Giffords, NextGen America, and Everytown for Gun Safety today announced that they are launching a nationwide initiative to register high schoolers to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and elevate the voices of young people as they demand common sense action on gun reform. With an initial $1 million contribution from Tom Steyer, the program will launch on March 25th, after the March for our Lives, and will include a national voter registration drive, support fellowship programs for high school students, and provide trainings that will reinforce their activism.
“If this Congress won’t act to protect our kids, we must elect one that will,” said former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun safety group Giffords. “If the politicians who have benefited from millions of dollars in NRA cash won’t pass laws to make our schools and communities safer, we will vote them out. Today, students from Parkland and across the country are inspiring the country to be better. Come November, many of those young Americans will be making the difference themselves as they cast their votes for the first time.”
“What we saw last week in the shadow of a terrible tragedy was young people, with their hearts bleeding for their dead friends and classmates, saying ‘enough is enough, this ends now,’” said President of NextGen America Tom Steyer. “We’ve seen incredible examples of young people using their voices to call for change and demand political courage from their representatives. Instead of doing their job, Republicans have refused to even debate common sense gun laws. The politicians who continue to drag their feet on laws to protect Americans in order to appease the gun lobby have a simple choice: listen to the voices of our nation’s youth, or find a new job.”
“The passion and courage displayed by young people after the mass shooting in Parkland has compelled millions of Americans to act,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Teens are speaking out and demanding more of their elected leaders. Now they’re ready to channel their passion into the 2018 elections, when voters will throw out lawmakers who are beholden to the gun lobby and its dangerous agenda.”
Focusing on districts and states represented by legislators who are backed by the NRA and have consistently opposed common sense gun reform, the program will include a large digital and mail voter registration program, as well as a pre-registration program for 17 years olds in states such as Florida and California. With 66% of Americans supporting stricter gun laws and an overwhelming 97% supporting universal background checks, young people are on the front lines of the fight to to ensure that every person in America can go to school, work, places of worship, or a concert and feel safe.
Following the tragedy in Parkland last week, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have proved that young people are passionate, articulate, and eager around the issue of gun reform and are ready to build a better future for themselves and their fellow Americans. The coalition is committed to providing young voters with the skills and resources they need to organize against the politicians who refuse to act in their interest, and ensure that their voices are also heard at the ballot box in November.
This program will also compliment the work of NextGen Rising – a $30 million national effort by NextGen America to engage, register, and mobilize young voters in 10 states ahead of the 2018 midterms.