rise of the machines

Bloomberg’s Gun Group Questions Candidates, But Won’t Grade Them

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg pauses after speaking to the Economic Club of New York in what is being billed as his last major speech as Mayor of New York City on December 18, 2013 in New York City. Bloomberg, who is down to his final two weeks in office after 12 years of running New York, leaves behind a city that has made great gains in development, crime reduction and tourism but is still nagged by a large number of both homeless and impoverished residents. Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio has promised to focus more on low income housing and easing the strain for poor and working class New Yorkers when he takes over on January 1, 2014. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Photo: Spencer Platt/2013 Getty Images

When former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was describing his vision for the group Everytown for Gun Safety earlier this year, he said he intended to use the NRA’s own tactics to bring the organization down. Members of the group said that would extend to giving candidates letter grades, just like the NRA, using a “sophisticated algorithm” that would weigh their votes and statements on ending gun violence. Now Everytown for Gun Safety says it’s ready to begin surveying federal candidates about their positions on gun issues as the first step in its plan to sway the midterm elections — however, candidates won’t receive a letter grade after completing the questionnaire.

According to the Washington Post, on Monday, Everytown for Gun Safety will ask all candidates and incumbents to answer ten questions on gun laws. The survey, which is posted on the group’s website, includes yes or no questions on topics ranging from background checks to prosecuting gun owners who allow minors to access their weapons, along with space for an “optional explanation.” The point of the survey is to push lawmakers to make their positions public, but the website notes, “Opposing a gun safety policy in this questionnaire will not necessarily be considered a statement against gun sense – that’s why we ask candidates to explain their positions if they choose.”

Everytown says they’ll make decisions about which candidates to rally behind after analyzing the candidates’ answers, their votes, and their previous statements on gun control. The Post notes that Bloomberg has “shifted the strategy in favor of a public questionnaire on key issues to motivate voters,” though it’s unclear why he abandoned his plan for an NRA-like scorecard. We didn’t imagine that Bloomberg would be giving candidates an opportunity to explain themselves when he declared in April, “If you don’t vote with us we’re going to go after your kids and your grandkids and your great-grandkids. And we’re never going to stop.”

Bloomberg Gun Group to Survey Midterm Candidates