Hitting the Road for Gun Sense

Every day there's a new story about the gun violence that's ravaging American families, from the recent murder-suicide by a Florida a grandfather with a prior criminal record that should have prohibited him from possessing firearms who killed his six grandchildren and daughter, to two school shootings in North Carolina and Kentucky this week on top of the recent school lockdowns in states from New Hampshire to Michigan to Texas to Washington. These horrific and preventable stories make it clear that Americans have been given a choice: Act now to reduce gun violence or sit by as these senseless tragedies continue to occur in our communities.

The members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America have chosen to act. Before the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, many of our volunteers had never marched for anything or even carried a protest sign, but a fire of determination has been ignited inside each and every one of us, and it will not be extinguished.

Just last week, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety issued its first-ever list of state and federal candidate endorsements for the upcoming midterm elections. The slate of candidates includes Democrats and Republicans from 28 different states running for state legislative seats, governorships, and seats in the House and Senate. We also released our first two testimonial television ads featuring survivors of gun violence.

There are only 33 days between now and Election Day, and Moms Demand Action volunteers across the country are doubling down on our pledge to bring one million gun sense voters to the polls with phone banks and neighborhood canvasses all across the country. I've personally committed to crisscrossing the country between now and Election Day to meet the incredible moms and women who are working to change our culture of gun violence one law, one company and -- starting right now -- one election at a time.

Our first stop was in Portland, Oregon, where Moms Demand Action volunteers and gun violence survivors are working hard to support gun sense leaders like Governor John Kitzhaber, and to defeat candidates who stand with gun extremists, including State Sen. Bruce Starr, who has said he is "proud" to oppose gun safety despite overwhelming support from Oregonians. During the last legislative session in Oregon, our work to close loopholes in state law that allow criminals to find guns online and buy them from strangers with no background checks, no questions asked, was narrowly defeated. Success in the November midterm elections in Oregon would put victory in 2015 within reach.

And this week I went to the Washington that really counts in the November elections: the state of Washington. Recent polling shows seven in 10 residents support Initiative 594, the nation's only statewide background check initiative on the ballot this November, allowing voters to cast an up-or-down vote on background checks. But since we know the NRA's public opposition to I-594 is expected to increase in coming days and weeks, we are doubling down on our work to close the loophole that allows dangerous people to buy guns online, because families' lives hang in the balance.

A recent analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety found that one in 10 people in Washington seeking to buy a gun from a private seller online is someone legally prohibited from having one. These people seeking guns included rapists and domestic abusers who couldn't pass a background check but, due to a patchwork of lax state and federal gun laws, don't have to pass a background check to buy guns from strangers they meet online.

These two states are only the beginning. The Moms Demand Action and Everytown teams will be going from the West Coast to the Midwest to New England and everywhere in between to mobilize American moms and women and, for the first time ever, turn out the vote specifically on gun safety.

Why is this issue so important for moms and women to consider in the voting booth? Because 86 Americans are killed with guns every day. Because there have been more than 111 mass shootings in less than six years and a majority of the victims are women. In an average month, 48 women in this country are shot to death by current or former intimate partners. And there have been at least 86 school shootings since Newtown.

The good news is that we know women care about and support gun safety: According to a recent poll by Purple Strategies, almost all American women voters, including Republicans and Independents, support background checks for gun sales. And, by a 3-to-1 margin, data shows women will reward -- not punish -- a candidate who supports background checks. This is why we're educating moms about candidates that have gun sense: So when they go to the polls, they vote for the candidate with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby.

This is just the beginning of our work to get moms and women to vote to keep our communities safe from gun violence, in this election and in all elections ahead. We're going to work at it with everything we've got because when you get right down to it, this fight is about protecting the safety of our families. Moms Demand Action has taken the fight for gun safety to Congress, to statehouses, to corporations, and now we're bringing this issue to the voting booth. We owe our children and ourselves a world where we don't have to live by lockdown.