Everytown for Gun Safety — the grassroots group founded earlier this year by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in an attempt to counter the National Rifle Association — is asking all federal candidates to complete a survey on gun issues ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
The group's "Gun Sense Voter" questionnaire, posted online Monday, includes 10 questions that Everytown says "America's voters deserve answers to." Among them:
• Do you agree: we can both do more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and protect the rights of responsible, law-abiding people?"
• Do you support requiring background checks for all gun sales (with reasonable exceptions such as for transfers between close family members and temporary transfers for hunting and self-defense)?
• Do you support a law that would prohibit gun possession by convicted stalkers and people convicted of — or, who after due process, are actively restrained from — abusing a dating partner?
• People listed on the federal government’s terror watch lists are prohibited from boarding airplanes — but current federal law does not bar them from buying guns or explosives. ... Do you support legislation — drafted by the George W. Bush administration — that would close this “terror gap” by giving the FBI the discretion to block these people from buying guns?
• Do you support legislation that would create a strong federal gun trafficking statute with serious penalties?
• Do you support limits on the capacity of ammunition magazines?
• Do you support laws that allow a prosecutor to bring charges if a gun owner stores a firearm negligently, a minor accesses the gun, and harm results?
• Do you oppose national concealed carry reciprocity, which would overturn state public safety laws and replace them with a lowest-common denominator standard?
Most of the questions are prefaced with vignettes laying out the case for voting for gun control laws. The purpose of the survey, Everytown says, is to identify candidates who will vote for common-sense laws to reduce gun violence.
"Opposing a gun safety policy in this questionnaire will not necessarily be considered a statement against gun sense," the groups adds. "That’s why we ask candidates to explain their positions if they choose."
The survey, the Washington Post notes, is the first big step by Bloomberg "to devise a political strategy heading into the November elections."
In April, when the former mayor announced Everytown's $50 million launch, he hinted that such a strategy was in the offing.
"People will vote for whatever they think is in their own self-interest to get elected and re-elected," Bloomberg said at time. "We've got to convince them that the 80 percent of gun owners, the 90 percent of Americans who are in favor of just simple background checks to make sure criminals, minors and people with psychiatric problems can't buy guns — something that's common sense — we've got to make sure they understand that's what the public wants.
"This is not a partisan issue," he added. "I know people say, 'Well, one party's in more favor, one party's against.' They are individual votes, and I will support individual senators and congressmen who vote to make my kids safer and your kids safer."
The group had said initially that it would take a page out of the NRA playbook and grade the candidates on their responses using a "sophisticated algorithm." But the Post reports that the grassroots group "shifted the strategy in favor of a public questionnaire on key issues to motivate voters."
Both Bloomberg and President Barack Obama made a big push to reform the nation's gun laws in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Conn., championing legislation that would have expanded background checks and placed a ban on some military-style assault weapons and high-capacity gun magazines. But the proposed legislation was defeated in the Senate.
Last month, during a Tumblr town hall meeting, Obama said lawmakers should be "ashamed" for not taking action to reform U.S. gun laws, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook killings.
"I have been in Washington for a while now. Most things don't surprise me," Obama said. "The fact that 20 [children] were gunned down in the most violent fashion possible and this town couldn't do anything about it was stunning to me."