With the looming National elections it's important to know who all the Second Amendment players are. There are several gun control and gun rights groups to keep track of. Even more important is knowing what their positions are so that you can make informed decisions. The information each shares will be slanted based on what their goals are.
Gun Control Groups
The number of gun control groups seems to be growing on a daily basis. However, when you dig deeper, you see that many have the same roots. When groups tout their collective membership numbers be leery. People joining more than one group is common practice. This can make the number of people supporting a specific position appear inflated.
The Brady PAC was founded in 1974 and is one of the oldest gun control groups. They push for a variety of anti-Second Amendment issues including assault weapons bans, red flag laws, and stricter gun storage requirements. The Brady PAC finances candidates that support background checks on all guns sales and banning assault weapons. They state their goal is the enactment of “gun violence prevention laws that will make our homes, schools and communities safe again. “.
Giffords was formed in 2013, shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. It was started by former Representative Gabby Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly. Ms. Gifford was shot, along with 18 others, at a meeting in her home state in 2011. The organization has three branches; a 501(c)(4) lobbying arm, a 501(c)(3) research arm, and a super PAC. Their primary issues are background checks, gun trafficking, domestic violence, safe storage, and red flag laws. They are also proponents of laws restricting so called semi-automatic assault weapons.
Everytown for Gun Safety was formed in 2013 when Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns combined. The organization boasts 6 million members. It is largely financed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It is an umbrella organization for several other groups, including Moms Demand Action. According to their website they are a not-for-profit that works to “end gun violence and build safer communities”. It is reported they plan to spend at least $60 million supporting anti-Second Amendment candidates and legislation in 2020.
The primary issues they advocate on are; universal background checks on all sales, domestic violence, and safe storage. They have also made it a goal to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment which prevents the creation of a gun registry. Most recently they have backed S.3743 – The Untraceable Firearms Act if 2020 which seeks to ban ghost guns. Bloomberg has been quoted as saying the group was formed specifically to match the NRA's political influence.
Perhaps the most high profile gun control group right now is Moms Demand Action. It was started in 2012 by Shannon Watts. Ms. Watts, a mother of 5, started a Facebook group after Sandy Hook and it eventually grew to what it is today. The group claims 6 million members, but that is including all members unde the Everytown umbrella.
The group has grassroots chapters in every state. They work under the names Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, and even Grandparents Demand Action. They receive the most of their funding from Michael Bloomberg. Their primary issues are gun storage, background checks, domestic violence, and red flag laws. They share impassioned stories from gun violence survivors and victim's families. The emotional nature of their stories makes pushing back against them difficult.
Gun Rights Groups
While the gun control groups seem to have a common message and work well together, the same cannot be said for gun rights groups. This is probably because many of the same people are in charge of the gun control groups. Gun rights groups, however, have generally been around longer and have a more storied, individual, past.
The NRA is the oldest and most highly recognized pro-Second Amendment organization in existence. The NRA was founded in 1871 and reports having close to 6 million members. While most groups focus primarily on legislative and legal issues, the NRA does way more. They train and certify instructors and range safety officers, run competitions, and provide hunter safety courses. The NRA also has programs specifically for children and women. Their lobbying efforts are run through a separate organization, the NRA-ILA. This allows their training arm to maintain not-for-profit status.
Gun Owners of America was founded in 1975 and boasts 1.5 million members. Their website states they see firearm ownership as a freedom issue and not something to be compromising on. The organization is well known for bashing on the NRA, claiming their efforts are insufficient and not doing enough to support gun owners. Gun Owners of America focuses on lobbying at the state and federal level. They are also known for bringing lawsuits when gun owner's rights are infringed upon.
The Firearms Policy Coalition was formed in 2013. I could not locate the number of members. They are primarily located in California, but have been growing their efforts in other states. According to their website they are a “501(c)4 grassroots, non-partisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for individual liberties and important constitutional rights—especially those protected under the First Amendment (Free Speech, Association, etc.), Second Amendment (Right to Keep and Bear Arms), Fifth Amendment (Takings, Due Process), and Fourteenth Amendment (Due Process, Equal Protection, Privileges and Immunities)—sound public policy, and related issues through legal action, direct and grassroots advocacy, research, education, outreach, and other programs.”.
The Second Amendment Foundation was founded in 1971. It has around 650,000 members. Their mission statement is posted on their website and states: “The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) is dedicated to promoting a better understanding about our Constitutional heritage to privately own and possess firearms. To that end, we carry on many educational and legal action programs designed to better inform the public about the gun control debate.”. The foundation focuses on legal and educational efforts. They work to train grassroots volunteers and offer education through various publications.