Thursday, October 5, 2017

Re: We're taking on the NRA directly. Here's how:

As we continue to grieve the tragic loss of lives in Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas, NV, let's be really, unmistakably clear: This tragedy was preventable. Gun control legislation to keep weapons of war out of our communities and reduce the frequency of these disasters is in place elsewhere in the civilized world. Just not here, in the United States.

Dear MoveOn member,

As we continue to grieve the tragic loss of lives in Sunday's massacre in Las Vegas, NV, let's be really, unmistakably clear: 

This tragedy was preventable. Gun control legislation to keep weapons of war out of our communities and reduce the frequency of these disasters is in place elsewhere in the civilized world. Just not here, in the United States.

And let's also be straightforward in assessing the fight for common-sense gun safety reform so far, because the stakes are too high to spin this or to kid ourselves:

Big picture, we've been losing to the NRA. Badly.

No doubt, we've worked tirelessly to counter the NRA's power for years. And we've contributed to some hard-fought wins, like President Obama's executive order to narrow a gaping gun-show loophole and important state-level wins across the nation, from Colorado to New York.

But more often than not, the NRA is setting the national agenda and pushing America in an ever-crazier direction—from prohibiting schools from banning guns to deregulating silencers for guns.

And the body count from massacres—and daily shootings—continues to rise.

The NRA wants us to accept the status quo and give up on ever challenging its dominance in American politics. But I refuse to accept that. I believe that we must do far more than ever before. And the announcement today that they may support federal review of "stock bumps"—an incredibly modest step, meant to block real reform from moving in Congress—does signal a shift in the political climate. They may finally be on the defensive.1

Now's the moment: Let's take on the NRA's political strategy directly.

Will you chip in $3 to MoveOn's efforts to defeat NRA-backed candidates in 2017 and 2018, demonstrate that the NRA can be beat, and break its stranglehold on American politics?

Yes, I'll chip in.

Here's what we're facing—and how MoveOn members can help make the difference:

Most immediately, the NRA has plans for a massive media campaign in this November's election in Virginia, supporting the Republican candidates for governor and state legislature who toe the line on their anti-gun safety agenda.

MoveOn members have already endorsed candidates across Virginia who believe in sensible gun laws. Now we need to get them over the finish line.

One unique tool at our disposal is a data-driven innovation of using online videos to persuade and mobilize key voters. Working with the cutting-edge tools of our analysis team, our in-house Video Lab team will produce and promote cost-effective videos that can move the needle on voter turnout—at a fraction of the cost of the NRA's TV blitz.

This could help elect a slate of progressive Virginians, fine-tune our tools for 2018, and offer a clear rebuke of the NRA—shattering the myth of their political power.

Will you chip in $3 to help MoveOn's efforts to put gun control on the ballot and defeat the NRA in Virginia this year?

Yes, I'll chip in.

Then, we shift to 2018, where one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for re-election is Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. He voted repeatedly to take health care away from his own constituents, which has made him even more vulnerable in next year's race. And now, even after the terrible massacre in his state, he is refusing to stand up to the NRA and won't support sensible measures to get assault weapons out of our community.

Dean Heller must go—and MoveOn members are committed to defeating him.

We'll continue to push the message to Nevada voters and local media that Heller continues to side with corporate lobbyists against Nevadans on health care, tax breaks for the rich—and, even now, sensible gun laws.

MoveOn will run ads, hire organizers in 2018, and help fuel a grassroots uprising to remove Heller from office—and in doing so, defeat the NRA and weaken their hold on the Republican Party and Washington.

Can you chip in $3 to help defeat Dean Heller in Nevada in 2018, win seats in Virginia this year, and deal a crushing defeat to the NRA?

We might not be able to get Congress to act today, this week, or even this year (although we will try!). And there's no point in trying to convince Donald Trump. But by defeating the NRA in elections this year and next, we'll help take back the House, get more pro-gun control Democrats into office, and show the remaining Republicans that the NRA doesn't speak for the American voters—so it's time for our politicians to stand up to the NRA.

Thanks for all you do.

–Anna, Marie, Ben, Gabby, and the rest of the team

P.S. For more details on how we're taking on the NRA directly in the upcoming Virginia elections, see Maria's message from the other day, below:

Dear MoveOn member,

In any other country, what happened in Las Vegas, NV, on Sunday and its aftermath would be unthinkable: a devastating gun massacre followed by zero legislative action. But here in the U.S., that's just how it is—because our politics are frozen by the perceived power of the NRA.

The key word: "perceived." Because Republican politicians see the NRA as ultra-powerful, they think that staying in power means always siding with the gun lobby—against public safety. So the only way to end this lethal political limbo is to show that the NRA is not a political blessing, but, in fact, a political curse.

We've got a massive opportunity to do this—to take on the NRA in its own backyard. On November 7, Virginia—the state where the NRA's headquarters are located—will elect a governor and state legislature. This is becoming, in part, a referendum on NRA's power and has the potential to transform the perception of the gun lobby's strength—especially important as we head into the 2018 elections.

MoveOn is ready to scale up our work in Virginia to the next level—if we have the resources. Can you chip in $3 to help?

Yes, I'll chip in.

The GOP candidate for governor of Virginia, Ed Gillespie, has an "A" from the NRA and says that it's "too soon" to discuss policy change after the Las Vegas shootings. By contrast, the Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam, has an "F" from the NRA and argues that "we do not need assault weapons on our streets."2

Gun safety will be a critical issue in the House of Delegate races, too. As The Washington Post reported, "[g]un violence roils Virginia election"—the NRA is already on its heels, delaying a huge planned ad campaign by a week.3

This is it. We've got just 33 days to puncture the myth of NRA invulnerability in Virginia. Can you help?

Yes, I'll chip in $3 to help defeat the NRA in Virginia.

With your support, here's what MoveOn will do:

  • Mega-volunteer mobilization through our new custom-built, volunteer-driven text message mobilization tool. Not only can we get volunteers out in the streets, we can start testing tactics that will be central to our 2018 efforts.
  • Viral gun-safety videos on social media. The video that we posted two nights ago—featuring a gun-owning MoveOn member urging gun safety laws—has already notched a million views. We'll pay to get those videos in front of every person who needs a reminder of what's at stake. We'll also use these videos to test their impact and fine-tune our micro-targeting.
  • Media advocacy to make our message clear: In print and on TV, we'll make sure that the Virginia election serves, in part, as a referendum on the NRA's power.

If Democrats win big in Virginia, Republicans nationwide will see the wave building—accelerating a growing wave of GOP retirements and giving us our best shot at taking the House (and perhaps even the Senate) in 2018. We'll make progressive policies possible in Virginia and nationwide. And we'll show that an unapologetic anti-gun-violence position can help win elections.

Can you chip in $3 support this critical work?

Yes—I'm in!

In the United States of America, power should flow from people voting at the ballot box, not a shadowy special interest group committed to undermining public safety. The horror in Las Vegas should not paralyze us, but propel us to action. Let's stand up to fight for a country in which no one has to live in fear and where our democracy is worthy of its people.

Thanks for all you do.

–Maria, Seth, Hawley, Ann, and the rest of the team


1. "NRA moves to head off gun control fight in Congress," Politico, October 5, 2017

2. "Northam: 'We do not need assault weapons on our streets,'" The Washington Post, October 3, 2017

3. "Gun violence roils Virginia election — NRA puts ad on ice, gun control advocates cancel events," The Washington Post, October 2, 2017

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