As you prepare coverage and commentary to close out the year, here is a look back at gun politics in 2014 and a look ahead to where the gun safety movement is headed in 2015.
The idea that gun safety has stalled is a red herring – progress in the states in 2014 speaks for itself.
While some media claim that “gun control is dead” post-Newtown because Congress has not taken action, major progress was made in state legislatures across the country. A pivotal moment was in Washington State, where for the first time, we passed comprehensive background checks – I-594 – by popular vote in a state with a strong tradition of gun ownership. At the same time, we also trounced I-591, a gun lobby-backed measure that would have weakened existing gun laws.
Additionally, six states – Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Louisiana and Washington – passed important bills, with bipartisan support, that will help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.
California signed a new – and replicable – law that allows law enforcement or immediate family members to present evidence to a judge and temporarily suspend someone’s access to guns when they pose a significant danger to themselves or others.
And in key states, we successfully pushed back on dangerous bills penned by the gun lobby. For example, in Tennessee, we defeated an attempt to allow guns in parks and an attempt to legalize the open carry of loaded firearms. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed two controversial gun bills – one regarding guns in public buildings and another that would have made local officials subject to firing for enacting basic public safety rules in their communities.
Gun safety was the silver lining in this year’s midterm elections. We won decisive victories in races around the country – and debunked the theory that guns are a political third rail.
- When it came to guns this election cycle, the Washington that mattered most was Washington State. The passage of I-594 proved that when Americans vote on measures that can help save lives from gun violence, gun safety wins.
- In governor races in states that passed background check legislation since Newtown, candidates who support gun safety were victorious – Malloy (CT), Cuomo (NY), and Hickenlooper (CO).
- Just a year after the gun lobby used a brief moment in a 2013 low turnout election to recall a pair of state senators who supported Colorado’s background check bill, gun safety candidates took back both seats in the midterm elections – one of which was even a former Mayors Against Illegal Guns staffer.
- In Oregon, we stood-up for gun sense champions – who won – and built a pro-background check state legislature majority for 2015.
- Senators who voted the wrong way on background checks – Pryor (AR) and Begich (AK) – learned that it didn’t buy the NRA’s support. The message is loud and clear – with friends like the NRA, who needs enemies?
And just last week, we saw that Congress is listening: the confirmation of Surgeon General Vivek Murthy as our country’s top doctor – who outspokenly supports addressing gun violence in America as a public health problem and who the NRA declared a “prescription for disaster” – was an important defeat for the gun lobby that has fought tooth and nail to keep gun violence prevention off of the agenda in Washington.
We’ve also moved beyond the political arena to force corporations to adopt gun sense policies that ensure the safety of their customers.
After pressure campaigns by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown, major retailers like Target, Chipotle, Starbucks, Sonic, Jack in the Box, and Chili’s changed their policies to prohibit the open carry of guns in their establishments. More recently, Panera and New Seasons Market, a chain of more than a dozen grocery stores that compete with Kroger-affiliated stores in Oregon and Washington, proactively decided to adopt a gun sense policy after working with Moms.
Looking ahead to 2015, we will replicate the success of the last year – in state houses, at the ballot box and in corporate boardrooms.
The background check victory in Washington State was a new frontier in the fight for public safety measures that can help prevent gun violence and save lives. A background check initiative in Nevada just qualified for the ballot in 2016 – with a record number of nearly 250,000 signatures delivered – and we’re looking at other states where we can replicate this success.
In 2014 we signed up more than one million Americans to vote for gun safety – but that effort wasn’t just for the midterm elections. We’re building a movement of Americans – now more than 2.5 million supporters strong and with over 40,000 donors – who will fight for gun safety.
The gun lobby has had the field to themselves for decades and we’re finally meeting them on their turf and showing them – and the legislators in their pockets – that Americans will stand up for public safety.