March for Our Lives this past weekend turned out more protesters than the country has seen since the Vietnam War. Over 200,000 people of all ages marched on the Washington mall, and over 800 other events turned out supporters nationwide. Now is the time to plan next steps.
“In the end it’s not about standing up to be heard. It’s about changing who sits in Congress.”
Steve Israel, U.S. House Representative from Long Island, published an op-ed in this weekend’s New York Times that lays out a plan that those who are motivated to march could easily follow — and that would make a lasting impact in the current battle for gun safety. This story is a summary of that plan.
Midterms are in eight months, and, Israel says, “in this election there are more than 40 truly competitive districts, including many where you can make a real difference by helping replace an incumbent who consistently supports the gun lobby with a challenger who won’t.”
Rep. Israel lays out a plan for flipping the support of politicians who support the NRA. Even if you don’t live in these areas, you can organize there, canvass for politicians, work phone banks, and expose their NRA ratings and unsafe policies to voters there. (Calling or writing to voters in these districts can even be done long-distance. Check out the Progressive Turnout Project for more details.)
Here are the districts that could turn the tide this year, could start the regulation of war weapons, could save lives:
Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th congressional district is an “NRA lapdog” (so labeled by the Brady Campaign) who could be unseated with some calls or letters to voters. Israel says, “This district historically swings between Republicans and Democrats. You can push it the right way.”
In Minnesota, Representatives Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen both support concealed carry reciprocity (which eliminates the need for concealed carry regulation when traveling state-to-state) and oppose universal background checks; Israel says, “both have opponents supporting sensible gun security laws.”
Ryan Costello just announced he will not seek reelection in Chester County, PA, a Philadelphia suburb. This move (and the recently redistricted — or, un-gerrymandered, if you will — Pennsylvania 6th District) opens the door for contender Chrissy Houlahan, “a former Air Force captain who supports closing the loophole on sales at gun shows and renewing the federal assault weapons ban, among other steps,” Israel says.
We don’t even have to win them all, just as many as possible, Israel says, because, “Seeing a colleague defeated because of a hard-core position tends to soften the resistance of those who survive.”
They’re called battleground states for a reason. This is a fight for our lives, so head here next. Make voting the battlecry.
Inform yourself about your own district, and your representatives’ stances on this crucial issue, here. If your representatives support sensible gun safety regulation, send them a thank-you letter.