Since the idea for this site coalesced several months ago around the idea of creating legislative ratings from a pro-gun control perspective, I've learned a lot about the politics of firearms. I thought I had a pretty good bead on things (why are there so many gun-related idioms?) but one thing I wasn't prepared for was the playing field online when it came to pro-gun and pro-regulation organizations and activists being so lopsided.
Don't get me wrong - there are lots of very good, very dedicated organizations with resources I could never dream of that are slowly but steadily moving the pendulum in our direction. But the engagement I've seen when it comes to my own project shows that we have a long way to go. Research into gun legislation often involved wading through mountains of posts from pro-gun message boards, the echo chamber of conservative blogs, and the ubiquitous NRA-ILA calls to action. My social media is routinely trolled by a few, small accounts who are out in much greater force than our allies. And finally, to the crux of this project, pro-regulation voters have had no insight into what guides the endorsements by some of our allies, and the National Rifle Association remains the only major organization to publish the grades that inform their candidate advocacy.
So, that's why I'm doing this. As I've mentioned, there's no litmus test here. The reason I'm doing the work to put together these scorecards is so that I can hopefully draw just a small bit of attention to legislators who are doing good work on our behalf, and highlighting challengers in districts where improvement is needed. It's a big project, and I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but it's necessary.
I'm a consistent believer that the NRA succeeds not because of its money - it couldn't buy elections last fall in Virginia or Alabama. It succeeds because of its tenacity - it cares as much every single day as we do immediately following a tragedy. When we close that gap, we will win. I'm trying to help.
"Bump stocks," the firearm converting mechanism that converts semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones, have been in the news and on the minds of gun regulators ever since they were used in Las Vegas last October. We've tracked both federal and state efforts at outlawing these devices, and now municipalities are taking aim (ugh) at them as well:
Denver soon could adopt a ban on “bump stocks” like the device that a Las Vegas gunman used in October to turn his semiautomatic rifles into rapid-fire weapons, spraying bullets on a concert from above.
The City Council next week will begin consideration of an ordinance change that would make it unlawful to sell, carry, store or possess a bump stock device within Denver city limits.
Denver has actually had an assault weapons ban in place since 1989, when the city addressed firearms with "semiautomatic action" and large-capacity magazines in the wake of the shooting in Littleton, CO. The law has survived both the test of time and a couple of court challenges. Congressman Raul Espinoza's proposal would modify that law.
“I’m under no illusion that if somebody is hell-bent on committing a heinous crime, they could both have larger magazines and modify their weapon,” he said, by skirting the law or buying outside the city. “But that said, the only people in the city and county of Denver that should have that kind of firepower are law enforcement and trained officials.”
The NRA has paid lip service to the idea of some regulation of bump stocks, but oppose a ban in every practical way.
We were targeting Arizona's 8th congressional district because of Rep. Trent Franks' legislative record, even before he was forced to resign his seat over some... unpleasantness. Now that Franks has stepped aside and a special election is scheduled for April 24, we have fast-tracked our endorsement process in the Democratic primary for that seat.
The Asian American and Pacific Islanders Victory Fund, meanwhile, has made its decision:
The AAPI Victory Fund, a Democratic party “Super PAC” that mobilizes voters from Asian American and Pacific Islanders communities, has thrown its weight behind Indian American physician Hiral Tipirneni, who is running for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
Tipirneni, an emergency room physician, officially announced her candidacy on July 19, months before the staunch conservative Franks was practically pushed out of Congress by the House leadership following revelations that he had asked two female congressional staffers to bear his children as surrogate mothers.
The Indian American said she is running because she wanted to take on special interests in Washington. “I believe in solving problems and improving lives, which is all about people, not partisanship,” Tipirneni said while announcing her candidacy. “That’s what I did in the emergency room, and I’m running for Congress to do the same.”
We are currently researching an endorsement in the primary between Tipirneni, Bob Musselwhite, and Brianna Westbrook and anticipate making a decision in the next month. Democrats have not contested this seat since 2012.