Pro-gun control activists from around the country descended on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to kick off a week-long event geared toward mobilizing the public to support tougher gun laws.
The second annual “Moms Take the Hill” event organized by Everytown for Gun Safety began today with leaders of the group meeting with 30-plus members of Congress to discuss expanding background checks to cover gun sales and transfers made between private parties over the Internet and at gun shows.
“I am speaking out to honor the life of my daughter who was murdered by a man who should not have been eligible to purchase a gun. I want to ensure that no other mother, sibling, or family member has to go through the same tragedy,” said Sonja Woods, whose daughter was killed by a man who failed multiple background checks due to mental issues and later obtained a firearm through a seller who did not require one.
In addition to urging lawmakers to back universal background checks, Woods wanted Congress to embrace Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s “Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013,” also known as S.1290, which seeks to prohibit convicted stalkers from purchasing firearms.
“Congress needs to support Senator Klobuchar’s legislation and other common-sense reform that will save lives by correcting current loopholes and prohibit criminals, the seriously mentally ill, domestic abusers and other dangerous individuals from purchasing and using guns,” added Woods.
Woods was joined by Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which recently joined forces with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization Mayors Against Illegal Guns to create Everytown for Gun Safety.
Watts wanted political elites in Washington to know that although the Senate failed to pass a background check bill last year, this time around things would be different and there would be repercussions for those who don’t get on board with Everytown’s agenda.
“We are taking this fight to the states,” exclaimed Watts. “What we want Congress to know is that we are watching them, but we are not waiting for them. We are getting ready for the midterms and we are going to hold them accountable for their failure to act.”
Apart from storming Capitol Hill, Everytown is hosting more that 150 house parties across the country to energize the public about the “Gun Sense Voter Campaign,” which is aiming to galvanize one million voters to hit the ballot box during the coming election season to back Everytown-approved candidates.
Partygoers will be asked to sign pledge cards saying that they will vote with “gun sense” in the future.
In response to these efforts, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt told USA Today that the group is essentially squandering resources on legislative objectives that will fail to achieve their desired purpose, i.e. keep guns out of the hands of prohibited persons.
“We invite him [Bloomberg] to waste his money. That group isn’t going to do anything he promises,” said Pratt, adding, “Background checks are a complete and total waste of time and money. They aren’t going to stop bad guys getting guns.”