Parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students in Parkland, Florida are now taking the fight for gun reform directly to the NRA.
Jeff Kasky, father of outspoken Parkland survivor Cameron Kasky, announced that he and other parents are launching a Super PAC called “Families vs. Assault Rifles” as a means of challenging political candidates who have backing from the National Rifle Association (NRA). According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the group will begin accepting donations on Wednesday, and already has commitments from donors to match other contributions.
“We are going to go up against NRA candidates in every meaningful race in the country,” Kasky told the paper.
While the NRA contends it exists to safeguard the Second Amendment, Kasky said his Super PAC’s goal is simply to institute a ban on civilian ownership of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and “bump stock” modifications — a device used by the perpetrator of last year’s deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas — that enable a semi-automatic weapon to fire at the same speed as a fully automatic weapon.
Families vs. Assault Rifles wants to see an amendment to the National Firearms Act of 1934 to state that these weapons and modifications shouldn’t be allowed for civilian use. The Act already states that civilians can’t own hand grenades, chemical weapons, and fully automatic weapons.
“We’re not taking on the Second Amendment, we are anti-military-type weapons,” Matt Gohd, the PAC’s executive director, told the Sun-Sentinel, adding that assault weapons available on the market today “far exceeds what the framers thought of when they thought of the Second Amendment.”
Even the family of Eugene Stoner — who invented the AR-15 assault rifle used in various mass shootings from Newtown to Las Vegas to Parkland — said Stoner’s intent was that the weapon to be for military, not civilian use.
Some of the survivors of the Parkland school shooting have already begun taking on the NRA and the candidates who receive its endorsement — including Democrats. 18-year-old David Hogg has taken on New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew, a state legislator running in the Democratic primary for the state’s 2nd Congressional District, currently represented by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-New Jersey).
— David Hogg (@davidhogg111) April 28, 2018
Families vs. Assault Rifles will be a non-partisan PAC that only spends against pro-NRA candidates, according to Kasky.
“Wait until you see what we have in store for the NRA. This is a way for [Stoneman Douglas] parents to have their say,” Kasky told the Sun-Sentinel. “We are not supporting any candidates, only going against NRA-funded candidates; we are non-partisan and single issue.”
The NRA is one of the biggest spenders in federal elections. ABC News reported that the NRA has spent roughly $11 million in direct contributions backing candidates in federal elections over the last two decades. However, the group’s independent expenditures far exceed its direct contributions. In 2016 alone, the NRA spent $54 million, $20 million of which went toward funding attack ads on Hillary Clinton, and more than $11 million in support of Donald Trump.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.