Penny Okamoto of gun-control advocacy group Ceasefire Oregon lays out a three-step strategy targeting lax gun laws.
Even though the group mostly failed in pushing for tighter-gun control laws following the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, she says “We got a lot of branding.”
Step two: reach out to the big players.
“When the big groups came in, they brought the muscle that we didn’t have,” Okamoto said.
Okamoto named a coalition of groups in support of gun-control: the Brady Center, Everytown for Gun Safety and the Center for American Progress. These groups not only brought their voices, but also their big bucks and lobbying power.
“They were our answer to the NRA,” she said. “That put us on equal footing, politically.”
Step 3: recruit moderates for gun freedom.
“If you ask people about ‘gun control’, they might say they don’t like it,” Okamoto explains. “But if you ask people about specifics, like assault rifles or background checks, they’re overwhelmingly for it. People want change. So we put the vote in their hands.”
Voting in Oregon doesn’t require much effort. Residents are automatically registered to vote when they apply for drivers’ licenses and each ballot is sent through the mail.
Gun-control advocates’ three-step attack on lax gun laws and the simplicity of Oregon’s voting system essentially turned the election into a referendum on guns, where the Democrats ended up hitting the bull’s eye. Two Democrats rose to the ranks in the Senate and implemented bill 941—the first major gun-control law in more than a decade and a half.