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Propaganda in the Classroom
Propaganda Analysis Sheet

Are You Next?

  1. What item are you analyzing? A mailer from The National Coalition to Ban Handguns
  2. The message you chose to work with is transmitted via (check off all applicable categories)
__X__ written language _____ spoken language _____ music _____ other sound
__X__ image (photo, drawing, etc.) _____ color _____ other visual _____ other _______________________
  1. The medium used to transmit the message is (check off the type that applies)
_____ book _____ magazine _____ newspaper __X__ mail or e-mail _____ billboard or poster
_____ TV _____ radio _____ film _____ CD, audiotape, etc. _____ other _________________
  1. Who authored the message?

The National Coalition to Ban Handguns

  1. At whom is it targeted?

Americans fearful that the widespread availability of handguns leads to unnecessary death and injury

  1. Is it commercial or non-commercial?


  1. In one clear, brief sentence, summarize the message with which you've decided to work.

One of those easy to access handguns could end up pointed at you.

  1. Are there other propagandistic messages in this item?


  1. Is the author attempting to elicit a behavior or a belief?

Belief and Behavior

  1. Clearly state the behavior or belief the author wants from the target.

The author wants to reinforce the beliefs of those who already fear the consequences of easy access to handguns.

S/he wants these people to continue voting for and contributing to those who promise to seek and enact sensible laws to limit handgun purchases to those without criminal backgrounds or mental health problems.

  1. Does the message attempt to manipulate with emotion, reason or both?


  1. Describe how you think the manipulation works?

The gun pointing directly at the reader from the front of the envelope is designed to startle a person as s/he imagines what it must be like to have the barrel of a real handgun pointed inches away from her/his face.

The text points out that even somebody as well protected as the President of the United States is not safe from a mentally ill person with the ability to buy a gun with no questions asked.  It implies that a national law making such a purchase more difficult would have been more effective in safeguarding him than all the arms carried by the President's security detail.  It ignores the point made repeatedly by pro-gun advocates that if such a man could not purchase a weapon, he would probably be able to secure it easily illegally - via the black market or a burglary.

  1. Do you believe this item was successful propaganda?


  1. What evidence supports your answer to the last question?

Organizations circulating pieces like this are very successful lobbies, whose work led to the enactment of the Brady law in 1993 in the face of relentless opposition from pro-gun groups.

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original web posting: Sunday, December 30, 2001
last modified: Thursday, December 09, 2004