Everytown for Gun Safety is rolling out its midterm elections agenda, focusing on a background check ballot in Washington State and supporting pro-gun control candidates in tight races across the country.
As part of the campaign, the gun-control organization funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a list of state and federal candidate endorsements that includes Democrats and Republicans in 28 states running for seats in state legislatures, the U.S. House and Senate and for governor.
Along with the endorsement list, Everytown created TV ads to air in local markets that feature family members of those who lost someone to gun-related violence.
While supporting pro-gun control candidates is critical to its messaging, Everytown has also placed great importance on Washington State’s I-594, the universal background check initiative that will be on the ballot this November.
Bloomberg alone has dumped $1 million into the “YES Vote on I-594,” which if passed would make all private transfers subject to a background check facilitated by a federal firearms licensee or gun shop dealer.
“These are candidates who have shown leadership in the fight to keep our communities safe from gun violence both on the state and federal level,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety, in a press release. “On a number of issues Washington is broken. That’s why this Election Day the Washington that matters most is Washington State.”
Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which together with Mayors Against Illegal Guns makes up Everytown for Gun Safety, agreed that the push for universal background checks is of the upmost importance.
“This is the first time we’re mobilizing moms in this country to turn out and vote specifically on this issue,” said Watts.
“We’ve taken the fight to Congress, to statehouses, to corporations, and now we’re bringing this issue to the voting booth,” she continued. “Moms and women are going to vote to keep our communities safe from gun violence, in this election and in all elections ahead.”
Meanwhile, the man who is out front opposing I-594 with his own competing initiative known as I-591, which would safeguard gun owners from registration schemes and a background check mandate that is tougher than the federal standard (under federal law, private transfers do not require FFL- facilitated background checks, though it is illegal for one to knowingly sell a firearm to a prohibited person, i.e. a felon, mental defective or minor), said Bloomberg’s out-of-state money and activism are not welcome in Washington.
“He doesn’t live here. He doesn’t vote here, but he’s spending over $1 million to determine what Washington laws are going to be,” Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms located in Bellevue, Washington, told USA Today. “He’s trying to buy his agenda, and a lot of Washington voters are concerned.”
Come election day, those on both sides of the gun divide will be watching Washington state with a close eye to see who prevails as it may be a sign of what’s to come for the rest of the country.