December 10, 2018

Conference began at 7:00 p.m., and was moderated by Patti Brigham, LWV of Florida.  

It was announced that the Center for American Progress, CAP held a National Gun Violence Prevention Conference last week in DC.  No notes were available, but the website states:

There is no single, simple solution to reducing gun violence in this country. However, there are a number of common-sense steps that would be a great place to start—steps that could be taken right now.

The guest for the call was Igor Volsky, Executive Director of Guns Down America:

https://gunsdownamerica.org/   He introduced his organization as having been formed in response to the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting.  Its purpose is to provide advocacy and to drain the NRA and gun industry of funds.  He stated that we need bolder ideas for a society with fewer guns.

A recent, and successful campaign was launched to convince FedEx to drop a discount that it afforded to NRA members.  NRA used the discounts to recruit new members.  FedEx portrays itself as a company that supports underprivileged neighborhoods; their support of the NRA was perceived as damaging to their image and values.  Protests were held in front of their offices in 6 or 8 locations. They dropped the discount program.

After the Parkland shooting, 40 companies dropped their association with the NRA. The NRA and gun lobby now admit that they are struggling.  Culture is changing; they are trying to market to African Americans and women.  Membership is declining and gun purchases are as well.

Guns Down America’s newest campaign will be to put pressure on public banks that do business with the gun industry.  Bank of America was mentioned; it has stated opposition to assault rifles, but helped Remington out of bankruptcy. Guns Down America is preparing a ranking for top banks – a report card.  They will assess their investment history in the NRA and the gun industry.  At present, he stated that the least involved (in the gun industry) is Allied Bank and Citibank.  The obvious goal is to convince consumers to choose their bank based on the bank’s gun industry footprint

On this same vein is pressure toward insurance companies.  Pension plans are heavily invested in insurance companies.  Insurance companies and consumers are also the ones covering the costs of healthcare and liability for those with guns in the home.  Are premiums raised for those with guns?  

Igor discussed “Carryguard” insurance.  It is considered “murder insurance”. It is a policy that NRA carried for gun owners.  It covered a replacement weapon and housecleaning in the event of a “Stand your Guard” incident.  In the advertisement, all of the perpetrators were black or brown. 

Guns Down America has also drawn attention to guns being taken to the polls.  It is considered armed intimidation. Only six states restrict it.  There were a number of instances at the midterms where individuals brought open carry weapons to the polls.

Actions:

    • Send emails to CEO or board member of your banks
    • Call, tweet, and post Facebook message to these companies. 

Guns Down America is going to launch a public awareness campaign called NRA Bingo.  They are anticipating that the NRA will soon be unfolding an advertising blitz of their soundbites to support the NRA and gun ownership; the usual claims of safety and 2nd Amendment rights.  The Guns Down America interactive online “game” will ask participants to identify NRA ads and claims, and will supply refuting answers. For spotting these NRA attempts, participants win points (and maybe promotional merchandise).

Igor appealed to LWV members to

    • take part in organizations that promote gun safety
    • keep watch for your banks ranking
    • look for information on https://gunsdownamerica.org/, and contribute

State Updates:

Florida is going to expand background checks.

The newly elected Speaker in New Mexico wants universal background checks, Red Flag laws, and child access prevention.

Ohio is anticipating that Stand Your Ground will probably pass with the newly elected Republican governor.

Illinois is at the forefront of confronting gun rights advocates.  At a recent School Board Conference, with one member from each School Board across the state, they attempted to convince the school boards to arm teachers.  The resolution did NOT go through.  Illinois also encouraged a ban on bump stocks and assault weapons, and encouraged safe storage – all items opposed by the NRA. 

Oregon is working on 2nd Amendment Preservation Ordinances – to circumvent gun laws.  It is being challenged as unconstitutional.

New Hampshire – has 30 new representatives – younger and more progressive.  They want background checks and Red Flag bills.  The Executive Council will be equally represented by Democrats and Republicans.

The meeting ended at 8:00.  Next month will resume at the normal date and time; first Monday at 7:00 p.m.

Judy Forkan Kapoun

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