|HUD No. 00-225|
|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Tuesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||August 22, 2000|
CUOMO, MAYORS AND SHEEN CONDEMN DECEPTIVE AND UNFAIR AD CAMPAIGN BY GUN MAKERS
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo joined Mayors Joseph Ganim of Bridgeport, Connecticut - Co-Chair of the US Conference of Mayors Gun Violence Task Force, James Sills of Wilmington, Delaware, and Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell (via telephone), Cleveland Police Chief Martin Flask, Newark Police Chief Anthony Ambrose and Washington D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey at the National Press Club today to condemn the gun industry's $10 million advertisement attack on the patriotism and personal integrity of the local and national officials who have tried to hold the industry accountable for its actions.
The mayors are seeking to have a response advertisement - to be voiced by actor Martin Sheen - aired by the broadcasters and cable-casters that ran the National Shooting Sports Foundation/Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation (NSSF) ads.
The NSSF ad wrongly accuses the Clinton Administration and "big city mayors" of stripping Americans of their right to bear arms. The campaign includes at least one sixty-second (:60) advertisement which ran numerous times during both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions and contains the following language, " we…the makers of America's firearms…are being blamed for crime violence by this administration and big city mayors whose greedy lawyers are using your tax dollars to sue us for criminals they won't prosecute."
The mayors are part of a group of 33 communities that have filed suit in an attempt to force the gun industry to take responsibility for the guns they manufacture - making them safer and keeping them out of the hands of children and criminals.
In a letter to broadcasters and cable-casters requesting an opportunity to respond to this personal attack, the mayors write that "Most deplorable of all, the ad deliberately makes these charges against a visual background depicting a "big city mayor" desecrating the American flag.
This ad constitutes a direct attack on our character, our honesty and our love of country. These are precisely the kind of unwarranted personal attacks that the FCC's rule seeks to remedy." The letter is signed by Mayor William Campbell, Atlanta, Georgia; Mayor Joseph Ganim, Bridgeport, Connecticut; Mayor Clarence Harmon, St. Louis, Missouri; Mayor Michael White, Cleveland, Ohio; Mayor Sharpe James, Newark, New Jersey; Mayor Scott King, Gary, Indiana; Mayor Shirley Dean, Berkeley, California; Mayor James Sills, Wilmington, Delaware; Mayor Jimmie Yee, Sacramento, California.
The Mayors are requesting the air time for a response ad under the Federal Communication Commission's "Personal Attack Rule." The personal attack rule is a long-standing doctrine in telecommunications law intended to promote fairness in the broadcast arena where strong, personal reputational interests are at stake. Specifically, the rule requires media licensees, first, to notify and provide a transcript to individuals or identifiable groups when a broadcast subjects them to a personal attack on an issue of public importance and controversy. Second, the media licensees must provide the subject of the attack an opportunity to respond. The Mayors also indicated that they would file a formal complaint with the FCC if they did not receive an opportunity to respond.
"It is shameful that the gun industry has chosen to spend $10 million throwing mud and ducking responsibility rather than saving lives," said Cuomo. "The American people are crying out for their leaders to take action and make the gun manufacturers act responsibly. The Million-Mom March and the public outrage over shootings in our schools are clear evidence of this. Now, instead of following the leadership of Smith & Wesson, the rest of the gun manufacturers have instead invested millions of dollars in an ad campaign that is a direct personal attack on the brave public servants who are taking a stand on this exigent issue. That is $10 million dollars not being spent to make guns safer, not being used to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children."
Actor Martin Sheen, whose enormous body of work in film and television is only equaled by his passionate support for causes he believes in, has stepped forward to provide the voice for the response ad, which is being produced by the Handgun Control Inc., The Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. The gun lobby used Sheen's brother, to do the voice-over on the NSSF commercial prompting many to believe that the voice was Sheen's.
"I want to set the record straight and place the gun makers' despicable deception on notice," said Sheen. "Their cheap shot has backfired and will not go unchallenged. They have used my brother as so much fodder and compromised his integrity. If the gun makers case against the Administration and this nation's city mayors is so just, why would they stoop to such shoddy and deceptive tactics including voice identification theft? No one within the sound of my voice can question my personal commitment to non-violence and social justice issues including gun safety. And while gun makers have clearly tried to usurp my credibility in an underhanded effort to deceive the public, they have only succeeded in bringing about more shame on themselves and their industry."
Note to editors: You can view the NSSF ad on their website at http://www.hsshf.org.
COMMENTS ON GUN INDUSTRY AD ATTACKING MAYORS