Both sides of the gun law debate have geared up to wage war across
the country in 2014 using millions of dollars, midterm elections,
opposing messaging strategies and dueling grass-roots campaigns.
year, groups will focus on pouring money into candidates that support
their ideals and changing or upholding laws in hot spots such as
Colorado, Washington and Illinois.
On one side, gun rights
activists plan to challenge laws in states like New Jersey and
California that they believe overly restrict law-abiding firearms
owners. Advocates of tougher laws say they plan to build stronger state
infrastructures and work on issues such as prohibiting domestic violence
offenders from having weapons.
"We have tens of millions of
people across the country who support the Second Amendment and who will
go out and listen to the NRA and vote the way the NRA tells them to,"
said Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the National
With that in mind, Arulanandam said the NRA
will focus much of its $200 million to $250 million annual budget on
educating its members about candidates and on making sure that laws
don't infringe on rights - and have an effect on criminals. The group
will also be pushing back against attempts to ban certain guns and limit
the sale of ammunition.
An integral part of that plan means being
active on the federal level, and in Colorado, where some state
lawmakers were recalled after voting to require universal background
checks for gun purchases and to ban large-capacity ammunition magazines,
"We will have a billionaire and
multimillionaires who are determined to defeat the (NRA)," he said. "We
expect we will be outspent exponentially."
The billionaire on
Arulanandam's mind is former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
whose group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, says the politician is
prepared to spend much of his personal wealth on strengthening gun laws.
December, Bloomberg's group, which claims 1.5 million supporters and
about 1,000 mayors, announced plans to merge with Moms Demand Action for
Gun Sense in America, a year-old grass-roots campaign launched the day
after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Twenty children and six staff members were slain in the December 2012
"Because it's a political year, it's going to be an
infrastructure-building year for us," said Mark Glaze, executive
director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. "We are going to be trying to
make some small but important progress in states."
Like their opponents, the new coalition will also be focused on electing candidates who support their agenda.
us, continuing to educate the public is the best money we can spend,"
said Glaze, explaining that messages will talk about everyday gun deaths
and not just mass shootings.
Those messages will also talk about
holding parents responsible when children get ahold of guns and about
pushing private businesses to discourage guns in their stores, said
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action.
Illegal Guns will also be analyzing data and advertising in places like
New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont and Maine,
Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment
Foundation, a gun rights group, expects billions will be poured into
dueling initiatives in Washington.
In that state, Initiative 591
would keep lawmakers from imposing any stricter background checks than
the federal government already requires. However, initiative 594 would
require background checks for all gun sales across the state.
the Second Amendment Foundation will be pursuing lawsuits in New Jersey
and California aimed at challenging laws dealing with permits to carry,
"In 2013, our opponents threw the kitchen sink at
us and they didn't sink our ship," he said. "We are in better shape
today than we were before Newtown."
It's a remark that Arkadi
Gerney, a gun policy expert with Center for American Progress, which
supports gun law changes, understands.
Last year, the Senate blocked a bill that would have made changes to background checks.
were disappointed," Gerney said. "I think the strategy going forward is
let's go into the states that are most important in influencing the
debate in Washington and build stronger networks."
only January and state legislatures are just beginning to meet, said
Jonathan Griffin, a policy specialist with the National Conference of
"It seems there's going to be more legislation
this year but it's really hard to predict what it will be," he said.
"The partisan groups are really the ones that set the agenda."