ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 16, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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. St. Petersburg Mayor Kriseman, Gulfport Mayor Henderson, moms, gun violence survivors, law enforcement, faith leaders and gun owners gathered today at St. Petersburg City Hall to launch Everytown.
At its center, the organization will house Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael 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 support 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.
"Last year, the Senate failed to expand criminal background checks for gun sales," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. "This year, I'll stand with mayors from across the country, survivors, mothers, law enforcement and countless Americans demanding sensible reforms to save lives in our communities. It will take all of us together to persuade our policymakers that we have to do more to protect our children."
"Our nation has consoled too many grieving parents over the senseless deaths of their children. The frequency with which we read about shootings in the newspapers or learn about them in our communities must come to an end," Rev. Dr. Manuel L. Sykes said. "For the sake of our families, our friends, and our neighbors—those who have experienced gun violence and those who haven't—we must demand to be safe in our places of worship, in our schools and wherever we go."
Everytown also launched 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.
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 Board of Advisors – 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.
Everytown aims to grow its ranks to 2.5 million supporters this year, by addressing the many 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 illustrates the dangers of child gun access and 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.
Other launch events were held in Tucson, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Las Vegas, Nevada; Concord, New Hampshire; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington.
About Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown for Gun Safety is a movement of Americans fighting for common-sense policies that will reduce gun violence and save lives. Everytown is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with more than 1.5 million supporters including moms, mayors, survivors, and everyday Americans who are fighting for reforms that respect the Second Amendment and protect people. At the core of Everytown are Mayors Against Illegal Guns, founded in 2006 by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots movement of American mothers founded on the day after Newtown. Learn more at www.everytown.org and follow us @Everytown
Lindsey Rosenthal, [email protected], 269-271-2331
SOURCE Everytown for Gun Safety