Describing itself as “a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities,” the Manhattan-based Everytown for Gun Safety (EGS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it more difficult for Americans to obtain and carry firearms. For example, EGS opposes state laws that permit citizens to carry concealed weapons on their person. It also seeks to end “concealed carry reciprocity,” an arrangement that makes gun permits transportable across state lines and is characterized by Everytown as “a dream for gun extremists and a nightmare for … public safety.” In 2017, EGS pledged $25 million to fight the passage of reciprocity legislation. That same year, former EGS executive director Mark Glaze spoke in favor of a “government buy-back” program for widely owned semi-automatic firearms, and called for restrictions that would prevent even law-abiding citizens from procuring guns. Asserting that background checks “alone aren’t the answer,” he said: “To truly tackle the gun violence epidemic, lawmakers must go further – after the guns themselves.”
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg created EGS in 2014 to counter the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He formed his new entity by merging Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), which Bloomberg and former Boston mayor Thomas Menino had co-founded in 2006, and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Bloomberg is not only EGS’s founder, but also its biggest financial supporter. When he set up the organization in 2014, he pledged to bankroll it with approximately $50 million through his eponymous charity, the Bloomberg Family Foundation. His hope, Bloomberg explained, was to “make them [the NRA] afraid of us.” By the end of 2017, Bloomberg had reportedly spent some $135 million on anti-gun, anti-NRA causes.
Among EGS’s current members are more than 1,000 U.S. mayors, past and present, who were once part of MAIG. The president of EGS is John Feinblatt, who formerly served as Mayor Bloomberg’s chief adviser for policy and strategic planning. The organization’s advisory board includes Bloomberg himself as well as notables like Warren Buffett, National Urban League president Marc Morial, and more than two dozen other individuals.
EGS uses its campaign arm, the EGS Action Fund, to make financial contributions to political candidates who support the group’s anti-gun, anti-NRA agenda. In 2015, for instance, this Action Fund spent more than $2 million on television ads promoting Democrats for the state senate in Virginia, a key swing state. In September 2017, EGS vowed to spend at least another $1 million to help elect Democrats in that same state. These outlays included $700,000 in support of gubernatorial contender Ralph Northam, and $300,000 for Attorney General Mark Herring’s re-election bid. “We are making this initial investment because Ralph Northam and Mark Herring have been forceful champions for gun violence prevention in Virginia,” said EGS senior strategist Brynne Craig, “while their opponents subscribe to a dangerous ‘guns everywhere’ agenda.”
EGS also gives money to likeminded organizations that seek to restrict gun ownership and possession. As InfluenceWatch.org reports, in 2015 Everytown donated well over $1.7 million to such groups, one of which was the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
In January 2018, EGS launched a new interactive website charging that Russian operatives had given money to the NRA in an effort to boost Republican Donald Trump’s presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton. “For years,” said EGS president John Feinblatt, “the NRA cozied up to Moscow, even as Russia meddled in our elections. Now they won’t answer any questions about it.”
After a February 14, 2018 mass shooting in which a deranged gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, EGS urged its supporters to follow a “Five Action Plan” designed to maximize support for Democrats in the upcoming mid-term congressional elections later that year. The five action items identified by EGS were: (1) “Pledge to vote on gun safety”; (2) “Research how much money local officials have accepted from the National Rifle Association”; (3) “Register friends to vote”; (4) “Force candidates to go on the record about gun policy through a provided candidate questionnaire”; and (5) “Urge people who are involved to run for office themselves.”
In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, EGS collaborated with the newly created March for Our Lives and its 501(c)(4) advocacy arm, the March for Our Lives Action Fund, to organize a large anti-gun rally which was held in Washington, D.C. on March 24. Also in early 2018, EGS gave more than $1 million in grants to local organizers of the many so-called “sibling marches” that were held across the U.S. to coincide with the main rally in Washington.
In early 2018 as well, EGS teamed up with Giffords.org and NextGen America to initiate a voter-registration campaign targeting high-school students, a demographic that could be relied upon to vote heavily Democratic. Billionaire Tom Steyer made an initial contribution of $1 million to help fund this endeavor.
In September 2018, EGS launched a $5 million digital ad campaign aimed at unseating incumbent Republicans in 15 key congressional races in the November midterm elections.
Also in September 2018, EGS partnered with Levi Strauss & Company to start a million-dollar campaign to pressure Members of Congress into outlawing all private gun sales aside from those made in retail establishments.