AP Photo/John Locher
We’re now less than two weeks away from the U.S. Senate’s return from its August recess, and gun control groups are starting to ramp up their messaging to members in an attempt to get “something” passed once lawmakers return. The Michael Bloomberg-funded anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety has launched a series of ads targeting Senators Marco Rubio and Cory Gardner, as well as one ad specifically aimed at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The ad starts with a litany of newscasters delivering breaking news about shootings going back to the murders in Aurora, Colorado in 2012 and continuing through the attacks in El Paso and Dayton, with urgent and discordant music swelling underneath before it abruptly stops.
Stark white letters appear over a black background: “THIS HAS TO STOP,” while a voice intones “It seems like every day there’s another shooting. This isn’t normal. It’s time our elected officials did something about it.”
We see quick flashes of gun control advocates protesting before the video cuts to a black and white picture of McConnell.
“Tell Mitch McConnell to stand up to the gun lobby and pass bipartisan background checks and red flag laws to keep guns away from people who pose a danger to our communities,” the voice over actor implores.
The ad closes with a call to action for those watching to text “checks” to a certain number. When and if folks do, they won’t be sending a message to Mitch McConnell but signing up to get more messages from Everytown for Gun Safety in the future.
The new ad from Everytown doesn’t mention an “assault weapons ban,” gun rationing, or any of the other gun control mandates the group would love to impose on legal gun owners. Instead, it specifically focuses on areas that President Trump has said he’d like to work on- expanding background checks and “red flag laws.” While Trump has said he has no interest in “universal background checks,” the House has already passed HR 8, which is a universal background check bill, and gun control groups will be pushing hard to get that through the Senate, though they would likely settle (at least for now) for the Manchin/Toomey background check bill, which has a few more exceptions for transfers between friends and family members than the bill backed by Everytown.
Even if Everytown got its way and Congress approved both red flag legislation and expanded background checks, they won’t be satisfied. They would turn around and accuse Mitch McConnell and other Second Amendment supporters of only embracing half-measures. They’d note that lawmakers have signed on a few items on the gun control wishlist, and demand that they get on board with the rest.
The message from gun control groups right now is simple: there are too many shootings, and we need gun control to stop them. When and if Congress passes a background check law and there’s another active assailant attack, the messaging from Everytown will simply shift a bit: “Background checks were a good start, but we can’t stop there. Now we need to put commonsense gun safety laws like a ban on battlefield weapons of war on the books and elect more politicians who will stand up to the gun lobby.” The failure of one gun control law just leads to demands that more be put in place, and anything passed by Congress this fall will be used to push for a lot more in the 2020 election cycle.