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Rielly Brooks
Professor Malvin
English 115
27 October 2016
Mothers Know Best

In a recent ad created by an organization that goes by the name of “Mother’s Demand
Action” viewers were put to the test once again on the validity of America’s loose gun laws. This
advertisement is one of many images used in the campaign known as “Guess Which One”. The
tactics that this particular organization uses is different than most others out there because it
comes from a place so close to home, the mothers of America. By using motherhood as their
platform, it causes the viewers to analyze each component of the photo with the thought of their
own mother in mind, often softening their opinions or even shifting them to the other side. The
use of ethos, pathos and logos is usually seen in well written articles, however it is often seen in
pictures and advertisements. In this ad specifically, Mother’s Demand Action strategically tap
into all three rhetorical devices by using children from different races, comparing two extreme
laws, and using the angle of motherhood to reach their audience in attempts to shift their views
on gun control in America.
Although the hot topic of guns is one that many feel strongly on when looking at both
sides of the spectrum, this particular ad does an impeccable job of reaching even those who are
tightly gripping their second amendment right. The goal of all advertisements is to gain the
support of its’ viewers, by convincing them that the topic being pushed is the best choice for the
majority of society. Whether you love them or hate them advertisements have wedged their way

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into the homes and lives of many Americans, impacting the country on a daily basis. Reaching
people through television, radio, internet, and billboards it is rare that one can go even a day
without the influence of advertisements. Although the tactics of ethos, pathos, and logos often go
unnoticed by our forethought, subconsciously they pave their way into our brains and constantly
influence the decisions and and opinions Americans make everyday.
The image Mothers Demand Action generated is a photo of two boys somewhere around
the ages of 10 and 12 standing side by side with blank stares on their faces. One boy who has tan
skin and an ethnic background stands holding a dodgeball in his hands, while the other, a pale
caucasian boy, a holds riffle in his. Surrounded by faded white walls accompanied by a worn out
basketball hoop their their feet firmly stand on wooden floor polished with volleyball and
basketball regulation boundaries, it clear that the boys are in a gymnasium. Their somber, sad,
slanted mouths suggest that they do not agree with the fact that dodgeball is banned but guns are
not, and the idea is reinforced to the viewer by the message written on the ad itself. In the center
of the upper third of the advertisement there is a phrase which reads, “ One child is holding
something that’s been banned in America to protect them. Guess which one?” To elaborate on the
subject Moms Demand Action added smaller words at the bottom if the photo that read “We ban
the game dodgeball because its viewed as being too violent. Why not assault weapons?” The
Imagery and language used in the image compliment each other while challenging the laws of
our country.
One of the ways Mother’s Demand Action convey their argument is by placing two boys
from two different ethnic backgrounds in the same photo. Although it is well known that
America is a country full of a plethora of races the idea of gun violence is often placed in
specific racial groups such as blacks and hispanics. The reason this organization places these

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particular races is to remind everyone gun violence is a problem everywhere in America, not just
for the people who fit the stereotypes; for example a person from low income areas, or a
criminal. According to the organization On The Issues “about 1,500 children are harmed by guns
each year” proving that gun violence isn't just a singular race issue, or an issue of those who own
guns, but rather an issue of the country as whole. By using people who differ in skin color it
broaden’s the target group to all the people in America, forcing the viewer to expand their mind
and imagine what it would be like if they were a victim or knew someone who was a victim of
gun violence. The idea of two children from different backgrounds expands the credibility of this
ad as it shows diversity and suggests that this specific organization has support from multiple
races. It shifts the concept of guns to be drawn away from criminals, and brought into the reality
of ones every day life, while reaching all people of the United States instead of just a small group
of people who expirence these targets on a daily basis.
Another Tactic Moms Demand Actions uses in their persuasive campaign “Guess Which
One?” is the ridiculousness of laws on the books in the United states. The image uses a
comparison that is rather ridiculous and almost belittling to many people. Because it is so
obvious that guns are far more violent than a game of dodgeball, the viewer is automatically
exposed to the message being projected. The awful truth is, according to the laws and rules of the
system the game of dodgeball is indeed more dangerous than a gun because it has been outlawed
in all public schools, while guns still remain a right of the free citizens of this country. Dodgeball
and many other fun spirited activities that have been driven out of the public school systems to
keep children safe and happy now serve as a leverage for activists groups like Moms Demand
Action. These regulations pinpoint the areas of attempted protection and safety the government
has introduced to the country, while bringing attention to the areas that the government has

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chosen to neglect and ignore, like the prevalence of assault weapons and other fire arms in
America. By using the comparison of a dodgeball versus a gun, it forced its viewers to question
the validity of loose gun laws, as it picked at their common intelligence.
The image mainly gains it’s tone from the organization who created it, the mother’s of
America. As seen in Hugh Ranks Schema “Intensify and Downplay” the ad uses the linguistic
qualifier of association to intensify message being conveyed. by using the association of
motherhood the ad shows that the mother’s are doing nothing more than looking out for their kin.
Similar to how mothers in the animal kingdom protect their young from their predators, these
mothers feel as though guns and gun violence pose a similar threat to their young ones. Because
this image is coming from a maternal perspective, the people who see it look at it in the eyes of
their mother opening up to the emotions of its audience. By reaching this emotional standpoint
the viewers’ are less likely to see the image with a harsh right-sided eye, and more likely to open
up to the message. This is because of the American custom to always listen to what your mother
is telling you. Although the tone of motherhood is only one tactic used in this advertisement, it
blends into the other tactics, supporting the other arguments of this image to make a solid stance
that is hard to argue against.
The overall goal of the campaign “Guess Which One” is to persuade its audience that
guns do not belong in the homes of Americans. Through the heavy use of emotions and logic,
and the light use of ethics, Mother’s Demand Action prove their point in a way that is hard to
challenge. Because this advertisement primarily uses facts to convey their stance, those who
come from the opposing side have a hard time negating the message being provided. Like all
effective ads the “Guess Which One” campaign successfully uses rhetoric and creates a strong
argument among the communities in America.

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Works Cited
Background of gun control. 2012, http://www.ontheissues.org/Background_Gun_Control.htm

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Rank, Hugh. “Intensify/Downplay.” Models for writers: Short Essays for Composition,Edited by
Alfred F. Rosa and Paul A. Eschholz, 11th ed., Bedford/St. Martin’s 2012, pp. 100-102.