Gun Control Group Briefed ABC's Designated Survivor Team, Urges Supporters to Thank Show for Gun Episode

Kiefer Sutherland's President Kirkman embraces gun control agenda in latest episode

Actor Kiefer Sutherland / Getty Images
April 13, 2017

A leading gun control group said on Wednesday it briefed the team behind ABC's Designated Survivor in the lead up to its premiere season and urged its supporters to thank the channel for last week's episode focusing on guns.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the country's leading gun control groups, said they gave a presentation to the team behind the primetime show starring Kiefer Sutherland.

"Our president Dan Gross presented to members of their team a while back before the season began about representing gun violence on screen and spent time educating them on the issue," Brendan Kelly, a Brady Campaign spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon. "It was part of that larger effort I alluded to in [a recent email to Brady supporters] to work with content producers and creators to highlight the issue of gun violence in America and the sensible solutions at our disposal."

Designated Survivor airs Wednesdays at 10 P.M. EST and focuses on Sutherland's character Tom Kirkland who becomes president after most of the federal government is killed in a terrorist attack. The April 5 episode of the series, titled "One Hundred Days," focused on Sutherland's character laying out the agenda for his struggling administration. Though the episode begins with Sutherland instructing his staff to avoid hot button issues, his wife makes comments in support of gun control that create a media firestorm.

Shortly afterwards, Sutherland is confronted at a town hall by a woman whose daughter was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend. After calling gun control "one of the most divisive, hot-button topics in our nation," Sutherland lays out his views.

"I believe that the American people have every right to buy and own guns by virtue of the Second Amendment," Sutherland's character said. "I would also like to take a moment to quash the myth that somehow gun control is equal to the Federal Government coming into your home and taking your weapons away. Nobody is advocating for that. We need to be doing everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of prior felons, people dealing with serious mental-health issues, people on terrorist watch lists. I mean, come on. We need to be using common sense. It's as simple as that."

The Brady Campaign said they were happy with how the series portrayed the issue of gun control.

"We hope integrating this issue into storylines can help facilitate more conversation about the everyday gun violence that kills 33,000 Americans a year and shine a spotlight on the sensible steps politicians and gun owners alike can take to help bring that number down," Kelly said. "For us, it's about changing social norms and rethinking the way we talk about guns. Of course we appreciate when the issue is reflected as accurately as possible, recognizing creative liberties can and often are taken in entertainment. We think Designated Survivor really nailed it on that front."

The organization urged their supporters to thank ABC for the episode and directed them to a site which sends a message to the network as well as signs them up for Brady Campaign email alerts.

"It was great to see ABC's hit show Designated Survivor incorporate the fight to end gun violence and pass lifesaving gun laws into their script on Wednesday," Dan Gross said in an email to supporters. "Please join us in thanking ABC for raising awareness and changing misconceptions about this critical issue of gun violence prevention."

Brady's work to influence Designated Survivor is part of the group's larger campaign to influence television and film. The group consulted on the script of Miss Sloane as well as scripts for episodes of The Good Wife and Grey's Anatomy.