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‘Everytown’ anti-gunners plan Indy demonstration countering NRA convention

Gun control advocate Shannon Watts is planning to heat things up for the NRA this weekend.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Indiana-based founder of a national gun control group that is part of Michael Bloomberg’s “Everytown for Gun Safety” lobbying effort announced today that she will lead a demonstration against the National Rifle Association this Saturday as the organization gathers in Indianapolis for its 143rd annual meetings, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Joining Shannon Watts, head of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, will be Seattleite Cheryl Stumbo, who has been campaigning hard for a “universal background check” law in Washington. However, Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure Stumbo supports would not have stopped the man who shot her and killed another woman at the Jewish Federation office in 2006, because he had passed a background check.

Bloomberg announced last week he was consolidating the efforts of Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns with a $50 million “grassroots” campaign to push for tighter gun laws. The “Everytown” banner he waved quickly became the target of grassroots gun rights activists who registered the “Everytown for Gun Safety” name on Facebook. Within hours, others had picked up that ball and launched their own state-specific Facebook “Everytown” pages as well.

The original pro-gun “Everytown” page has been taken down from Facebook, but many if not most of the state-level pages remain as this column is being written. Yesterday, Everytown Communications Director Erika Soto Lamb said those activists have been “cybersquatting” and predicted their pages will eventually be removed from Facebook.

The local Fox News affiliate estimates that as many as 70,000 people will attend the convention. The story also estimates as much as $55 million will be added to the local economy by the NRA visit. There has been no indication about the money anti-gunners will spend.

This Saturday’s activities were not only revealed by the Indianapolis Star, but announced in the e-mail appeal from Watts, who stated, “The NRA is coming to my hometown of Indianapolis for their annual convention this weekend. And, frankly, I'm furious.” The message sought contributions to help fund a television advertisement to play on Indianapolis stations, as if to slap tens of thousands of visitors across the face.

Trying to drive a wedge between the NRA leadership and its five million members, Watts wrote, “The leadership of the NRA continues to push extreme policies that benefit the gun industry at the expense of our basic safety. And they do so despite the fact that 74% of NRA members (and 82% of gun owners) support criminal background checks for all gun sales.

“Make no mistake,” she said, “I know that the majority of NRA members support common-sense laws. They love their kids as much as I love mine, and want them to be safe. But the NRA leadership is completely out of step with its own membership. By fiercely opposing even modest steps to keep guns out of dangerous hands, the NRA’s leadership has shown that its allegiance lies with the gun industry -- not with its members.

“Moms all across the country are coming to Indianapolis to stand up to the NRA's misguided and threatening leadership,” she continued. “They're going to hear our voices whether they like it or not!

“We're also hard at work on a TV ad that exposes just how far the NRA's goals have strayed from common sense,” Watts said. “We're racing to complete the ad before it debuts on the first day of the NRA Convention this Friday, but your donation right now will help it reach the widest possible audience.”

The newspaper said Everytown for Gun Safety is now claiming more than 1.5 million members. It said organizers of Saturday’s demonstration “were not releasing times or locations of events,” but the Watts e-mail contained a link to a “Stroller Jam rally for Gun Sense” starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Indiana War Memorial Grounds, Veterans Memorial Plaza, several blocks northeast from the Indiana Convention Center, where the NRA will gather.

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