On October 27, 11 people were murdered with an AR-15 at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—the same weapon used to kill 17 students and faculty eight months ago in Parkland, Florida. Sure, we can blame Donald Trump's rhetoric, a lack of mental health resources, the alarming rise in neo-Nazism (that, for the record, never disappeared but has indirectly been given the stamp of approval from our president). Ultimately, however, we should focus our energies on the only way to prevent the continued bloodshed this country faces on a daily basis: common-sense gun reform. And we can make it a reality in the 2018 midterm elections. Here's how.
Step 1: Learn about the current gun laws, or lack thereof, in your state.
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has made it incredibly easy to see what gun laws have been passed in your state, and how they compare to others'. For example, Florida restricts gun purchases by minors under 21, but does not require firearms dealers to obtain a state license.
If Democrats flip the House in the midterm elections, bills that would require universal background checks and broadening the definition of a domestic abuser at the federal level along with red flag laws would have a higher chance of being passed than with our current congressional leaders.
Step 2: Find out which gun-sense candidates are running.
Everytown, one of the largest national organizations that advocates for gun control and against gun violence, has created a tool that tells you exactly which candidates in your state support gun reform laws.
All you have to do is click here to use the candidate lookup tool and type in the address you used to register to vote. The system will then display who will be on your ballot on November 6, and inform you which candidates have pledged to prioritize gun safety.
"In 2018, we passed stronger gun laws in 19 states, nine of which were signed into law by Republican governors. We want to continue that and not let NRA allies roll back the progress we made," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, tells MarieClaire.com. "At the state level, we have lawmakers working across the aisle because they know what their constituents want and need. Too many lawmakers in D.C. are still beholden to the gun lobby. We have to keep changing that equation in every single election. That's why it's so important to know who you're voting for and where they stand on this issue."
Step 3: Get informed about key races throughout the country.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
With all 435 seats of the United States House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats of the United States Senate open during the midterm elections (this doesn't include each state's governor and local races), it can get overwhelming to keep track of all the critical races throughout the country. However, you can and should pay attention to these key races in the fight for gun control:
Georgia: Stacey Abrams (D) vs. Brian Kemp (R) for Governor
The NRA has given Brian Kemp an A-rating and endorsed him for governor. He's also the same candidate who ran an advertisement of himself holding a shotgun while a young boy expresses interest in one of his daughters. Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams is committed to common-sense gun laws and has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety. If she wins, she would also be the United States' first black female governor.
Florida: Andrew Gillum (D) vs. Ron DeSantis (R) for Governor
WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE
Andrew Gillum is committed to common-sense gun reform, unlike his opponent Ron DeSantis, who is notorious for being "owned by the NRA." Fred Guttenberg, father of Parkland shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg, has publicly expressed his support for Gillum. Aside from DeSantis' views on gun laws, he's also a racist. The video below speaks for itself:
As my grandmother used to say — a hit dog will holler. pic.twitter.com/kC34Ldd0isOctober 25, 2018
Nevada: Steve Sisolak (D) vs. Adam Laxalt (R)
Earlier this year, Adam Laxalt received an A-rating from the NRA, which, if you haven't figured this out by now, is more like a scarlet letter for those in pursuit of common-sense gun reform. Everytown has spent $3.5 million in support of Steve Sisolak and attorney general candidate Aaron Ford. Reminder: This is the same state that experienced last year's horrific Las Vegas shooting which left 58 dead and over 800 injured.
Michigan: Gretchen Whitmer (D) vs. Bill Schuette (R)
Giffords Law Center recently endorsed Gretchen Whitmer for governor of Michigan due to her commitment to common-sense gun safety measures, which you can learn more about here. Meanwhile, Bill Schuette tweeted in May, "I am a 2nd Amendment Attorney General and proud of my A+ rating and endorsements from the NRA."
Rhode Island: Gina Raimondo (D) vs. Allan Fung (R)
Gina Raimondo is the current governor of Rhode Island, and one of the first governors to sign an executive action passing red flag laws in the state after the Parkland shooting in February. Allan Fung, the current mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, has been endorsed by the NRA in the past and often remains silent on gun reform.
Oregon: Kate Brown (D) vs. Knute Buehler (R)
Oregon has received a lot of attention lately for its incredibly close governor's race between Kate Brown and Knute Buehler. Brown has been committed to gun safety throughout the years, and has received support from both Everytown and Moms Demand Action. However, voters have become increasingly torn on whether they want to keep Brown in office. If you're a single-issue voter, the answer is clear on who to choose.
Step 4: Vote.
"This election is a matter of life or death for Americans. The NRA invested $30 million in Donald Trump believing they would pass their priority legislation. They haven't," explains Watts. "We've been able to stop them for two years now, but in order to pass some really strong federal and state laws we need to vote for gun-sense champions. We need to send a strong signal to elected officials that we're not going to tolerate the status quo on our gun violence crisis."
Whether or not you've been directly affected by gun violence, everyone should take the time to read this gut-wrenching profile New York Magazine published on school shooting survivors from the last 72 years. Read it, share it with your friends and family, then vote on November 6.
From explainers to essays, cheat sheets to candidate analysis, we're breaking down exactly what you need to know about this year's midterms. Visit Marie Claire's Midterms Guide for more.
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Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
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