Candid Conversation With Dan Gross, Former President of The Brady Campaign

Opinion
Dan Gross, Former President of The Brady Campaign, spoke at the recent 2A Rally in DC on Nov. 2nd as a surprise speaker, on the willingness to put aside some differences & work together to save lives.

Dan Gross, Former President of The Brady Campaign
Dan Gross, Former President of The Brady Campaign : JmeBellemare [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Washington, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- Dan Gross is the former president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He became an anti-gun activist after a gunman shot his brother at the Empire State Building in 1997. He once believed all handguns should be banned.

He chose to leave the Brady Campaign, and his ideas started to evolve. He saw that most gun owners in the country weren't dangerous criminals. He began to respect the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

In 2016 Gross gave a Ted Talk where he stated he no longer wanted to keep some guns away from all people. He decided he wanted to keep all guns away from some people. Some of those people are violent criminals and the mentally ill.

In the talk, he spoke about universal background checks. He still believes in background checks but doesn't think that a background check is needed if a person is selling a gun to someone that they know.

Gross's views on smart gun technology have evolved, as well. The more he learned about the technology, the more his views changed. He no longer believes that people should be forced to use a technology with a high failure rate. He also believes that Congress should not legislate any technological requirements. Gross wants the market to decide for itself, the same view support by our National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Gross was also a surprise speaker at the Second Amendment Rally in DC on November Second. I had a chance to talk to him before the rally to find out why a former president of the Brady Campaign would want to speak at a pro-gun rally.

Dan Gross agreed to sit down with me and speak about his ever-evolving views about guns. We do not agree on everything, but if he is sincere, then it is a good start.

John: First, let me say I'm sorry for what happened to your brother. We have differing stories. When I was a baby under a year old, my mom was able to defend herself, me, and my sisters successfully with a gun against a home invader.

Dan: That is great

John: You were the president of the Brady Campaign. Why did you leave that role?

Dan: I got kind of exhausted after 20 years of devoting myself entirely to the mission of preventing the loss of innocent life from guns. A big part of that exhaustion was due as much to disagreements I had with many on “my side of the issue” or who believed that they were on my side of the issue as I did with people who believe they were on the other side of the issue.

The reality is my mission from the moment I arrived at Brady, and even before, was to demonstrate the common ground that I've always believed existed between people who come at the issue from the perspective of the Second Amendment right and people who come at the issues from the perspective of not necessarily caring as much about those rights, and that we could find that middle ground that would have a big impact on actually preventing gun deaths.

That Fundamental disagreement that I had with too many people on that side of the issue just became exhausting. I felt like there had to be a different way, and that's kind of led me to where I am now.

John: Do you think that you had a change in position, or do you think it's more of a perceived change from the people on the anti-gun side?

Dan: Overall, if you look back at my entire journey on this issue, I certainly had a change of position.

After my brother was shot, I did a number of media appearances I said things along the lines of nobody except for law enforcement and Military should have handguns in our country. I have definitely changed my opinion on that as I've learned about the issue and come to appreciate what Second Amendment rights mean.

The overwhelming majority of people who own handguns do it legally and responsibly. I've been consistent in looking at common ground and coming at it with a fundamental respect for the Second Amendment and for people who own guns safely and legally and responsibly.

On everything that I've done, whether it was through the organization that I founded that is called PAX that became the Center to Prevent Youth Violence that was entirely non-political to the things that I did at Brady that included policy came at it from that perspective. Fundamental respect of the Second Amendment for the people who own guns and looking for solutions that represent the common ground, and an openness to learning and listening to people who own guns to figure out where that common ground is.

I think the biggest evolution that people will note coming after they hear me speak on Saturday will be the willingness to put aside some differences that may still exist in terms of policies. This is the biggest opportunity to prevent the loss of innocent life, which is the responsibility that responsible gun owners can take to make us all safer.

If there's any difference with any of the things I said when I was running Brady to the things that I am saying now, it is putting aside any conversation around policies to focus on what I've always believed in. The big opportunity of gun owners taking responsibility for themselves not what the government tells them to do.

John: I want to commend you for being open to evolving your ideas. I think that a lot of people are closed off and they don't want to modify their views. Why do you think that there are people out there that will never change their beliefs, no matter what the evidence?

Dan: I think there are a lot of people out there that don't respect the Second Amendment and gun owners and a lot of people that advocate for gun laws that are disingenuous.

I think part of the reason this polarized debate continues in our country and the reason why it feels more like a culture war because people on both sides feast on a disingenuousness from the other side. I do think it goes both ways. I think there are people on the “gun control or gun safety” side that have too loud of voice that really believe that there's no place for guns in our country. Those are the people that lead to a lot of exhaustion that leads me to where I am now.

John: I've been on radio shows with anti-gun people. One of the people from Moms Demand Action tried to tell me that I had blood on my hands for being a gun owner, which I thought was kind of ridiculous. How do we tone down the rhetoric?

Dan: I think the way we tone down the rhetoric is doing what Rob Pincus and I are trying to do, and what I am trying to do. Which is demonstrates the incredible amount of common ground that exists and demonstrate that we don’t have any motives other than preventing the loss of life.

It is wonderful that your mother was able to defend herself. No decent person shouldn't agree with that. I think too many on the other side would disagree with that. It is driven more by a philosophical hatred of guns and people that own them; than, it is by a genuine desire to save lives.

John: Do you believe in the so-called assault weapons ban?

Dan: When I was at Brady, it was a big source of internal discomfort and tension both within the organization and within the movement because I strongly believe that it should not be a policy. My Mantra has always been the biggest opportunity is not to take certain guns from all people, but to keep all the guns out of the hands of certain people. Those certain people are the people that we all agree shouldn't have guns. For that reason, I never made the assault weapons ban a policy focus, and I think that conversation around the assault weapon ban does way more harm than good if our goal is to prevent bad things from happening.

This is a disagreement I had with people within the organization and even people within high levels of politics, including the White House at the time.

After Sandy Hook, there was a desire from a strategic perspective say, “Let's talk about background checks and an assault weapons ban because it gives us the strength to negotiate because we can say alright we don't need the assault weapons ban, but we will have background checks.”

I disagreed with that vociferously. It was not a popular thing within my organization to take that stand. I would call out Democrats in Congress for using this as a political ploy.

John: You say, you don't want to keep some guns away from all people, but you want to keep all guns away from some people. Who are those “some people?”

Dan: We need to work together to define who they are and how to do it. I don't have anything that is specific. I think it needs to be a dialog on both sides. I think there are people that everybody currently accepts that are prohibited people. So, there are measures that don't infringe on the Second Amendment rights to own guns that can do that. Those are things I believe we should discuss. That is the starting point in terms of prohibited purchases.

I think unsupervised children who don't have permission shouldn't have access to guns in the home. I think that it is up to individual gun owners. I think that is an important matter of education. If we can identify the mentally ill people that are suicidal, I think that is another conversation that is worth having.

I said, “We shouldn't take some guns from all people; we should take all guns from some people,” but I think an important part of that is that it is the people we all agree shouldn't have guns. I am not looking to be prescriptive there as much as I am looking to find where that common ground is.

John: What do you think the common ground is between the anti-gun side and the pro-gun side?

Dan: I think it's a higher focus, which is to put aside the policy conversation. Even with good intentions on both sides, there's likely to be some disagreement, but over time it should be a part of the conversation.

I think the biggest opportunity that we all have is the responsibility that we all can take without government interference or without infringement on the unquestioned right to bear arms.

John: Why did you agree to speak at the second amendment rally?

Dan: I think it is a really powerful opportunity to get across the fundamental points that I've always believed. I have every bit as much if not more in common with the people in that will be in that crowd on Saturdays if they will look at this with open eyes and an open mind.

I have every bit as much in common with those people as I would with, if not more than with then the crowd of people who kind of consider themselves, “gun violence prevention” [people]. My hope is if I'm able to communicate that common ground exist, it is the beginning of an important dialogue that has the potential to save a lot of lives.

John: How do you convince gun owners that have been tricked by things like the Katie Couric special that you are sincere?

Dan: I don't expect it necessarily happen overnight, and I don't expect it to change everyone's point of view about me magically. All I can do is, and all I've ever tried to do is speak what I really believe in my heart, which comes from this place of common ground, and I'm confident that has defined me and everything I've said.

I'm just not concerned about it because I've been consistent. It's like “oh what tangled webs we weave” if you're trying to be deceptive. I've been nothing but consistent in the things that I said about this issue.

John: Are you worried about the headlines the day after you speak from the backlash of might happen in the mainstream media.

Dan: It's nothing I haven't dealt with before. I've been in so many situations, whether it's headlines or politicians or with advocates on my side of the equation where I've been read the riot act for saying those things that have been remarkably consistent. I think there will be, as there's always been, some people who may have had the wrong impression of me who may be disappointed in me.

All I can say to them is what I'm saying to you, which is what I've always believed. I'm not slamming anybody. There is a lot of decent people on the other side as well. There are decent people on every side of this, and this is about finding where the middle ground exists between the decent people on both sides and not letting the kind of headline-grabbing element of either side and dominate the conversation.

It may not be fun to get some of the criticism I'm going to get, but I believe strongly enough in the opportunity that it's worth it.

John: Is there anything you want our readers to know that we haven't discussed?

Dan: No, I think I said it all.

Dan spoke at the 2A Rally in DC on November 2nd as a surprise speaker. I believe strongly in the exchange of ideas, even if those ideas run contrary to my own.


About John Crump

John is an NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC, and is the co-host of The Patriot-News Podcast, which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement, including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or www.crumpy.com.

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mike
Member
mike

Someone should ask him if ‘some people’ should lose all of their rights. I’d argue that speech has caused more deaths that the unlawful use of firearms.

danh
Member
danh

I’m sorry, but I don’t trust anything anti-gunners say, NOTHING!!! This is the same old trick as before, just a new way of going at it. They want us to bend a little toward their way of thinking, they want us to compromise: to H%LL with them! There is no compromise. Not as far as I’m concerned. They want the citizens of this country disarmed, so they can force us to except any Buull Sh!t law they want, NO WAY!!! I would rather die on my feet, than live on my knees! At least Beto was honest about what he… Read more »

Will
Member
Will

@danh,the gun-grabbing son of a bitches don’t lie all the time,..only when their mouths are moving.

Bulletburner
Member
Bulletburner

Talk is cheap and doesn’t buy any confidence from me. I don’t give out trust, especially when it comes to politicians and people who have spent years talking the Second Amendment down. Let’s see some actions that don’t ask me to compromise.

loveaduck
Member
loveaduck

So how do we get amendments? How does he fit your description?

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@Ducky…We have been known to put speed bumps in residential areas .

ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS
Member
ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS

Do u want some Doctor who can’t diagnose or cure the common cold to say u have a mental disorder & take ur rights & property?

Its a anti-gun scam like Gross!

There is much in this world that we can’t find or see with a xray or 10 trillion test!

If mental appearance was ENUFF to lock u in a rubber room 24/7 the entire democrat population would all be in mental facilitates or on a island in the Pacific surrounded by trillions of hungry man eating sharks a thousand trillion miles from the sane world!

ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS
Member
ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS

ALL i heard around me when he spoke was ROPE!! The founders would of known how to handle this wolf in sheep’s clothing….

loveaduck
Member
loveaduck

You seem like those he spoke of who won’t seek common ground even just to start a calm conversation. I believe the guy. Can he have an impact? I don’t know.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@duck, Sure … he can have an impact. An impact is what he needs most of all.

ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS
Member
ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS

U don’t belong to the commie brady bunch if ur head & foundation is in the right place! I trust this ass about as much as i do as Hitler if he was still alive.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

Gross whitens his teeth, and has the same smile as an insurance salesman. Big perfectly groomed head; narrow effeminate shoulders; perfect tan. Wouldn’t a guy like to grab him by his effete neck tie and punch him till the blood came out his nose (hypothetically)?

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@WB…He may be a hired gun who will do what ever he is paid to do! BUT I personally would not put him in a position of power to find out . Fool me once …..

Doszap
Member
Doszap

Did he have a CLUE that there are NO ASSAULT WEAPONS even being USED in the Sporadic murders in the Gun Free Zones?,which I call “Murder at Will Zones”. The last ASSAULT weapon used in a homicide was approx 30yrs ago by a cop that used one(a machine gun),to murder a fellow officer. Seems the press and for sure the MSM and Gen Pop are ignorant of what an ASSAULT weapon even IS.(They must be Full auto /semi auto /and use an intermediate center fire rifle cartridge(like an M4 and and /or AK.) Did anyone at the rally bring up… Read more »

Bill N
Member
Bill N

Ah yes. The keyboard cowboys strike again. Some times it’s just to funny to turn off. All this Trump bashing is a bit frustrating. Just think, what if Hillary had won. Hummm should be food for thought don’t you think. Now I’ll catch hell for this post, have at it cowboys.

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@USA…I will give you that , and thanks for not throwing a tantrum.

Hankus
Member
Hankus

At least he appears to have thought this through and applied some logic and REAL common sense, as opposed to the “common sense” that the anti’s constantly scream about.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Hank, if you mean Gross, when you write he, then No. Gross still thinks that inanimate objects commit crime. That is not logical. Gross still thinks the answer is in diminishing the constitutional Civil Rights of the many, rather than demanding responsibility of the individual. That is not logical. And prefers permission from big government to freedom for his countrymen. That is not American.
Gross is just smoother about it.

Tionico
Member
Tionico

Hmmmm I wonder, did you and I read the same article? QUoting this guy, seems he HAS radically changed from the position and goals generally given as the reason the Brady Bunch exists. Instead of getting all the guns out of everyohe’s hands, or even all of certain classes of guns out, he’s now thinking there ARE certain folks that should not have ANY guns…. the sorts of folks David Codrea describes thusly: if they can’t be trusted in public WITH a gun, how can they be trusted in public without a qualified custodian?” He’s fine with private sales with… Read more »

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Tio, You read about a democrat, and twenty year Brady campaign anti-gun advocate, who made a self serving speech, and believe that he has turned over a new leaf? Tio … I know that you are more astute than that.

loveaduck
Member
loveaduck

I guess a person can’t, over years, change an opinion.

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@ducky…I keep waiting for the BUT….

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@duck, In theory, possibly. As a matter of human habit, probably not. But what I said is that third party hearsay of a one time prepared and self serving statement is not the kind of evidence that one can rely on.

tomcat
Member
tomcat

@ Tio I got to agree with the majority, a leopard doesn’t just change it’s spots. I wouldn’t trust him within 100 miles of my rights and freedoms.

UncleT
Member
UncleT

Sounds like a John Kasich and a Mike Dewine. Both are Republicans from Ohio that want Red Flag Laws and the TAPS act. Of course, Bill Barr and Trump does too. Here’s a a good article on the Dangerous TAPS Act if you haven’t heard, Also. Barr is suppose to have meetings in Dec with the FBI to institute these procedures even if it isn’t even passed. They will pass it along to the states to do as well. https://www.thelibertybeacon.com/hr-838-taps-act-you-are-being-lied-to/

toomanyhobbies
Member
toomanyhobbies

This could easily be a ruse, and not the first time an anti gunner has lied in an blatant attempt to pull gunners to their side….
Ya I am a pessimist when I see stories like this…

Get Out
Member
Get Out

It’s great the guy jumped out and is defending the 2A now, but I’d want to see a long term track record of defending the 2A before trusting him fully. He has inside knowledge of the deceitful tactics of the Brady Campaign and probably other anti-gun organizations and should expose them for all to see.

Geary
Member
Geary

Taking his answers at face value, I’m not sure anyone commenting read this article.
Could he be paying lip service? Certainly.
Pretty hard to believe, if he is speaking at a pro2A rally. And the anti-gunners got to be chocking on their coffee, with his step away from them.

Dubi Loo
Member
Dubi Loo

Sorry, personal Values and Constitutionally protected Rights do not evolve, they are ingrained. I smell a Tory spy.

MikeRoss
Member
MikeRoss

Mr. Gross should do another Ted Talk, because his first one was full of the same old anti-gun propaganda we’ve heard a million times. He accuses the ‘gun lobby’ of being dishonest while he spouts BS Brady talking points.

JDC
Member
JDC

If Mr. Gross’ brother had di in a car accident, would he have spent 20 years trying to ban autos?

If he had died falling off a ladder, would a ladder ban be forthcoming?

Of course not. He bought into liberal clap-trap that taking guns by nibbling away 2A rights bite by bite would be more acceptable than an outright ban.

Going to take a lot more to convince me of his sincerity…

ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS
Member
ALL GUN LAWS ARE INFRINGEMENTS

Exactly…tired of the drama queens with their feel good laws

joefoam
Member
joefoam

If this guy thinks guns are the problem he has some serious issues. No matter if he pretends to be transformed and now supports gun owners he has not become a saint. He will probably try to gain the support of gun owners so he can subvert our rights from the inside.

MKRS1776
Member
MKRS1776

1.) “the willingness to put aside some differences that may still exist in terms of policies. This is the biggest opportunity to prevent the loss of innocent life, which is the responsibility that responsible gun owners can take to make us all safer.” Exactly what part of the second amendment shall we put aside AGAIN and compromise on AGAIN as our “gun owner responsibility”? 2.) I love how this guy says, “I think there are people that everybody currently accepts that are prohibited people.” THEN, out of the other side of his mouth says, “We need to work together to… Read more »

Ned2
Member
Ned2

There is not one single gun law that has prevented a murder.
With all due respect Mr Gross, take a hike.

coyotejoe
Member
coyotejoe

Now he’s willing to compromise, meaning “I’ll let you keep some of your rights for now but I’ll be back for another bite soon”. When we accept a “compromise” that establishes a precedent that our rights are negotiable. No sir, the second amendment is not negotiable!

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

Mr Grossly wrong is soft selling the same old libtard stupidity. Universal background checks would be the death knell of the gun show, gifting of a gun, and gun by inheritance. Which is why it was rejected by Congress in the first place. Universal background checks lead to owner lists and smack of permission by government.

Deplorable Bill
Member
Deplorable Bill

A well regulated militia being necessary to a free state, the right of the people to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed. There is no ambiguity here, the right of the people to keep and bare arms shall not be infringed. There can be no compromise, no steps back, no buy backs, no knocking on the door in an effort to relieve someone of their GOD given, constitutionally protect rights. The demoncrapic, socialist, communist left has already let the cat out of the bag, they intend to take EVERYONE’s firearms. Every, EVERY American citizen of proper age, who… Read more »

Gene Ralno
Member
Gene Ralno

I didn’t see much here with which to disagree. But Gross was an anti-2nd Amendment leader for more than five years. Perhaps I’ll accept him as a sincere convert after he’s campaigned on our side for more than five years. His side has radically insulted our side. They’ve accused us of murder and more. When he rejects all of that and debates thousands of times against the left, as we have, I’ll reconsider. Trust takes time and effort.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@GR, Gross is just trying to catch more flies with honey than vinegar. He is more dangerous in the political world than violent radicals.

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@USA…He may well show up on the NRA BOD !!!!

Vanns40
Member
Vanns40

Gene: Let’s take one of his very first sentences which pretty much says it all: “I got kind of exhausted after 20 years of devoting myself entirely to the mission of preventing the loss of innocent life from guns.” Note the words “….loss of innocent life from guns”. He still believes guns are the cause of all of this, not criminals. That means he will never stop trying to legislate against an inanimate object no matter how much he protests to the contrary. It’s an ingrained hatred with him that he now appears to be trying to gloss over in… Read more »

Oldvet
Member
Oldvet

@Vanns…Nice catch

tomcat
Member
tomcat

@ Vanns40 Good observation on your part. I think you found the snake in the woodpile.

Dave
Member
Dave

It’s a shame a gun control advocate was willing to go out to the rally and speak his mind when so many so called 2A advocates weren’t willing to show up at all.

Wild Bill
Member
Wild Bill

@Dave, Maybe he gets compensated. Politics is his business.

Dave
Member
Dave

so what? Point is no one showed up for this rally.

JIAZ
Member
JIAZ

“Snake in the grass”:
One who feigns friendship with the intent to deceive.

DoctorWho
Member
DoctorWho

Rule One here in the West: Never trust a rattlesnake and Never turn your back on them. The same applies to a liberal like Gross.

Will
Member
Will

@Doc,every encounter I’ve had with a rattler results in a dead rattler.

Will Flatt
Member

He’s just the snake oil salesman. The cops who arrest people, the prosecutors and judges who throw people in jail, the politicians who write unconstitutional statutes are the ones who are actually guilty of Deprivation of Rights. But you could make an argument that antigun hacks like this CONSPIRED to deprive people of their rights if you could tie them to antigun politicians, which you most definitely can!!

loveaduck
Member
loveaduck

Use spike strips.

Will Flatt
Member

Well now doesn’t that sound all warm & fuzzy. Both sides of the gun control debate agreeing to put down the proverbial pitchforks & hatchets to go after the criminals & crazy people that are often cited as the source for unlawful firearms use. “Let’s just agree that CERTAIN people should never be allowed to have guns”… Sounds great, doesn’t it?? Common cause and the solving of mutual problems. Except that it’s not really great. This is a rope-a-dope. Once again the Left is demanding the rest of us to compromise, to meet them partway. But they keep moving the… Read more »

jmb1911
Member
jmb1911

Mr. Crump , A very well written article, yet Mr. Gross blames the gun and not the person that killed his brother, and can sympathize with him on his loss and noting more.. Other than that he is from a SUBVERSIVE Organization that wants to eradicate the 2A . Also in reading this article he wants to keep certain guns out of the hands of certain people quite vague in that. There are already laws for this yet those people who aren’t supposed to have access to those guns somehow do. Mr. Gross can talk all he wants about how… Read more »

Will
Member
Will

@jmb1911,somebody needs to explain to Mr Gross that inanimate objects can’t commit acts in any form,good or evil. I’m like you,I don’t think he’s evolved on his gungrabbing positions at all !

jmb1911
Member
jmb1911

Will you are absolutely right in your post here. A gun isn’t evil nor is hammer etc., people are and many people have predetermined to do harm to innocent or law abiding people. Again like you say here, it’s not the inanimate object it’s the person. I think the anti’s ( pols and anti gunners ) ignore that as it is easier to blame an inanimate object just as Beto O’Rourke did when he said Hell yes we’re coming for your AR 15’s and AK 47’s. I agree with you and live in NJ a unfriendly 2A state.

Will Flatt
Member

He says his views are ‘evolving’. Weasel words if I ever heard one. He’s peddling snake oil in the hopes we’ll imbibe. I don’t think we will!!!

The fudds at the NRA would, however….

Will
Member
Will

JOIN GOA ! THE ONLY NO-COMPROMISE GUN LOBBY IN WASHINGTON !