U.N. position on weapons of mass destruction).

Is Barnes truly claiming that terrorists are reselling firearms they purchase in the United States to buy nuclear, biological and chemical material? I don’t know. I phoned the Brady Campaign and asked press contact Nancy Hwa:

** Whether Barnes or the Brady Campaign has evidence that guns purchased in the United States are being sold to purchase “materials for mass destruction” or whether that simply is speculation.

** Whether Barnes (or the copywriter) is using the term "mass destruction" properly (nuclear, biological and chemical) or whether the term means something else.

Hwa explained to me that she was uncertain and would have to get the letter from the “direct mail department” and review it before answering. She took my phone number at about 10 a.m., and I gave her eight hours — until 6 p.m. — to get back to me. She did not. 

In any event, given that the nations where terrorists operate are inundated with bargain-basement Russian, Chinese and black-market-made firearms (including new full-auto guns now banned from civilian possession in the U.S.), I would find it extremely shocking that U.S.-purchased firearms would have enough resale value overseas to aid in obtaining mass-destruction weaponry. After all, nations like North Korea and Iraq have already spent billions of dollars and probably ten-of-thousands of espionage man-hours seeking weapons of mass destruction. Osama bin Laden, alone, has billions of dollars to spend on that goal. I doubt that a few loads of U.S.-purchased handguns, shotguns and rifles would add much to that pot.

To be fair, based on what I infer from Hwa’s apparent lack of knowledge of the letter, I suppose that this situation simply could be a combination of mindless marketing hyperbole and one hand not knowing what the other was doing — that someone in the “direct mail department” sent the email out without Barnes, Hwa or anyone outside that department being aware of the “materials of mass destruction” claim. Those things happen even in the best of organizations.

Regardless, the Brady Campaign owes the recipients of that email a retraction and an apology even if this is just a case of one Brady hand not knowing what the other Brady hand was writing. Americans have enough to fear from the reality of terrorists and do not need additional, made-up fears designed for a fundraising shakedown.

Otherwise, the Brady Campaign needs to back up its claims with facts.

Sean Oberle is a Featured Writer and gun control analyst for He can be reached at View other articles from him at


The Brady Email Plea Mentioned in This Report


Issue: 20 - 11/20/2001
November 20, 2001
Dear Friends,

On behalf of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence United with the Million Mom March, I would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope that your Thanksgiving brings you a great deal of joy and happiness!

Our staff is extremely grateful to you for the swiftness with which you responded to Sarah Brady's financial needs request a couple of weeks ago. 

As Sarah mentioned in her letter, a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has issued a challenge to our members and supporters. For every dollar contributed, up to $200,000 in the next 30 days, a 50 percent match will be made. Thanks to our extremely kind donors, we have already raised more than $16,500 through our Web site in November alone!

But, our financial shortfall is still seriously jeopardizing our ability to reduce the threat of weapons being used against Americans here at home, smuggled abroad and resold at a profit to buy materials for mass destruction. 

We cannot let the terrorists intimidate us, nor let the NRA and the gun industry win. If you have not yet made a recent contribution to the Brady Campaign, please consider making the most generous contribution possible. 

Please go to right away and make your gift worth 50 percent more!

Without you, we would not have the resources and staff to create an America free from gun violence, where all are safe at home, at school, at work and in our communities. Thank you for your support!


Michael D. Barnes


Printer Version

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