Almost a year after a minority of the U.S. Senate blocked legislation to require comprehensive gun background checks despite near-unanimous public support, a new organization launching today will unite millions of Americans who will work together to end gun violence and counter the Washington gun lobby: Everytown for Gun Safety. At its center, the organization will house Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots movement of moms that was founded the day after Newtown. Everytown will ask Americans to join the fight to reduce the gun violence that kills 86 Americans every day and affects every town – big cities and small towns alike. This means continuing to press for change in Washington and moving 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. Supporters of Everytown will back candidates and legislation that will save lives, donate to the group’s efforts and take action to raise awareness for important issues like guns in schools, domestic violence, child access to guns, suicide and the other ways that gun violence affects all Americans.
Former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced in a New York Times article published today that he plans to spend at least $50 million this year to reduce gun violence through Everytown’s educational and advocacy efforts and through personal expenditures.
The organization also announced today the formation of Everytown’s advisory board – a distinguished and diverse group of leaders and gun violence survivors: Art Acevedo, Tom Barrett, Stephen Barton, Michael Bloomberg, David Boren, Eli Broad, Warren Buffett, Gloria Chavez, David Chipman, Michael Coleman, Carlos Giménez, Roxanna Green, Nick Hanauer, Geoffrey Henry, Danny Jones, Ken Lerer, John Mack, Thomas Menino, Marc Morial, Mike Mullen, Michael Nutter, Annise Parker, Cleopatra Pendleton, Nathaniel Pendleton, Tom Ridge, Gilles Rousseau, Christy Salters Martin and Shannon Watts.
“This is the beginning of a major new campaign to reduce the gun violence that plagues communities across the country,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, chair 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 Shannon Watts, founder 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.”
The group draws its name from the grim math of gun violence in America: 86 Americans are killed with guns every day. “This isn’t just an urban problem, or a mass shooting problem. It can, and it does, happen in every town,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “And it will take every mayor, every mom, and every one of us to persuade our policymakers that we have to do more to protect our kids and our communities.”
Watts and Feinblatt will host a media conference call today to discuss the launch of Everytown at Noon EST, please RSVP to [email protected]
Moms, mayors, gun violence survivors, law enforcement officials, gun owners, faith leaders and everyday Americans will also gather at events across the country today to kick off Everytown. The events will be held in Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; St. Petersburg, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Las Vegas, Nevada; Concord, New Hampshire; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington.
At the events, Everytown will launch the ‘Gun Sense Voter’ campaign that, for the first time, will mobilize one million voters to support leaders and laws that promote gun safety. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, the group’s advocacy arm, will also issue candidate questionnaires and announce candidate scorecards to guide its supporters and the public in state and federal elections in November. The Action Fund will also form a separate, supporter-funded political action committee.
Everytown aims to grow its ranks to 2.5 million supporters this year, by addressing the ways that gun violence touches Americans, including child access to guns, domestic violence, guns on campus and suicide. Today, Everytown’s charitable affiliate, the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, released the first video in a series called “Scenes from Everytown: Stop the Violence.” The first video illustrating the dangers of child gun access can be viewed here.
Everytown will continue to press for change in Washington, including comprehensive background checks and enhanced protections for the victims of domestic violence. At the same time, Everytown will pivot to mobilize voters in state electoral and legislative campaigns, along with a ballot initiative to require universal background checks in Washington State. The group will post robust field staff in more than a dozen states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
Since announcing their merger in December, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action have achieved a number of shared goals that will keep communities safer. In March, Facebook announced that the company and its popular photo-sharing subsidiary Instagram would take significant steps to block potentially illegal firearm sales through their platforms, thanks to a month-long campaign that quickly drew more than 230,000 supporters. In just the last month, the two groups helped pass vital legislation in Washington State that will keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. And in Travis County, Texas, Mayors and Moms worked together with local political leaders to effectively close the gun show loophole when Travis County commissioners refused to lease county property to gun show organizers unless they agreed to run background checks on their purchasers.
In the year since a minority of Senators blocked the Manchin-Toomey amendment, the movement for common-sense gun laws has grown significantly. Lawmakers passed critical laws in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, and New York in 2013, and national polls continue to show an overwhelming majority of Americans support closing the loopholes in our background check system that allow criminals to buy guns online and at gun shows. In Colorado alone, their new comprehensive background check requirement has stopped more than 160 gun sales to prohibited purchasers. Everytown – and its more than 1.5 million grassroots supporters – will move the discussion forward and fight for policies proven to save lives.