Monday, 07 July 2014

Bloomberg's Anti-Gun Group to Survey 2014 Midterm Candidates

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As the 2014 federal midterm elections approach, the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (shown), will be surveying all House and Senate candidates on Second Amendment issues in order to determine which ones to support.

Everytown for Gun Safety was formed after the Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America merged, and Bloomberg became a vocal gun-control advocate while serving as New York City mayor.

However, the group has been under scrutiny for presenting false information to support its anti-gun agenda.

According to Fox News, the survey will "ask respondents questions about their stances on issues like background checks for gun buyers, limiting magazine capacity, and passing laws restricting gun trafficking." The primary purpose of the 10-part questionnaire is for candidates to state publicly their opinions on issues related to the Second Amendment.

"People deserve in this country to know where candidates stand on reasonable gun measures," said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown and Bloomberg’s longtime senior policy adviser. "For too long, the gun lobbyists had the field to themselves."

The website for the survey reads, "Every day, 86 Americans die by gunfire. That's why the Gun Sense Voter Project is asking all federal candidates to complete this brief questionnaire.... Using this questionnaire and the candidate's past history on gun issues, we will make determinations that will help Gun Sense Voters decide where candidates stand."

Questions found in the survey include:

• The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is missing hundreds of thousands of records that would block dangerous people, including those with severe mental illness, from passing background checks when they try to buy guns. States are responsible for sending these records to NICS, but vary widely in their performance. Do you support an increase in congressional funding for the federal grant programs that help states submit their records?

• Historically, states have set their own laws for who may carry a concealed gun and where they may carry it in public. Many states require applicants to be trained in gun safety and do not grant concealed carry permits to teenagers or people who have recently been convicted of assault, battery, or stalking offenses — while other states have weaker standards and will allow individuals like these to carry in public. Some in Congress have proposed "national concealed carry reciprocity" legislation, which would create a new federal mandate forcing every state to recognize concealed carry permits from every other state, no matter how lax a state’s laws are. Do you oppose national concealed carry reciprocity, which would overturn state public safety laws and replace them with a lowest-common denominator standard?

The survey is meant to counter the legislative ratings system of the National Rifle Association, which assigns higher scores to lawmakers based on their pro-gun stance. Initially, Bloomberg wanted to emulate the NRA scorecards by assigning lawmakers grades of A through F, but the strategy was changed to utilize a public questionnaire. The webpage boasts, "Unlike the NRA, we're making our questionnaire available to the public."

But NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam contends Everytown will have a tough time matching the NRA's network and campaign.

"Money cannot buy the hearts and minds of the American people when it comes to the Second Amendment," he said.

Arulanandam told the Washington Post that Bloomberg's efforts made him "just the latest incarnation of a long line of anti-freedom billionaires who’ve tried to take on the National Rifle Association."

Everytown President Feinblatt asserts that the group intends to be around long after the 2014 midterm elections.

"You don't build a counterweight to the gun lobby overnight," he said. "We're in this for the long haul."

Following the Sandy Hook school shooting, Bloomberg unsuccessfully tried to push through the Senate a bill that would have expanded background check laws. He has vowed to double the amount the NRA spends on political campaigns in this election cycle. According to the Washington Post, the NRA lays out approximately $20 million a year on various campaigns.

According to the Post, Everytown is "using data-driven organizing techniques from Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns to expand its network of supporters, which now totals nearly 2 million."

"We’re going to be very, very data-driven, metrics-driven, making sure that we identify the people who care about this issue," said Mitch Stewart, who served as the battleground-states director for Obama's campaign and is now a political consultant advising Everytown.

"The NRA, they have this aura of being invincible," Stewart said. "We’re going to show these candidates and these members of Congress that there is a sizable group of people in their districts and states who care about these issues and they’re going to demand some answers."

But Everytown's credibility has been called into question after CNN helped expose what appears to be deliberate deception by Bloomberg's organization. The group claimed that there have been 74 school shootings since the December 2012 Sandy Hook incident. However, the Canada Free Press reports that a journalist looked at the list released by Everytown alongside a map and discovered that "many didn't happen on school campuses, and others were gang-related events after school hours, or that happened in parking lots."

CNN used Everytown's misleading figure in a report but later acknowledged that the number had not been checked for accuracy.

"Bloomberg should change the name of his $50 million ‘grassroots’ political machine to ‘Every Liar for Gun Safety’," said Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) Chairman Alan Gottlieb. "This press scrutiny of claims by the gun prohibition lobby is long overdue, because this is hardly the first time that anti-gunners have tried to bamboozle the public with deceptive data."

"Sadly," he concluded, "this episode not only reveals how gun prohibitionists try to fool people with questionable information, it also shows that the liberal, anti-gun-rights media all-too-willingly accepts such information at face value. What does that say about press partisanship, if not press gullibility? Let’s hope that from now on, CNN and other news agencies challenge information from anti-gun organizations before treating it like scripture."

Photo of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: AP Images