The gun-control group founded by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg today will begin surveying all federal candidates in the 2014 midterm elections on gun issues as it tries to become a political counterweight to the National Rifle Association, reports the Washington Post. It is the first big step by Bloomberg, who has committed to spending $50 million of his personal fortune this year to build a national grass-roots movement that will pressure lawmakers to pass more restrictive gun laws, to devise a political strategy heading into the November elections. Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety is asking all Senate and House incumbents and candidates to complete a 10-part questionnaire stating publicly where they stand on issues such as expanding background checks for gun buyers, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and toughening gun-trafficking statutes.
The survey intends to make candidates state their positions on the record for the first time. Everytown plans to use their answers — as well as an analysis of any past legislative votes and public statements — to rally voters for or against them in key Senate and House races this fall, similar to how the NRA uses its ratings system to motivate pro-gun-rights voters. “People deserve in this country to know where candidates stand on reasonable gun measures,” said John Feinblatt, the president of Everytown and Bloomberg's longtime senior policy adviser. “For too long, the gun lobbyists had the field to themselves.” Bloomberg has promised to spend more than double the roughly $20 million the NRA spends annually on political campaigns. NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said it will be difficult for Everytown to counter the political network and clout that the NRA, with its 5 million dues-paying members, has built up over decades.