This issue of "gun rights" versus "gun control" could become front-and-center over the coming months as there is a new kid in town. More accurately, there are some new moms in town who have figured out how to get their message across, as reported by the Christian Science Monitor yesterday. Once upon a time in America, only the "gun rights" side was heard by the politicians and elected officials. That was for a very good reason: The all-encompassing power and muscle of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In this battle royale of heavyweights, in one corner is the NRA, the current champion and leader of public opinion on the issue of "guns" and "gun rights," and they would say with a knowing smirk, a champion of the Second Amendment.
In the other corner is a newcomer, "Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety," which is under the umbrella of "Everytown for Gun Safety." Everytown has brought to the table the financial muscle of billionaire and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including the seed money of $50 million dollars. Moms Demand Action has the added passion and grassroots marketing skills of a mother of five, Shannon Watts. Everytown is quickly becoming one of the most respected advocates for changing the laws on the purchase and distribution of guns and ammunition. Ironically, they would say they are also champions of the Second Amendment, but without the knowing smirk.
"This is the beginning of a major new campaign to reduce the gun violence that plagues communities across the country," said Bloomberg, who is the chairman of Everytown for Gun Safety. "There is no question that more needs to be done to tackle this deadly problem, and that's why more than 1.5 million Americans, nearly 1000 mayors and moms in all 50 states have already come together to fight for common-sense reform that will respect rights and save lives. This new organization will bring more people into the fight against gun violence, which affects every town in America."
"Moms need to know that when they drop their kids off at school, they're learning math and science, not how to duck and cover from gunfire," said Watts of Moms Demand Action. "Everytown for Gun Safety will harness the grassroots power of Moms and the many other Americans who want to protect their families and communities from gun violence."
Like the NRA, Everytown will be widely distributing its questionnaire to candidates for political office, with the express purpose of learning which will push for "common sense" gun reform laws.
Everytown is armed with yet another newly released Quinnipiac University poll, which found 92 percent of Americans, including gun owners, support background checks on all gun sales. Everytown issued its first "Gun Sense Voter" questionnaire.
The political candidates are asked 10 questions to tell Americans where they stand on "gun safety" and "common sense" gun reform. The release of the questionnaire is a critical part of Everytown’s Gun Sense Voter campaign, a first-of-its-kind initiative to mobilize one million Americans to vote for candidates who support gun safety measures this November and in elections ahead. Since the launch of the campaign in April, more than 650,000 Americans have already signed the Gun Sense Voter pledge, and 70 percent of signers are new Everytown supporters.
"For decades the NRA has asked candidates about their positions on guns – now we’re going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby and asking candidates 10 yes-or-no questions about preventing the gun violence that kills 86 Americans every day," said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. "We know where the American public stands – more than 90 percent support common-sense gun safety measures like background checks – now it’s time for political candidates to tell us where they stand."
"Never before has our side of the gun debate organized voters on the ground," said Mitch Stewart, Founding Partner of 270 Strategies and Senior Advisor to Everytown for Gun Safety. "We know that Americans support common-sense reforms that will prevent gun violence, and now we’re asking them to vote on it. This election cycle will give American voters a chance to show that we will demand gun sense from our political leaders."
The questionnaire asks candidates their positions on closing the loopholes in our background check system, keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, preventing child access to guns, prosecuting gun traffickers, and other critical gun safety issues. In addition to candidates’ answers, Everytown will take into account candidates’ prior statements, voting histories and co-sponsorships and will use this information to mobilize Americans to support or oppose candidates in November and beyond.
Everytown has also moved beyond Congress to bring the fight for common-sense gun policies to state capitols, corporate boards and state and federal elections – fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the gun lobby.
Just this week, Everytown forced several major corporations to not allow "open carry" of guns and weapons in their stores. The biggest target was the national retail chain, the Target Corporation, which up until recently allowed "open carry" in its stores. A photo of Texans in Target stores outraged a nation, as the Moms Demand Action arm of Everytown pressured the interim CEO of Target Corporation, John Mulligan, to ban weapons in its stores.
The model used by Everytown is the NRA model. It appears that the NRA has met its match with heavyweights like Bloomberg and Watts.