Filling a Void in the Gun Violence Prevention Movement
In December 2015, the city of San Bernardino was rocked by a mass shooting that killed 14 people and injured 22 others. In the aftermath, the American people were subjected to the standard round of “thoughts and prayers” from members of Congress who had taken thousands or even millions of dollars from the gun lobby and voted against gun reform legislation.
Our Executive Director, Igor Volsky, then Vice President at the Center for American Progress, had enough. He began researching the donation history and voting records of these Congresspeople and calling them out publicly for their hypocrisy. The Tweets spread like wildfire, going viral and gaining international news attention.
NRA dumped $922K into McConnell's re-elect bid, so when it comes to preventing gun violence all u get is this tweet https://t.co/RsSvFRDlZr— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) December 3, 2015
In July 2016, after the tragic Pulse Nightclub shooting, Igor shamed lawmakers again, and shortly thereafter, Guns Down America was born. Our organization imagines a bolder, broader approach to gun violence prevention. We set a simple, achievable long term goal: building a future with fewer guns. Because the reality of gun violence in America is stark.
Approximately 110 people are killed by a gun every day - about 40,000 a year.
There are over 393 million guns in civilian hands - more guns than people.
Nearly three quarters of Americans support federal firearms licensing.
A Bolder Approach
The numbers tell the story: more guns mean more deaths. Universal background checks and other incremental measures aren’t enough, we need fundamental reform in America. Guns Down America’s mission is to say what we truly want and work towards a safer future. But that’s not always easy.
The National Rifle Association has held our politics hostage for decades, so if we want to create the space for our lawmakers to work on this issue, we need to go after the gun lobby. One of our earliest campaigns, the one that put us on the map, was going after the NRA’s abhorrent "Murder Insurance" program. The program protected gun owners who shoot someone and then claim "self-defense" and provided coverage for criminal legal defense, firearm replacement, clean up costs, payouts to bail companies, and a 24-hour legal hotline with guidance in how to avoid prosecution.
In October of 2017, we partnered with Color of Change and Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin. Our multifaceted campaign urged two of the nation’s largest insurers to stop underwriting the NRA’s insurance policies. The campaign featured a moving video with Fulton, a large petition drive, and a flyover of one of the insurer’s corporate headquarters.
Both companies announced that they would stop underwriting and offering these policies. Since then, they have faced multi-million dollar fines from Washington State and New York, sending a clear message to corporations all over the country that any partnership with the gun lobby will be met with additional scrutiny. The success of this campaign was a huge blow to the NRA, depleting them of a much-needed revenue stream.
Pushing The White House And Congress To Prioritize Gun Reform
Representing the left flank of the gun violence prevention movement, Guns Down America is particularly well situated to strategically push the White House and Congress to live up to their campaign promises and prioritize a comprehensive plan for reducing gun deaths.
In early February of 2021, as the Biden administration took office, Guns Down America worked with hundreds of gun violence survivors to write a “Dear Joe” letter to the President and took out a full-page ad in Politico urging him to imminently address the worsening gun violence crisis. Working with March For Our Lives, Guns Down America produced a video featuring Black youth in Milwaukee urging the President to speak about everyday gun violence during his first presidential trip to the city and to invest in community-based gun violence intervention programs. We subsequently worked with NowThis to produce a widely-viewed video featuring a Newtown survivor asking the President to act and created a unique video highlighting the gun deaths that have occurred during the President’s first month in office.
Following the mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder in March of 2021, Guns Down America helped form a new coalition of organizations to aggressively push the administration to act on gun violence prevention. By April, Guns Down America and our partners assembled a survivor-focused State of the Union on Gun Violence event on the National Mall to keep the pressure on the administration and Congress to act, creating a sense of organized public demand that has not existed in years past. Our organization and larger coalition will continue to devise creative campaigns to push our elected representatives to live-up to the promises they made us while running for office. Simply put: it's what our country needs and deserves.
Our team also continues to work closely with the Invest In Us Coalition to underscore the importance of investing in the communities closest to the pain of everyday gun violence, creating products featuring frontline voices and organizations aimed at ensuring that the Congress includes $5 billion for community-based violence intervention programs in President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.
SEPTEMBER 2019 - We Drove Walmart to Limit Gun Sales
Following a mass shooting that claimed 23 lives at a Walmart in El Paso, we led the coalition pushing for America’s largest retailer to end gun sales. After a month of action that began with a protest in Parkland and spread to on-the-ground actions at Walmarts across the country, Walmart dramatically reduced their sales of firearms and ammunition.
More Big Wins
Since our inception, our dedicated supporters have empowered us to build safer communities. Here are some of our biggest accomplishments… so far.
October 2018: Pushed FedEx to End NRA Discounts
One of our earliest campaigns was pushing FedEx to end their discounts for NRA members. In 2018, FedEx announced it was ending their partnership.
April 2019: Pushed Wells Fargo to Cut NRA Ties
We exposed the role banks play in propping up the gun industry, pushing Wells Fargo to end its longstanding relationship with the NRA.
July 2020: Convinced Subway to End Open Carry
After images of armed militia members in Subway went viral, we pushed Subway to end their open carry policy in 23,000 Subway restaurants.
November 2020: Ensured Voter Safety
Working in partnership with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, we reduced instances of armed intimidation at polling booths during a pivotal election.