Everytown for Gun Safety
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|Headquarters||New York, New York, U.S.|
|Michael R. Bloomberg|
|Subsidiaries||Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America|
|Affiliations||Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund|
|Expenses (2012)||$4.7 million|
|Mayors Against Illegal Guns|
Everytown for Gun Safety is an American nonprofit organization which advocates for gun control and against gun violence. Everytown was founded in 2014, combining Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The organization works to "support efforts to educate policy makers, as well the press and the public, about the consequences of gun violence and promote efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals." Most recently the group has focused on efforts to require universal background checks on firearms purchases.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns was formed in April 2006 during a summit co-hosted by mayors Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Thomas Menino of Boston at New York's mayoral residence, Gracie Mansion. Bloomberg and Menino co-chaired the coalition. The initial group consisted of 15 mayors who signed a statement of principles. By the end of 2014, there were 855 mayors in the coalition.
In April 2014, Everytown for Gun Safety was established, merging MAIG with Moms Demand Action. The launch of Everytown occurred nearly one year after the U.S. Senate debated a series of changes to federal gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, including a failed amendment, sponsored by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey (R), that would have required background checks for all gun sales taking place at gun shows or over the internet. According to Bloomberg, Everytown was founded to match the National Rifle Association in political influence.
- Background checks – The organization advocates for expanding the background check system for gun buyers through changes in state and federal laws, and supports legislation that would require background checks for all gun sales. The organization also supports state laws requiring the reporting of mental health records to the national background check system.
- Domestic violence – Everytown has supported laws that prohibit domestic abusers from obtaining firearms. Internal research produced by Everytown concludes that states that require background checks for private handgun sales have lower rates of intimate partner gun violence than states that do not require background checks. According to the group, Everytown supported the passage of laws intended to block convicted domestic abusers and people subject to domestic violence restraining orders in six states in 2014: Louisiana, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
- Preventable injuries – The organization supports gun safety technology and laws requiring safe storage of firearms to prevent accidental child gun deaths, citing the high rate of firearm injuries among American children compared to other countries.
- Gun trafficking – The organization also favors strengthening penalties for gun trafficking through the creation of a federal gun trafficking statute.
- Other issues – At its launch the organization said it would not advocate for a ban on assault weapons.
Prior to the inception of Everytown, a priority goal of Mayors Against Illegal Guns was to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, named after its sponsor, Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS). Since its passage in 2003 as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, the Tiahrt Amendment has forbidden the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing information from its firearm trace database to anyone other than a law enforcement agency or prosecutor in connection with a specific criminal investigation, and any data so released is deemed inadmissible in a civil lawsuit. Rep. Tiahrt has stated that his amendment is intended to protect the privacy of gun owners and to prevent abuse of the data by anyone outside of law enforcement.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns sought the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment for these reasons:
- The Tiahrt Amendment restricts access of state and local law enforcement authority to gun trace data, hindering municipal police departments' ability to track down sellers of illegal guns, to investigate gun trafficking patterns, and to make connections between individual gun-related crimes. Mayor Bloomberg has called the Amendment "an insult to the thousands of police officers that face the threat of illegal guns."
- The Tiahrt Amendment requires that NICS background check records be destroyed within 24 hours. According to MAIG, this makes it harder for law enforcement authorities to catch law-breaking gun dealers who falsify their records and makes it more difficult to identify and track down straw purchasers who buy guns on behalf of criminals who wouldn't be able to pass a background check or prohibited purchasers who buy firearms themselves due to errors in the background check process.
- The Tiahrt Amendment denies the ATF the authority to require dealer inventory checks to detect lost and stolen guns. Under current rules, the ATF can conduct a warrantless search of any licensed gun dealer once per year.
Joining Mayors Against Illegal Guns in supporting the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment were 10 national law enforcement organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Police Executive Research Forum; state law enforcement associations representing 22 states; and individual police chiefs representing 39 states. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has pointed out that the ATF under the Bush administration (2001–2008) was unable to produce any evidence that law enforcement officers were harmed by the agency's release of crime gun trace data prior to 2003.
In July 2007, after the House Appropriations Committee rebuffed attempts to repeal the amendment, the Senate Appropriations Committee went further, approving a bill that, according to The New York Times, "threaten[ed] law enforcement officials with prison time for using gun tracing data beyond a specific investigation, say, for identifying and targeting trafficking patterns."
Congressman Tiahrt responded to MAIG's position on his amendment in a congressional statement in 2007:
At issue was a campaign urging repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing gun trace data to the public. The ATF gun trace database contains investigation-specific information and is made available to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors for criminal investigations. The ATF and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the nation’s largest law enforcement organization, support the Tiahrt Amendment and have requested its reauthorization every year since 2003. Both organizations claimed repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment would jeopardize ongoing criminal investigations and risk the lives of undercover law enforcement officers ... The organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns is behind the Tiahrt repeal campaign. The group claims to have the support of numerous police chiefs across the country, which is also misleading according to National FOP President Chuck Canterbury:
"The mayors would have you believe that law enforcement supports giving them the information on gun traces because many of their employees--namely police chiefs, who often serve at the pleasure of the mayor--have publicly backed their coalition,” explained Canterbury. “But the officers in the field who are actually working illegal gun cases know that releasing sensitive information about pending cases can jeopardize the integrity of an investigation or even place the lives of undercover officers in danger. That is why the Fraternal Order of Police has always supported language protecting firearms trace data, now known as the 'Tiahrt amendment.' For the men and women in uniform who are fighting illegal guns, it is a matter of officer safety and good police work."NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FOP have all requested this language to protect investigations and law enforcement officers. Hopefully it is true that not one law enforcement officer ever died prior to the enactment of the Tiahrt protection—Rep. Tiahrt joins the FOP, ATF and others in supporting a policy that will keep it that way."
Kelly, however, has participated in events calling for the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment. The ATF under the Obama administration has issued no formal position on the amendment. While a Senator, President Barack Obama stated:
"At a time when bloodshed on our streets is on the rise, making sure that our law enforcement officers have all the tools they need to fight crime should be our top priority. But instead of providing those tools, the Tiahrt Amendment ties the hands of police in their effort to halt illegal gun trafficking and sales. I am proud to join the Mayors Against Illegal Guns in their fight against this dangerous legislation. Our communities and the brave men and women who risk their lives everyday to protect us deserve more from Congress."
His administration, however, sought only minor modifications to the amendment during the most recent appropriations cycle.
Programs and political activities
In April 2008, Wal-Mart—the largest retailer of firearms in the U.S.—voluntarily adopted a number of new sales practices at the behest of Mayors Against Illegal Guns to "help ensure that guns do not fall into the wrong hands."  Senior Vice President J.P. Suarez stated that Wal-Mart signed the 10-point code of the "Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership" to help the corporation "fine tune the things we're already doing and further strengthen our standards." He added, "We hope other retailers will join us in adopting the code."
The "Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership" has since become a model for Heeding God's Call, a coalition of faith organizations in Philadelphia that has encouraged local gun dealers to adopt the 10-point code.
In 2009, Mayors Against Illegal Guns lobbied against the Thune Amendment on concealed firearms, taking out full paper ads in hundreds of newspapers and directly lobbying then Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Spector. The Thune Amendment, often referred to as “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” would have changed federal law to require each U.S. state to recognize permits from all other states. Currently, each state decides which other states’ permits they will recognize. The NRA, which supported the amendment, vowed to “score” the vote of legislators. The amendment was defeated 58 to 39, the first time the National Rifle Association had lost a vote on the Senate floor in a decade.
After the 2011 Tucson shooting in which Representative Gabrielle Giffords was injured, the organization started a petition called Fix Gun Checks to require background checks for all gun purchasers, which received 250,000 signatures. The group also released research demonstrating that 18 states had submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the background check system, and lent its support for the Fix Gun Checks Act, introduced by New York Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy. The group drove a truck on a two-month tour of the country with planned stops in several states to raise awareness about gun violence.
In 2012, the organization worked with retired military leaders to successfully overturn a Congressional amendment prohibiting military commanders and mental health professionals from inquiring about or keeping records of firearms and ammunition in service members’ private possession.
In April 2013, the organization led efforts to pass legislation in the U.S. Senate to require a background check for all gun sales in commercial settings. Known as the Manchin-Toomey Amendment (Amendment 715 of the 113th Congress), the legislation would have expanded the requirements for conducting background checks to cover all gun sales made over the internet and at gun shows. The amendment ultimately failed to win the 60 votes necessary for passage in the Senate.
After the Senate vote, Mayors Against Illegal Guns ran ads in 13 states either in support of Senators who voted to pass the legislation or in opposition to lawmakers who voted against it. The group spent approximately $12 million on these advertisements. Mayors Against Illegal Guns also ran a bus tour, similar to the bus tour it organized following the 2011 shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), entitled “No More Names.” The “No More Names” tour visited 25 states in 100 days to build local support for passing gun violence prevention legislation in Congress. No More Names is a program launched on June 14, 2013 (the six month anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting) with the stated purpose to "pass common-sense laws, including comprehensive background checks, that will reduce gun violence and save lives." The program revolves around a bus tour of twenty-five states in one hundred days starting in Newtown, Connecticut. At each stop "gun violence survivors, mayors, faith leaders, and other community members will read aloud the names of Americans killed with guns since Newtown." This is to encourage members of Congress "to pass common sense gun laws."
When the name of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was read aloud at a bus tour event held in Concord, New Hampshire, several in the crowd shouted, "He's a terrorist!" MAIG apologized for the incident after the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper reported Tsarnaev's name being read. Further inspection found that the list also contained the names of at least ten murder suspects including former Los Angeles Police Department officer-turned-fugitive Christopher Dorner. In response, the group issued a statement explaining that it used a list compiled by Slate.com as its source.
During the 2014 elections, endorsed over 100 candidates for office in 28 states. Everytown was active in supporting the passage of Washington State Initiative 594, a successful ballot initiative that changed Washington State law to require background checks for all gun purchases. According to public records, Everytown’s expenditures in support of Initiative 594 total over $3.2 million, and was among the top five contributors to the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Washington state group formed to support the passage of Initiative 594. Everytown also opposed Washington State Initiative 591, a countermeasure to Initiative 594 supported by gun rights groups. Initiative 594 was approved on November 4, 2014 with 59.3% voting yes and 40.7% voting no. Initiative 591, which appeared on the same ballot, was rejected with 55.3% voting no and 44.7% voting yes. The group also supported the reelection of Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) and Colorado State Senators who supported the 2013 passage of gun violence prevention laws in the state, including a law that requires background checks on all gun sales.
Following on the organization’s support of Washington State Initiative 594, a ballot initiative approved by voters in November 2014 that will require all gun buyers in Washington State to pass a background check, the group announced plans to support a similar initiative in Nevada. On December 8, 2014, the Nevada initiative qualified to be on that state’s 2016 ballot. Everytown also announced that it will consider ballot initiative campaigns in Arizona, Maine, and Oregon.
In December 2015, the organization teamed up with the NBA to produce a series of ads calling for an end to gun violence, without offering specific policy recommendations. NBA players featured in the ads included Stephen Curry and Carmelo Anthony. The ads first aired on Christmas Day that year.
Everytown has an advisory board composed of mayors, business and military leaders, and survivors of gun violence. As of January 2014, the organization’s advisory board consisted of the following members:
- Art Acevedo — Chief of Police, Austin, TX
- Tom Barrett — Mayor of Milwaukee, WI
- Stephen Barton — Survivor of Aurora movie theater shooting
- Michael R. Bloomberg — Former Mayor of New York, NY
- David Boren — Former governor and United States Senator from Oklahoma
- Eli Broad — Philanthropist
- Warren Buffett — Investor
- Gloria Chavez — Mayor of Tijeras, NM
- David Chipman — Former Agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
- Michael B. Coleman — Former mayor of Columbus, OH
- Carlos Giménez — Mayor of Miami-Dade County, FL
- Roxanna Green — Mother of Roxanna Green, killed at 2011 Tucson shooting
- Nick Hanauer — Venture capitalist
- Geoffrey Henry — Mayor of Oxford, PA
- Irwin M. Jacobs—Former Chairman of Qualcomm
- Danny Jones — Mayor Of Charleston, West Virginia
- Ken Lerer — Businessman and media executive
- John Mack — Former CEO of Morgan Stanley
- Chris McDonnell—Father of Grace McDonnell, a student killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting
- Marc Morial — President of the National Urban League
- Mike Mullen — Admiral in the U.S. Navy, Ret.
- Michael Nutter — Mayor of Philadelphia, PA
- Annise Parker — Mayor of Houston, TX
- Cleopatra Pendleton — Mother of Hadiya Pendleton, killed by gunfire
- Nathaniel Pendleton — Father of Hadiya Pendleton, killed by gunfire
- Gilles Rousseau — Father of Lauren Rousseau, a teacher killed at Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting
- Christy Salters Martin — Former professional boxer, survivor of gun violence
- Shannon Watts — Founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
MAIG membership consists of "more than 1,000 current and former Mayors." MAIG membership dropped 15%, from 1,046 to 885, between the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 and a count reported in February 2014. NRA president James W. Porter, said "there's very little political will to take on any of these gun issues." Some mayors said the group had moved from being against illegal guns to simply being against guns. MAIG chairman John Feinblatt said the group has the same principles as before and that the membership drop was "just the natural course of events that mayors leave and join our coalition based on the electoral cycle."
In 2009, at least four mayors issued public statements in reaffirmation of their membership and praise of the coalition, in response to the NRA's letter-writing campaign. One mayor reaffirmed her membership while stating "Nothing that this organization has lobbied for has been to get rid of guns altogether or to take away people’s Second Amendment rights".
Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was founded on December 15, 2012, one day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting, as an organization for mothers to advocate for gun violence prevention. The group was founded by Shannon Watts in Indianapolis, IN and originally began as a Facebook group entitled, “One Million Moms for Gun Control.” By the end of 2013, Moms Demand Action had grown into an advocacy group with 130,000 members and chapters in all 50 states. The group has cited the example of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) as a model for its establishment.
In September 2009, the National Rifle Association (NRA) Institute for Legislate Action (ILA) stated that Mayors Against Illegal Guns is not "only concerned with 'illegal' guns" but is actually "anti-gun". The NRA ILA directed members to ask their mayors to resign from MAIG. The mailer read, in part, "[NYC Mayor Michael] Bloomberg created MAIG as a front group to lobby Congress to oppose important pro-gun reforms and support new federal gun control restrictions. And [your mayor] has joined this anti-gun Bloomberg crusade. It is critical that your mayor dissociate himself from this anti-gun group and you can do your part by contacting his office and urging him to withdraw his MAIG membership."
In October 2009, NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons stated that "the coalition’s participating mayors from both large and small cities dropped from 463 to less than 400" as a result of the NRA's letter-writing campaign. Mayor Bloomberg, however, has said that while 60 mayors have left the organization since the NRA's campaign was launched, another 110 mayors have joined.
Some of the NRA's criticism has included attacks on Bloomberg, MAIG's co-founder. In a cover story of their news magazine America’s 1st Freedom, the NRA has described Mayor Bloomberg as "a billionaire, Boston-grown evangelist for the nanny state" who leads a "cabal." James O. E. Norell, contributing editor, said Bloomberg is "Beholden to nothing except his own ambitions, the mayor has established himself as a kind of national gun-control vigilante." The cover of the issue, according to The New York Times, depicts Bloomberg as a "giant octopus, looking fierce and slightly insane, with serpentine arms swirling behind him".
Mayor Mary Wolf of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, said she resigned "because she thought [MAIG] was attempting to erode all gun ownership, not just illegal guns." John Tkazik, mayor of Poughkeepsie, New York who is a member of the NRA and a former member of MAIG resigned, saying he and 50 others also resigned because "MAIG became a vehicle for Bloomberg to promote his personal gun-control agenda - Violating the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens[...] It did not take long to realize that MAIG’s agenda was much more than ridding felons of illegal guns; that under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens.
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... under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens
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