Press Release

ROUND UP: Progress on Gun Safety (10/22)

While many are questioning whether we will see a “Blue Wave” in November, we are certain to see an “Orange Wave” sweep the House. Orange is the color of gun safety, and guns are a key issue for voters in November with candidates staking their campaigns on the importance of gun violence prevention. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recognizes gun safety advocates’ ability to affect the vote. Pelosi said during a roundtable discussion last week that gun safety legislation would be a top priority for the Democrats if they regain the majority.

With two weeks left until the election, guns are emerging as a pivotal issue in some of the most watched districts:

The bottom line is: the politics of guns have changed. Now, siding with the NRA hurts candidates and more than ever, Americans are fired up to vote in candidates that will put an end to inaction in the face of tragedy.  

Here’s what else we’re seeing:

As we approach the Midterm Elections, a majority of Americans say gun laws should be stricter (Pew Research Center). The share of Americans who say gun laws in this country should be stricter has increased somewhat since last year. Currently, 57% say gun laws should be more strict than they are currently, compared with 31% who say they are about right, while just 11% say they should be less strict. Last year, 52% supported stricter gun laws.

In debates in states across the country, gun violence prevention is a top issue:

  • Maryland: Calvert state candidates discuss gun control, sanctuary states, more: Candidates for state offices discussed myriad topics ranging from gun control to sanctuary states during the Calvert County League of Women Voters forum Thursday. Democratic candidate Julia Nichols said her priority is to reduce instances of gun violence in schools and the community, in response to a question on school safety and her position on gun control. “I believe that the Maryland laws on the record for gun safety are adequate for this time,” Nichols said, adding that it is a multifaceted approach. “We need to maintain comprehensive background checks. We need to require safe storage of firearms and we need to ensure the accessibility of mental health services for all.”
  • Michigan: Huizenga, Davidson discuss gun control, healthcare in first debate: Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga and his Democratic challenger Rob Davidson touched on several issues including campaign finance and gun control. “Bump stocks that turn Vegas into an automatic weapons massacre on the 27th floor and instead of something that maybe could have been controlled,” says Davidson. “It’s also about mental health, that’s probably the most important part, and we’ve working to increase access and funding,” says Huizenga.
  • Pennsylvania: Rothfus, Lamb differ on gun control, minimum wage, Blasey Ford: The House nominees in the new 17th Congressional District stayed cordial Tuesday night while illuminating differences including the minimum wage, gun control and the Capitol Hill testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. WTAE-TV hosted the hour-long affair, which C-SPAN carried nationally. Questioned on gun control, Congressman Conor Lamb said he would support universal background checks to include firearms sold from private sellers, at gun shows or online. Republican challenger Keith Rothfus said he would not, adding that people ought be able to purchase from friends and family members.
  • Delaware: Gun control, clean water and legalized marijuana hot topics during Milton forum: Candidates for the District 20 House of Representatives seat squared off Oct. 10 as they explained their views on key local and state issues. All three candidates – incumbent Rep. Steve Smyk, R-Milton, Democrat John Bucchioni and Libertarian Harry Smouse – attended the League of Women Voters forum, sharing their platforms and answering questions. On gun control, opinions among the candidates varied. “Let me be very clear. I’m for the assault weapon ban. I’m for reducing the clips. I’m for all the things along that line,” Bucchioni said, adding he would support legislation banning those weapons and ammunition. Smouse said he opposes a ban on any weapon. “I would like to see full auto being legal. It’s up to a responsible gun owner to take care of their weapon and not do anything stupid. It’s not for government to legislate. It’s just another case of government overreach,” he said. Smyk said there are already weapon restrictions, and the focus should be on restricting guns from certain people who have mental illness or other issues. “I will continue to make sure there is a difference between responsible gun ownership and irresponsible gun ownership,” he said.
  • Illinois: Davis And Londrigan Argue Gun Control, Healthcare In Urbana Debate: On the issue of gun violence, Betsy Londrigan called for federal universal background checks on gun buyers. That proposal would expand the current background checks to include people buying from private gun sellers.“And we can keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders and domestic abusers and those who are dangerously mentally ill,” said Londrigan. “These are things that we can do, if the people at the table have the political will to do it.” Londrigan said she comes from a family of gun owners, and described herself as a supporter of the 2nd Amendment. She criticized Davis for taking campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association. Davis replied he was not only a recipient of NRA contributions, but an NRA member.

Student activists – and the families of gun violence victims – are ramping up their campaigning for gun sense candidates:

  • March For Our Lives to embark on 12-day national tour ahead of Election Day (Tampa Bay Times): March For Our Lives is finishing its 2018 voter registration efforts with a flourish. The gun safety group founded by survivors of the February mass shooting in Parkland announced Thursday evening it would add 12 dates to its fall tour. The group will now visit 12 cities across seven states in the 12 days before election day, Nov. 6. “These final 12 days are a part of their nationwide Vote For Our Lives tour which represents the culmination of an extensive 9-month voter registration and engagement effort launched in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida,” the group said in a release.
  • Stoneman Douglas student activists plan DC summit and multicity tour ahead of Election Day (Herald Courier): The Road to Change has an additional dozen stops across the country and the state, ending on Election Day in Parkland, where Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students started the movement. Another group of students from the school is helping put together a gun control summit in Washington, D.C. The Washington, D.C., Student Gun Violence Summit is co-sponsored by a separate group of Stoneman Douglas students, Students for Change. The two-day summit, set to take place Oct. 20-21, will feature some of the most prominent gun control groups in the country.  
  • Emma Gonzalez Brought to Tears Honoring Victims of Gun Violence (Variety): Emma Gonzalez was brought to tears during her speech at Variety’s Power of Women event, presented by Lifetime. Reflecting upon the myriad of school shootings that have taken place over the past several years, Gonzalez couldn’t hide her raw emotions as she shared her own experiences with the effects of gun violence, before calling upon audience members to use their public platforms to take a stand for gun regulation. Eight months after surviving the school shooting, Gonzalez said she can still feel the pain she experienced that day as if it’s happening right now. “Nothing made sense in those days except for the fact that there was nothing to stop this from happening to anyone in a country with practically no gun safety laws,” she said.
  • David Hogg and other panelists address gun violence at HUBweek (Boston Globe): A panel of activists, including Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg, said Sunday that the next steps in solving the national gun violence crisis hinges on two things: funding research on gun-related deaths, and whom the voters choose to elect in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. “You have to attack the source. You have to attack the source that is driving the violence in America,” Hogg, who survived a deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida in February, said at a HUBweek event in Faneuil Hall centered around youth activism and gun violence.
  • 5 Ways New Movement Leaders Are Effecting Change (Yes Magazine): It’s hard to think of anything more embarrassing than throwing up in front of millions of people waiting to hear you speak. But that’s exactly what Sam Fuentes did at the March for Our Lives rally she helped to organize in Washington, D.C. Here’s the kicker: The school shooting survivor didn’t act embarrassed at all. Instead of running off the stage—like most of us would—she took it in stride and went on to give an impassioned speech…We all want to be recognized for the work we’re doing, especially when it comes to issues we’re passionate about. That desire to be front and center can sometimes hurt, rather than advance, a movement or mission.
  • This Father Lost His Son in Parkland. Now He Wants America to Vote the NRA’s Influence Out of Office (Fortune):  With the midterms just weeks away, activists like artist Manuel Oliver are campaigning for gun control around the country, hoping to remind Americans that mass shootings happen all too often. Oliver’s investment in the movement is personal: his 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida earlier this year. Moved to prevent others from suffering the way his family has, Oliver worked with other advertising creatives to design a symbolic statue known as The Last Lockdown.

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