Earlier this week, a new organization – Everytown for Gun Safety – launched with a purpose of uniting millions of Americans to work together to end gun violence and counter the powerful and heavily-funded Washington gun lobby.
Gun violence has often primarily been associated with poor, urban neighborhoods. But the truth is that gun violence can and does happen anywhere. The common denominator is easy access to guns. Every day, gun violence kills 86 Americans, with these acts of terror carried out in homes, on playgrounds, schoolyards, neighborhood streets, even in houses of worship – turning spaces that should represent peace and sanctuary into places that elicit danger and fear. Still, Congress has not acted. It has been almost a year since a minority of the U.S. Senate blocked legislation requiring comprehensive gun background checks – despite overwhelming public support.
In an effort to press for change in Washington and move beyond Congress to bring common-sense gun policies to state capitols, corporate boards, and state and federal elections, Everytown’s supporters will back candidates and legislation aimed at saving lives and raise awareness around urgent gun safety issues. At the center of Everytown is Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and I am honored to join a distinguished group of individuals to serve on the Everytown advisory board – including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who committed a minimum of $50 million this year to reduce gun violence through Everytown’s educational and advocacy effort and others) and Warren Buffett. This is a fight to which I have long been committed – whether being the first U.S. mayor to bring suit against major gun manufacturers to hold them accountable for their part in the senseless cycle of violence or focusing on the reduction of gun violence in the name of public health and community safety at the National Urban League.
Most recently, we, as part of the African American Leaders Convening, put forth concrete policy recommendations in our 21st Century Agenda for Jobs and Freedom – including a ban on automatic and military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, requiring gun owners to participate in educational programs that stress responsible gun ownership and a no-tolerance policy for guns and gun violence in schools – including severe penalties.
Gun violence in America is a significant problem. But with more than 1.5 million Americans and growing daily, almost 1000 mayors and moms across all 50 states, I am encouraged that initiatives like the Everytown grassroots movement will result in even more significant action and solutions. The epidemic of senseless killings in all communities must end. We urge the nation to unite against gun violence everywhere, in Everytown.