The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) latest policy statement makes no mention of trigger warnings for “Black Lives Matters,” an issue that has sparked controversy over the past week in the wake of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In its 2017 “Policy Statement on the Use of Trigger Warnings and Warning Signs,” the NRA stated that trigger warnings are used to help “people with a predisposition toward violence to know when to pull the trigger, as well as to warn others about potential dangers.”
It said the “trigger warning” should be used to inform people that they have a predispositional problem that requires them to be alert to possible dangers and can lead to “a dangerous situation.”
The NRA’s policy statement on the use of trigger warning and warning signs states: “In certain situations, when there is a heightened risk of physical harm to self or others, or when it is in the public interest to do so, a warning should be issued, either as a standard warning or as a warning sign, to the person(s) in a position to initiate or respond to a threat.
In other situations, the warning should not be used unless there is no alternative and when the warning would likely be more effective if the warning were given in writing.
Trigger warnings should be appropriate for people who are likely to use the weapon.
A person who is in a highly vulnerable position and needs to make an immediate decision to use deadly force must have a trigger warning.”
We believe the warning sign should be an accurate depiction of the situation and include information such as location, time, date, and place of use.
These may be written in a hand or on a piece of paper with the word warning printed at the top.
“We also believe that a warning signal should not cause a person to become alarmed or fear for their safety.”
The statement goes on to state: “The person should not react to the warning signal or its message by pulling the trigger.
The NRA also maintains that when warning signs are used, the information must be clear and concise, and there must be no indication of any intent to shoot or use the firearm.”
The gun lobby has repeatedly blasted the use and use of “trigger warnings” as a “disgrace” and a “political statement.”
In August, the NRA issued a letter to the public stating that it “remains concerned that the current political climate has resulted in a dramatic increase in the use, misappropriation, and misuse of trigger words, trigger warnings, and other trigger warning devices by a number of groups.”
In September, the group also issued a new statement on “trigger safety” and said that its members “are aware of the use by a few people within the NRA of the term ‘trigger’ in their personal lives and in the workplace.”
The group said that this was “in no way a ‘political statement,’ and should not, in any way, be construed as a position against the use or misuse of any trigger words.”
In response to a question about trigger warnings in a recent interview with CNN, NRA spokesperson James Koppelman said that “there is a difference between using a trigger and a warning,” and that the NRA believes the latter is more appropriate.
Koppelman also noted that the “narrow definition” of a trigger is different than the definition of a warning, and that there is “a very clear distinction between the two.”
“We are very comfortable with the use,” he said.
“We just want people to understand that we’re not saying that we want trigger warnings.
We just want them to understand the difference between a trigger, a threat, and a signal.”
In an email to CNN, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also slammed the NRA’s stance on trigger warnings and the “misappropriation of trigger word,” saying that it has repeatedly raised the issue in its public comment section.
The group’s director of policy and advocacy, David Cole, said in an email that the issue is “fraught with potential danger.”
“The NRA has repeatedly argued that trigger warning or warning sign is not appropriate, even in the context of potentially deadly situations, and we believe that this position is dangerous,” he wrote.
“The ACLU opposes the NRA policy on the trigger warning because it creates an incentive for people to believe that the government can use its power to impose its will, and it has no legitimate place in a democratic society.”
The ACLU is also concerned about the lack of clear rules around trigger warnings on public land and in public places.
“While the NRA may have no legal obligation to give warning signs to law enforcement officers who may be in the area, there is an implicit obligation for police to make reasonable efforts to notify people of dangerous situations when they see them,” Cole wrote.