Other Group

Guns Down America

Type:

Advocacy Campaign

Guns Down America is a left-of-center advocacy campaign that supports gun control measures and promotes corporate pressure campaigns against banks, marketing agencies, and other companies that provide services to firearms-related businesses, the National Rifle Association, and similar pro-gun-rights advocacy organizations. Guns Down America also pressures private retailers, restaurants, and other large private companies to adopt left-leaning internal policies around firearms such as prohibiting the open or concealed carry of guns in stores. The group also pressures retailers to cease their sale of firearms and operates a rapid response program to “quickly stand-up advocacy campaigns” to generate media coverage for restrictive gun control policies. [1]

Background

Longtime left-wing operative Igor Volsky founded Guns Down America in August 2016 following the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida by a sympathizer of the Islamic State terrorist organization. [2] The organization was created to target the National Rifle Association with a “more aggressive” messaging targeting companies that have business relationships with the NRA and gun manufacturers, such as major banks and retailers. [3]

The organization was formed as a project of Resource Impact, a left-leaning organization that incubates left-wing social justice advocacy campaigns. The organization also works closely with the Raben Group, a lobbying firm that is headed by former Clinton administration Department of Justice official Robert Raben, who also serves as the head of Resource Impact. [4]

The stated relationship between the Raben Group, Resource Impact and Guns Down America indicates that Raben is the key decision maker for the organization. [5] Raben operates both a for-profit company and non-profit organization that work hand in hand on left-leaning issues such as gun control. In 2018, Resource Impact, Guns Down America’s parent organization, paid the Raben Group over $240,000 in fees. [6]

Activity

Guns Down America launched corporate pressure campaigns against the business partners of the firearms industry and the National Rifle Association. The most notable campaign from Guns Down America is a campaign to rank major banks on how supportive they are of left-leaning gun control issues. The rankings are based on 100 factors “like a bank’s loans to and investments in gun makers; its public statements about gun safety; its support for lawmakers backed by the N.R.A.; and the discounts and deals it offers to N.R.A. members.” [7]

While the organization stated that it sent the ranking to banks ahead of time, many banks contacted by the New York Times about the ranking “said that they had not been consulted and that the group had relied on arbitrary metrics.” The organization was able to pressure banks to change their banking practices to conform with left-leaning gun control policies, with Citigroup stating “that it would work only with clients that agreed to certain restrictions on firearm sales” and Bank of America affirming that “it would stop lending to companies that made military-inspired firearms for civilian use.” [8]

In addition to banks, Guns Down America also conducts a pressure campaign that ranks retailers on how restrictive their gun sales and gun control advocacy policies are. [9]

References

  1. “About”. Guns Down America. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://gunsdownamerica.org/about/ ^
  2. Fantz, Ashley, Faith Karimi, and Eliott C. McLaughlin. “49 Killed in Florida Nightclub Terror Attack.” CNN. Cable News Network, June 13, 2016. https://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-nightclub-shooting/index.html. ^
  3. Beckett, Louis. “’Guns are the problem’: activists get tough on gun control after Vegas”. The Guardian. October 5, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/05/we-need-fewer-guns-the-activists-who-are-rejecting-half-measures-on-firearms ^
  4. Beckett, Louis. “’Guns are the problem’: activists get tough on gun control after Vegas”. The Guardian. October 5, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/05/we-need-fewer-guns-the-activists-who-are-rejecting-half-measures-on-firearms ^
  5. Beckett, Louis. “’Guns are the problem’: activists get tough on gun control after Vegas”. The Guardian. October 5, 2017. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/05/we-need-fewer-guns-the-activists-who-are-rejecting-half-measures-on-firearms ^
  6. “IRS Form 990: Resource Impact”. ProPublica. 2018.  Accessed May 30, 2020. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/812266962/01_2020_prefixes_81-81%2F812266962_201812_990_2020011717043443 ^
  7. Hsu, Tiffany. “Gun Control Group’s Report Card on U.S. Banks’ Firearms Ties Has Several Fs”. The New York Times. April 4, 2019. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/business/gun-control-banks.html ^
  8. Hsu, Tiffany. “Gun Control Group’s Report Card on U.S. Banks’ Firearms Ties Has Several Fs”. The New York Times. April 4, 2019. Accessed May 30, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/business/gun-control-banks.html ^
  9. Ciment, Soshy. “29 stores including Walmart and Nike were graded on their gun-safety policies — and more than half of them failed”. Business Insider. December 4, 2019. Accessed May 30, 2020.  https://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-target-gun-safety-grades-2019-12 ^
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