Two of the most vocal gun control advocacy groups in the United States recently announced that they are joining forces. Americans for Responsible Solutions, founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and astronaut Mark Kelly, and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced on Wednesday that the two groups are merging to “create a bold new force for smart gun laws.” The two organizations say that by pooling together resources and expertise, they can create a more powerful and influential entity to advocate for stricter gun laws. The resulting organization, which will continue to operate under the Americans for Responsible Solutions banner, will be led by Giffords and Kelly.
“We founded Americans for Responsible Solutions because we wanted to bring together uncommon voices to create some commonsense changes that make our communities safer. Since then, nearly one million Americans have joined us in the fight for responsible steps that keep guns out of the wrong hands,” the couple said after announcing the merger. “We are thrilled to be joining forces with our longtime partners at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. By coming together, we can do more to take on the gun lobby, deliver even more victories for common sense, and save lives.”
The two groups have collaborated before, such as working with the Obama administration to draft a set of controversial executive actions to extend the background check system earlier this year.
“By teaming up with Americans for Responsible Solutions, our legal experts will now have a much larger platform to help bring key policies like universal background checks to more states,” said Robyn Thomas, the Law Center’s executive director. “Since ARS’s founding in 2013, our movement has experienced unprecedented momentum, with 125 new smart gun laws passed in 41 states. America is taking action to stand up to the gun lobby and save lives from gun violence, in large part due to the commitment of Gabby, Mark, and the rest of the ARS team, and we couldn’t be more excited to join forces with them.”
Advocates say the merger also elevates the organization’s capability on a national scale, putting it on the same level as Everytown for Gun Safety, another gun control group that formed after a merger between Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who helped found the group, promised to bankroll the organization with an intial $50 million investment and to “outspend” the NRA. In recent years, the group has drawn criticism for airing a bevy of television commercials and testimonial ads to support gun control—and its advocates. Most notably, during the last midterm elections, the group heavily supported politicians that favored gun control.
“It’s looking more like ‘Every Billionaire for Gun Control’ wants to buy this election,” Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, stated in a press release at the time. “Voters should be very concerned when wealthy elitists like Bloomberg believe that their civil rights are for sale.”
Gun rights advocates are concerned that like Everytown, a stronger, better-funded Americans for Responsible Solutions may begin to have a bigger influence in state and national gun laws.