Login

Tech leaders push for gun control with SOPA protests as a model

its time NYT ad

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, parts of the startup community hope that the tactics of anti-SOPA protests can shape the conversation on gun control. Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley, Randi Zuckerberg, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue, and many more have put their names to a New York Times advertisement calling for renewed gun control laws, alongside celebrities like Lady Gaga and John Cusack. Others, like, Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, have expressed support online. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson, whose company has invested in Twitter, Kickstarter, and other successful startups, compared the potential of pro-regulation effort "Demand a Plan" to that of the successful fight against copyright bill SOPA. "Like the PIPA/SOPA efforts last year, this effort is diverse, distributed, chaotic, and hopefully effective and powerful."

"This effort is diverse, distributed, chaotic, and hopefully effective and powerful."

Demand a Plan was launched by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns in mid-2012; it's recently stepped up its plan to urge stricter laws. So far, the startup community's influence seems relatively minimal, though Wilson credits members of it with helping plan a viral campaign to support reform. What this does show, however, is another attempt to leverage the power of the tech industry as a body politic. Sites like Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit were instrumental in building awareness of SOPA, which was subsequently tabled by its author. Outside a growing lobby for internet interests, online companies have gone directly to the public, tapping into grassroots opposition and presenting warnings about the effects of SOPA, ACTA, or the ITU.

Notably, the most visible (and successful) campaigns have been against bills or treaties, not in favor of them. They've also been about things that could have a direct impact on the internet: the widespread SOPA Blackout, for example, hinted at what could happen if the law took effect. Demand a Plan, by contrast, is pushing for new legislation on a widely contested issue that doesn't affect web companies' bottom line. During the SOPA protests, Wilson expressed fears that startups are "outmanned and outgunned" by older industries in the political arena, and how effective they are at supporting this fairly ambitious project could highlight that — unlike many previous campaigns, the conversation about gun violence won't only affect people when they go online.

The Verge
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Verge username and password

As part of the new Verge launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Verge going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.