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Gun Control Groups Mailing Birthday Voting Forms to 18-Year-Olds

Giffords, Everytown for Gun Safety and NextGen behind youth voter registration drive

Hundreds of thousands of people jammed Washington last month to protest gun violence in the student-led March for Our Lives. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Hundreds of thousands of people jammed Washington last month to protest gun violence in the student-led March for Our Lives. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A coalition of gun control and progressive millennial outreach groups will be mailing teenagers a present for their 18th birthday: a voter registration form.

The coalition is targeting vulnerable pro-gun Republicans in 10 states with the Our Lives, Our Vote drive and hopes to register 50,000 18- and 19-year-olds through the initiative ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

States where teens can expect a birthday voting package include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“America’s children took to the streets and led marches with a unified message that rang out across the country: we need a Congress that will protect us,” former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said in a statement Thursday.

Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, a retired Navy captain and former astronaut, co-founded a lobbying group and PAC in Giffords’ name that supports candidates and policies promoting more gun control. Giffords was shot and nearly killed in 2011 at a constituent event in Arizona.

Watch: Thousands March on Washington to Protest Inaction on Gun Violence

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She is joined in the effort by Everytown for Gun Safety, a partnership of more than 1,000 current and former mayors in the U.S., and NextGen America, a liberal group funded by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer that is focused on turning out millennials in 2018.

“The politicians who have pocketed millions from the NRA and done nothing to make our schools and communities safer … will be voted out by the young Americans that are reminding our country to be better, to dream bigger,” Giffords said. “We are making sure that they have the opportunity to cast their ballots for the first time and truly make a difference.”

The coalition has pledged an initial $1.5 million to the new registration drive that will also target young people online with digital advertisements.

In some cases, funds and resources will be funneled toward grass-roots organizations registering young people face-to-face.

Organizers hope to capitalize on the recent wave of political energy among young people over the gun violence issue to reclaim Democratic majorities in Congress.

At the “March for Our Lives” in Washington last month, survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed, delivered a consistent message: Get out and vote this November.

“We are proud to encourage those efforts,” Steyer said in a statement Thursday on helping teenagers and other young people register. “The politicians who continue to drag their feet on laws to protect Americans in order to appease the gun lobby have a simple choice: listen to the voices of our nation’s youth, or find a new job.”

Correction, April 12, 2018, 12:30 p.m. | An earlier version of this story misstated the number of people killed in the Parkland shooting. The death toll was 17.