The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is spending millions to support candidates in four states, underscoring the extent to which gun control is shaping up to be an issue in the November midterm election.
The fund, the political arm of the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety, plans to spend $8 million to $10 million in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico as an initial investment in the election. It will include contributions to candidates, as well as independent expenditures such as mail, television, radio and digital ads.
“This is not a movement of blue states. This is a movement of Americans,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit organization. “The old third-rail warnings are out the window and you can redraw the map and work on gun safety virtually anywhere in this country.”
Feinblatt said the initial sum is a “curtain raiser” on what will come between now and the election.
Everytown’s strategy to change gun laws has focused on statehouses. The focus on individual races is an outgrowth of that, Feinblatt said, and resources are being used where the group thinks it can make the most difference.
In Georgia, the group is spending money on Democrat Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial race. Abrams has called for universal background checks for firearms sales and repealing a state law that allows permit holders to carry guns on college campuses.
The group is also working to elect Lucy McBath, who is running for a seat in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath’s 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot in 2012 during a dispute about loud music as he was sitting in a car outside a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. McBath became a gun control advocate after her son’s death and has worked with Everytown. The group has given her $1.2 million.
“Abrams and McBath talk about gun safety, and they reflect where Georgians stand on the issue,” Feinblatt said.
In Michigan, the group is supporting Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor and Democrat Dana Nessel for attorney general. Whitmer has called for waiting periods and stronger background checks to buy guns, as well as a ban on assault-style weapons and bump stocks.
The group is also trying to challenge the conventional wisdom that candidates calling for some controls on guns cannot win in the west. In Nevada, it is attempting to defeat Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor. Laxalt opposed a 2016 ballot initiative, approved by Nevada voters, that expanded background checks. Laxalt and Gov. Brian Sandoval, R, were sued for not implementing the law.
The group is putting money into the campaign of Democrat Steve Sisolak.
In New Mexico, Everytown’s action fund is backing the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham. She has said if she is elected, she will work for bipartisan gun safety legislation, including banning semiautomatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence and stalking misdemeanors from buying firearms, and studying ways to prevent gun violence.