Can a single, ultra-rich media mogul create a grassroots network to rival the NRA? In April, media mogul and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged to spend $50 million of his personal fortune to build a coalition of moms and mayors against gun violence.
His new campaign, called Everytown for Gun Safety, is being set up to counter the National Rifle Association. With its creation, Bloomberg consolidated two gun-control organizations he supports, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, into a single revamped network.
Everytown will focus on expanding background checks for gun buyers at state and national levels, and strengthening laws that prevent domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.
In 16 states and the District of Columbia, where background checks are mandated, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their partners, 39 percent fewer on-duty police officers are killed and 49 percent fewer people commit suicide with guns.
In 16 states and the District of Columbia, where background checks are mandated, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by their partners, 39 percent fewer on-duty police officers are killed and 49 percent fewer people commit suicide with guns, according to the organization’s website.
Everytown aims to combine campaign contributions and field organizing, and initially targets 15 states, including Colorado—which passed new gun-control measures last year—as well as less sympathetic territory, like Texas and Montana.
The group’s success will depend on its ability to organize supporters into a consistent voting bloc to counter the NRA’s political weight. Women will be its target demographic—with a particular focus on mothers. “You’ve got to work at it piece by piece,” Bloomberg told The New York Times. “One mom and another mom. You’ve got to wear them down until they finally say, ‘Enough.’”
In August, the NRA responded with a campaign that seized on Bloomberg’s reputation for “nanny state” policies, kicking off a new round of anti-Bloomberg advocacy with a $500,000 ad buy.
The NRA’s new TV spot, “Insult,” is scheduled to air nationally on cable television. The ad features a woman driving a pickup truck through flat, Midwestern terrain.
“Bloomberg tries to ban your snack foods, your soda and most of all, your guns,” says a female narrator, closing with, “Hey, Bloomberg, keep your politics in New York. And keep your hands off our guns, and our freedom.”
Women are far more receptive to gun control than men: 65 percent favor stronger gun laws, compared to 44 percent of men, according to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll in 2013.
Regardless, the NRA is courting the “Mom” demographic. Media Matters reported that the theme of this year’s NRA annual meeting was maternity. NRA staffers handed out buttons that read, “I’m an NRA Mom.” The group recently created a web series called “Armed and Fabulous.”
A 2012 Gallup poll found that 23 percent of women owned guns, up 13 percent from 2005—a statistic that has excited the NRA.
Bloomberg’s new $50 million influx dwarfs the $20 million the NRA spends on political lobbying each year, according to the Times.
Still, the firearm activism gap is wide. Research conducted by the Pew Research Center shows people who favor gun rights are about twice as likely to have contacted a public official about gun policy than gun-control supporters.
Alison Fairbrother is a contributing editor to The Washington Spectator.