File photo shows the flag of the NRA flying in front of the institution's headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
(Photo: KAREN BLEIER AFP/Getty Images)
The National Rifle Association, speaking with a singular voice, may well be winning the gun control debate, says Larry Levy, CEO of Appinions, a market-influence research company. Only New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's message of "violence control" has anywhere close to the traction of the NRA.
"Really it's the opinions of the NRA that are drowning everyone else out," Levy says. "The NRA really has their act together. It's like military precision. And it amplifies their voice."
Other Republican voices, he says, are not really having an influence in the debate.
Appinions mines millions of social media feeds, online news stories and blogs, and other public records continuously. Using an algorithm, the group measures whose ideas are being retweeted on Twitter, linked to, repeated or otherwise acted on over the past two months, to determine whose opinions are the most influential in the e-universe.
On the gun control side, having several different groups may actually be diluting influence, Levy says. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions (led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly) and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (led by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) and other groups all influence the debate, but without a uniform message, they may be losing ground to the very energized gun rights advocates.
"They are all speaking of different elements and different things. It's not having the same impact," Levy says. Momentum began shifting away from gun control advocates, right around the time of President Obama's executive decisions, he said.
Jodi Upton, USA TODAY