Gun control groups will hold rallies in all 50 states this weekend favoring federal legislation on universal background checks as well as a “red flag” measure aimed at potentially dangerous gun owners. Politico reports. Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, both funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will also air nearly $1 million of TV and digital ads to pressure key GOP senators. The effort comes as President Donald Trump has expressed interest in expanding background checks on gun sales and top Trump aides hold talks with a bipartisan group of senators.
There is significant opposition to such legislation among Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called for a discussion on gun bills after the August recess, although he has not signaled support for any specific package. McConnell is up for reelection in 2020. Gun control groups believe the national mood has shifted after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton left 32 people dead, including the Ohio shooter. With the powerful National Rifle Association dogged by internal scandals, advocates believe it may be possible to win over Republican votes to move a bill through the Senate. The House has already passed legislation to expand background checks. “The American people want action on gun violence, and we’re saying so in a voice loud enough for every senator to hear,” John Feinblatt of Everytown for Gun Safety. The groups are spending $550,000 on digital ads targeting McConnell and GOP Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue of Georgia, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Mitt Romney of Utah.