Nashville, Tenn. – Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and 400 gun safety advocates – including nearly a dozen gun violence survivors – have arrived in Nashville to counter the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda that will be laid out at the 144th National Rifle Association Annual Meeting this weekend. Tomorrow the group will gather to rally for safer gun laws that are supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, including gun owners, and to represent the counterweight to the gun lobby that is fighting for safer gun laws across the country.
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As the annual meeting gets underway, the NRA is pushing dozens of dangerous bills to force guns into schools and weaken public safety measures to keep guns out of dangerous hands in statehouses across the country. This year, Everytown and Moms are meeting them head-on and defeating gun-lobby backed legislation. For instance, already this year, the NRA has fallen short on bills to force guns on campus (defeated already in Arkansas, South Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming), and legislation that would let people carry hidden, loaded guns in public without a permit (defeated already in Montana, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia).
In Tennessee, NRA lobbyists are pushing dangerous legislation that would force all towns and cities to allow guns in their parks and recreation areas. The bill is expected to land on Governor Haslam’s desk in the coming days. It was originally designed as a gift to the NRA, scheduled to take effect just in time for the 2015 Annual Meeting – but it has run into major hurdles and the gun lobby couldn’t pass it in time. Meanwhile, efforts to get even more dangerous policies through the Tennessee statehouse have failed – including bills that would put guns in K-12 schools and removed all permitting and training requirements to carry a gun in public.
Among the more than 400 gun safety advocates expected at the rally tomorrow, speakers will include: Shannon Watts, Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Kathleen Chandler Wright, volunteer leader in the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Debby Edwards, gun owner and volunteer leader in the South Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez was shot and killed in the May 2014 shooting near UC Santa Barbara and Senior Outreach Associate for Everytown; Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was shot and killed in 2012 in Florida over loud music and Outreach Community Organizer for Everytown; Robert Washko, retired Assistant U. S. Attorney and criminal prosecutor, Tennessee resident, a gun owner and maintains a concealed carry permit; along with a special musical performance by Mark D. Sanders, an American country music and Grammy award winning songwriter, with over 14 number one hits.
“For decades, the NRA had the field to itself and passed dangerous bills in statehouses across the country that weakened gun laws and made it easier for dangerous people to get guns. But, for the first time ever, we’re shining a spotlight on their extremist policies and working to defeat dangerous bills – from West Virginia, to Utah, to Arkansas and beyond,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “It’s undeniable when you see the formidable force of moms who are concerned about the safety of our children and communities: we will defeat the extremist agendas of gun lobby-backed legislators.”
“No parent should ever have to bury a child who has been shot and killed – yet today far too many of us have to. Gun violence is not just my families’ problem – it is the nation’s problem,” said Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez was shot and killed in the May 2014 shooting near UC Santa Barbara and Senior Outreach Associate for Everytown. “Gun safety advocates rallying this weekend in Nashville – supported by millions across the country – are helping me speak for my son Christopher and to help prevent other families from experiencing the crushing pain that comes from having a loved one shot and killed.”
“Like all parents, my top priority is my child’s safety and we know that public safety is a top priority for Governor Haslam. As gun safety advocates rally here in my home state of Tennessee, they’re urging our lawmakers to stand on the side of public safety for our children and communities,” said Kathleen Chandler Wright, volunteer leader in the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We’re going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby when it comes to dangerous legislation like guns in parks. If Governor Haslam stands of the side of public safety for our children, then he’ll veto HB 995 when it makes its way to his desk.”
“I served our country in the military, and I worked for many years putting criminals in prison. Fellow gun owners like myself believe in common-sense measures to help keep guns out of dangerous hands and out of sensitive places, like parks right here in Tennessee,” said Robert Washko, retired Assistant U. S. Attorney and criminal prosecutor, Tennessee resident, and gun owner who maintains a concealed carry permit. “Most gun owners and most NRA members are with me – as was NRA leader Wayne LaPierre barely a decade ago. I’ll join with gun safety advocates this weekend to call attention to the extremist agenda the NRA is putting forward and will stand next to my fellow community members to help protect our state.”
Earlier this week, Everytown and Moms Demand Action released a new video entitled, “Lil’ Wayne (LaPierres)” (available here) that features children reading, verbatim, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre’s words using fear and paranoia to advance the gun lobby’s extreme agenda.