Anti-gun violence group launches campaign to end filibuster

Anti-gun violence group launches campaign to end filibuster

A gun control group on Monday launched a digital ad campaign pushing for filibuster reform in the Senate, arguing the procedural tool has cost lives by blocking meaningful legislation to overhaul firearm laws.

Brady, an anti-gun violence group founded by former Reagan aide Jim Brady and his wife Sarah, debuted two new ads first obtained by The Hill as part of its "#FilibusterIsKillingUs" campaign that calls on the Senate to eliminate the 60-vote threshold required for most legislation to pass. 

The organization plans to spend $40,000 on its initial round of digital ads, with more outreach likely moving forward.

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"In the past four Congresses, the filibuster has stopped life-saving and common-sense legislation such as expanded and strengthened background checks from passing the Senate, creating a chilling effect on such legislation even as these policies attract overwhelming support from the American public, including majorities of both parties," the organization said in a statement. 

Brady has advocated for stronger gun laws for years, but with the new digital campaign it joins growing calls from progressive groups and various advocacy organizations that have pushed for filibuster reform.  The advertisements use the personal stories of three gun violence survivors and Brady Campaign leaders who have been affected by gun violence.

"With the direction of politics today, we just know too acutely how tangible and impactful the filibuster has been in preventing the life-saving change that we desperately need in this country and just want to make that more clear to the American people," Christian Heyne, vice president of policy at Brady, said in an interview.

"For too many Americans, they see the filibuster as a procedural hurdle," said Heyne, whose mother was killed by gun violence. "I don’t think folks recognize there is a tangible impact occurring every day when we can’t get passed things that more than 90 percent of Americans support, like universal background checks."

President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE saw his pleas for firearm restrictions and tougher background checks languish in the wake of mass shootings earlier this year in Indianapolis, Boulder, Colo., and Atlanta after Senate negotiators failed to reach an agreement on a bill that could garner the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibuster.

The president's efforts on gun reforms took another blow last month when the White House withdrew its nominee to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) in the face of resistance from Republicans and Sen. Angus KingAngus KingPennsylvania Republican becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats GOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill MORE (I-Maine). The nominee, David Chipman, worked with another anti-gun violence group, Giffords.

Gun laws have repeatedly run into hurdles in the Senate, where the legislative filibuster requires at least 60 senators to vote in favor of advancing legislation. In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, an amendment to require background checks on all commercial gun sales only garnered 54 votes. 

Groups like Brady have expressed frustration over inaction in the chamber, particularly given polling has consistently shown measures like universal background checks have strong public support. 

The Brady campaign launched Monday is expected to be part of a broader campaign alongside other issue-based organizations calling for filibuster reform, Heyne said. Groups that support expanding the Supreme Court, codifying reproductive rights, voting rights advocacy groups and others have in recent months become increasingly outspoken about the need for filibuster reform.

"We want this to be something that becomes a rallying cry," Heyne said.

The White House has said as recently as last month that Biden does not support abolishing the filibuster or creating carve outs for issues like voting rights.