The Huffington Post's Amanda Terkel has a great summary of the successful efforts of Americans United for Safe Streets, a non-partisan advocacy organization working to educate the public and elected leaders about the need for stronger enforcement and smarter policies to reduce violent crime and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, to support candidates in the 2010 elections. Mike Bloomberg is a supporter of AUSS.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has long been one of the most formidable foes in politics, with many lawmakers unwilling to speak too loudly on gun control out of fear of waking the behemoth's wrath (and massive political operation). But Tuesday's election results showed a possible path for gun control advocates to take on the NRA -- pushing measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
With this strategy, the nonpartisan advocacy group backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Americans United for Safe Streets (AUSS), took on NRA candidates in a handful of races -- and won.
The scope of AUSS is relatively narrow, targeting specific areas that may even divide NRA members from the national leadership. One major issue AUSS targets is closing the gun show loophole, a gap in the law that allows some vendors at gun shows to sell weapons without conducting a background check of the purchaser. Another area targeted by AUSS is the "terror gap," which allows persons on the federal watch list to legally buy guns and explosives in the United States.
AUSS went up against five NRA-backed candidates, with some pundits doubting whether it would have any impact. It was successful in three races and lost in one. Another is still too close to call, but it looks like it will be another AUSS victory.
"Nationally, there is no question that this election was driven by concerns about the economy, but in the races where the issue of illegal guns played a key role, candidates that opposed common-sense efforts to crack down on illegal guns suffered at the polls," said Alex Howe, AUSS spokesman. "In Colorado, Senate candidate Ken Buck's decision as a prosecutor to scuttle a case against a gun dealer accused of illegal activity became a major issue in the campaign -- and he lost a race that a month before the election he was heavily favored to win. And in Virginia, Keith Fimian lost a close race after he put himself on the wrong side of Virginia Tech massacre survivors and family members for his opposition to closing the gun show Loophole.