New York City Mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg sure knows how to get his way.
This week the NFL, after featuring anti-gun ads during the last two Super Bowls, it decided that an ad offering the opposite point of view in the upcoming Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2 was just too much.
The NFL turned down an ad from a company called "Daniel Defense" which sells guns and outdoor gear that discussed "personal protection and fundamental rights." It featured a former Marine talking his family's safety, noting that he is ultimately responsible for their protection.
Unlike Bloomberg’s ads, the "Daniel Defense" ad never even mentions the word "gun," just the concept of personal protection.
The very end of the initial version of the ad did show the company's logo, a picture of a gun. But this wasn't the stumbling block, as the company told the NFL that it would happily to remove the logo and replace it with a picture of an American flag.
Still the NFL found that unacceptable.
The NFL does have rules regarding what advertisements can air during the Super Bowl: "Firearms, ammunition or other weapons are prohibited; however, stores that sell firearms and ammunitions (e.g., outdoor stores and camping stores) will be permitted, provided they sell other products and the ads do not mention firearms, ammunition or other weapons."
The proposed ad with the Marine clearly met the NFL’s criteria as it doesn’t mention firearms or ammunition and the company sells outdoor gear and jackets. Indeed, while Entertainment Weekly complained about Super Bowl ads being “extra-violent,” there is no violence shown here – only a general discussion about protecting one’s family.
The first ad by Michael Bloomberg in 2012 at least had a sense of humor when he banters with the Boston’s mayor over their cities sports teams.
Bloomberg is seen bragging about the 600 mayors in the U.S. who support his position on gun control. But with around 35,000 mayors across the U.S., 600 is a tiny number, just 1.7 percent of the total. Besides almost all the 600 mayors were from small towns.
Bloomberg’s ad the next year was much more heavy-handed.
Coming shortly after the Newtown tragedy, Bloomberg's 2013 Super Bowl ad showed pictures of five young children with a child's voice pleading for safety and saying that background checks are the key.
The ad ignored the fact that background checks wouldn't have stopped the Newtown attack as the killer's mother was the one who legally bought the guns.
Never mind that the research by economists and criminologists consistently finds no benefit from these laws.
There are no similar misimpressions in the Daniel Defense ad.
Some commentators have said this bias by the NFL really isn’t so bad. After all, didn't the ban on the ad still help it pick up media coverage?
The controversy is getting a lot of attention, but Bloomberg's ads got the best of both worlds: not only were they get seen by the huge audience that watched the 2012 & 2013 Super Bowls but the news media also gave them extensive coverage to the ads precisely because they were pushing gun control.
Will Bloomberg get to put up an inaccurate or misleading gun control ad for the third year in a row? There has been no announcement yet from the NFL or the mayor’s group.
But with Bloomberg running an ad that encouraged people to discuss gun control during their Thanksgiving dinners last week, he doesn’t seem close to letting the issue go.
The National Football League is a private organization, it can support Bloomberg and his group if it wants to. But right now political correctness, not rules, seems to be the NFL’s guiding principle.
John R. Lott, Jr. is a columnist for FoxNews.com. He is an economist and was formerly chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission. Lott is also a leading expert on guns and op-eds on that issue are done in conjunction with the Crime Prevention Research Center. He is the author of eight books including "More Guns, Less Crime." His latest book is "Dumbing Down the Courts: How Politics Keeps the Smartest Judges Off the Bench" Bascom Hill Publishing Group (September 17, 2013). Follow him on Twitter@johnrlottjr.