18 term Democratic Jim Visclosky is retiring from his northwest Indiana congressional seat– a deep blue (D+8) seat where whomever wins the primary is the next member of Congress. Districts like this shouldn’t be sending GOP-lite candidates to Congress; they should be sending bold progressives. The bold progressive in contention is Jim Harper— and his top opponent is Tom McDermott, an arch conservative and crooked ex-mayor.
In McDermott’s first interview after announcing, he attacked the House Democrats for impeaching Trump, something that might be expected from a right-of-center corporatist who only became a Democrat after being blocked from ballot access by the local Republican Party. His “change of heart” did not include supporting the broader Democratic Party. And as anyone who’s followed McDermott’s sleazy career might guess, his first quarter campaign finance report was riddled with donations from corporate PACs and city contractors.
Jim Harper– the candidate endorsed by Blue America– has a sterling progressive platform built on planks like the Green New Deal, Medicare-for-All, campaign finance reform and criminal justice reform.
Jim hasn’t let the pandemic get in the way of gun violence safety either. Quite the contrary in fact. “At a time when public health experts and political leaders are pleading with Americans to stay home and save lives,” he told us, “a growing number of states have allowed gun stores to stay open for business as usual. Even though 42 states have issued ‘stay at home’ orders, at least 30 states– including my state, Indiana– have allowed gun stores to remain open. Of course, these actions will undoubtedly result in the increased spread of the coronavirus and, therefore, the loss of life. But the decision to provide a special exception to gun stores also comes at a time when gun violence poses a particularly significant threat to American families and children.”
Jim’s point is that the pandemic is making gun safety even more urgent. “In February,” he said, “gun background checks spiked by 36%, indicating a significant increase in the number of gun purchases. At the same time, an increasing number of children and families are staying at home. Before this crisis, an estimated 4.6 million young Americans lived in a home with an unsecured firearm. Moreover, American kids are 20 times more likely to be killed in accidental shootings than kids in other countries. Now is not the time to label gun stores as ‘essential’ or to exempt those stores from public health requirements. That’s why I call on Indiana’s governor to remove the exception for gun stores from the ‘stay at home’ order.” Indiana’s governor, an NRA shill, isn’t listening. Jim:
It’s also why we need to talk about and advocate for other gun safety measures during this time. Of course, I have consistently supported common-sense measures like an assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazine restrictions. But other gun safety measures often fly under the radar. In February, I sat down with close friends who lost their young son when he was able to access an unsecured gun at a babysitter’s house. I met these friends– Kandice and Ron Cole– through our involvement with Mom’s Demand Action. After Kandice and Ron lost their son, they learned how hard it was to hold individuals responsible for unsecured firearms. I have joined Kandice and Ron to advocate for safe storage laws, which make it illegal for adults to store a firearm where a child can access it. As more kids are staying home from school, safe-storage measures take on added urgency.
As more adults also stay at home, we need additional measures to protect victims of domestic abuse. Universal background checks– which Republicans and the NRA continue to senselessly oppose– are a good start. But we also need to close exceptions in currently law like the “boyfriend loophole,” which allows abusive partners to retain their firearm as long as they are not married to the victim of abuse. Here, too, the NRA stands in the way. In Congress, I look forward to standing up to the NRA and closing this loophole.
In the middle of the coronavirus crisis, our focus has understandably shifted from other public health crises. However, Americans continue to suffer from gun violence, and the current crisis only exacerbates the risk faced by children and family members. It’s time to recognize that gun stores are not essential and to enact common-sense gun reforms in Washington, D.C., and state capitals. In Congress, look forward to leading these efforts.
As I mentioned above, Jim Harper was endorsed by Blue America and by clicking on the thermometer above you can help his campaign compete effectively against the corporate-backed conservative he’s competing with for a seat in a nice blue district that only gave Trump 41.5% of its vote in 2016.