Skip to main content

We will fight the NRA with common sense

By Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Police officers walk on a rooftop at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, September 16, after a <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/dc-navy-yard-gunshots/index.html'>shooting rampage</a> in the nation's capital. At least 12 people and suspect Aaron Alexis were killed, according to authorities. Police officers walk on a rooftop at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, September 16, after a shooting rampage in the nation's capital. At least 12 people and suspect Aaron Alexis were killed, according to authorities.
HIDE CAPTION
Worst mass shootings in U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
Worst mass shootings in the U.S.
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Writers: 90% of Americans, 80% of gun owners want background checks for guns
  • Writers: Sensible gun laws fail because of politicians' irrational fear of the NRA
  • Writers: Everytown for Gun Safety group will show you can support gun control, win elections
  • Michael Bloomberg, Shannon Watts: The gun lobby no longer has the field to itself

Editor's note: Michael Bloomberg is the former mayor of New York City and co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which she started after 26 people, 20 of them children, were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writers.

(CNN) -- A year ago on Thursday, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill that would have helped fix our nation's gun laws by requiring background checks on all purchases of firearms. Ninety percent of all Americans -- and more than 80% of gun owners -- believe that all people should be subject to such checks. And even though the bill won majority support in the Senate -- more than 50 members -- it was not enough to break a filibuster.

Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Shannon Watts
Shannon Watts

But in the year after the massacre at Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012, the grassroots movement to pass common sense gun laws and policies that are consistent with the Second Amendment has made great progress just about everywhere except Washington.

In Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware and New York, local citizens helped lead the successful push for legislation that closed loopholes in background checks laws. In Washington state and Wisconsin, citizens helped pass laws that keep firearms out of the hands of domestic abusers.

In Colorado alone, the new law stopped more than 160 prohibited buyers from getting their hands on a gun, and as Coloradans know too well, it only takes one to devastate a family, a community, a nation. And the law hasn't gotten in the way of law-abiding gun owners, who bought more firearms in 2013 than in any preceding year.

We also gave voice to hundreds of thousands of Americans who persuaded Facebook and Instagram to change their policies so that unlicensed gun sellers cannot use their sites to sell guns without background checks.

Thousands marched in Washington for gun control in January last year after the Sandy Hook school murders.
Thousands marched in Washington for gun control in January last year after the Sandy Hook school murders.
Moms for Gun Safety ran this ad, questioning why a type of chocolate is banned to protect kids but not assault weapons.
Moms for Gun Safety ran this ad, questioning why a type of chocolate is banned to protect kids but not assault weapons.

These significant victories were won by a growing, nonpartisan coalition that is refusing to wait for Washington to act. That coalition includes parents, mayors, police chiefs, religious leaders, gun owners and everyday Americans of all political persuasions. Mothers, in particular, have been at the forefront of this fight. They've given testimony at town halls, led "Stroller Jams" at state capitals, hosted quilting bees and delivered petitions to legislatures and companies across the country.

To unify the efforts of this diverse coalition of Americans, we are launching Everytown for Gun Safety in America, a new umbrella organization that will be the largest and best-organized counterweight to the gun lobby that has ever been created. Everytown for Gun Safety will expand on the work of two existing organizations -- Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America -- and take the fight for gun violence prevention policies to every community in the country.

Everytown for Gun Safety will continue pushing for better background check laws in Congress and state houses. But we will also broaden our focus to include other issues that are important to Americans, like safe storage education campaigns to help keep kids from being killed by unlocked or dangerously stored guns. And new laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. And efforts to help reduce the nearly 19,400 suicides that happen every year with guns.

In each area, we will make progress by doing something that no gun group, other than the National Rifle Association, has ever done: inform and mobilize voters. The reason the NRA has political influence -- in addition to its campaign contributions -- is that it has scared elected officials into believing that voters will oppose them unless they follow the NRA's Washington leadership, which has grown increasingly extreme and increasingly out of touch with its own members.

Mental illness and shootings
Inside Politics: $50 mil. to combat NRA
Michael Bloomberg: NRA lost in Virginia

Bloomberg to spend $50 million to challenge NRA on guns

In fact, the NRA's reputation for political strength is wildly blown out of proportion and the election results from three statewide contests in Virginia this past November reflect that reality. Candidates who spoke out in support of common sense gun violence prevention policies were elected as governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. In the attorney general's race, his campaign manager said that the candidate's support for sensible stances on gun issues was a major factor in his victory.

Nonetheless, the perception of an unbeatable gun lobby still lingers and part of our mission will be showing candidates and elected officials that the vast majority of Americans and gun owners support common sense gun policies that respect the Second Amendment and save lives.

To mobilize voters who are committed to backing candidates that support common sense gun policies, Everytown for Gun Safety is launching a Gun Sense Voter campaign. Before the 2014 midterms, we aim to get at least 1 million Americans to pledge to vote for state and federal candidates based on where they stand on gun safety. We'll keep voters informed by tracking candidates' positions and determining which of them support gun safety and which do not.

Leaders from all walks of life will join us on our board of directors, including one of our nation's most respected military leaders, Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; University of Oklahoma president and former Sen. David Boren; and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. All of us are united by the belief that accepting the status quo -- 12,000 Americans are murdered with guns every year -- is unconscionable.

There is no doubt that we have a big hill to climb. Well-funded, entrenched special interests are always difficult to defeat. And for years, the gun lobby has largely had the field to itself. No longer.

Everytown for Gun Safety and its growing grassroots network will be gunning for change that both protects our country and respects our Constitution.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT