Anti-Gun Group Tricks Former NRA President into Giving a Graduation Speech—and Now It's a Devastating Ad
The National Rifle Association is one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the United States, funneling millions of dollars into campaigns of politicians who share its ideology of stifling even the most moderate gun law reforms in the United States, despite repeated mass shootings at a number unmatched by any other country.
The dominance of the NRA's hold over Congress is why dozens of gun law reform groups have emerged in recent years to take matters into their own hands. Among them is Change the Ref—a pro-reform group created by bereaved parents of the devastating Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018.
The group recently planned a high school graduation, where they had former NRA President David Keene, along with gun rights advocate John Lott, give commencement speeches.
But when the men showed up, there wasn't a student to be found—just more than three thousand empty chairs.
Though Change the Ref told the men the graduation was canceled, there was never a graduation at all. The 3,044 empty chairs represented the estimated number of American students who would've graduated in 2021, but died from gun violence instead.
The stunt resulted in a haunting new ad, which also contains recordings of 911 calls in mass shooting situations.
As the camera zooms out over a field covered in white chairs, Keene says:
"An overwhelming majority of you will go on to college, while others may decide their dream dictates a different route to success. My advice to you is simple enough: follow your dream and make it a reality."
Interspersed with Keene's words are the 911 calls of Stoneman Douglas students and teachers.
People were amazed.
This is brilliant and so damn important. https://t.co/WyGiWF6K7X— Paul Rieckhoff (@Paul Rieckhoff) 1624506488.0
Wow… this is so powerful and simultaneously heart breaking! https://t.co/peOfNb6kFH— Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair (@Jaime Harrison, DNC Chair) 1624535347.0
This is … amazing. 👀 https://t.co/O6wSR7vHvj— Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷 (@Joy-Ann (Pro-Democracy) Reid 😷) 1624538493.0
Stunning, chilling video. (and despite the sobering topic, you gotta love the chaotic good energy of the folks who… https://t.co/KUCrnr2JBJ— Laura Hirsbrunner (@Laura Hirsbrunner) 1624505630.0
They called on the NRA's influence to be cut off.
NRA exec who profited from the American gun violence epidemic addressing 3,044 empty chairs representing… https://t.co/DXVclN1Poj— Ted Deutch (@Ted Deutch) 1624534625.0
Content warning: predictable outcome of NRA gun pimping. https://t.co/awszYjKPkM— Tricycular Manslaughter (@Tricycular Manslaughter) 1624485627.0
Whoa…. This was incredibly smart, poignant and 100% accurate. Shame on the @NRA , @GOP , @SenateGOP @HouseGOP… https://t.co/QaTq1e9wNJ— Mario Ramirez (@Mario Ramirez) 1624498759.0
The NRA is currently battling a lawsuit from New York Attorney General Letitia James.