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On Monday morning, another mass shooting struck an unsuspecting American city.

At least 12 people were killed and several more wounded in Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard, the oldest military installation in the country, where 16,000 civilian and military employees go to work each day.

Each time large-scale gun violence strikes our country—at a workplace, a movie theater, a political rally, or most devastating of all, at a school—a public debate about gun laws ensues. Public opinion polls appear to show that a majority of Americans support sensible measures to prevent gun violence, particularly shootings by gunmen armed with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that have no purpose other than to wreak mass violence. Then, Congress promises action. But every time, our elected officials fail to deliver.

This grim pattern unfolded 15 years ago after Columbine. It happened after Tucson and Aurora. It happened this year in the wake of the tragic shooting deaths of 26 people—20 of them elementary school students—at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. And it may happen again now, after Monday’s shooting, unless we do something.

Americans must withhold donations and votes from the Congressmen and women who sustain this grim pattern in politics, starting with the senators who voted against a bill drafted in the wake of the Newtown shooting.

Sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Patt Toomey of Pennsylvania—both of whom are rated “A” by the National Rifle Association—the bill would have strengthened public safety by tightening loopholes in current gun laws that allow felons and the dangerously mentally ill to obtain guns without passing a background check. Polls consistently show that 90 percent of Americans—including 82 percent of gun owners and 74 percent of NRA members—support such background checks.

Confronted with a bipartisan bill sponsored by NRA-supported senators and instituting rules the vast majority of Americans support, on April 17, Democratic Senators Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas nonetheless voted no. Baucus is retiring, but even without the fear of losing a reelection, he took the wrong side on this significant legislation. The bill fell short of the 60 votes it needed to pass. Once again, Congress failed to deliver on its repeated promises to prevent gun violence.

I urge my fellow voters to withhold donations and deny votes to politicians who refuse to take a stand against gun violence, starting with the three senators of the four above who are planning to run for reelection: Begich, Heitkamp, and Pryor.

As a lifelong Democrat, I don’t take this stand lightly. It wasn’t easy for me to send out letters, as I did this week, to 1,200 California donors who have contributed to Begich, Heitkamp, and Pryor in the past, urging them to cease their support. But I’ve also spent more than three decades supporting efforts to stop gun violence. These three Senators have ignored the will of their constituents and failed to help protect children and innocent bystanders from gun violence, departing from the fairly admirable work of their party over the past several decades to promote gun safety.

Forty-five years ago, I voted for Robert F. Kennedy—who spoke out against gun violence—in the California presidential primary just before he was shot and killed. His death came only two months after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and five years after the shooting death of his brother, President John F. Kennedy. Back then, Congress, led by President Lyndon Johnson, managed to pass a fairly robust law to help stop gun violence by restricting mail orders of guns—though even the famously persuasive Johnson wasn’t able to secure every measure he wanted.

Not long after that, the National Rifle Association managed to convince politicians that it could make or break their election bids. The NRA’s power has only strengthened, despite a decline in gun ownership and despite many gun owners joining the effort to close loopholes and prevent violence.

I wish I could tell you that we can’t wait for the next mass shooting—but we didn’t wait. A shooting occurred just yesterday. Let’s not allow the pattern to play out again. Americans who don’t want to see any more shootings—who don’t believe students should be afraid to go to school—must prove we can be just as powerful as the NRA. Please join me in withholding your support from politicians who claim to want to stop violence but who act otherwise, starting with Senators Begich, Heitkamp, and Pryor.

Eli Broad founded SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home and runs the Broad Foundations, designed to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, science and the arts.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why only mention the few Democrats? (4+ / 0-)

    They didn't vote in a vacuum. Their highly propagandized states will happily send pro-NRA Republicans to replace them and we will be no closer to gun control.
    Target the real culprits: The hard right Republicans that make up the majority of the NRA-bought crowd. Once they are shown to be vulnerable, once some of them are defeated, the Democrats will not be under such pressure.
    After the recent recalls in Colorado, it's obvious that Dems that vote for gun control in gunloon states are going to be attacked by the gun lobby. The way to counteract that is NOT to target Dems but to go after the wingnuts who make up the bulk of the pro gun crowd.
    I had hoped that this diary would outline which of the Republicans in Congress were the ringleaders in the anti-gun control gang, THOSE ARE WHO WE SHOULD WORK TO EVICT.
    But no, it turns out to be another episode of circular firing squad.
    Thanks for nothing.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 09:32:06 AM PDT

  •  questions for the diarist (0+ / 0-)

    1. is this actually Eli Broad, or is it a staff member of the Broad Foundations?

    2. either way, does the diarist intend to participate in discussion here, or is this a drive-by posting of a press release?

    "Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war" - John Adams

    by esquimaux on Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 09:52:37 AM PDT

    •  Why I wrote on Daily Kos (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, elfling

      esquimaux, I decided to write on Daily Kos for the first time because I genuinely believe stopping gun violence should be a key issue for the Democratic Party and the many supporters of the Party who come to this site to connect and talk to each other.

  •  Broad withholding $ from Repubs is not news (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    True North, Meteor Blades

    Had Eli Broad come out telling Democratic donors to withhold their campaign contributions from Republicans it would get absolutely no one's attention.  It's significant that a major Party donor sees gun violence as important enough an issue for Democrats to raise it to a central consideration, and make it the subject of a little popular-base party discipline.

    After all, I personally wouldn't donate money to a "Pro Life" Democrat regardless of their polling -- I'd give that cash to another candidate in a tight-run race instead.  I don't see the difference.

    •  Keeping the focus on gun violence (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, elfling

      That's exactly right eztempo -- I believe preventing gun violence needs to be a key part of the Democratic Party's goals, not just a debate that arises after a tragedy and then fades away again. Donors have the power to help keep this issue at the forefront.

      •  Choosing who to donate to is a values check (0+ / 0-)

        I don't get to max out my donations on a broad spectrum of Democratic candidates each cycle (unlike some who post here. [ahem])  That means I have to pick & choose, and I do donate to those that campaign on policies I want enacted.  

        For the nay-sayers here, I don't see your appeal, Mr Broad, to be the kind of party purity purge that Jim DeMint's Heritage organization is running against his own party.  I do see it as another Democrat wanting to see "better Democrats" elected in the mix, as I do too.

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