Two reform groups want lawmakers to share their views about gun violence publicly ahead of November's midterm elections.
Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America on Monday jointly launched a survey pushing candidates to share with the countrytheir stances on gun-violence prevention. It will present 10 "yes" or "no" questions to both incumbents and aspiring legislators. The groups plan to use the answers,as well as the politicians' prior votes and statements, to inform voters. They hope the responses, due by Aug. 15, will urge at least one million Americans to support individuals who champion "common sense reforms," Erika Soto Lamb, communications director for Everytown, said in a statement.
In the past, "candidates running for office only heard from the gun lobby," John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, said on Monday. But when people look beyond the surface, he added, the NRA isn't "all they're cracked up to be."
The groups, backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also released the questions to the public. Members ask individuals to weigh in on closing the loopholes in the background checks system, banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines, preventing child access to guns, prosecuting gun traffickers, and keeping firearms from domestic abusers, stalkers, and individuals with mental illnesses. Party affiliation, Feinblatt said, will not hinder the groups' process of being transparent with informing the public about the politicians' responses.
These pro-gun control activists hope their first-of-its-kind initiative will serve as a counterpoint to the National Rifle Association, which also ranks candidates partly based on their responses to a questionnaire. But the NRA doesn't publish the questions nor the participants' responses.
Bloomberg, an outspoken gun-control advocate, will spend $50 million of his own money throughout the year for the implementation of Everytown.
A targeted, coordinated survey will be more effective to their goal rather than promoting a series of television advertisements, said Mitch Stewart, senior adviser of Everytown. The questionnaire is the first large initiative of Everytown, which also plans to expand its staff in 12 states, including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire, and Texas, to inform voters about gun safety.
The project is part of the two organizations' Gun Sense Voter campaign, which asks Americans to take the pledge to curb violence. More than 650,000 citizens have registered their support in the past three months.
Federal lawmakers failed to pass a bipartisan background checks bill last year in the months following the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 young children.
However, earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment to boost funding for background checks. The Senate will likely consider its own version of the measure before conferencing with the House to produce a final piece of legislation later this year.
Everytown and Moms Demand Action initiated the questionnaire just days after a new poll found that 92% of Americans support conducting background checks for all firearms purchases.
Members recently hand-delivered about 2.5 million postcards to elected officials to demand political action on the gun issue, msnbc previously reported. They also influenced the management at major chains, including Target, Starbucks, Chipotle, and Jack in the Box, to alter their firearms policies.
Take the Gun Sense Questionnaire by clicking here.