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WP_Query Object ( [query] => Array ( [name] => everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog ) [query_vars] => Array ( [name] => everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation [post_type] => resources [resource-type] => blog [error] => [m] => [p] => 0 [post_parent] => [subpost] => [subpost_id] => [attachment] => [attachment_id] => 0 [pagename] => [page_id] => 0 [second] => [minute] => [hour] => [day] => 0 [monthnum] => 0 [year] => 0 [w] => 0 [category_name] => [tag] => [cat] => [tag_id] => [author] => [author_name] => [feed] => [tb] => [paged] => 0 [meta_key] => [meta_value] => [preview] => [s] => [sentence] => [title] => [fields] => [menu_order] => [embed] => [category__in] => Array ( ) [category__not_in] => Array ( ) [category__and] => Array ( ) [post__in] => Array ( ) [post__not_in] => Array ( ) [post_name__in] => Array ( ) [tag__in] => Array ( ) [tag__not_in] => Array ( ) [tag__and] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__in] => Array ( ) [tag_slug__and] => Array ( ) [post_parent__in] => Array ( ) [post_parent__not_in] => Array ( ) [author__in] => Array ( ) [author__not_in] => Array ( ) [ignore_sticky_posts] => [suppress_filters] => [cache_results] => 1 [update_post_term_cache] => 1 [lazy_load_term_meta] => 1 [update_post_meta_cache] => 1 [posts_per_page] => 10 [nopaging] => [comments_per_page] => 50 [no_found_rows] => [order] => DESC ) [tax_query] => [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object ( [queries] => Array ( ) [relation] => [meta_table] => [meta_id_column] => [primary_table] => [primary_id_column] => [table_aliases:protected] => Array ( ) [clauses:protected] => Array ( ) [has_or_relation:protected] => ) [date_query] => [queried_object] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7677 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content] => [embed]https://youtu.be/VhErdQ-Ju4k[/embed] Emily Finger (00:07): All right. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. So while we give folks a minute to join the session we're gonna put an icebreaker in the chat just to get to know everybody a little bit better. So the question, and I'll link this in the chat, but it's, we like to know how many states your team is active in for your state government affairs work. So go ahead and start dropping those in the chat and we'll get started soon. Let's see. Okay, Pete. Cool. We're in 50 plus DC All right. And then we've got some 15 states in the southeast. Cool. I'm from Georgia, so that's cool. All right. We got more 50 states, so that'll be good for our conversation today as Everytown does cover all 50 states, but obviously, it'll be relevant to the smaller teams. Oh, Missouri and Oklahoma. I guess being from Georgia, I don't know if I categorize as a Southern, but we'll, we'll take it. Oh, nice. We got somebody in Decatur, Georgia. That's awesome. I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, so a little bit close by. Emily Finger (02:15): All right. And we'll give everyone just a few more minutes before we get started. Oh, nice. We got a one-state. Awesome. And some more. 50 states plus DC. Great. This is gonna be super relevant to everyone, so really excited about our conversation today. All right. And we'll give you just one more minute. I know people are coming off lunch right now, so just giving some people some time. Emily Finger (03:19): Okay. I think we are just about ready to get started. So, my name is Emily Finger and I'm a customer success manager here at Quorum. I'm so excited to be joined by Pete Vujovich and Megan Simmons from Everytown for Gun Safety. So I've been working with the team at Everytown for the past year or so to help them make the most of Quorum's State tracking tools, and I'm so excited to be here with them to share their strategy behind how their team keeps up on the high volume of bills across the country on gun control. So, just to start with some intros Pete is the regional director of State Government Affairs and has been with Everytown since 2019. Prior to joining Everytown, Pete worked at the Household and Commercial Products Association as the Director of State Government Relations and Public Policy. Emily Finger (04:09): And then before working in government affairs, Pete was a legislative assistant in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Also joining us is Megan Simmons. Megan is the law and Policy Coordinator at Everytown. Prior to Everytown, she worked in operations and strategy for Student Voice which is a nonprofit that advocates for educational equity. So really excited to kick off this conversation with you two. For those who are in the chat and joining today, we will keep the q and a towards the end. So if you have them as they pop in as during the conversation, feel free to put them in the q and a section. And we'll address them at the end. All right. So Pete and Megan for those on the call that may not be familiar with Everytown, can you describe the work that y'all do? Pete Vujovich (05:03): Yeah. First of all, thank you all so much for having us. It's really great to be able to kind of share the work that we're doing. And Quorum has been really important to the work that we've been doing over, you know, my time here at Everytown, and really fortunate to be here a part of the team. For those of you that haven't worked with us before we are Everytown for gun safety. We are the nation's largest gun violence prevention organization, and we work at all levels of government state local, and federal to implement evidence-based solutions that impact gun violence across the country. I think it's really important for us to start with a recognition of the fact that every community across this country has been impacted in some way by gun violence. Pete Vujovich (05:45): We hear a lot in the media about mass shootings, but we also do a lot of work to try and interrupt the cycle of violence in our cities, as well as prevent suicides across this country through a variety of different policy solutions. So really lucky to be joined here by my colleague Megan Simmons, who is the brains behind our Quorum operation. And the other kind of half of our work that we work on to kind of show up at state legislatures is through our phenomenal volunteer base at Moms Demand Action. I'm sure many of you have been in a state capital on one of their advocacy days where you have seen an army of red shirts descend on members' offices. They are a really incredible and passionate volunteer base and a really integral part of our advocacy strategy. So thank y'all for having us. And back to you, Emily. Emily Finger (06:38): Yeah, thanks so much for that Introed. So can you walk us through the structure of your team and how it does the state government affairs team kind of fit into the wider government affairs like the public affairs umbrella? Megan Simmons (06:58): Sure. so we have 18 folks on our state government affairs team. And then within our larger umbrella of government affairs, we also have a local affairs team as well as a federal affairs team. So the three of us all work in tandem when targeting specific communities and making sure that there's, you know, a good synergy between the three and that we're all sort of coming at the issue in the same place from the same lens. Within our state government affairs team, there are 18 of us spread across four regions. And then some folks on sort of the operation side. I'm on the operation side and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work building out quorum and making sure that we are keeping it up to date, reporting out to other parts of government affairs as well as beyond that. And I can let Pete talk a little bit more about the four regions and how the division of work works that way. Pete Vujovich (07:55): Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Megan. So as Megan said, we have, we are really fortunate to have 18 people on our team. They are some of the most talented government affairs professionals I've ever worked with, and I'm sure many of you have run into us at conferences because we show up in large numbers to any event that we can. But we're broken down into four regions. The west, which I work in, is basically anything west of Colorado. There are four people in that region covering those 12 states in the Midwest, we have basically anything from Colorado to Ohio. And there are three folks that are covering those Northeast, Kentucky all the way down, all the way up to Maine. So it's an expanded northeast, but a place where quite a bit of our work actually takes place. Pete Vujovich (08:43): And so we have four folks in that region and then three people down in the south, which is anything from Texas over to Florida. And you can probably imagine that depending on which region you're in the issues that you're working on for our organization are pretty disparate and there's a lot of breadth of work that we do. So we do come together once a week to, you know, kind of strategize towards how we can pull all of those different narratives together and create kind of, a national storyline of the work that's happening and where we're going. Emily Finger (09:16): Awesome. Megan, I know you spoke a little bit about your role within Everytown, but Pete, can you speak to your role a little bit more as a regional director? Pete Vujovich (09:29): Absolutely. So in terms of, you know the work that we do as regional directors, it really is focusing on setting those regional narratives that we do. And a really important piece of how we tell the story of what we've done over the past year is how we actually tag and track, not only the bills in Quorum, but also the social media narratives that are happening and how we communicate through the Outbox tool. It has been a really important way for us to disseminate information to people before votes. Even in the interim, we've started a new webinar series, which has been really helpful to be able to blast out to specific state legislators that we wanna talk about, you know, say suicide prevention. We just did one the other week that was our best-attended one nationally, because it is an issue that impacts so many different people in different communities. Pete Vujovich (10:22): And, you know, being able to utilize Quorum's tools to be able to, you know, kind of blast out our messaging on that invites to folks has been absolutely essential. And so basically as regional directors, what we do is take those bills that we're working on in each state and try to strategize for the next session. You know, right now we are kind of in the planning phase for next year and trying to put together what we're gonna see, a bunch of different states work on. And a lot of that obviously is driven by news cycles on our issue. Obviously, you know, we saw earlier this year, unfortunately, the country was rocked by the shooting in Uvalde. And I think that that has sparked a whole new wave of policy solutions that state legislators can work on. You know, not only state legislators, we saw the folks in Washington DC pass the first major gun safety bill in 27 years in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. And that also included a lot of money to be appropriated down to the states. And so it's gonna be really important for us over the next year how we can, you know, utilize the narratives of what they're doing at the federal government to bring that back down to discuss with state legislators. So. Emily Finger (11:35): Awesome. Thanks, Pete. All right. So Pete, just like you were saying, in the last several years, there's been a ton of legislation on gun policy on both sides of the aisle and it spikes alongside current events. So making tracking systems supercritical. How does your team learn about those new bills? Pete Vujovich (11:57): Yeah, so you know, we are very fortunate to be able to have consultants, contract lobbyists, and all. I think we actually are in 49 states plus DC right now. So we do use, you know, kind of the tools and Quorum to pull specific bills. But a lot of times we rely a lot on the work of the folks on the ground to flag those beforehand, because particularly with offensive bills for us, we want to be in the door having those conversations before the bill gets introduced to try and, you know, figure out what the language should look like. You know, our issue, especially trying to do proactive work is really tied up in not only the American psyche and American culture, but also in the Constitution. And we have to be very careful with what the language is going forward. Pete Vujovich (12:41): So we wanna be a part of those conversations before something actually gets int introduced so we don't have to amend it in the future or address those concerns from people who are not in support of the bill. Right. so a lot of times we have a heads up of what bills are gonna be coming. The defensive side of the work, it is a very large volume, and so it, you know, it's important for us to flag those bills, you know, from a legislative tracking service. But a lot more of the work is trying to identify which bills are gonna be the priorities that session, and trying to narrow down that list of what is actually gonna be the center of the conversation at a legislature. That work. We do a lot through, you know, kind of partnership organizations. We do a lot of work with folks like the Democratic Governors Association, and Republican Governors Association, to try and build relationships with staff to try and say, you know, we wanna be, you know, a part of the solution in the state, even if it's a difficult environment for us and be able to have those proactive conversations before things really get heated in the middle of the session. Emily Finger (13:48): Yeah. So a lot of like proactive work. What would you say some examples are of the criteria or considerations that the different, like different team members use to decide if a bill is, is worth engaging on? Pete Vujovich (14:04): Yeah, I think, I mean, I think that that is kind of, for us, it is derived from those conversations that we have with people. You know, there the issue gets a large volume of legislation, and some of that is, fortunately, people fortunately or unfortunately, I suppose people proactively filing legislation. And we take a lot of work and spend a lot of time trying to drive conversations with caucuses, you know, build relationships with leadership and the people that are gonna be, you know, kind of hosting those conversations with people behind closed doors when we can't actually be in that room. You know, when legislators go into caucus on our issue, that's when a lot of the decisions are made. And a lot of our job is finding the people that are going to be important stakeholders in that room, and we can get them their information to, to have that conversation with their colleagues. And so, you know, it's incumbent upon us to work to try and identify those things before, you know, sessions kick off in January, February going into next year and build those relationships now while we can. Emily Finger (15:16): Yeah. So you talked about how you go about like identifying the stakeholders and those important people. Can you speak a little bit more about how your team works to start building those key relationships? Pete Vujovich (15:27): Yeah. I think honestly the most important thing that we do, I mentioned, I, I, Megan actually mentioned that we have 18 folks on our team, is that we show up. You know, we show up literally everywhere that they are gonna be <laugh>, you know, and I'm joining you from a hotel room right now because I'm trying to do <laugh> do that as we speak. You know, I mentioned the Democratic and Republican Governors Association. We do a lot of work with NCSL, CSG. If there's anyone going, we will see you in Hawaii in a few weeks. You know, the DLCC even we do a little bit of work with the federal caucuses too. I know a large host of our team just got back from the gatherings that the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. Pete Vujovich (16:13): We did a or, or we will be doing a big series at the Congress or the National Conference of Black State legislators, and there is a National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures in Las Vegas later this week or later this month. And, you know, it really is just about us showing up where people show up, and obviously, we'll show up in state capitals too and try and knock on people's doors, but this is actually the time of year where I think a lot more of our work gets done than people expect. Emily Finger (16:48): <Affirmative>. Yeah. And I can personally attest to the team showing up anytime Quorum's at a conference. It's always, man, Everytown really turned out for this. They're here in numbers <laugh>. Alright. So talking about those relationships and, and building them, how are y'all tracking those relationships in Quorum? Megan Simmons (17:12): Yeah. Quorum is hugely important for us in keeping track of all of those and building out sort of institutional knowledge as far as where relationships are held and how we power map the people that we know and where they are. So one of the things we've actually started to do since we are on the conference circuit for so much of the year is instead of having sort of a list that the conference sends out of like, here's who the attendees are, instead of putting that in Slack or trying to email everybody and say, Who's gonna be here that you have a relationship with, who should we be talking to? Because there are so many times that we are sending two or three folks from our team who are going, and they, they wanna have important conversations, but maybe there are folks from other states who are there and they need sort of that background knowledge of, you know, what should I be talking to this person about? Megan Simmons (17:57): What's helpful, what we've started doing is actually making each conference in Quorum into like an issue itself and then creating a list within that issue of all of the legislators and staffers who are going to be there. So that way when folks are at the conference, they can be using the Quorum app to not only log their interactions but see the past interactions that other folks have had with different people. So, you know, you walk into the reception, scan the room, you can pull up that list quickly, you know, brief yourself as far as, you know, these are the three things that we've worked with this person on in the past. And then have that information, like go into that conversation. And then right after that's done, log your interaction, and that way all of that information lives on and it's easier than when you, you know, get back and you're updating the team on how the conference went, you can just say it's all in Quorum. Emily Finger (18:52): That's awesome. And that's such a cool use case. And thank you for the quick plug of the mobile app. Love that. <Laugh> Megan Simmons (18:58): <Laugh>. Emily Finger (19:00): All right. So kind of switching back to legislative tracking. Once a team member flags a bill that's worth pursuing either on offense or defense, it goes into a team-wide tracking sheet. Right? And we were even working on building this out a couple of weeks ago together. So can you speak a little bit about what that sheet looks like, what data you're pulling in there collecting from Quorum or even like team members themselves? Megan Simmons (19:26): Yeah, so each person on our team has their own individual tracking boards, and we have search terms that are sort of consistent throughout the whole team, but we understand that sometimes the language that's used in one region may be different than others. So some people have customized those or added them based on, you know, what is being said in their region that maybe we're not seeing in other regions. So folks will see the new bills that are filed, come up under those different search terms and can immediately go in and say either, you know, we have a stance on this, we're watching it. You know, if it's not important, they can kind of dismiss it if it's sort of only tangentially related or not something that we're gonna put or invest a lot of like time and energy into. We also have some folks from our legal team who are, have eyes on those so that the legal readout can live in quorum as well. Megan Simmons (20:19): And so then when it goes into those sheets, it goes into the sheet not only at the regional level, so you can see, you know, this is what the south is working on, this is what the west is working on, but it also will then automatically filter into our national tracking board so that way anyone can see at any given time on our team, you know, this is how many bills we have across the country for this issue, or, you know, this is where things are. And we can see that pretty high level as far as, you know, are we supporting it, where in the process is it, who's introduced it when was it introduced? All of that can then live in one place. Pete Vujovich (20:56): And Emily, if I could also just jump in with, one thing that I know Megan had spent a lot of time working on for our team is in that spreadsheet. You know, I think as you're going through your priority bills and tracking them, I'm sure everyone on this call has gotten the phone call from leadership saying like, what is our win rate? How much are we actually succeeding in state legislatures over the past year or so? Something that we've, you know, been really trying to push back on is redefining what a win actually is. It is not necessarily always a bill being passed or a bill being defeated, Right? Sometimes for us, you know, things will be four or five-year projects before something actually gets done, and we wanna be very intentional about showing that in how we're tracking our work. Pete Vujovich (21:42): And so Megan, I actually created a custom field for us to say like, was this a win? Was this a partial win in terms of us actually just moving the conversation forward rather than like, did this get across the finish line or not? Because that, I think is a little too definitive all in a lot of our work and it's been really important for us to show through that sheet and through dashboards and in Quorum the work that we're actually doing and how we're actually having success. Emily Finger (22:09): Definitely. What would you say makes the sheet work well for your team? Is it like having it in one central place or kinda like the data sharing part of it where they're able to just put the stance and priority or the win directly in that sheet? Just speak a little bit more to how it's working for the team so far. Megan Simmons (22:31): Yeah, I mean, I think top of mind, one thing for that, I know it makes it a lot easier is that if someone from a different region has a question for you about where a bill is, if our, you know, team director has a question, rather than having to send five different Slack messages saying, you know, where is this bill? How's this, this going? All of that is just being automatically updated in this sheet that everybody has access to. So I think it makes us able to move a lot faster in our work. Especially like Pete was mentioning, when there are times where, you know, someone from leadership is saying, I'm going into a meeting right now, I need to know this thing about this state. Rather than it kind of becoming this whole fire drill that then like trickles down from leadership down to the state lead, all of that can just exist in Quorum. So it's cutting down a lot of those steps, I think. Emily Finger (23:18): <Affirmative>, definitely. Awesome. So we were talking a little bit about the reporting feature sheets and how you're tracking all those bills. Can you tell us a little bit about the reports that you've been doing in the dashboard feature to measure your legislative impact and then any other plans to like build that out for the coming year? Anything like that? Megan Simmons (23:43): Yeah, so like Pete just mentioned we've been very excited that we've put together this dashboard that goes from our sheet that has all of our regions and all of our bill tracking in it then auto-populates this dashboard. And so we had a lovely working session with Emily when we were building this out where three of us had some coffee and spent about an hour and a half making all of these different widgets. And, you know, some of the things that we have on there is we'll have heat maps for where are we seeing more offensive bills, bills we support, where are we seeing concentrations of like the defensive bills we have a pie chart that breaks down, you know, how many bills have we worked on this year that we support versus how many do we oppose? We have a widget that tells us our win rate, kind of like what Pete was talking about, where within each bill, not only can we say, you know, we support this, we have that custom fill that we built out that said, you know, this, we consider this to be a win, even if it's not, you know, even if the latest step isn't, you know, enacted. Megan Simmons (24:47): So we have that in there as well as a chart that maps out how many bills we've seen introduced by issue each year. So that way we can, that's a very easy way for us to be able to say, we actually have spent more time on, you know, this specific issue within gun violence than we have on a different one, even if it may not feel like that in the moment. And we also have a way in there that we track our interactions so we can see who are the legislators that we're interacting with the most, who are the, you know, the meetings that we're having versus who are we seeing on the conference circuit all of that then lives in one place. So it makes it a lot easier to be able to, you know, report that out outside of the team, but also get a sense inside of the team and trying to break down the silos that kind of naturally come with everyone being assigned to a region. That way we can really see our team as one big national team rather than, you know, sort of being concentrated in whatever geographic area that we're based in. Emily Finger (25:45): Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. and I mean, thanks to Megan and Pete building out that dashboard, it makes it just so much easier for the team to put their insights on the bill within that tracking sheet. But then the dashboard's like automatically generating those really valuable insights. So just wanna give a shout-out to Megan and Pete on that one, <laugh>. Alright. So we've kind of touched on it a few times, but can either of y'all speak to, you know, what have been some of your team's wins in this past year or so? Pete Vujovich (26:18): Yeah, I'm happy to jump in. I think the work that we do is very broad. You know, we have passed some really kind of cutting-edge things in terms of holding the gun industry accountable for the way that they're marketing into communities, in some cases in blatant violation of state laws and allowing states to actually go after and pursue them through litigation. We've held off some really important defensive bills for us that have led to really disparate outcomes of gun violence between you know high income and low-income communities across the country. But one thing that I think that I would really wanna flag is something that I think we've done a lot of good work to kind of cultivate some bipartisan support for, and that is the work that we do for funding public health-based organizations. Pete Vujovich (27:07): So these are the types of organizations that you might see if you are out late at night in one of your cities that are going around, literally walking around your city and trying to identify the people that are most likely to either perpetrate or become a victim of gun violence and, you know, identify them, talk to them at the moment and give them a, you know, an alternative and give them the resources that they need to kind of pull themselves outta that cycle. We have done an incredible job across the country of trying to give people on both sides of the aisle to see the importance of it. And to this point this year, I think we've secured over 860 million for states to kind of implement and get money to those organizations to hire more workers to give, you know, kind of the wraparound support services to those individuals that need it the most. And that included a hundred million in Tennessee. You know, I think a lot of people think about our work as being solely on one side of the aisle, and this is an issue that sole like absolutely has not been. And I think everyone across the country recognizes the great work that those people do and we want to, you know, do what we can and use our organizational position to support them. Emily Finger (28:19): Yeah. Wow. Those are some really awesome wins and some just really incredible work that y'all are doing. So those are all the questions that I have for Megan and Pete. So I wanted to open it up to anyone attending this call to put any questions you have in the Q and A function or even the chat. I'll be watching both. But just wanna use the rest of the time here for any questions anyone might have. All right. So looking at the chat here, we've got can you share how your team is prepping for the elections versus new sessions? Pete Vujovich (29:37): Yeah. so I think this is kind of the existential question, right? <Laugh>, if I were able to prognosticate about what exactly was gonna happen, I probably would be presenting on the other panel that's going on right now rather than this one. I think we've kind of gone through this cycle of, you know, came into these elections with it looking very promising for Republicans that kind of swung back to after the Dobbs decision obviously, and now I think we're kind of settling in the middle somewhere and it is a little more up in the air and maybe each state, you know, having a little bit different situation rather than it being more of a national narrative. So we really are trying to take it state by state. You know, I think there are some places where things are looking better than before and some places where things are looking worse, but kind of at this point you know, our team is going through the planning process and kind of trying to think of a plan B just because I think the margins are gonna be really close this year and we don't necessarily know quite where things are gonna fall. Megan Simmons (30:51): Yeah, I feel like every conversation we have right now has the overall disclaimer of, but we'll see how the election goes. So it'll be, you know, like Pete was saying, point, like plan A, plan B, especially when once we figure out where the shake-ups are, how that changes, you know, committee makeups and leadership and things like that. We sort of are talking about everything as sort it could go one way or the other and we'll just have to keep in touch and see, see what that ends up being <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, Emily Finger (31:22): Great question. The next one is, how do you respond to legislators who are disinterested or even hostile to your work? Pete Vujovich (31:31): Yeah, I, you know, I kind of mentioned this at the onset, and I think the be the place you have to start in those situations is finding common ground, right? And there is not necessarily one form of gun violence that is going to, you know, there's not one policy solution that's going to solve all gun violence in this country, right? And I think that everyone at this organization knows that there's a lot of, you know, policies that are rooted in evidence that, that we think are more impactful than others. And there are things that we try to push more than others. But a lot of times we try to, you know, kind of tailor that to what the research and statistics in the states say are the problem. So I'll, I'll give the example of, you know, one of my states I work in is Utah. Pete Vujovich (32:14): You know, we talk a lot about suicide in Utah. And that is the message that I think gets us in the door a lot more with some more moderate members that are able to have that conversation rather than, you know, in California where we're talking about industry accountability and some of the more cutting edge things that legislators wanna work on because they want to be on, you know, kind of, of the cutting edge of the issue. And so I always come back to, you know, what I said at the beginning of the call, like a shared understanding of the fact that they're, you know, every community in this country is impacted by gun violence, and just about everyone you talk to, you know, if you're in a room and ask, you know, have you, or do you know someone that's been impacted by gun violence? The amount of people that raise their hands is absolutely stunning, right? And devastating at the same time. And coming back to understanding that there is that shared experience that we all have, and maybe we all have been, you know, talking past to each other and listening to different audiences for a really long time helps kind of build the relationship and get your foot in the door a little bit. Megan Simmons (33:25): Yeah, and I think to echo Pete we are really intentional about doing a lot of coalition work in every state. So making sure that we are listening to folks who are on the ground, whose life experiences are informing their solutions, and making sure that that is something that we are really taking into consideration when talking to legislators about what policies we wanna run and what bills we wanna run. I mean, I'm from South Carolina, but I live in New York now, and gun violence is an issue in both places, but there's no world in which you approach both of those issues with the same solutions. So, while we do work in every single state, we take a very tailored approach to each state based on what we're being told by folks on the ground, what our research team is telling us, and what the statistics are telling us. And that way we can sort of break down some of that misinformation or, you know, some of, some of the things that people who are openly hostile to us may be coming in with that preconceived notion and instead can say, you know, we are, we are here to help you in this specific community in the way that the issue is targeting you in this specific way. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Emily Finger (34:30): Yeah. So this next question I think touches a little bit on what was said in the last question, but what are some tools y'all use? And this can be either in or outside of Quorum to fit your messaging to different audiences. So Megan, like you were saying, what works in California versus Texas or, or even like Florida versus Maine? Pete Vujovich (34:53): Yeah, I mean, I think I would point to one of the tools that we use in Quorum, and I mentioned earlier, is that you know, the Outbox tool, and specifically, we use it for the purpose of organizing a lot of webinars that we do. I think when we think about the list that we send it to, that is one thing that is really important. You know, we don't just blanket send every invite to every legislator in the country, right? If there is something that is a lot more, you know, cutting edge, we might only send it to attorneys general or, you know, chairs of judiciary committees or people that are, that we know are lawyers that are gonna be able to understand the nuance and you know, kind of the care that is gonna have to go into crafting the language to that. Pete Vujovich (35:35): Versus, you know, I mentioned the suicide webinar that, you know, we really broadcast that far and wide because it's something that hap that impacts literally every state in the country, right? Over two-thirds of gun deaths in this country are by suicide. And we wanted to make sure that every community had the opportunity to show up to that, right? And so I think that is one of the reasons why it was one of the most attended is that it like shows up in people's lives, right? And they wanted to find a way to go back to their constituents and say I'm listening. I, I wanna have a solution to this. And we're working on it. So I think kind of tailoring the messages as to like who you're sending it to is a really important tool not just by state, but like drilling all the way down to individual members.     [post_title] => How Everytown for Gun Safety Tracks Key State Legislation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7677 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [queried_object_id] => 7677 [request] => SELECT wp_posts.* FROM wp_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_posts.post_name = 'everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation' AND wp_posts.post_type = 'resources' ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC [posts] => Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7677 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content] => [embed]https://youtu.be/VhErdQ-Ju4k[/embed] Emily Finger (00:07): All right. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. So while we give folks a minute to join the session we're gonna put an icebreaker in the chat just to get to know everybody a little bit better. So the question, and I'll link this in the chat, but it's, we like to know how many states your team is active in for your state government affairs work. So go ahead and start dropping those in the chat and we'll get started soon. Let's see. Okay, Pete. Cool. We're in 50 plus DC All right. And then we've got some 15 states in the southeast. Cool. I'm from Georgia, so that's cool. All right. We got more 50 states, so that'll be good for our conversation today as Everytown does cover all 50 states, but obviously, it'll be relevant to the smaller teams. Oh, Missouri and Oklahoma. I guess being from Georgia, I don't know if I categorize as a Southern, but we'll, we'll take it. Oh, nice. We got somebody in Decatur, Georgia. That's awesome. I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, so a little bit close by. Emily Finger (02:15): All right. And we'll give everyone just a few more minutes before we get started. Oh, nice. We got a one-state. Awesome. And some more. 50 states plus DC. Great. This is gonna be super relevant to everyone, so really excited about our conversation today. All right. And we'll give you just one more minute. I know people are coming off lunch right now, so just giving some people some time. Emily Finger (03:19): Okay. I think we are just about ready to get started. So, my name is Emily Finger and I'm a customer success manager here at Quorum. I'm so excited to be joined by Pete Vujovich and Megan Simmons from Everytown for Gun Safety. So I've been working with the team at Everytown for the past year or so to help them make the most of Quorum's State tracking tools, and I'm so excited to be here with them to share their strategy behind how their team keeps up on the high volume of bills across the country on gun control. So, just to start with some intros Pete is the regional director of State Government Affairs and has been with Everytown since 2019. Prior to joining Everytown, Pete worked at the Household and Commercial Products Association as the Director of State Government Relations and Public Policy. Emily Finger (04:09): And then before working in government affairs, Pete was a legislative assistant in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Also joining us is Megan Simmons. Megan is the law and Policy Coordinator at Everytown. Prior to Everytown, she worked in operations and strategy for Student Voice which is a nonprofit that advocates for educational equity. So really excited to kick off this conversation with you two. For those who are in the chat and joining today, we will keep the q and a towards the end. So if you have them as they pop in as during the conversation, feel free to put them in the q and a section. And we'll address them at the end. All right. So Pete and Megan for those on the call that may not be familiar with Everytown, can you describe the work that y'all do? Pete Vujovich (05:03): Yeah. First of all, thank you all so much for having us. It's really great to be able to kind of share the work that we're doing. And Quorum has been really important to the work that we've been doing over, you know, my time here at Everytown, and really fortunate to be here a part of the team. For those of you that haven't worked with us before we are Everytown for gun safety. We are the nation's largest gun violence prevention organization, and we work at all levels of government state local, and federal to implement evidence-based solutions that impact gun violence across the country. I think it's really important for us to start with a recognition of the fact that every community across this country has been impacted in some way by gun violence. Pete Vujovich (05:45): We hear a lot in the media about mass shootings, but we also do a lot of work to try and interrupt the cycle of violence in our cities, as well as prevent suicides across this country through a variety of different policy solutions. So really lucky to be joined here by my colleague Megan Simmons, who is the brains behind our Quorum operation. And the other kind of half of our work that we work on to kind of show up at state legislatures is through our phenomenal volunteer base at Moms Demand Action. I'm sure many of you have been in a state capital on one of their advocacy days where you have seen an army of red shirts descend on members' offices. They are a really incredible and passionate volunteer base and a really integral part of our advocacy strategy. So thank y'all for having us. And back to you, Emily. Emily Finger (06:38): Yeah, thanks so much for that Introed. So can you walk us through the structure of your team and how it does the state government affairs team kind of fit into the wider government affairs like the public affairs umbrella? Megan Simmons (06:58): Sure. so we have 18 folks on our state government affairs team. And then within our larger umbrella of government affairs, we also have a local affairs team as well as a federal affairs team. So the three of us all work in tandem when targeting specific communities and making sure that there's, you know, a good synergy between the three and that we're all sort of coming at the issue in the same place from the same lens. Within our state government affairs team, there are 18 of us spread across four regions. And then some folks on sort of the operation side. I'm on the operation side and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work building out quorum and making sure that we are keeping it up to date, reporting out to other parts of government affairs as well as beyond that. And I can let Pete talk a little bit more about the four regions and how the division of work works that way. Pete Vujovich (07:55): Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Megan. So as Megan said, we have, we are really fortunate to have 18 people on our team. They are some of the most talented government affairs professionals I've ever worked with, and I'm sure many of you have run into us at conferences because we show up in large numbers to any event that we can. But we're broken down into four regions. The west, which I work in, is basically anything west of Colorado. There are four people in that region covering those 12 states in the Midwest, we have basically anything from Colorado to Ohio. And there are three folks that are covering those Northeast, Kentucky all the way down, all the way up to Maine. So it's an expanded northeast, but a place where quite a bit of our work actually takes place. Pete Vujovich (08:43): And so we have four folks in that region and then three people down in the south, which is anything from Texas over to Florida. And you can probably imagine that depending on which region you're in the issues that you're working on for our organization are pretty disparate and there's a lot of breadth of work that we do. So we do come together once a week to, you know, kind of strategize towards how we can pull all of those different narratives together and create kind of, a national storyline of the work that's happening and where we're going. Emily Finger (09:16): Awesome. Megan, I know you spoke a little bit about your role within Everytown, but Pete, can you speak to your role a little bit more as a regional director? Pete Vujovich (09:29): Absolutely. So in terms of, you know the work that we do as regional directors, it really is focusing on setting those regional narratives that we do. And a really important piece of how we tell the story of what we've done over the past year is how we actually tag and track, not only the bills in Quorum, but also the social media narratives that are happening and how we communicate through the Outbox tool. It has been a really important way for us to disseminate information to people before votes. Even in the interim, we've started a new webinar series, which has been really helpful to be able to blast out to specific state legislators that we wanna talk about, you know, say suicide prevention. We just did one the other week that was our best-attended one nationally, because it is an issue that impacts so many different people in different communities. Pete Vujovich (10:22): And, you know, being able to utilize Quorum's tools to be able to, you know, kind of blast out our messaging on that invites to folks has been absolutely essential. And so basically as regional directors, what we do is take those bills that we're working on in each state and try to strategize for the next session. You know, right now we are kind of in the planning phase for next year and trying to put together what we're gonna see, a bunch of different states work on. And a lot of that obviously is driven by news cycles on our issue. Obviously, you know, we saw earlier this year, unfortunately, the country was rocked by the shooting in Uvalde. And I think that that has sparked a whole new wave of policy solutions that state legislators can work on. You know, not only state legislators, we saw the folks in Washington DC pass the first major gun safety bill in 27 years in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. And that also included a lot of money to be appropriated down to the states. And so it's gonna be really important for us over the next year how we can, you know, utilize the narratives of what they're doing at the federal government to bring that back down to discuss with state legislators. So. Emily Finger (11:35): Awesome. Thanks, Pete. All right. So Pete, just like you were saying, in the last several years, there's been a ton of legislation on gun policy on both sides of the aisle and it spikes alongside current events. So making tracking systems supercritical. How does your team learn about those new bills? Pete Vujovich (11:57): Yeah, so you know, we are very fortunate to be able to have consultants, contract lobbyists, and all. I think we actually are in 49 states plus DC right now. So we do use, you know, kind of the tools and Quorum to pull specific bills. But a lot of times we rely a lot on the work of the folks on the ground to flag those beforehand, because particularly with offensive bills for us, we want to be in the door having those conversations before the bill gets introduced to try and, you know, figure out what the language should look like. You know, our issue, especially trying to do proactive work is really tied up in not only the American psyche and American culture, but also in the Constitution. And we have to be very careful with what the language is going forward. Pete Vujovich (12:41): So we wanna be a part of those conversations before something actually gets int introduced so we don't have to amend it in the future or address those concerns from people who are not in support of the bill. Right. so a lot of times we have a heads up of what bills are gonna be coming. The defensive side of the work, it is a very large volume, and so it, you know, it's important for us to flag those bills, you know, from a legislative tracking service. But a lot more of the work is trying to identify which bills are gonna be the priorities that session, and trying to narrow down that list of what is actually gonna be the center of the conversation at a legislature. That work. We do a lot through, you know, kind of partnership organizations. We do a lot of work with folks like the Democratic Governors Association, and Republican Governors Association, to try and build relationships with staff to try and say, you know, we wanna be, you know, a part of the solution in the state, even if it's a difficult environment for us and be able to have those proactive conversations before things really get heated in the middle of the session. Emily Finger (13:48): Yeah. So a lot of like proactive work. What would you say some examples are of the criteria or considerations that the different, like different team members use to decide if a bill is, is worth engaging on? Pete Vujovich (14:04): Yeah, I think, I mean, I think that that is kind of, for us, it is derived from those conversations that we have with people. You know, there the issue gets a large volume of legislation, and some of that is, fortunately, people fortunately or unfortunately, I suppose people proactively filing legislation. And we take a lot of work and spend a lot of time trying to drive conversations with caucuses, you know, build relationships with leadership and the people that are gonna be, you know, kind of hosting those conversations with people behind closed doors when we can't actually be in that room. You know, when legislators go into caucus on our issue, that's when a lot of the decisions are made. And a lot of our job is finding the people that are going to be important stakeholders in that room, and we can get them their information to, to have that conversation with their colleagues. And so, you know, it's incumbent upon us to work to try and identify those things before, you know, sessions kick off in January, February going into next year and build those relationships now while we can. Emily Finger (15:16): Yeah. So you talked about how you go about like identifying the stakeholders and those important people. Can you speak a little bit more about how your team works to start building those key relationships? Pete Vujovich (15:27): Yeah. I think honestly the most important thing that we do, I mentioned, I, I, Megan actually mentioned that we have 18 folks on our team, is that we show up. You know, we show up literally everywhere that they are gonna be <laugh>, you know, and I'm joining you from a hotel room right now because I'm trying to do <laugh> do that as we speak. You know, I mentioned the Democratic and Republican Governors Association. We do a lot of work with NCSL, CSG. If there's anyone going, we will see you in Hawaii in a few weeks. You know, the DLCC even we do a little bit of work with the federal caucuses too. I know a large host of our team just got back from the gatherings that the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. Pete Vujovich (16:13): We did a or, or we will be doing a big series at the Congress or the National Conference of Black State legislators, and there is a National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures in Las Vegas later this week or later this month. And, you know, it really is just about us showing up where people show up, and obviously, we'll show up in state capitals too and try and knock on people's doors, but this is actually the time of year where I think a lot more of our work gets done than people expect. Emily Finger (16:48): <Affirmative>. Yeah. And I can personally attest to the team showing up anytime Quorum's at a conference. It's always, man, Everytown really turned out for this. They're here in numbers <laugh>. Alright. So talking about those relationships and, and building them, how are y'all tracking those relationships in Quorum? Megan Simmons (17:12): Yeah. Quorum is hugely important for us in keeping track of all of those and building out sort of institutional knowledge as far as where relationships are held and how we power map the people that we know and where they are. So one of the things we've actually started to do since we are on the conference circuit for so much of the year is instead of having sort of a list that the conference sends out of like, here's who the attendees are, instead of putting that in Slack or trying to email everybody and say, Who's gonna be here that you have a relationship with, who should we be talking to? Because there are so many times that we are sending two or three folks from our team who are going, and they, they wanna have important conversations, but maybe there are folks from other states who are there and they need sort of that background knowledge of, you know, what should I be talking to this person about? Megan Simmons (17:57): What's helpful, what we've started doing is actually making each conference in Quorum into like an issue itself and then creating a list within that issue of all of the legislators and staffers who are going to be there. So that way when folks are at the conference, they can be using the Quorum app to not only log their interactions but see the past interactions that other folks have had with different people. So, you know, you walk into the reception, scan the room, you can pull up that list quickly, you know, brief yourself as far as, you know, these are the three things that we've worked with this person on in the past. And then have that information, like go into that conversation. And then right after that's done, log your interaction, and that way all of that information lives on and it's easier than when you, you know, get back and you're updating the team on how the conference went, you can just say it's all in Quorum. Emily Finger (18:52): That's awesome. And that's such a cool use case. And thank you for the quick plug of the mobile app. Love that. <Laugh> Megan Simmons (18:58): <Laugh>. Emily Finger (19:00): All right. So kind of switching back to legislative tracking. Once a team member flags a bill that's worth pursuing either on offense or defense, it goes into a team-wide tracking sheet. Right? And we were even working on building this out a couple of weeks ago together. So can you speak a little bit about what that sheet looks like, what data you're pulling in there collecting from Quorum or even like team members themselves? Megan Simmons (19:26): Yeah, so each person on our team has their own individual tracking boards, and we have search terms that are sort of consistent throughout the whole team, but we understand that sometimes the language that's used in one region may be different than others. So some people have customized those or added them based on, you know, what is being said in their region that maybe we're not seeing in other regions. So folks will see the new bills that are filed, come up under those different search terms and can immediately go in and say either, you know, we have a stance on this, we're watching it. You know, if it's not important, they can kind of dismiss it if it's sort of only tangentially related or not something that we're gonna put or invest a lot of like time and energy into. We also have some folks from our legal team who are, have eyes on those so that the legal readout can live in quorum as well. Megan Simmons (20:19): And so then when it goes into those sheets, it goes into the sheet not only at the regional level, so you can see, you know, this is what the south is working on, this is what the west is working on, but it also will then automatically filter into our national tracking board so that way anyone can see at any given time on our team, you know, this is how many bills we have across the country for this issue, or, you know, this is where things are. And we can see that pretty high level as far as, you know, are we supporting it, where in the process is it, who's introduced it when was it introduced? All of that can then live in one place. Pete Vujovich (20:56): And Emily, if I could also just jump in with, one thing that I know Megan had spent a lot of time working on for our team is in that spreadsheet. You know, I think as you're going through your priority bills and tracking them, I'm sure everyone on this call has gotten the phone call from leadership saying like, what is our win rate? How much are we actually succeeding in state legislatures over the past year or so? Something that we've, you know, been really trying to push back on is redefining what a win actually is. It is not necessarily always a bill being passed or a bill being defeated, Right? Sometimes for us, you know, things will be four or five-year projects before something actually gets done, and we wanna be very intentional about showing that in how we're tracking our work. Pete Vujovich (21:42): And so Megan, I actually created a custom field for us to say like, was this a win? Was this a partial win in terms of us actually just moving the conversation forward rather than like, did this get across the finish line or not? Because that, I think is a little too definitive all in a lot of our work and it's been really important for us to show through that sheet and through dashboards and in Quorum the work that we're actually doing and how we're actually having success. Emily Finger (22:09): Definitely. What would you say makes the sheet work well for your team? Is it like having it in one central place or kinda like the data sharing part of it where they're able to just put the stance and priority or the win directly in that sheet? Just speak a little bit more to how it's working for the team so far. Megan Simmons (22:31): Yeah, I mean, I think top of mind, one thing for that, I know it makes it a lot easier is that if someone from a different region has a question for you about where a bill is, if our, you know, team director has a question, rather than having to send five different Slack messages saying, you know, where is this bill? How's this, this going? All of that is just being automatically updated in this sheet that everybody has access to. So I think it makes us able to move a lot faster in our work. Especially like Pete was mentioning, when there are times where, you know, someone from leadership is saying, I'm going into a meeting right now, I need to know this thing about this state. Rather than it kind of becoming this whole fire drill that then like trickles down from leadership down to the state lead, all of that can just exist in Quorum. So it's cutting down a lot of those steps, I think. Emily Finger (23:18): <Affirmative>, definitely. Awesome. So we were talking a little bit about the reporting feature sheets and how you're tracking all those bills. Can you tell us a little bit about the reports that you've been doing in the dashboard feature to measure your legislative impact and then any other plans to like build that out for the coming year? Anything like that? Megan Simmons (23:43): Yeah, so like Pete just mentioned we've been very excited that we've put together this dashboard that goes from our sheet that has all of our regions and all of our bill tracking in it then auto-populates this dashboard. And so we had a lovely working session with Emily when we were building this out where three of us had some coffee and spent about an hour and a half making all of these different widgets. And, you know, some of the things that we have on there is we'll have heat maps for where are we seeing more offensive bills, bills we support, where are we seeing concentrations of like the defensive bills we have a pie chart that breaks down, you know, how many bills have we worked on this year that we support versus how many do we oppose? We have a widget that tells us our win rate, kind of like what Pete was talking about, where within each bill, not only can we say, you know, we support this, we have that custom fill that we built out that said, you know, this, we consider this to be a win, even if it's not, you know, even if the latest step isn't, you know, enacted. Megan Simmons (24:47): So we have that in there as well as a chart that maps out how many bills we've seen introduced by issue each year. So that way we can, that's a very easy way for us to be able to say, we actually have spent more time on, you know, this specific issue within gun violence than we have on a different one, even if it may not feel like that in the moment. And we also have a way in there that we track our interactions so we can see who are the legislators that we're interacting with the most, who are the, you know, the meetings that we're having versus who are we seeing on the conference circuit all of that then lives in one place. So it makes it a lot easier to be able to, you know, report that out outside of the team, but also get a sense inside of the team and trying to break down the silos that kind of naturally come with everyone being assigned to a region. That way we can really see our team as one big national team rather than, you know, sort of being concentrated in whatever geographic area that we're based in. Emily Finger (25:45): Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. and I mean, thanks to Megan and Pete building out that dashboard, it makes it just so much easier for the team to put their insights on the bill within that tracking sheet. But then the dashboard's like automatically generating those really valuable insights. So just wanna give a shout-out to Megan and Pete on that one, <laugh>. Alright. So we've kind of touched on it a few times, but can either of y'all speak to, you know, what have been some of your team's wins in this past year or so? Pete Vujovich (26:18): Yeah, I'm happy to jump in. I think the work that we do is very broad. You know, we have passed some really kind of cutting-edge things in terms of holding the gun industry accountable for the way that they're marketing into communities, in some cases in blatant violation of state laws and allowing states to actually go after and pursue them through litigation. We've held off some really important defensive bills for us that have led to really disparate outcomes of gun violence between you know high income and low-income communities across the country. But one thing that I think that I would really wanna flag is something that I think we've done a lot of good work to kind of cultivate some bipartisan support for, and that is the work that we do for funding public health-based organizations. Pete Vujovich (27:07): So these are the types of organizations that you might see if you are out late at night in one of your cities that are going around, literally walking around your city and trying to identify the people that are most likely to either perpetrate or become a victim of gun violence and, you know, identify them, talk to them at the moment and give them a, you know, an alternative and give them the resources that they need to kind of pull themselves outta that cycle. We have done an incredible job across the country of trying to give people on both sides of the aisle to see the importance of it. And to this point this year, I think we've secured over 860 million for states to kind of implement and get money to those organizations to hire more workers to give, you know, kind of the wraparound support services to those individuals that need it the most. And that included a hundred million in Tennessee. You know, I think a lot of people think about our work as being solely on one side of the aisle, and this is an issue that sole like absolutely has not been. And I think everyone across the country recognizes the great work that those people do and we want to, you know, do what we can and use our organizational position to support them. Emily Finger (28:19): Yeah. Wow. Those are some really awesome wins and some just really incredible work that y'all are doing. So those are all the questions that I have for Megan and Pete. So I wanted to open it up to anyone attending this call to put any questions you have in the Q and A function or even the chat. I'll be watching both. But just wanna use the rest of the time here for any questions anyone might have. All right. So looking at the chat here, we've got can you share how your team is prepping for the elections versus new sessions? Pete Vujovich (29:37): Yeah. so I think this is kind of the existential question, right? <Laugh>, if I were able to prognosticate about what exactly was gonna happen, I probably would be presenting on the other panel that's going on right now rather than this one. I think we've kind of gone through this cycle of, you know, came into these elections with it looking very promising for Republicans that kind of swung back to after the Dobbs decision obviously, and now I think we're kind of settling in the middle somewhere and it is a little more up in the air and maybe each state, you know, having a little bit different situation rather than it being more of a national narrative. So we really are trying to take it state by state. You know, I think there are some places where things are looking better than before and some places where things are looking worse, but kind of at this point you know, our team is going through the planning process and kind of trying to think of a plan B just because I think the margins are gonna be really close this year and we don't necessarily know quite where things are gonna fall. Megan Simmons (30:51): Yeah, I feel like every conversation we have right now has the overall disclaimer of, but we'll see how the election goes. So it'll be, you know, like Pete was saying, point, like plan A, plan B, especially when once we figure out where the shake-ups are, how that changes, you know, committee makeups and leadership and things like that. We sort of are talking about everything as sort it could go one way or the other and we'll just have to keep in touch and see, see what that ends up being <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, Emily Finger (31:22): Great question. The next one is, how do you respond to legislators who are disinterested or even hostile to your work? Pete Vujovich (31:31): Yeah, I, you know, I kind of mentioned this at the onset, and I think the be the place you have to start in those situations is finding common ground, right? And there is not necessarily one form of gun violence that is going to, you know, there's not one policy solution that's going to solve all gun violence in this country, right? And I think that everyone at this organization knows that there's a lot of, you know, policies that are rooted in evidence that, that we think are more impactful than others. And there are things that we try to push more than others. But a lot of times we try to, you know, kind of tailor that to what the research and statistics in the states say are the problem. So I'll, I'll give the example of, you know, one of my states I work in is Utah. Pete Vujovich (32:14): You know, we talk a lot about suicide in Utah. And that is the message that I think gets us in the door a lot more with some more moderate members that are able to have that conversation rather than, you know, in California where we're talking about industry accountability and some of the more cutting edge things that legislators wanna work on because they want to be on, you know, kind of, of the cutting edge of the issue. And so I always come back to, you know, what I said at the beginning of the call, like a shared understanding of the fact that they're, you know, every community in this country is impacted by gun violence, and just about everyone you talk to, you know, if you're in a room and ask, you know, have you, or do you know someone that's been impacted by gun violence? The amount of people that raise their hands is absolutely stunning, right? And devastating at the same time. And coming back to understanding that there is that shared experience that we all have, and maybe we all have been, you know, talking past to each other and listening to different audiences for a really long time helps kind of build the relationship and get your foot in the door a little bit. Megan Simmons (33:25): Yeah, and I think to echo Pete we are really intentional about doing a lot of coalition work in every state. So making sure that we are listening to folks who are on the ground, whose life experiences are informing their solutions, and making sure that that is something that we are really taking into consideration when talking to legislators about what policies we wanna run and what bills we wanna run. I mean, I'm from South Carolina, but I live in New York now, and gun violence is an issue in both places, but there's no world in which you approach both of those issues with the same solutions. So, while we do work in every single state, we take a very tailored approach to each state based on what we're being told by folks on the ground, what our research team is telling us, and what the statistics are telling us. And that way we can sort of break down some of that misinformation or, you know, some of, some of the things that people who are openly hostile to us may be coming in with that preconceived notion and instead can say, you know, we are, we are here to help you in this specific community in the way that the issue is targeting you in this specific way. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Emily Finger (34:30): Yeah. So this next question I think touches a little bit on what was said in the last question, but what are some tools y'all use? And this can be either in or outside of Quorum to fit your messaging to different audiences. So Megan, like you were saying, what works in California versus Texas or, or even like Florida versus Maine? Pete Vujovich (34:53): Yeah, I mean, I think I would point to one of the tools that we use in Quorum, and I mentioned earlier, is that you know, the Outbox tool, and specifically, we use it for the purpose of organizing a lot of webinars that we do. I think when we think about the list that we send it to, that is one thing that is really important. You know, we don't just blanket send every invite to every legislator in the country, right? If there is something that is a lot more, you know, cutting edge, we might only send it to attorneys general or, you know, chairs of judiciary committees or people that are, that we know are lawyers that are gonna be able to understand the nuance and you know, kind of the care that is gonna have to go into crafting the language to that. Pete Vujovich (35:35): Versus, you know, I mentioned the suicide webinar that, you know, we really broadcast that far and wide because it's something that hap that impacts literally every state in the country, right? Over two-thirds of gun deaths in this country are by suicide. And we wanted to make sure that every community had the opportunity to show up to that, right? And so I think that is one of the reasons why it was one of the most attended is that it like shows up in people's lives, right? And they wanted to find a way to go back to their constituents and say I'm listening. I, I wanna have a solution to this. And we're working on it. So I think kind of tailoring the messages as to like who you're sending it to is a really important tool not just by state, but like drilling all the way down to individual members.     [post_title] => How Everytown for Gun Safety Tracks Key State Legislation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7677 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) ) [post_count] => 1 [current_post] => -1 [in_the_loop] => [post] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7677 [post_author] => 27 [post_date] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content] => [embed]https://youtu.be/VhErdQ-Ju4k[/embed] Emily Finger (00:07): All right. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. So while we give folks a minute to join the session we're gonna put an icebreaker in the chat just to get to know everybody a little bit better. So the question, and I'll link this in the chat, but it's, we like to know how many states your team is active in for your state government affairs work. So go ahead and start dropping those in the chat and we'll get started soon. Let's see. Okay, Pete. Cool. We're in 50 plus DC All right. And then we've got some 15 states in the southeast. Cool. I'm from Georgia, so that's cool. All right. We got more 50 states, so that'll be good for our conversation today as Everytown does cover all 50 states, but obviously, it'll be relevant to the smaller teams. Oh, Missouri and Oklahoma. I guess being from Georgia, I don't know if I categorize as a Southern, but we'll, we'll take it. Oh, nice. We got somebody in Decatur, Georgia. That's awesome. I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, so a little bit close by. Emily Finger (02:15): All right. And we'll give everyone just a few more minutes before we get started. Oh, nice. We got a one-state. Awesome. And some more. 50 states plus DC. Great. This is gonna be super relevant to everyone, so really excited about our conversation today. All right. And we'll give you just one more minute. I know people are coming off lunch right now, so just giving some people some time. Emily Finger (03:19): Okay. I think we are just about ready to get started. So, my name is Emily Finger and I'm a customer success manager here at Quorum. I'm so excited to be joined by Pete Vujovich and Megan Simmons from Everytown for Gun Safety. So I've been working with the team at Everytown for the past year or so to help them make the most of Quorum's State tracking tools, and I'm so excited to be here with them to share their strategy behind how their team keeps up on the high volume of bills across the country on gun control. So, just to start with some intros Pete is the regional director of State Government Affairs and has been with Everytown since 2019. Prior to joining Everytown, Pete worked at the Household and Commercial Products Association as the Director of State Government Relations and Public Policy. Emily Finger (04:09): And then before working in government affairs, Pete was a legislative assistant in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Also joining us is Megan Simmons. Megan is the law and Policy Coordinator at Everytown. Prior to Everytown, she worked in operations and strategy for Student Voice which is a nonprofit that advocates for educational equity. So really excited to kick off this conversation with you two. For those who are in the chat and joining today, we will keep the q and a towards the end. So if you have them as they pop in as during the conversation, feel free to put them in the q and a section. And we'll address them at the end. All right. So Pete and Megan for those on the call that may not be familiar with Everytown, can you describe the work that y'all do? Pete Vujovich (05:03): Yeah. First of all, thank you all so much for having us. It's really great to be able to kind of share the work that we're doing. And Quorum has been really important to the work that we've been doing over, you know, my time here at Everytown, and really fortunate to be here a part of the team. For those of you that haven't worked with us before we are Everytown for gun safety. We are the nation's largest gun violence prevention organization, and we work at all levels of government state local, and federal to implement evidence-based solutions that impact gun violence across the country. I think it's really important for us to start with a recognition of the fact that every community across this country has been impacted in some way by gun violence. Pete Vujovich (05:45): We hear a lot in the media about mass shootings, but we also do a lot of work to try and interrupt the cycle of violence in our cities, as well as prevent suicides across this country through a variety of different policy solutions. So really lucky to be joined here by my colleague Megan Simmons, who is the brains behind our Quorum operation. And the other kind of half of our work that we work on to kind of show up at state legislatures is through our phenomenal volunteer base at Moms Demand Action. I'm sure many of you have been in a state capital on one of their advocacy days where you have seen an army of red shirts descend on members' offices. They are a really incredible and passionate volunteer base and a really integral part of our advocacy strategy. So thank y'all for having us. And back to you, Emily. Emily Finger (06:38): Yeah, thanks so much for that Introed. So can you walk us through the structure of your team and how it does the state government affairs team kind of fit into the wider government affairs like the public affairs umbrella? Megan Simmons (06:58): Sure. so we have 18 folks on our state government affairs team. And then within our larger umbrella of government affairs, we also have a local affairs team as well as a federal affairs team. So the three of us all work in tandem when targeting specific communities and making sure that there's, you know, a good synergy between the three and that we're all sort of coming at the issue in the same place from the same lens. Within our state government affairs team, there are 18 of us spread across four regions. And then some folks on sort of the operation side. I'm on the operation side and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work building out quorum and making sure that we are keeping it up to date, reporting out to other parts of government affairs as well as beyond that. And I can let Pete talk a little bit more about the four regions and how the division of work works that way. Pete Vujovich (07:55): Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Megan. So as Megan said, we have, we are really fortunate to have 18 people on our team. They are some of the most talented government affairs professionals I've ever worked with, and I'm sure many of you have run into us at conferences because we show up in large numbers to any event that we can. But we're broken down into four regions. The west, which I work in, is basically anything west of Colorado. There are four people in that region covering those 12 states in the Midwest, we have basically anything from Colorado to Ohio. And there are three folks that are covering those Northeast, Kentucky all the way down, all the way up to Maine. So it's an expanded northeast, but a place where quite a bit of our work actually takes place. Pete Vujovich (08:43): And so we have four folks in that region and then three people down in the south, which is anything from Texas over to Florida. And you can probably imagine that depending on which region you're in the issues that you're working on for our organization are pretty disparate and there's a lot of breadth of work that we do. So we do come together once a week to, you know, kind of strategize towards how we can pull all of those different narratives together and create kind of, a national storyline of the work that's happening and where we're going. Emily Finger (09:16): Awesome. Megan, I know you spoke a little bit about your role within Everytown, but Pete, can you speak to your role a little bit more as a regional director? Pete Vujovich (09:29): Absolutely. So in terms of, you know the work that we do as regional directors, it really is focusing on setting those regional narratives that we do. And a really important piece of how we tell the story of what we've done over the past year is how we actually tag and track, not only the bills in Quorum, but also the social media narratives that are happening and how we communicate through the Outbox tool. It has been a really important way for us to disseminate information to people before votes. Even in the interim, we've started a new webinar series, which has been really helpful to be able to blast out to specific state legislators that we wanna talk about, you know, say suicide prevention. We just did one the other week that was our best-attended one nationally, because it is an issue that impacts so many different people in different communities. Pete Vujovich (10:22): And, you know, being able to utilize Quorum's tools to be able to, you know, kind of blast out our messaging on that invites to folks has been absolutely essential. And so basically as regional directors, what we do is take those bills that we're working on in each state and try to strategize for the next session. You know, right now we are kind of in the planning phase for next year and trying to put together what we're gonna see, a bunch of different states work on. And a lot of that obviously is driven by news cycles on our issue. Obviously, you know, we saw earlier this year, unfortunately, the country was rocked by the shooting in Uvalde. And I think that that has sparked a whole new wave of policy solutions that state legislators can work on. You know, not only state legislators, we saw the folks in Washington DC pass the first major gun safety bill in 27 years in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. And that also included a lot of money to be appropriated down to the states. And so it's gonna be really important for us over the next year how we can, you know, utilize the narratives of what they're doing at the federal government to bring that back down to discuss with state legislators. So. Emily Finger (11:35): Awesome. Thanks, Pete. All right. So Pete, just like you were saying, in the last several years, there's been a ton of legislation on gun policy on both sides of the aisle and it spikes alongside current events. So making tracking systems supercritical. How does your team learn about those new bills? Pete Vujovich (11:57): Yeah, so you know, we are very fortunate to be able to have consultants, contract lobbyists, and all. I think we actually are in 49 states plus DC right now. So we do use, you know, kind of the tools and Quorum to pull specific bills. But a lot of times we rely a lot on the work of the folks on the ground to flag those beforehand, because particularly with offensive bills for us, we want to be in the door having those conversations before the bill gets introduced to try and, you know, figure out what the language should look like. You know, our issue, especially trying to do proactive work is really tied up in not only the American psyche and American culture, but also in the Constitution. And we have to be very careful with what the language is going forward. Pete Vujovich (12:41): So we wanna be a part of those conversations before something actually gets int introduced so we don't have to amend it in the future or address those concerns from people who are not in support of the bill. Right. so a lot of times we have a heads up of what bills are gonna be coming. The defensive side of the work, it is a very large volume, and so it, you know, it's important for us to flag those bills, you know, from a legislative tracking service. But a lot more of the work is trying to identify which bills are gonna be the priorities that session, and trying to narrow down that list of what is actually gonna be the center of the conversation at a legislature. That work. We do a lot through, you know, kind of partnership organizations. We do a lot of work with folks like the Democratic Governors Association, and Republican Governors Association, to try and build relationships with staff to try and say, you know, we wanna be, you know, a part of the solution in the state, even if it's a difficult environment for us and be able to have those proactive conversations before things really get heated in the middle of the session. Emily Finger (13:48): Yeah. So a lot of like proactive work. What would you say some examples are of the criteria or considerations that the different, like different team members use to decide if a bill is, is worth engaging on? Pete Vujovich (14:04): Yeah, I think, I mean, I think that that is kind of, for us, it is derived from those conversations that we have with people. You know, there the issue gets a large volume of legislation, and some of that is, fortunately, people fortunately or unfortunately, I suppose people proactively filing legislation. And we take a lot of work and spend a lot of time trying to drive conversations with caucuses, you know, build relationships with leadership and the people that are gonna be, you know, kind of hosting those conversations with people behind closed doors when we can't actually be in that room. You know, when legislators go into caucus on our issue, that's when a lot of the decisions are made. And a lot of our job is finding the people that are going to be important stakeholders in that room, and we can get them their information to, to have that conversation with their colleagues. And so, you know, it's incumbent upon us to work to try and identify those things before, you know, sessions kick off in January, February going into next year and build those relationships now while we can. Emily Finger (15:16): Yeah. So you talked about how you go about like identifying the stakeholders and those important people. Can you speak a little bit more about how your team works to start building those key relationships? Pete Vujovich (15:27): Yeah. I think honestly the most important thing that we do, I mentioned, I, I, Megan actually mentioned that we have 18 folks on our team, is that we show up. You know, we show up literally everywhere that they are gonna be <laugh>, you know, and I'm joining you from a hotel room right now because I'm trying to do <laugh> do that as we speak. You know, I mentioned the Democratic and Republican Governors Association. We do a lot of work with NCSL, CSG. If there's anyone going, we will see you in Hawaii in a few weeks. You know, the DLCC even we do a little bit of work with the federal caucuses too. I know a large host of our team just got back from the gatherings that the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. Pete Vujovich (16:13): We did a or, or we will be doing a big series at the Congress or the National Conference of Black State legislators, and there is a National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures in Las Vegas later this week or later this month. And, you know, it really is just about us showing up where people show up, and obviously, we'll show up in state capitals too and try and knock on people's doors, but this is actually the time of year where I think a lot more of our work gets done than people expect. Emily Finger (16:48): <Affirmative>. Yeah. And I can personally attest to the team showing up anytime Quorum's at a conference. It's always, man, Everytown really turned out for this. They're here in numbers <laugh>. Alright. So talking about those relationships and, and building them, how are y'all tracking those relationships in Quorum? Megan Simmons (17:12): Yeah. Quorum is hugely important for us in keeping track of all of those and building out sort of institutional knowledge as far as where relationships are held and how we power map the people that we know and where they are. So one of the things we've actually started to do since we are on the conference circuit for so much of the year is instead of having sort of a list that the conference sends out of like, here's who the attendees are, instead of putting that in Slack or trying to email everybody and say, Who's gonna be here that you have a relationship with, who should we be talking to? Because there are so many times that we are sending two or three folks from our team who are going, and they, they wanna have important conversations, but maybe there are folks from other states who are there and they need sort of that background knowledge of, you know, what should I be talking to this person about? Megan Simmons (17:57): What's helpful, what we've started doing is actually making each conference in Quorum into like an issue itself and then creating a list within that issue of all of the legislators and staffers who are going to be there. So that way when folks are at the conference, they can be using the Quorum app to not only log their interactions but see the past interactions that other folks have had with different people. So, you know, you walk into the reception, scan the room, you can pull up that list quickly, you know, brief yourself as far as, you know, these are the three things that we've worked with this person on in the past. And then have that information, like go into that conversation. And then right after that's done, log your interaction, and that way all of that information lives on and it's easier than when you, you know, get back and you're updating the team on how the conference went, you can just say it's all in Quorum. Emily Finger (18:52): That's awesome. And that's such a cool use case. And thank you for the quick plug of the mobile app. Love that. <Laugh> Megan Simmons (18:58): <Laugh>. Emily Finger (19:00): All right. So kind of switching back to legislative tracking. Once a team member flags a bill that's worth pursuing either on offense or defense, it goes into a team-wide tracking sheet. Right? And we were even working on building this out a couple of weeks ago together. So can you speak a little bit about what that sheet looks like, what data you're pulling in there collecting from Quorum or even like team members themselves? Megan Simmons (19:26): Yeah, so each person on our team has their own individual tracking boards, and we have search terms that are sort of consistent throughout the whole team, but we understand that sometimes the language that's used in one region may be different than others. So some people have customized those or added them based on, you know, what is being said in their region that maybe we're not seeing in other regions. So folks will see the new bills that are filed, come up under those different search terms and can immediately go in and say either, you know, we have a stance on this, we're watching it. You know, if it's not important, they can kind of dismiss it if it's sort of only tangentially related or not something that we're gonna put or invest a lot of like time and energy into. We also have some folks from our legal team who are, have eyes on those so that the legal readout can live in quorum as well. Megan Simmons (20:19): And so then when it goes into those sheets, it goes into the sheet not only at the regional level, so you can see, you know, this is what the south is working on, this is what the west is working on, but it also will then automatically filter into our national tracking board so that way anyone can see at any given time on our team, you know, this is how many bills we have across the country for this issue, or, you know, this is where things are. And we can see that pretty high level as far as, you know, are we supporting it, where in the process is it, who's introduced it when was it introduced? All of that can then live in one place. Pete Vujovich (20:56): And Emily, if I could also just jump in with, one thing that I know Megan had spent a lot of time working on for our team is in that spreadsheet. You know, I think as you're going through your priority bills and tracking them, I'm sure everyone on this call has gotten the phone call from leadership saying like, what is our win rate? How much are we actually succeeding in state legislatures over the past year or so? Something that we've, you know, been really trying to push back on is redefining what a win actually is. It is not necessarily always a bill being passed or a bill being defeated, Right? Sometimes for us, you know, things will be four or five-year projects before something actually gets done, and we wanna be very intentional about showing that in how we're tracking our work. Pete Vujovich (21:42): And so Megan, I actually created a custom field for us to say like, was this a win? Was this a partial win in terms of us actually just moving the conversation forward rather than like, did this get across the finish line or not? Because that, I think is a little too definitive all in a lot of our work and it's been really important for us to show through that sheet and through dashboards and in Quorum the work that we're actually doing and how we're actually having success. Emily Finger (22:09): Definitely. What would you say makes the sheet work well for your team? Is it like having it in one central place or kinda like the data sharing part of it where they're able to just put the stance and priority or the win directly in that sheet? Just speak a little bit more to how it's working for the team so far. Megan Simmons (22:31): Yeah, I mean, I think top of mind, one thing for that, I know it makes it a lot easier is that if someone from a different region has a question for you about where a bill is, if our, you know, team director has a question, rather than having to send five different Slack messages saying, you know, where is this bill? How's this, this going? All of that is just being automatically updated in this sheet that everybody has access to. So I think it makes us able to move a lot faster in our work. Especially like Pete was mentioning, when there are times where, you know, someone from leadership is saying, I'm going into a meeting right now, I need to know this thing about this state. Rather than it kind of becoming this whole fire drill that then like trickles down from leadership down to the state lead, all of that can just exist in Quorum. So it's cutting down a lot of those steps, I think. Emily Finger (23:18): <Affirmative>, definitely. Awesome. So we were talking a little bit about the reporting feature sheets and how you're tracking all those bills. Can you tell us a little bit about the reports that you've been doing in the dashboard feature to measure your legislative impact and then any other plans to like build that out for the coming year? Anything like that? Megan Simmons (23:43): Yeah, so like Pete just mentioned we've been very excited that we've put together this dashboard that goes from our sheet that has all of our regions and all of our bill tracking in it then auto-populates this dashboard. And so we had a lovely working session with Emily when we were building this out where three of us had some coffee and spent about an hour and a half making all of these different widgets. And, you know, some of the things that we have on there is we'll have heat maps for where are we seeing more offensive bills, bills we support, where are we seeing concentrations of like the defensive bills we have a pie chart that breaks down, you know, how many bills have we worked on this year that we support versus how many do we oppose? We have a widget that tells us our win rate, kind of like what Pete was talking about, where within each bill, not only can we say, you know, we support this, we have that custom fill that we built out that said, you know, this, we consider this to be a win, even if it's not, you know, even if the latest step isn't, you know, enacted. Megan Simmons (24:47): So we have that in there as well as a chart that maps out how many bills we've seen introduced by issue each year. So that way we can, that's a very easy way for us to be able to say, we actually have spent more time on, you know, this specific issue within gun violence than we have on a different one, even if it may not feel like that in the moment. And we also have a way in there that we track our interactions so we can see who are the legislators that we're interacting with the most, who are the, you know, the meetings that we're having versus who are we seeing on the conference circuit all of that then lives in one place. So it makes it a lot easier to be able to, you know, report that out outside of the team, but also get a sense inside of the team and trying to break down the silos that kind of naturally come with everyone being assigned to a region. That way we can really see our team as one big national team rather than, you know, sort of being concentrated in whatever geographic area that we're based in. Emily Finger (25:45): Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. and I mean, thanks to Megan and Pete building out that dashboard, it makes it just so much easier for the team to put their insights on the bill within that tracking sheet. But then the dashboard's like automatically generating those really valuable insights. So just wanna give a shout-out to Megan and Pete on that one, <laugh>. Alright. So we've kind of touched on it a few times, but can either of y'all speak to, you know, what have been some of your team's wins in this past year or so? Pete Vujovich (26:18): Yeah, I'm happy to jump in. I think the work that we do is very broad. You know, we have passed some really kind of cutting-edge things in terms of holding the gun industry accountable for the way that they're marketing into communities, in some cases in blatant violation of state laws and allowing states to actually go after and pursue them through litigation. We've held off some really important defensive bills for us that have led to really disparate outcomes of gun violence between you know high income and low-income communities across the country. But one thing that I think that I would really wanna flag is something that I think we've done a lot of good work to kind of cultivate some bipartisan support for, and that is the work that we do for funding public health-based organizations. Pete Vujovich (27:07): So these are the types of organizations that you might see if you are out late at night in one of your cities that are going around, literally walking around your city and trying to identify the people that are most likely to either perpetrate or become a victim of gun violence and, you know, identify them, talk to them at the moment and give them a, you know, an alternative and give them the resources that they need to kind of pull themselves outta that cycle. We have done an incredible job across the country of trying to give people on both sides of the aisle to see the importance of it. And to this point this year, I think we've secured over 860 million for states to kind of implement and get money to those organizations to hire more workers to give, you know, kind of the wraparound support services to those individuals that need it the most. And that included a hundred million in Tennessee. You know, I think a lot of people think about our work as being solely on one side of the aisle, and this is an issue that sole like absolutely has not been. And I think everyone across the country recognizes the great work that those people do and we want to, you know, do what we can and use our organizational position to support them. Emily Finger (28:19): Yeah. Wow. Those are some really awesome wins and some just really incredible work that y'all are doing. So those are all the questions that I have for Megan and Pete. So I wanted to open it up to anyone attending this call to put any questions you have in the Q and A function or even the chat. I'll be watching both. But just wanna use the rest of the time here for any questions anyone might have. All right. So looking at the chat here, we've got can you share how your team is prepping for the elections versus new sessions? Pete Vujovich (29:37): Yeah. so I think this is kind of the existential question, right? <Laugh>, if I were able to prognosticate about what exactly was gonna happen, I probably would be presenting on the other panel that's going on right now rather than this one. I think we've kind of gone through this cycle of, you know, came into these elections with it looking very promising for Republicans that kind of swung back to after the Dobbs decision obviously, and now I think we're kind of settling in the middle somewhere and it is a little more up in the air and maybe each state, you know, having a little bit different situation rather than it being more of a national narrative. So we really are trying to take it state by state. You know, I think there are some places where things are looking better than before and some places where things are looking worse, but kind of at this point you know, our team is going through the planning process and kind of trying to think of a plan B just because I think the margins are gonna be really close this year and we don't necessarily know quite where things are gonna fall. Megan Simmons (30:51): Yeah, I feel like every conversation we have right now has the overall disclaimer of, but we'll see how the election goes. So it'll be, you know, like Pete was saying, point, like plan A, plan B, especially when once we figure out where the shake-ups are, how that changes, you know, committee makeups and leadership and things like that. We sort of are talking about everything as sort it could go one way or the other and we'll just have to keep in touch and see, see what that ends up being <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, Emily Finger (31:22): Great question. The next one is, how do you respond to legislators who are disinterested or even hostile to your work? Pete Vujovich (31:31): Yeah, I, you know, I kind of mentioned this at the onset, and I think the be the place you have to start in those situations is finding common ground, right? And there is not necessarily one form of gun violence that is going to, you know, there's not one policy solution that's going to solve all gun violence in this country, right? And I think that everyone at this organization knows that there's a lot of, you know, policies that are rooted in evidence that, that we think are more impactful than others. And there are things that we try to push more than others. But a lot of times we try to, you know, kind of tailor that to what the research and statistics in the states say are the problem. So I'll, I'll give the example of, you know, one of my states I work in is Utah. Pete Vujovich (32:14): You know, we talk a lot about suicide in Utah. And that is the message that I think gets us in the door a lot more with some more moderate members that are able to have that conversation rather than, you know, in California where we're talking about industry accountability and some of the more cutting edge things that legislators wanna work on because they want to be on, you know, kind of, of the cutting edge of the issue. And so I always come back to, you know, what I said at the beginning of the call, like a shared understanding of the fact that they're, you know, every community in this country is impacted by gun violence, and just about everyone you talk to, you know, if you're in a room and ask, you know, have you, or do you know someone that's been impacted by gun violence? The amount of people that raise their hands is absolutely stunning, right? And devastating at the same time. And coming back to understanding that there is that shared experience that we all have, and maybe we all have been, you know, talking past to each other and listening to different audiences for a really long time helps kind of build the relationship and get your foot in the door a little bit. Megan Simmons (33:25): Yeah, and I think to echo Pete we are really intentional about doing a lot of coalition work in every state. So making sure that we are listening to folks who are on the ground, whose life experiences are informing their solutions, and making sure that that is something that we are really taking into consideration when talking to legislators about what policies we wanna run and what bills we wanna run. I mean, I'm from South Carolina, but I live in New York now, and gun violence is an issue in both places, but there's no world in which you approach both of those issues with the same solutions. So, while we do work in every single state, we take a very tailored approach to each state based on what we're being told by folks on the ground, what our research team is telling us, and what the statistics are telling us. And that way we can sort of break down some of that misinformation or, you know, some of, some of the things that people who are openly hostile to us may be coming in with that preconceived notion and instead can say, you know, we are, we are here to help you in this specific community in the way that the issue is targeting you in this specific way. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Emily Finger (34:30): Yeah. So this next question I think touches a little bit on what was said in the last question, but what are some tools y'all use? And this can be either in or outside of Quorum to fit your messaging to different audiences. So Megan, like you were saying, what works in California versus Texas or, or even like Florida versus Maine? Pete Vujovich (34:53): Yeah, I mean, I think I would point to one of the tools that we use in Quorum, and I mentioned earlier, is that you know, the Outbox tool, and specifically, we use it for the purpose of organizing a lot of webinars that we do. I think when we think about the list that we send it to, that is one thing that is really important. You know, we don't just blanket send every invite to every legislator in the country, right? If there is something that is a lot more, you know, cutting edge, we might only send it to attorneys general or, you know, chairs of judiciary committees or people that are, that we know are lawyers that are gonna be able to understand the nuance and you know, kind of the care that is gonna have to go into crafting the language to that. Pete Vujovich (35:35): Versus, you know, I mentioned the suicide webinar that, you know, we really broadcast that far and wide because it's something that hap that impacts literally every state in the country, right? Over two-thirds of gun deaths in this country are by suicide. And we wanted to make sure that every community had the opportunity to show up to that, right? And so I think that is one of the reasons why it was one of the most attended is that it like shows up in people's lives, right? And they wanted to find a way to go back to their constituents and say I'm listening. I, I wanna have a solution to this. And we're working on it. So I think kind of tailoring the messages as to like who you're sending it to is a really important tool not just by state, but like drilling all the way down to individual members.     [post_title] => How Everytown for Gun Safety Tracks Key State Legislation [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => everytown-gun-safety-tracks-key-state-legislation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_modified_gmt] => 2022-10-13 20:29:08 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://www.quorum.us/?post_type=resources&p=7677 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => resources [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [comment_count] => 0 [current_comment] => -1 [found_posts] => 1 [max_num_pages] => 0 [max_num_comment_pages] => 0 [is_single] => 1 [is_preview] => [is_page] => [is_archive] => [is_date] => [is_year] => [is_month] => [is_day] => [is_time] => [is_author] => [is_category] => [is_tag] => [is_tax] => [is_search] => [is_feed] => [is_comment_feed] => [is_trackback] => [is_home] => [is_privacy_policy] => [is_404] => [is_embed] => [is_paged] => [is_admin] => [is_attachment] => [is_singular] => 1 [is_robots] => [is_favicon] => [is_posts_page] => [is_post_type_archive] => [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 6fde877759eda62aebb5a3be57c66867 [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => [thumbnails_cached] => [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => [compat_fields:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => query_vars_hash [1] => query_vars_changed ) [compat_methods:WP_Query:private] => Array ( [0] => init_query_flags [1] => parse_tax_query ) )
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How Everytown for Gun Safety Tracks Key State Legislation

How Everytown for Gun Safety Tracks Key State Legislation

Emily Finger (00:07):

All right. Hi everyone. Thank you so much for joining. So while we give folks a minute to join the session we’re gonna put an icebreaker in the chat just to get to know everybody a little bit better. So the question, and I’ll link this in the chat, but it’s, we like to know how many states your team is active in for your state government affairs work. So go ahead and start dropping those in the chat and we’ll get started soon. Let’s see. Okay, Pete. Cool. We’re in 50 plus DC All right. And then we’ve got some 15 states in the southeast. Cool. I’m from Georgia, so that’s cool. All right. We got more 50 states, so that’ll be good for our conversation today as Everytown does cover all 50 states, but obviously, it’ll be relevant to the smaller teams. Oh, Missouri and Oklahoma. I guess being from Georgia, I don’t know if I categorize as a Southern, but we’ll, we’ll take it. Oh, nice. We got somebody in Decatur, Georgia. That’s awesome. I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta, so a little bit close by.

Emily Finger (02:15):

All right. And we’ll give everyone just a few more minutes before we get started. Oh, nice. We got a one-state. Awesome. And some more. 50 states plus DC. Great. This is gonna be super relevant to everyone, so really excited about our conversation today. All right. And we’ll give you just one more minute. I know people are coming off lunch right now, so just giving some people some time.

Emily Finger (03:19):

Okay. I think we are just about ready to get started. So, my name is Emily Finger and I’m a customer success manager here at Quorum. I’m so excited to be joined by Pete Vujovich and Megan Simmons from Everytown for Gun Safety. So I’ve been working with the team at Everytown for the past year or so to help them make the most of Quorum’s State tracking tools, and I’m so excited to be here with them to share their strategy behind how their team keeps up on the high volume of bills across the country on gun control. So, just to start with some intros Pete is the regional director of State Government Affairs and has been with Everytown since 2019. Prior to joining Everytown, Pete worked at the Household and Commercial Products Association as the Director of State Government Relations and Public Policy.

Emily Finger (04:09):

And then before working in government affairs, Pete was a legislative assistant in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Also joining us is Megan Simmons. Megan is the law and Policy Coordinator at Everytown. Prior to Everytown, she worked in operations and strategy for Student Voice which is a nonprofit that advocates for educational equity. So really excited to kick off this conversation with you two. For those who are in the chat and joining today, we will keep the q and a towards the end. So if you have them as they pop in as during the conversation, feel free to put them in the q and a section. And we’ll address them at the end. All right. So Pete and Megan for those on the call that may not be familiar with Everytown, can you describe the work that y’all do?

Pete Vujovich (05:03):

Yeah. First of all, thank you all so much for having us. It’s really great to be able to kind of share the work that we’re doing. And Quorum has been really important to the work that we’ve been doing over, you know, my time here at Everytown, and really fortunate to be here a part of the team. For those of you that haven’t worked with us before we are Everytown for gun safety. We are the nation’s largest gun violence prevention organization, and we work at all levels of government state local, and federal to implement evidence-based solutions that impact gun violence across the country. I think it’s really important for us to start with a recognition of the fact that every community across this country has been impacted in some way by gun violence.

Pete Vujovich (05:45):

We hear a lot in the media about mass shootings, but we also do a lot of work to try and interrupt the cycle of violence in our cities, as well as prevent suicides across this country through a variety of different policy solutions. So really lucky to be joined here by my colleague Megan Simmons, who is the brains behind our Quorum operation. And the other kind of half of our work that we work on to kind of show up at state legislatures is through our phenomenal volunteer base at Moms Demand Action. I’m sure many of you have been in a state capital on one of their advocacy days where you have seen an army of red shirts descend on members’ offices. They are a really incredible and passionate volunteer base and a really integral part of our advocacy strategy. So thank y’all for having us. And back to you, Emily.

Emily Finger (06:38):

Yeah, thanks so much for that Introed. So can you walk us through the structure of your team and how it does the state government affairs team kind of fit into the wider government affairs like the public affairs umbrella?

Megan Simmons (06:58):

Sure. so we have 18 folks on our state government affairs team. And then within our larger umbrella of government affairs, we also have a local affairs team as well as a federal affairs team. So the three of us all work in tandem when targeting specific communities and making sure that there’s, you know, a good synergy between the three and that we’re all sort of coming at the issue in the same place from the same lens. Within our state government affairs team, there are 18 of us spread across four regions. And then some folks on sort of the operation side. I’m on the operation side and do a lot of the behind-the-scenes work building out quorum and making sure that we are keeping it up to date, reporting out to other parts of government affairs as well as beyond that. And I can let Pete talk a little bit more about the four regions and how the division of work works that way.

Pete Vujovich (07:55):

Yeah, definitely. Thank you, Megan. So as Megan said, we have, we are really fortunate to have 18 people on our team. They are some of the most talented government affairs professionals I’ve ever worked with, and I’m sure many of you have run into us at conferences because we show up in large numbers to any event that we can. But we’re broken down into four regions. The west, which I work in, is basically anything west of Colorado. There are four people in that region covering those 12 states in the Midwest, we have basically anything from Colorado to Ohio. And there are three folks that are covering those Northeast, Kentucky all the way down, all the way up to Maine. So it’s an expanded northeast, but a place where quite a bit of our work actually takes place.

Pete Vujovich (08:43):

And so we have four folks in that region and then three people down in the south, which is anything from Texas over to Florida. And you can probably imagine that depending on which region you’re in the issues that you’re working on for our organization are pretty disparate and there’s a lot of breadth of work that we do. So we do come together once a week to, you know, kind of strategize towards how we can pull all of those different narratives together and create kind of, a national storyline of the work that’s happening and where we’re going.

Emily Finger (09:16):

Awesome. Megan, I know you spoke a little bit about your role within Everytown, but Pete, can you speak to your role a little bit more as a regional director?

Pete Vujovich (09:29):

Absolutely. So in terms of, you know the work that we do as regional directors, it really is focusing on setting those regional narratives that we do. And a really important piece of how we tell the story of what we’ve done over the past year is how we actually tag and track, not only the bills in Quorum, but also the social media narratives that are happening and how we communicate through the Outbox tool. It has been a really important way for us to disseminate information to people before votes. Even in the interim, we’ve started a new webinar series, which has been really helpful to be able to blast out to specific state legislators that we wanna talk about, you know, say suicide prevention. We just did one the other week that was our best-attended one nationally, because it is an issue that impacts so many different people in different communities.

Pete Vujovich (10:22):

And, you know, being able to utilize Quorum’s tools to be able to, you know, kind of blast out our messaging on that invites to folks has been absolutely essential. And so basically as regional directors, what we do is take those bills that we’re working on in each state and try to strategize for the next session. You know, right now we are kind of in the planning phase for next year and trying to put together what we’re gonna see, a bunch of different states work on. And a lot of that obviously is driven by news cycles on our issue. Obviously, you know, we saw earlier this year, unfortunately, the country was rocked by the shooting in Uvalde. And I think that that has sparked a whole new wave of policy solutions that state legislators can work on. You know, not only state legislators, we saw the folks in Washington DC pass the first major gun safety bill in 27 years in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. And that also included a lot of money to be appropriated down to the states. And so it’s gonna be really important for us over the next year how we can, you know, utilize the narratives of what they’re doing at the federal government to bring that back down to discuss with state legislators. So.

Emily Finger (11:35):

Awesome. Thanks, Pete. All right. So Pete, just like you were saying, in the last several years, there’s been a ton of legislation on gun policy on both sides of the aisle and it spikes alongside current events. So making tracking systems supercritical. How does your team learn about those new bills?

Pete Vujovich (11:57):

Yeah, so you know, we are very fortunate to be able to have consultants, contract lobbyists, and all. I think we actually are in 49 states plus DC right now. So we do use, you know, kind of the tools and Quorum to pull specific bills. But a lot of times we rely a lot on the work of the folks on the ground to flag those beforehand, because particularly with offensive bills for us, we want to be in the door having those conversations before the bill gets introduced to try and, you know, figure out what the language should look like. You know, our issue, especially trying to do proactive work is really tied up in not only the American psyche and American culture, but also in the Constitution. And we have to be very careful with what the language is going forward.

Pete Vujovich (12:41):

So we wanna be a part of those conversations before something actually gets int introduced so we don’t have to amend it in the future or address those concerns from people who are not in support of the bill. Right. so a lot of times we have a heads up of what bills are gonna be coming. The defensive side of the work, it is a very large volume, and so it, you know, it’s important for us to flag those bills, you know, from a legislative tracking service. But a lot more of the work is trying to identify which bills are gonna be the priorities that session, and trying to narrow down that list of what is actually gonna be the center of the conversation at a legislature. That work. We do a lot through, you know, kind of partnership organizations. We do a lot of work with folks like the Democratic Governors Association, and Republican Governors Association, to try and build relationships with staff to try and say, you know, we wanna be, you know, a part of the solution in the state, even if it’s a difficult environment for us and be able to have those proactive conversations before things really get heated in the middle of the session.

Emily Finger (13:48):

Yeah. So a lot of like proactive work. What would you say some examples are of the criteria or considerations that the different, like different team members use to decide if a bill is, is worth engaging on?

Pete Vujovich (14:04):

Yeah, I think, I mean, I think that that is kind of, for us, it is derived from those conversations that we have with people. You know, there the issue gets a large volume of legislation, and some of that is, fortunately, people fortunately or unfortunately, I suppose people proactively filing legislation. And we take a lot of work and spend a lot of time trying to drive conversations with caucuses, you know, build relationships with leadership and the people that are gonna be, you know, kind of hosting those conversations with people behind closed doors when we can’t actually be in that room. You know, when legislators go into caucus on our issue, that’s when a lot of the decisions are made. And a lot of our job is finding the people that are going to be important stakeholders in that room, and we can get them their information to, to have that conversation with their colleagues. And so, you know, it’s incumbent upon us to work to try and identify those things before, you know, sessions kick off in January, February going into next year and build those relationships now while we can.

Emily Finger (15:16):

Yeah. So you talked about how you go about like identifying the stakeholders and those important people. Can you speak a little bit more about how your team works to start building those key relationships?

Pete Vujovich (15:27):

Yeah. I think honestly the most important thing that we do, I mentioned, I, I, Megan actually mentioned that we have 18 folks on our team, is that we show up. You know, we show up literally everywhere that they are gonna be <laugh>, you know, and I’m joining you from a hotel room right now because I’m trying to do <laugh> do that as we speak. You know, I mentioned the Democratic and Republican Governors Association. We do a lot of work with NCSL, CSG. If there’s anyone going, we will see you in Hawaii in a few weeks. You know, the DLCC even we do a little bit of work with the federal caucuses too. I know a large host of our team just got back from the gatherings that the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, DC a few weeks ago.

Pete Vujovich (16:13):

We did a or, or we will be doing a big series at the Congress or the National Conference of Black State legislators, and there is a National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislatures in Las Vegas later this week or later this month. And, you know, it really is just about us showing up where people show up, and obviously, we’ll show up in state capitals too and try and knock on people’s doors, but this is actually the time of year where I think a lot more of our work gets done than people expect.

Emily Finger (16:48):

<Affirmative>. Yeah. And I can personally attest to the team showing up anytime Quorum’s at a conference. It’s always, man, Everytown really turned out for this. They’re here in numbers <laugh>. Alright. So talking about those relationships and, and building them, how are y’all tracking those relationships in Quorum?

Megan Simmons (17:12):

Yeah. Quorum is hugely important for us in keeping track of all of those and building out sort of institutional knowledge as far as where relationships are held and how we power map the people that we know and where they are. So one of the things we’ve actually started to do since we are on the conference circuit for so much of the year is instead of having sort of a list that the conference sends out of like, here’s who the attendees are, instead of putting that in Slack or trying to email everybody and say, Who’s gonna be here that you have a relationship with, who should we be talking to? Because there are so many times that we are sending two or three folks from our team who are going, and they, they wanna have important conversations, but maybe there are folks from other states who are there and they need sort of that background knowledge of, you know, what should I be talking to this person about?

Megan Simmons (17:57):

What’s helpful, what we’ve started doing is actually making each conference in Quorum into like an issue itself and then creating a list within that issue of all of the legislators and staffers who are going to be there. So that way when folks are at the conference, they can be using the Quorum app to not only log their interactions but see the past interactions that other folks have had with different people. So, you know, you walk into the reception, scan the room, you can pull up that list quickly, you know, brief yourself as far as, you know, these are the three things that we’ve worked with this person on in the past. And then have that information, like go into that conversation. And then right after that’s done, log your interaction, and that way all of that information lives on and it’s easier than when you, you know, get back and you’re updating the team on how the conference went, you can just say it’s all in Quorum.

Emily Finger (18:52):

That’s awesome. And that’s such a cool use case. And thank you for the quick plug of the mobile app. Love that. <Laugh>

Megan Simmons (18:58):

<Laugh>.

Emily Finger (19:00):

All right. So kind of switching back to legislative tracking. Once a team member flags a bill that’s worth pursuing either on offense or defense, it goes into a team-wide tracking sheet. Right? And we were even working on building this out a couple of weeks ago together. So can you speak a little bit about what that sheet looks like, what data you’re pulling in there collecting from Quorum or even like team members themselves?

Megan Simmons (19:26):

Yeah, so each person on our team has their own individual tracking boards, and we have search terms that are sort of consistent throughout the whole team, but we understand that sometimes the language that’s used in one region may be different than others. So some people have customized those or added them based on, you know, what is being said in their region that maybe we’re not seeing in other regions. So folks will see the new bills that are filed, come up under those different search terms and can immediately go in and say either, you know, we have a stance on this, we’re watching it. You know, if it’s not important, they can kind of dismiss it if it’s sort of only tangentially related or not something that we’re gonna put or invest a lot of like time and energy into. We also have some folks from our legal team who are, have eyes on those so that the legal readout can live in quorum as well.

Megan Simmons (20:19):

And so then when it goes into those sheets, it goes into the sheet not only at the regional level, so you can see, you know, this is what the south is working on, this is what the west is working on, but it also will then automatically filter into our national tracking board so that way anyone can see at any given time on our team, you know, this is how many bills we have across the country for this issue, or, you know, this is where things are. And we can see that pretty high level as far as, you know, are we supporting it, where in the process is it, who’s introduced it when was it introduced? All of that can then live in one place.

Pete Vujovich (20:56):

And Emily, if I could also just jump in with, one thing that I know Megan had spent a lot of time working on for our team is in that spreadsheet. You know, I think as you’re going through your priority bills and tracking them, I’m sure everyone on this call has gotten the phone call from leadership saying like, what is our win rate? How much are we actually succeeding in state legislatures over the past year or so? Something that we’ve, you know, been really trying to push back on is redefining what a win actually is. It is not necessarily always a bill being passed or a bill being defeated, Right? Sometimes for us, you know, things will be four or five-year projects before something actually gets done, and we wanna be very intentional about showing that in how we’re tracking our work.

Pete Vujovich (21:42):

And so Megan, I actually created a custom field for us to say like, was this a win? Was this a partial win in terms of us actually just moving the conversation forward rather than like, did this get across the finish line or not? Because that, I think is a little too definitive all in a lot of our work and it’s been really important for us to show through that sheet and through dashboards and in Quorum the work that we’re actually doing and how we’re actually having success.

Emily Finger (22:09):

Definitely. What would you say makes the sheet work well for your team? Is it like having it in one central place or kinda like the data sharing part of it where they’re able to just put the stance and priority or the win directly in that sheet? Just speak a little bit more to how it’s working for the team so far.

Megan Simmons (22:31):

Yeah, I mean, I think top of mind, one thing for that, I know it makes it a lot easier is that if someone from a different region has a question for you about where a bill is, if our, you know, team director has a question, rather than having to send five different Slack messages saying, you know, where is this bill? How’s this, this going? All of that is just being automatically updated in this sheet that everybody has access to. So I think it makes us able to move a lot faster in our work. Especially like Pete was mentioning, when there are times where, you know, someone from leadership is saying, I’m going into a meeting right now, I need to know this thing about this state. Rather than it kind of becoming this whole fire drill that then like trickles down from leadership down to the state lead, all of that can just exist in Quorum. So it’s cutting down a lot of those steps, I think.

Emily Finger (23:18):

<Affirmative>, definitely. Awesome. So we were talking a little bit about the reporting feature sheets and how you’re tracking all those bills. Can you tell us a little bit about the reports that you’ve been doing in the dashboard feature to measure your legislative impact and then any other plans to like build that out for the coming year? Anything like that?

Megan Simmons (23:43):

Yeah, so like Pete just mentioned we’ve been very excited that we’ve put together this dashboard that goes from our sheet that has all of our regions and all of our bill tracking in it then auto-populates this dashboard. And so we had a lovely working session with Emily when we were building this out where three of us had some coffee and spent about an hour and a half making all of these different widgets. And, you know, some of the things that we have on there is we’ll have heat maps for where are we seeing more offensive bills, bills we support, where are we seeing concentrations of like the defensive bills we have a pie chart that breaks down, you know, how many bills have we worked on this year that we support versus how many do we oppose? We have a widget that tells us our win rate, kind of like what Pete was talking about, where within each bill, not only can we say, you know, we support this, we have that custom fill that we built out that said, you know, this, we consider this to be a win, even if it’s not, you know, even if the latest step isn’t, you know, enacted.

Megan Simmons (24:47):

So we have that in there as well as a chart that maps out how many bills we’ve seen introduced by issue each year. So that way we can, that’s a very easy way for us to be able to say, we actually have spent more time on, you know, this specific issue within gun violence than we have on a different one, even if it may not feel like that in the moment. And we also have a way in there that we track our interactions so we can see who are the legislators that we’re interacting with the most, who are the, you know, the meetings that we’re having versus who are we seeing on the conference circuit all of that then lives in one place. So it makes it a lot easier to be able to, you know, report that out outside of the team, but also get a sense inside of the team and trying to break down the silos that kind of naturally come with everyone being assigned to a region. That way we can really see our team as one big national team rather than, you know, sort of being concentrated in whatever geographic area that we’re based in.

Emily Finger (25:45):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. and I mean, thanks to Megan and Pete building out that dashboard, it makes it just so much easier for the team to put their insights on the bill within that tracking sheet. But then the dashboard’s like automatically generating those really valuable insights. So just wanna give a shout-out to Megan and Pete on that one, <laugh>. Alright. So we’ve kind of touched on it a few times, but can either of y’all speak to, you know, what have been some of your team’s wins in this past year or so?

Pete Vujovich (26:18):

Yeah, I’m happy to jump in. I think the work that we do is very broad. You know, we have passed some really kind of cutting-edge things in terms of holding the gun industry accountable for the way that they’re marketing into communities, in some cases in blatant violation of state laws and allowing states to actually go after and pursue them through litigation. We’ve held off some really important defensive bills for us that have led to really disparate outcomes of gun violence between you know high income and low-income communities across the country. But one thing that I think that I would really wanna flag is something that I think we’ve done a lot of good work to kind of cultivate some bipartisan support for, and that is the work that we do for funding public health-based organizations.

Pete Vujovich (27:07):

So these are the types of organizations that you might see if you are out late at night in one of your cities that are going around, literally walking around your city and trying to identify the people that are most likely to either perpetrate or become a victim of gun violence and, you know, identify them, talk to them at the moment and give them a, you know, an alternative and give them the resources that they need to kind of pull themselves outta that cycle. We have done an incredible job across the country of trying to give people on both sides of the aisle to see the importance of it. And to this point this year, I think we’ve secured over 860 million for states to kind of implement and get money to those organizations to hire more workers to give, you know, kind of the wraparound support services to those individuals that need it the most. And that included a hundred million in Tennessee. You know, I think a lot of people think about our work as being solely on one side of the aisle, and this is an issue that sole like absolutely has not been. And I think everyone across the country recognizes the great work that those people do and we want to, you know, do what we can and use our organizational position to support them.

Emily Finger (28:19):

Yeah. Wow. Those are some really awesome wins and some just really incredible work that y’all are doing. So those are all the questions that I have for Megan and Pete. So I wanted to open it up to anyone attending this call to put any questions you have in the Q and A function or even the chat. I’ll be watching both. But just wanna use the rest of the time here for any questions anyone might have. All right. So looking at the chat here, we’ve got can you share how your team is prepping for the elections versus new sessions?

Pete Vujovich (29:37):

Yeah. so I think this is kind of the existential question, right? <Laugh>, if I were able to prognosticate about what exactly was gonna happen, I probably would be presenting on the other panel that’s going on right now rather than this one. I think we’ve kind of gone through this cycle of, you know, came into these elections with it looking very promising for Republicans that kind of swung back to after the Dobbs decision obviously, and now I think we’re kind of settling in the middle somewhere and it is a little more up in the air and maybe each state, you know, having a little bit different situation rather than it being more of a national narrative. So we really are trying to take it state by state. You know, I think there are some places where things are looking better than before and some places where things are looking worse, but kind of at this point you know, our team is going through the planning process and kind of trying to think of a plan B just because I think the margins are gonna be really close this year and we don’t necessarily know quite where things are gonna fall.

Megan Simmons (30:51):

Yeah, I feel like every conversation we have right now has the overall disclaimer of, but we’ll see how the election goes. So it’ll be, you know, like Pete was saying, point, like plan A, plan B, especially when once we figure out where the shake-ups are, how that changes, you know, committee makeups and leadership and things like that. We sort of are talking about everything as sort it could go one way or the other and we’ll just have to keep in touch and see, see what that ends up being <laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>,

Emily Finger (31:22):

Great question. The next one is, how do you respond to legislators who are disinterested or even hostile to your work?

Pete Vujovich (31:31):

Yeah, I, you know, I kind of mentioned this at the onset, and I think the be the place you have to start in those situations is finding common ground, right? And there is not necessarily one form of gun violence that is going to, you know, there’s not one policy solution that’s going to solve all gun violence in this country, right? And I think that everyone at this organization knows that there’s a lot of, you know, policies that are rooted in evidence that, that we think are more impactful than others. And there are things that we try to push more than others. But a lot of times we try to, you know, kind of tailor that to what the research and statistics in the states say are the problem. So I’ll, I’ll give the example of, you know, one of my states I work in is Utah.

Pete Vujovich (32:14):

You know, we talk a lot about suicide in Utah. And that is the message that I think gets us in the door a lot more with some more moderate members that are able to have that conversation rather than, you know, in California where we’re talking about industry accountability and some of the more cutting edge things that legislators wanna work on because they want to be on, you know, kind of, of the cutting edge of the issue. And so I always come back to, you know, what I said at the beginning of the call, like a shared understanding of the fact that they’re, you know, every community in this country is impacted by gun violence, and just about everyone you talk to, you know, if you’re in a room and ask, you know, have you, or do you know someone that’s been impacted by gun violence? The amount of people that raise their hands is absolutely stunning, right? And devastating at the same time. And coming back to understanding that there is that shared experience that we all have, and maybe we all have been, you know, talking past to each other and listening to different audiences for a really long time helps kind of build the relationship and get your foot in the door a little bit.

Megan Simmons (33:25):

Yeah, and I think to echo Pete we are really intentional about doing a lot of coalition work in every state. So making sure that we are listening to folks who are on the ground, whose life experiences are informing their solutions, and making sure that that is something that we are really taking into consideration when talking to legislators about what policies we wanna run and what bills we wanna run. I mean, I’m from South Carolina, but I live in New York now, and gun violence is an issue in both places, but there’s no world in which you approach both of those issues with the same solutions. So, while we do work in every single state, we take a very tailored approach to each state based on what we’re being told by folks on the ground, what our research team is telling us, and what the statistics are telling us. And that way we can sort of break down some of that misinformation or, you know, some of, some of the things that people who are openly hostile to us may be coming in with that preconceived notion and instead can say, you know, we are, we are here to help you in this specific community in the way that the issue is targeting you in this specific way. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>.

Emily Finger (34:30):

Yeah. So this next question I think touches a little bit on what was said in the last question, but what are some tools y’all use? And this can be either in or outside of Quorum to fit your messaging to different audiences. So Megan, like you were saying, what works in California versus Texas or, or even like Florida versus Maine?

Pete Vujovich (34:53):

Yeah, I mean, I think I would point to one of the tools that we use in Quorum, and I mentioned earlier, is that you know, the Outbox tool, and specifically, we use it for the purpose of organizing a lot of webinars that we do. I think when we think about the list that we send it to, that is one thing that is really important. You know, we don’t just blanket send every invite to every legislator in the country, right? If there is something that is a lot more, you know, cutting edge, we might only send it to attorneys general or, you know, chairs of judiciary committees or people that are, that we know are lawyers that are gonna be able to understand the nuance and you know, kind of the care that is gonna have to go into crafting the language to that.

Pete Vujovich (35:35):

Versus, you know, I mentioned the suicide webinar that, you know, we really broadcast that far and wide because it’s something that hap that impacts literally every state in the country, right? Over two-thirds of gun deaths in this country are by suicide. And we wanted to make sure that every community had the opportunity to show up to that, right? And so I think that is one of the reasons why it was one of the most attended is that it like shows up in people’s lives, right? And they wanted to find a way to go back to their constituents and say I’m listening. I, I wanna have a solution to this. And we’re working on it. So I think kind of tailoring the messages as to like who you’re sending it to is a really important tool not just by state, but like drilling all the way down to individual members.