The anti-gun group Giffords has launched a “gun safety” organization it hopes will challenge the National Rifle Association and attract gun owners to its cause.
Leaders of the group, dubbed Gun Owners for Safety, believe they can tap into the gun owners who support the Second Amendment but also want to restrict Second Amendment rights.
“For years, the gun lobby has spread the myth that we face a binary choice: guns everywhere, or no guns at all. That’s not true,” GOFS says on its website. “Patriots of every stripe can agree that the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with commonsense measures like universal background checks. That’s what we’re about—bringing together unlikely allies to speak out for safety and responsibility.”
Gun Owners for Safety seeks to bridge the gap between the left and the right, according to Giffords Executive Director Peter Ambler.
“I think whether you’re talking about politics, whether you’re talking about lobbying, whether you’re talking about culture change, what’s vitally important is that we focus on the millions of Americans at the center of our politics,” Ambler told The Hill. “If we’re going to have long-term durable change in this country, it can’t just be the activists on the left and the activists on the right. We really have to move the center.”
Ambler and his team are hoping to take advantage of the weakened state of the National Rifle Association to encourage gun owners to support more gun control laws, especially universal background checks.
Organizers claim to have found nearly 50,000 gun owners in all 50 states “who are fed up with the NRA,” Ambler said.
“Put your foot in the shoes of an American gun owner, do you want to be part of the NRA, which is embroiled in legal and ethical controversy?” Ambler asked. “The NRA wants you to believe that you can’t have your Second Amendment and pursue laws like … universal background checks.”
“These men and women were eager, at a time when our values of our country are being debated, to raise their hand and show politicians, show the country, that the vast majority of gun owners support safer gun laws,” Ambler continued.
It’s unclear whether a majority of gun owners actually support universal background checks. Most surveys of gun owners ask whether respondents support background checks for all gun purchases. High percentages of American gun owners say they do, but many don’t realize the consequences of their agreement. If the question were phrased to highlight the fact that universal background check laws outlaw private sales – sometimes even between family members – the numbers would look much different.
It remains to be seen whether Gun Owners for Safety will gain traction. While their website claims to “take Second Amendment rights seriously,” it also includes an article titled “The Good Guy with a Gun Myth.” This piece argues against gun ownership for self-defense, which the Supreme Court ruled in Heller is a key component of Second Amendment rights.