Bloomberg-backed gun group turns to midterms

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A gun control group with the financial backing of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is launching an effort to counter the powerful gun lobby in this fall’s midterm elections.

Everytown for Gun Safety is surveying candidates about their positions on gun policy, including where they stand on proposals to expand background checks and crack down on gun traffickers. The results, along with candidates previous statements on gun safety and past voting history, will be presented to voters.

Much as the National Rifle Association uses a scoring system to rally voters in favor of pro-gun candidates, Everytown will target candidates the group views as standing on the wrong side of the issue and back those who support more stringent gun control regulations.

Bloomberg, who is funding the group, has committed to spending $50 million in the current election cycle.

Everytown is billing the initiative as a first-of-its-kind gun control campaign to mobilize voters in favor of stronger protections.

“For decades the NRA has asked candidates about their positions on guns — now we’re going toe-to-toe with the gun lobby and asking candidates 10 yes-or-no questions about preventing the gun violence that kills 86 Americans every day,” said John Feinblatt, the group’s president. 

Feinblatt cites new polling data showing that more than 90 percent of the American public support background checks for all commercial gun sales.

The group is also demanding that candidates spell out their positions on measures aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers, and preventing child access to guns, among other issued.

Everytown is a coalition including the groups Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which was co-founded by Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which was formed in the wake of the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

With no clear path for gun control legislation in Congress, the umbrella organization has in recent months pressured major corporations, such as Target, Chipotle, Starbucks and Facebook, to tighten their individual policies on guns.

The initiative launched Monday signals the group’s expansion into politics.

“Never before has our side of the gun debate organized voters on the ground,” said Mitch Stewart, a former Obama campaign operative now acting as senior advisor to Everytown for Gun Safety.  “This election cycle will give American voters a chance to show that we will demand gun sense from our political leaders.”