Conservatives Trumpet False Claim Gun Safety Group Is "Crumbling"

Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

S.E. CuppConservatives are cheering S.E. Cupp's false claim that the gun safety coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) has "crumbled" with its member mayors fleeing in droves.

Last week former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he plans to spend $50 million on gun safety efforts, in part through the new group Everytown for Gun Safety, an umbrella organization that merges MAIG and the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America.

During an appearance on ABC's This Week, Cupp, a host for both CNN and Glenn Beck's network The Blaze, claimed that "Mayors Against Illegal Guns has crumbled because he duped mayors into thinking they were actually going to fight illegal guns. And when they all found out actually they were going after law abiding gun owners, they said that's not what I want to be a part of. His efforts are duplicitous and they're measurably failing." Cupp's remarks were subsequently trumpeted across the right-wing media.

In fact, MAIG currently counts as members "a bipartisan group of more than 1,000 current and former mayors from nearly every state." While some mayors have left the group over the years -- at times while seeking the Republican nomination for higher office -- MAIG's overall membership has dramatically increased in recent years, from 15 mayors at its founding to 450 members in 2009 to roughly 850 in January 2013 to its current level.

Likewise, Cupp's claim that the gun safety effort is "failing" ignores reality. While federal legislation received a majority vote in the Senate but was blocked by a filibuster last year, gun safety efforts resulted in major executive actions; legislative packages passed in New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, California, and Delaware, among others; and the appointment of the first permanent director of the ATF since 2006. Championing gun safety in a swing state and with the support of Bloomberg's Independence USA PAC, Terry McAuliffe and Mark Herring were elected governor and attorney general of Virginia.

Just today Huffington Post detailed how, in the face of a push from a broad coalition of gun safety groups seeking to pass state legislation requiring alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order, the NRA has begun backing down from its years-long stance against such bills, which have passed in several states in recent months:

For nearly a decade, the National Rifle Association successfully blocked a bill in Washington state that would have required alleged domestic abusers to surrender their firearms after being served with a protective order. Only those actually convicted of felony domestic violence, the nation's largest gun lobby argued, should be made to forfeit their gun rights.

This past year, the NRA changed its tune. As the bill, HB 1840, once again moved through the state legislature, the gun lobby made a backroom deal with lawmakers, agreeing to drop its public opposition to it in exchange for a few minor changes. This February, with the NRA's tacit approval, the bill sailed through the state legislature in a rare unanimous vote.

The NRA's decision not to oppose the measure was a stark departure from its usual legislative strategy. For over a decade, bare-knuckled lobbying by the NRA has doomed similar bills in state legislatures across the country. Legislators who backed such bills, particularly in states with strong traditions of gun ownership, could practically be guaranteed a challenger after the NRA withdrew its endorsements or backed their opponents.

But over the past year, the NRA has quietly scaled back its scorched-earth campaigns against stricter domestic violence laws. The group has consulted with legislators in states across the country on bills similar to HB 1840. With the tacit approval of the NRA, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all passed or advanced bills banning the possession of firearms by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, those served protective orders, or those deemed by the court to pose a physical threat to their families.

While Cupp claims that her "friends at the NRA high-fived" at news of Bloomberg's financial support because he is "the worst face for gun control," polls provide no evidence for the notion of a broad wave of anti-Bloomberg sentiment, and political aides from both parties reportedly believe that his spending will help Democrats in 2014.

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S.E. Cupp
This Week
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