As the 143rd NRA Annual Meeting gets underway in Indianapolis, Everytown for Gun Safety, the new organization bringing together Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and millions of Americans to prevent gun violence, debuted a new television advertisement and research report today on how the NRA leadership’s extreme positions and opposition to even modest steps to keep guns out of dangerous hands puts American lives at risk.
The television ad, entitled “Not Our Words,” features gun violence survivors speaking the out-of-touch words of Washington gun lobby leaders. Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton, whose daughter Hadiya was murdered in Chicago shortly after she participated in President Obama’s inauguration, are featured in the ad as well as survivors from the Virginia Tech school shooting, the Aurora movie theatre shooting and many survivors of every day gun violence. It will air on TV throughout the weekend in Indianapolis and Washington, D.C. and can be viewed here.
The report released today, “Not Your Grandparents’ NRA,” explores the fundamental and radical changes of NRA leaders over the past 30 years and how the organization has shifted from one that promotes hunting, marksmanship, safety training and supported sensible gun laws, to one that virulently opposes any reforms to keep guns out of dangerous hands and save lives. The report – which can be found here – outlines some of the most egregious positions and tactics the NRA has taken to subvert public safety and advance its agenda, including:
- Fighting for the rights of felons and terror suspects to buy and own firearms and explosives;
- Campaigning to put guns in places like bars, despite the documented dangers of mixing guns and alcohol;
- Promoting gag orders to block pediatricians and military commanders from discussing gun safety with parents and service members at risk for suicide;
- Handcuffing law enforcement and impeding their efforts to fight gun crime by sabotaging the introduction of proven, innovative technology; and
- Hobbling communities beset by gun violence by thwarting their efforts to tailor gun laws to local conditions.
At a press conference today to debut the ad and release the report, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, said, “NRA leadership is putting politics over science, emotion over reason, and adherence to a radical agenda over public safety. That’s why we’ve gathered in Indianapolis this weekend: to call on the NRA’s leadership and lobbyists to stop distorting the facts and to urge NRA officials to get in line with their membership and support simple, common sense measures that will save lives.”
Participants in the television ad also spoke out today in Indianapolis.
“I’m a gun owner, a strong supporter of the 2nd amendment, and a survivor of gun violence,” said Jennifer Longdon, who survived a shooting that left her a permanently paralyzed wheelchair user. “I’m here to represent the majority of responsible gun owners who support common sense gun laws that protect the second amendment and ensure a safer society. We must demand that the NRA leadership abandon their extremism and represent the views of law abiding gun owners across this country.”
“In my home state of Colorado last year we passed a background check law and it is working – felons, domestic abusers and those with mental problems have been stopped from buying a firearm,” said Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was murdered in the Aurora movie theatre shooting. “Common sense gun reform is something we all can get behind. This is not an us or them problem. This is a concern we all should care about. Lets not wait until you have a story like mine before you ask for a change. Lets do something now.”
Advocates and survivors also discussed items on the agenda during the NRA meeting:
Beth Meeks, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, remarked on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s address to the NRA annual meeting today and pending legislation: “As of 2012, Louisiana has the highest murder rate of all 50 states. All too often those murders involve women and family members who were killed by a domestic abuser. A bill that would help keep guns out of the hands of abusers has garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. When this this bill lands on Governor Jindal’s desk, we fully expect him to stand with the overwhelming majority of people in our state who support common sense measures to protect Louisiana families from gun violence.”
Lucia McBath, whose son Jordan Davis was killed, said, “We are in Indianapolis this weekend to begin chipping away at the harmful body of work – like Stand Your Ground laws — that NRA leaders have created in the last few decades. We will continue our fight to pass sensible reforms that will prevent gun violence and save lives.”
Separately today, Pastor Michael McBride, director of the PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing Campaign – a nationwide, faith-based effort to reduce gun violence and end mass incarceration – called on the Rev. Franklin Graham to express his support for background checks as a part of his remarks to the NRA’s prayer breakfast: “I pray that that the Rev. Graham will speak truth to power on Sunday morning and remind the NRA leadership that support for Second Amendment rights goes hand in hand with keeping guns away from young people, criminals and other dangerous people who shouldn’t have them.”
Everytown and Moms Demand Action are also bringing together more than 100 mothers from across the country and gun violence survivors and advocates to speak out for sensible reforms to end the gun violence that kills 86 Americans every day. On Saturday, Moms and gun violence survivors and advocates will gather for a “stroller jam” rally to end gun violence. On Sunday, Moms will gather for a quilting bee for the “Mother’s Dream Quilt Project,” a collection of quilts composed of meaningful fabric from victim or survivors of gun violence such as a piece of clothing or a beloved blanket.
Throughout the convention weekend, members of Everytown will urge NRA leadership to stand with the vast majority of its members who support common-sense gun laws including the 82 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members who support criminal background checks for all gun sales – a view that the NRA and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre supported barely more than a decade ago.
The NRA convention follows on the heels of last week’s announcement of Everytown for Gun Safety and the launch of the Gun Sense Voter campaign to mobilize one million gun safety voters in November and beyond. Just this week, Everytown helped defeat two dangerous gun bills in Arizona that were vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer.