Mike Bloomberg delivered a speech to over 2,000 moms, students, and gun violence survivors from around the country gathered in the nation’s capital for Gun Sense University – a weekend-long conference providing training on phone-banking, running for office, data management, fundraising, volunteer management, list making, and event management. The following are his remarks as delivered at the 2019 Gun Sense University in Washington, D.C. on August 2, 2019.
“Thank you. This is going to surprise you, but I am not a mom. I am a dad, and I can just tell you that dads demand action as well.
“I want to thank Brenda for that kind introduction. She’s working hard in Virginia, and she and every survivor shows incredible strength as they help lead this movement every day. So let’s give Brenda another round of applause.
“I can’t tell you that I can ever really feel what a survivor feels, and hopefully I never will. But bottom line is, this country has something that’s really wrong and we’ve got to do something about it. And this amazing crowd’s going to do it. Just look around, this is the biggest Gun Sense University ever.
“There are nearly 2,000 leaders here from Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and the Everytown family.
“You’ve traveled by plane, by train, by car, and bus from big cities and small towns, and from all 50 states and DC. It’s wonderful to see you here.
“Last year we convened in Atlanta – or, as we call it, Lucy McBath Country.
“Since then, Lucy has gone from an upstart challenger to an elected Member of Congress. And a big reason why is that she made gun safety a central part of her campaign.
“She proved that in a purple district, gun safety is a winning message. And we saw that all around the country.
“Not too long ago, no one would have believed that that was possible. The conventional wisdom was that guns were the third rail of politics – and no one would touch the issue.
“I never believed that the conventional wisdom was true. But now, thanks to people like Lucy, we have not only proven that it’s false, we’ve proven that exactly the opposite is true.
“Voters want candidates to take strong positions on gun safety, and they are going to reward those that do.
“Just look at the presidential candidates. They’ve been trying to one-up each other with their proposals, and they take selfies with Moms Demand Action volunteers at their town halls.
“But we need to make sure they keep it up, not just by taking photos but by taking action.
“Many of the presidential candidates have government jobs right now, so we need to hold them accountable for taking action right now.
“There’s no question, we’ve got momentum on our side. And we have to keep pushing. But consider what we’ve accomplished together in just the past year.
“First, the issue of gun safety helped energize voters in the midterms. Everytown spent
$30 million in races up and down the ballot, and helped elect more of our champions to every level of government.
“And I’m glad to say that 17 Moms Demand Action leaders and gun violence survivors won their elections last year. Let’s hear it for them.
“I was glad to campaign with some of them. I think Linda Cavazos and Catherine Stefani are here. Congratulations to both of you.
“We’ve spent over $100 million supporting gun safety candidates from across this country – most of them women. And nearly all of them won.
“Together, we helped flip control of the House by electing candidates who understand that our country needs more gun safety leaders in Congress. That was the first step.
“Then, the candidates that we elected to take action kept their promise and they passed a strong background check bill. That was the first major gun bill passed through either house of Congress in 25 years.
“The House also passed a bill to close the so-called Charleston Loophole which crazily enough, you’re not going to believe this, but it allows people to buy a gun before they pass a completed background check. No one should be able to do that. No one. That’s just common sense.
“This summer, the House also allocated $50 million for research on gun violence. That’s barely a fraction of what we’ve spent on gun safety, but at least it’s a start. And with better data, policy makers can take actions that will help save lives. Your children’s and mine.
“So gun safety is on the march again here in Washington. Meanwhile, across the river in Virginia, only about 20 miles from this hotel, the gun industry’s biggest lobbyist – the NRA – is in full meltdown mode.
“You might not think so, 20 miles is a long way for sound to carry, but I can just tell you they’re hearing what we’re doing right here right now.
“Lawsuits, firings, resignations, finger-pointing, not to mention investigations into corrupted and illegal activities. All I can say is: it couldn’t happen to nicer people.
“Now, I don’t want to overstate things. The gun lobby isn’t finished. Not even close. But, no question, they’re reeling.
“They’re out of touch with the political mainstream. They’ve lost their grip on elected officials. And while the NRA’s power is weakening, we keep growing stronger. Most importantly, we’re not about talk. We’re about doing something.
“In the past two years, more than 20 states have strengthened their gun laws. From Vermont to Nevada, strengthening background checks.
“The number of states with red flag lifesaving laws tripled. And the biggest reason for those changes started with one word: M-O-M-S.
“Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate enough to sit down with some of you as well as other survivors and volunteers from across this country. And whether I’m in Pittsburgh, or Minneapolis, or Tulsa, or Las Vegas, or anywhere else it’s always inspiring to see the creativity and the drive that you bring to this movement every single day.
“You’re out there organizing, knocking on doors, making calls, showing up at state houses, and making sure that more lawmakers get the message on gun safety. And if they don’t get the message, guess what? We’ll replace them with even more leaders who do get it.
AUDIENCE CHANTS: “Vote them out”
“Trump said he couldn’t stop the chanting – I didn’t want this chanting to stop.
“Let me just take a moment to tell you why this work is so important to me personally. When I was mayor, the hardest part of the job was having to tell a parent, or a spouse, or a child that their loved one had been shot and wasn’t coming home.
“It breaks your heart, and it never gets any easier.
“I’ve always thought that I owed it to them – and to the ones that they lost – to do everything I can to fight for gun safety laws that end this epidemic of shootings, and I know many of you feel the same way.
“To all of you who have been personally affected by gun deaths and shootings, just let me say thank you for turning your pain and your anger into action.
“It takes courage, and I know it’s not easy. But it is making an enormous difference, and it’s saving many lives. And if we had started that process before, maybe you wouldn’t be a survivor today. So let’s just stop it right now and go forward.
“Let me also thank everyone here for standing up and for putting so much time and energy into this movement.
“We still have a long way to go, but we are making progress and we have the facts on our side. And we aren’t going to quit until we make America safe for everyone in every community.
“Now, as we travel across the country holding events, it’s usually my job to introduce the next speaker. It’s kind of like introducing Beyoncé.
“Our next speaker is a rock star. She’s a mother of five – tough enough being a father of two – the founder of Moms Demand Action, and now a best-selling author as well.
“If you look at the Amazon list, her book titled Fight Like a Mother is now about 18,000 spots ahead of my book – not that I’m paying close attention, not that I’m competitive at all.
“She’s a friend and an incredible partner, and an example of citizen action at its best.
“So please join me in giving a warm Gun Sense University welcome to Shannon Watts.”