Is Nra Using Fear To Enroll Women As Gun Buyers?

Posted: October 16, 1993

WASHINGTON — Is a National Rifle Association's new advertising campaign that tells women to "Refuse to be a Victim" exploiting women's fears or helping them protect themselves?

That was the question at dueling news conferences held yesterday by women members of Congress and the NRA.

"Women who fear crime must not be cynically exploited by the NRA," said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.

Added Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky, D-Pa.: "We think the purpose is to scare American women into buying guns and we think that is ridiculous."

The women's caucus presented a letter to the NRA after the news conference that asked the association to immediately pull the advertising.

The NRA defended the campaign as an effort to empower women, not scare them, and says it is not an attempt to bolster its membership.

"This program is designed to help women develop their own personal safety strategies," said Tanya Metaksa, one of 11 women on the NRA board of directors and chairwoman of its Women's Policy Committee.

But Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Pa., scoffed at that statement.

"This is a campaign to increase membership. That's what it is," she said. ''And guns are killing women."

The NRA campaign is being tested in three markets - Miami, Houston and the Washington-Baltimore area, three high-crime regions.

It consists of print ads in all three markets, plus television ads in Houston and radio ads in Miami.

The NRA's campaign features the slogan "How to Choose to Refuse to Be a Victim."

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