With just one week to go until Election Day, the intensity and divisive rhetoric have come to a head. On Saturday morning, a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburg synagogue killing eleven members of the Tree of Life Congregation in one of the deadliest attacks on the Jewish community in U.S. history. Four law enforcement officers were among those wounded. Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords condemned the violence noting, “Every single day, nearly 100 Americans are killed with a gun in our country. We must not only recognize the realities of hatred in our society but actively work to make it harder for dangerous people fueled by hate to access firearms and murder innocent people.”
This comes after news broke last week that more than a dozen pipe bombs were sent to critics of Donald Trump. These acts of violence represent two more reminders of how hateful words can easily turn into violent action, as it has time and again in shooting after shooting. Last week, Gabby posted a clip from 2010 – the year before she was shot at a campaign event in Arizona – of her commenting on the dangerous rhetoric used against representatives, something that clearly proved to be prescient. In the video, she also urges people to combat this violence with their vote.
Clearly, 2018 has been anything but an ordinary campaign cycle. This is also true when it comes to the prominence of gun safety, where it has emerged as a winning issue and a top priority for Democratic candidates in some of the most watched races across the country this cycle. Even Republicans are showing courage and standing up for the safety of their communities.
As we speed towards November 6th, one thing is certain, the way we talk about guns in America has forever changed.
Here’s what else we’re seeing:
Where you stand on guns matters:
A new survey of MN-02 indicates that after Giffords PAC’s $1.2 million-dollar-in-district ad campaign on guns, incumbent Jason Lewis now trails challenger Angie Craig by nine points after beating her by two points in 2016 — an 11-point swing. The survey also reveals “guns” is a major issue – second only to healthcare – among voters in MN-02, with nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) considering it important.
And this sentiment goes beyond just Minnesota’s 2nd District. Last week, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly stumped for gun control, Democrats in Minneapolis, including candidates U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, Dean Phillips and state Rep. Ilhan Omar. Walz is the Democratic nominee for governor, and Phillips and Omar are running for Congress. The willingness of Walz and Phillips to appear with suchwell known gun control advocates illustrates how the politics of the gun issue have changed just in the past few years, during which a string of mass shootings has beset communities including in Connecticut, Colorado, Virginia, Florida and Nevada. A Star Tribune Minnesota Poll earlier this year showed strong majorities favor new gun control measures such as banning military style rifles and raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21.
As gun champions gain momentum, the NRA finds itself in increasingly hot water:
NRA startled by popularity of Initiative 1639 (Seattle Times): After years of controlling the gun debate and scaring legislators into timidity, the National Rifle Association is being outgunned by backers of Initiative-1639. The measure would put significant restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic weapons of the kind often used in mass shootings. It is leading by 25% in the most recent Crosscut/Elway poll and is far ahead in campaign donations. The I-1639 campaign has raised $4.6 million while the opposition has pulled in just $316,000 — half of that from the NRA.
Hawley campaign and NRA’s political fund accused of illegal coordination (McClatchy): Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s Senate campaign and the National Rifle Association’s PAC have engaged in an elaborate scheme to conceal illegal coordination, a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission alleges. Hawley’s campaign is employing the same people to produce ads as the NRA Political Victory Fund. Last month, one person placed ads on behalf of both the campaign and the PAC with the same television station on the same day, according to the complaint.
The NRA Keeps Writing Checks, But Some Republicans Aren’t Cashing Them (Mother Jones): After the Parkland school shooting in February, student survivors issued an ultimatum to lawmakers: Stop accepting campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, or we’ll vote you out of office. It’s a threat that some GOP congressional candidates now seem to be taking seriously. According to a Mother Jones review of federal election filings, half a dozen Republicans—some of whom are facing hotly contested races—have returned or haven’t deposited recent donations from the NRA. That appears to be a remarkable change from2016, when no congressional candidates refused money sent by the controversial gun rights group.
Young people are leading the way in closing the enthusiasm gap on gun safety:
Emotional PSA About Gun Violence Pushes Young Voters To Take Action (Huffington Post): Gun safety groups Everytown for Gun Safety and Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America released a video entitled “Enough!” Monday that features kids and teens from the National Dance Institute trying to cope with the fear and frequency of mass school shootings. The four-minute clip backed by Sia’s new song “I’m Still Here” was released two weeks before the midterm elections in hopes of inspiring young voters to take action and cast a ballot on Nov. 6.
Students draft measure calling for gun control, school mental health resources (Education Dive): About 100 students met in Washington, D.C., this weekend to draft and ratify a Students’ Bill of Rights on School Safety, which advocates for more gun control laws and mental health resources in schools, The 74 reports. The bill has 15 points, including required universal background checks, creating a 10-day waiting period to purchase firearms, immediate access to qualified school counselors, and enough funding for schools to install safety and security measures, as well as an increase in the minimum purchase age for weapons from 18 to 21.
‘Glimmer Of Hope’ Provides A Blueprint For Launching Social Change (NPR): In their new book Glimmer of Hope: How Tragedy Sparked a Movement, 25 individuals, identified by name as well as collectively as the “founders of March For Our Lives,” share a detailed account of the effort required to launch a mass movement. Parkland was the site of one of the worst mass shootings in American history, claiming the lives of 17 students and teachers and injuring 17 more. Almost immediately after, a group of students emerged who were focused on channeling the intense emotions they experienced in the aftermath into a rallying cry for social and political change.