Mike Bloomberg and Everytown Convene Historic Gathering on Gun Safety at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum in Iowa
AUG. 10, 2019
On August 10, 2019, Mike Bloomberg delivered remarks at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Moms Demand Action, and Students Demand Action in Des Moines, Iowa. Throughout the day, 16 presidential candidates shared their action plans to address gun violence in the wake of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio and the daily gun violence that kills 100 people every day and wounds hundreds more.
“Reverend, thank you for your leadership and thank you all for coming.
“I don’t know how many different events I’ve been to where people were wearing red shirts, but I’m starting to think everybody always wears them everyplace I go, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t need to wear red shirts, but the battle is not over and I’m coming to you with a message of hope.
“This has been a tragically sad week in America as we all know. I have to tell you, though, that I think we are ending the week on a hopeful note – because all of you are here today.
“You're here because you know that America can answer this challenge.
“You're here because you refuse to settle for thoughts and prayers – and demand actions and laws. The fact is, 36 Americans are murdered every single day with guns. Very few of those murders make national news, but think about it, it’s the equivalent to multiple mass shootings every 24 hours. Just think about that.
“And, on top of that, there’s something like 61 people that commit suicide every single day with guns.
“We can save so many of those lives, but we can only do it if we organize. And as it says on your t-shirts, demand action.
“So I want to start by thanking you for giving me hope and giving our whole country hope. Now I have to tell you, it says a lot about how much you have accomplished that so many presidential candidates are here today. Think about that.
“I’m sure you remember that it used to be that lots of Democratic candidates would say, ‘Yes, we agree with you, but we can't touch the issue because the NRA will come after us.’
“Back then, the NRA had the field to themselves in both parties. But then you started showing up. And since then, well, times have changed.
“If we had tried to put on an event like this in the past, I'm not sure that even one candidate would have shown up.
“Today, we've got nearly all of them. And I do want to thank them coming today. And I also want to be clear, their presence reflects something that is very important, and very powerful: there has never been more unity on gun safety across so many democratic presidential candidates, and across the entire Democratic Party, as there is today. It’s an incredible achievement, and all of you made it possible.
“But now, we’ve got to take that unity that we built and translate it into action in Washington. So let’s say this in a voice loud enough that they will hear us in Congress and in the White House: We are demanding that the Senate pass and the President sign strong background check laws and other gun safety legislation without delay, now. And if they don’t, we’re going to hold them accountable at the ballot box.
“We are going to make sure that every voter in America understands that in 2020 they have a choice – it’s a choice between candidates who stand up for their family's safety, and those who bow down to special interests.
“The big reason for the stark unity in the Democratic Party on guns, and the reason this historic gathering has come together, is that we’ve built a grassroots army with six million supporters. Everywhere candidates go, they see red shirts. And the candidates all want to take selfies with you. Before, they would have turned their backs on you.
“Moms and students and survivors have lead the way, and I just want to say, that Shannon Watts deserves a lot of the credit for that, and I think she deserves a big round of applause.
“In the 2018 elections, unlike in years past, candidates all over the country ran on gun safety and won on gun safety. In fact, in the races where we got involved, we replaced 19 members of Congress who had ‘A’ ratings from the NRA, with 19 gun sense candidates. And if you talk to them, they'll tell you the support we provided really did help them get elected.
“Some of it was money, some of it was you showing up with red shirts and saying, ‘I am going to make you pay at the ballot box unless you give us the kind of security this country and my family needs.’
“And once they got in office, I'm glad to say that they kept their promises to take action. And I think that deserves a round of applause, too.
“Thanks to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's strong leadership, earlier this year the House passed a comprehensive background check bill. The House also voted to close the Charleston loophole. Let me tell you what this is: this allows people to buy guns before a background check is completed, which is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard.
“It was the first time, however, in 25 years that either house of Congress has passed a major gun safety bill, no matter which party was in charge, and it wouldn't have happened without Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, so thank you all once again.
“So the good news is, we have a stark unity in the Democratic Party on guns. But we’re only halfway there. In the Republican Party we still have an awful lot of work to do.
“Republicans in the Senate have refused to act on House bills and on a red flag bill that would help keep guns out of the hands of those with serious mental illness.
“This week Senator Mitch McConnell said that he was willing to consider those issues, and in Washington, I guess that counts as progress. But saying and doing, as we know, are very different things.
“Just look at President Trump. This week, he said he supports stronger background checks. Well, after the Parkland shooting 18 months ago, he said exactly same. And then the NRA told him to drop it, and so he did – immediately.
“He didn't have the guts to oppose the NRA then. And now, he faces the same choice.
“Earlier this week, Wayne LaPierre, who runs the NRA, spoke to the President and told him to drop his support for stronger background checks.
“So now, the President can either find the backbone to stand up to the NRA, or once again, he can bow down to the NRA and kiss Wayne's ring – or maybe kiss something else.
“I hope the President gets the courage to work with both houses of Congress to pass stronger laws. I'll believe it when I see it, but hope springs eternal.
“In politics, breaking with your allies isn't easy. I know – been there, done that. Standing up to special interests is what leadership is all about.
“There's only one person who gets to sit at the desk in the Oval Office. And if he or she isn't strong enough to make executive decisions based on what is right, then we should vote them out and get somebody else in who is.
“In this case, however, it shouldn't even be a hard political decision. Polling shows the vast majority of NRA members support stronger background checks. And at the same time, the NRA is in shambles.
“We’ve all seen reports about the in-fighting and investigations into corruption and illegal activity – I just feel so terrible for them.
“The truth is, the President should be afraid – but not of the NRA. The President should be afraid of all of you and the American people. Because in 2020, we are going to show just how strong our movement has grown. And we are going to elect a president who will lead on gun safety instead of making lame excuses.
“Blaming video games and the internet is just the usual dodge. Every country around the world has video games and violent movies, but only in America do we have the mass slaughter of innocent people with guns every day.
“The President referred to American carnage in his inauguration speech. Well that carnage is being inflicted with guns, and we have to hold him accountable for stopping it. If not now after all we’ve been through, then when?
“This time it has to be different. It has to be. We cannot let this moment pass. Democrats and Republicans all over the country are saying enough.
“Enough mass murders, enough shootings, and enough with ideology and all the nonsense about taking away people’s guns. No one is trying to do that. And anyone who thinks they’re going to get reelected ignoring the American people on this issue is in for a very rude awakening.
“In 2020, about seven or eight swing states will decide the election. And I can just tell you that Everytown, Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and my super PAC, Independence USA, are going to launch the most massive effort on gun safety that our country has ever seen. And we are going to win races up and down the ballot.
“If that means I have to buy a red t-shirt for every Mom in America who wants to join our cause, and one for every Dad, and Aunt, and Uncle, and Student who wants to join, just send me the bill. We'll even throw in one for grandma and grandpa, too.
“Now, I've devoted a lot of my life, and a lot of money, to this work. When I was mayor,
"I saw the tragic consequences of guns up close and personal. Telling parents that their child is not coming home is about the hardest thing that you can do in life. And it never gets any easier.
“No parent should ever have to bury a child. But it happens just about every day in our country.
“All I could do in delivering a eulogy each time was to tell those parents, or the spouse, or the family that I would do everything I could to try to save other people from suffering the same grief. But I couldn’t do the one thing they wanted, I couldn’t bring back their loved one.
“In New York, we cut murders in half, while also cutting the number of people behind bars by 36 percent. And we went after irresponsible out-of-state gun dealers and won court orders that forced them to follow the law.
“Since I've left office, I've expanded our national work. And thanks to all of you, we've made a lot of progress. More than 20 states have strengthened their gun laws over the past two years, and that includes 11 states with Republican governors who signed those bills and deserve credit for bucking the gun lobby.
“So our message is breaking through, but as we all know we still have an awful lot more to do.
“The reality we face today is it's not just criminals and psychopaths who are gunning down people. Dealing with them was hard enough. But now, more than ever, it's white supremacists trying to mass murder African-Americans, it's xenophobes trying to mass murder Latinos, it's Islamophobes trying to mass murder Muslims, it's homophobes trying to mass murder the LGBTQ community, and it's anti-Semites trying to mass murder Jews. And it's other hate-filled people who see automatic weapons as a way to advance their poisonous ideology. We have to stop it.
“There's been a lot of talk and discussion about whether President Trump bears some responsibility for what happened in El Paso. Of course he does. Words matter. Words have consequences. And the more you ramp up the hateful and extreme rhetoric, the more hateful and extreme behavior you get.
“I was Mayor of America's largest city for 12 years. Being the leader comes with some responsibility. People notice how you comport yourself, and they listen to what you say. If you are duplicitous, it sends a signal that being duplicitous is okay. And if you say things that are racist, it sends a signal that being racist is okay.
“On the other hand, if you explain to people that we're all in this together, and if you work to unite people around common goals, then you can bridge divisions and heal tensions. And that's what I always tried to do as mayor.
“So this isn't just about public safety anymore. It is about who we are as a country, and whether we will allow domestic terrorists to continue to have easy access to weapons of war.
“Here in this room, and around the nation, we are uniting together in saying: no guns without background checks, no guns for terrorists, no guns for criminals, no guns for domestic abusers, no guns for minors, no guns for those who are a danger to themselves or others – and no votes for candidates who stand in the way.
“Now, most of the candidates running for president are here today. And I think it does say a lot about how much all of you have changed politics that all of them are here.
“I can’t say I agree with all of them on every issue, and you probably don't either. But I think we'd agree that all of them are better than the alternative.
“Make no mistake, this is not going to be an easy election. In order to win in 15 months and in order to get a bill through the Senate, we need to organize today.
“So I want to urge everyone here: keep knocking on doors, keep making those phone calls, keep writing emails and letters, keep inviting your friends and neighbors to get involved, and keep showing up and demanding that candidates put this issue front and center.
“We have to make sure the historic unity that we’ve achieved on guns produces real action in Congress, and if doesn't we have to make sure that all of those who stood in the way face the consequences on November 3, 2020.
“If we do that, we really can build a safer, and stronger, and better America.
“So let's get out there and keep working, keep fighting, and keep winning. Thank you for everything you do. I’m with you.”
Founder of Independence USA PAC, Founder of Everytown for Gun Safety, Co-founder of the Partnership for a New American Economy, and Co-chair of Building America's Future
IN MIKE'S WORDS
We believe that tomorrow can be better than today. And we know that it’s up to us to make it so.